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Part One

RISMEDIA, August 9, 2008-Do this, do that. Change your marketing. Knock on doors. What’s the recipe for success? When every agent is trying to get a piece of the pie, what’s the strategy toward survival and profitability? Here, in this six-part series industry pros give us their takes on how and why some agents thrive more than others.

  • lake_marybeth.jpgA Little Luck Never Hurts
  • Mary Beth Lake
    Harry Norman, Realtors

Determination, personality and having the right tools all contribute to the success or failure of agents…with a little luck mixed in.

I’ve positioned myself in the market so that I have been able to work with many of my peers that are one to five years out of college. When I started my real estate career four years ago, I was worried that I didn’t know any sellers. Only about 5% of my database even owned a home. But I realized that I just had to capitalize on the people that I did know…buyers-and first-time home buyers at that. About 87% of my clients are buyers and of that number, about 85% are first-time buyers. I advertise myself, “Your Realtor for Life,” so that as these first-timers grow their careers and incomes, I will grow with them and garner their repeat business.

I’ve already had this happen with several clients. Real estate isn’t about being in a fast or slow market but rather in a buyer’s or a seller’s market. Right now, I’m capitalizing on the buyer’s market and helping people buy at the low point. When the market shifts, I will focus my efforts on helping those past clients who want to sell in the seller’s market.

I believe in developing a business plan, having written goals and a marketing plan, and tracking all of the numbers. For example, over 70% of my business comes from my Georgia Tech contacts and only 4% of my business comes from my farming campaign. Without a business plan, marketing plan and tracking the numbers, I would not be able to set and adjust my goals.

I also believe in working at the office so I am in a “work environment” and can share ideas with other agents. I hired an un-licensed assistant in the fall and she has helped me take care of a lot of “back room” logistics so I can spend more time networking.

Marketing! I continuously update my website and send out marketing materials in a drip campaign to keep my name in front of my sphere of influence. Even if they aren’t buying or selling, I ask them to refer me to their family and friends. People constantly tell me they’ve received my latest calendar or newsletter or saw my ad in the alumni magazine or football program.

Yes, all of this comes out of my bottom line, but I haven’t had one person ask me if I’m “still in the business.” I think a lot of agents have stopped marketing all together and that is just adding fuel to the fire. I’ve found that I have to spend money to make money.

Next week, meet Philip White, chief operating officer for Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC, who says, “The best agents achieve and maintain success thanks to hard work and determination, skillful marketing and by making the most of the tools available to them.”