By Marylyn B. Schwartz
RISMEDIA, April 22, 2008-It takes intestinal fortitude to thrive as a real estate sales professional within today’s economic milieu. Without an educated understanding of the nuances of marketing versus simply advertising, it would be impossible for a prospect to differentiate a true professional from the legions of unskilled people masquerading as real estate agents.
Unfortunately, effective marketing techniques are not part of the real estate licensing course curriculum. There are many who feel that it should be, and one of those is Ford Saeks, president and CEO of Prime Concepts and a direct and Internet marketing expert. Ford applies the tried and true principles of marketing across all facets of business, and real estate is no exception.
Marylyn B. Schwartz: What is the primary focus of Prime Concepts?
Ford Saeks: We help our clients find, attract and keep customers. The keys for doing that are applicable in any situation where it is required that a sale be made. The real estate agent must find a way to differentiate themselves from so many others competing for the same limited pool of sellers and buyers.
MBS: We hear about the importance of differentiation all the time. How about some down and dirty ‘how-to’s’ for making that happen.
FS: Step 1: Have a clear business model in mind. You must know your target client(s). Ask yourself, whom are you trying to attract?
Step 2: What’s the benefit message to the end user in your marketing campaign materials? That includes your website. By having an effective target marketing campaign, it weeds out serious prospects from time wasters.
Step 3: Determine your marketing methods and ask yourself the following four primary business questions: What is the cost of each lead? How many leads get converted? What’s the profit on the first transaction? What’s the long-term value? You must measure your activities and initiatives to see if they are profitable. It is all about defining your “UVP” unique value proposition; what’s the value to the clients of hiring you? What problem(s) does the prospect have that you will make go away? That’s the way to kill the opposition.
MBS: Through your work with many very successful real estate sales teams and individuals is there one thing that they do that is out of the box relative to what others do… above ho-hum, been-there marketing?
FS: Many have developed satellite websites for local communities. The site is prospect specific rather than a way for the company to market. The sites provide the consumer a way to learn about areas of interest relative to schools, community and religious resources, shopping, entertainment, etc. The traffic goes to the agent directly and that agent can follow up after the fact. The site has its own content rather than links to other sites where the prospect would have to leave the agent’s site to get what they need. All marketing should have a ‘call to action.’ Visit my website and get the ten tips for selling in today’s market. Visit my site and learn how to best prepare children for making a move. Visit my site and learn how to prepare your home for marketing. Visit my site and subscribe to my monthly e-mail newsletter, etc. When the prospect goes to your site, they are required to complete an information profile in order to get what they want. The agent captures the prospect’s information while servicing the public’s need for as much area information as possible.
MBS: What do you think the public wants most from their real estate professional?
FS: They don’t want a real estate agent as they are a dime a dozen. What they want is a problem solver. They want someone who gets it for them. An agent’s business will only grow as fast as the agent does. If the agent does not believe in his/her skills and talents, that lack of confidence will come across in the agent’s marketing and interpersonal skills.
MBS: I always refer to that as the agent who is able to find the prospect’s ‘sword in the heart.’ Are there some very cost effective ideas for those folks who are on a tight budget but need to stay focused on building his/her business daily?
FS: Create a dream board that answers the questions: who do you want to be and what do you want to have. While it is far from a new concept, we know that what you can conceive, you can achieve. There are no money problems, only idea problems. Evaluate your business constantly, always focusing on what you want and when it will come to fruition. Be sure your marketing is filled with compelling messages and your website is the same. Create a daily ‘hour of power’ where you dedicate yourself to learning something new. It can be something you read, learn on U-Tube, listen to on CD, etc. Keeping current with trends and happenings within your industry is just as important as keeping in touch with world events. The best marketers are always well-informed, involved individuals.
Marylyn B. Schwartz, CSP, is an expert in real estate and corporate sales training/management and team development. She is president of Teamweavers and a trainer for Leader’s Choice.