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By Craig Proctor

RISMEDIA, September 1, 2008-If you ask most agents who they are trying to target with their marketing efforts, they’ll be a little vague in their response. Most agents probably feel they’re after anyone and everyone in the hopes of attracting someone who is looking to buy or sell a home.

The problem with this strategy is that when you try to be everything to everyone, you fail to address the specific needs of anyone. If you’re “targeting” everyone, your message is bound to be broad and unfocused, and is unlikely to be compelling and direct enough to draw in your prospect (whoever that is).

An unclear definition of who you’re talking to with your marketing will lead to watered down statements that don’t mean very much to anyone such as:

List with Me
I Care about Your Business
I Will Work Hard for You

You may fool yourself that you’re saying something meaningful with empty statements like these, but you won’t fool your prospects. Prospects won’t even hear or see slogans like these because they don’t offer any real and distinguishing prospect benefits.

Targeting is very important. It’s important because it will help you determine:

– What you should say that will offer meaningful and compelling consumer benefits
– Where and how you should advertise

Who Would You Like To Work With?

Are you after buyers or sellers? If you’re after buyers, are you targeting:

– First-time buyers?
– Move-up buyers?

If you really want to connect with prospects enough to compel them to contact you, you need to craft ads that speak to real and specific customer needs. Let me give you a few examples.

If first-time buyers are your target, run an ad offering information to renters. Your ad should speak to the yearning and the “trapped” feeling that many renters feel. Tell them you can show them how to escape from this trap and learn how to easily buy their own home by offering them a free report written specifically to renters’ needs. First-time buyers will respond to this ad in droves.

If you’re more interested in move-up buyers, think about what information these buyers would most be interested in. You know that one of the stumbling blocks these buyers trip over is the problem of timing between the sale of their current home and the purchase of their next one. Offer a report on costly mistakes that most trade up buyers make that the report can help them avoid, saving them thousands of dollars in the process.

If you’re after sellers, appeal to your prospects’ fear of loss by offering to help them avoid costly mistakes that most homeowners make when selling their home. But further than this, ask yourself what kind of sellers do you want to work with and what their specific needs are:

– Owners of high-end properties?
– Owners of condominiums?
– Builders?
– Seniors?
– etc.

Targeting doesn’t just mean who you want to work with, but also where and what. In other words, targeting also means determining the geographic area you are interested in working in, and the price range of homes. Maybe you want to target a very specifically defined geographic area such as:

– Waterfront
– Country properties
– Specific neighborhoods or towns
– etc.

Create a stable of classified ads which you can use to selectively target the type of prospect you most want to work with, and use the first words of these ads to specifically call out to your intended target: e.g. Homesellers, Upscale Homes, First Time Buyers, Homes Under $150,000, etc.

You Can Have More Than One Target

An important point to understand is that being specific with your targeting doesn’t mean that you can have only one target. It’s okay to target two or more different groups as long as you recognize that it’s likely that each group will require different ads, so if you’re going to go after multiple markets, make sure you understand the budget implications so you can properly launch and follow through on each plan.

The right answer to this question depends on you and the market you’re operating in.

How profitable and enjoyable is it to work with each of these groups from your perspective? How much inventory is there? How much competition? Do you have specialized knowledge and credibility in the defined target market or can you acquire it?
How much money do you have to invest in the required marketing?

Of course, you should demand that each ad you run more than pay for itself, and if you’re running direct response advertising, you can measure this specifically which means that initial capital should not be an issue. Tiny, inexpensive classified ads can certainly start the ball rolling for you.

If you need “now” business (i.e. if you not only don’t have a lot of money to invest in your business but are actually starving for cash and need some “now” money), first-time buyers are one of the best targets to work with to generate quick cash. This group is easy to attract mainly because most other realtors don’t have a profitable system to work with them, so they give up on this target. As a result, there’s virtually no competition, and working with them can be highly profitable. In reality, however, there’s money to be made in most areas as long as you know what your customers want and how to give it to them.

Again, ask yourself some important questions:

– What motivates the target group of prospects that you’re after?
– What factors are most important to them?
– Do they want a quick sale or top dollar? Are they after best value or most attentive service or least hassle?
– And how do you find out what prospects want?

Well, it’s simple — you ask them. Failing to understand and address your customers’ needs is one of the biggest marketing mistakes real estate agents make. Rather than assuming or guessing you know the answers, you should be asking your prospects directly by researching their needs. This doesn’t have to be a complicated or time consuming task.

By targeting a specific segment of your prospects, you focus both your thinking and your marketing dollars. Thinking in these terms allows you to take a more objective approach to your spending. How much of your marketing budget are you/should you be spending on sellers vs buyers? How much are you spending in one town vs another? Many agents never think of their advertising in these terms. Instead they arbitrarily run whatever ad(s) they have created and fail to control their dollars. As a result, they relinquish the orchestration of new business in the door to chance and last minute decisions.

Above all, targeting means that you consciously and deliberately make choices and decisions about your business rather than having these decisions unfold arbitrarily over time and without an overall perspective. Operating without a specific target in mind is like wandering through a forest with a rifle and shooting at anything that moves. It’s not a very effective hunting strategy, and it’s not a very effective marketing strategy either.

Create a Calculated Strategy for Every Dollar You Spend

Before you spend another dollar on advertising, decide exactly what percent of your marketing dollars will be funneled to each target you’re after. If situations change or arise during the year, you can respond to the change with confidence and a calculated strategy, knowing how each piece of the puzzle fits together.

“In our real estate business our main focus and objective is always a return on our investment. That’s where target marketing comes into play. After analyzing your greater market area using measurable statistics, it is essential to target or zero in on that segment of the market that 1) is selling, 2) will support your goals, and 3) will respond to your offer or USP (Unique Selling Proposition). When you utilize this “point and shoot” style of marketing strategy, it creates a positive response to your promotion, is cost effective and, most importantly, results in a superior return.” – Lynn Horner-Baker, Marietta, GA

To find out more about how to effectively target profitable sectors of your marketplace, you can visit where you can learn about my 3-day SuperConference where I train agents on effective target marketing, including the crafting and marketing of proven unique selling propositions.

Billion Dollar AgentTM Craig Proctor has been in the top 10 for RE/MAX Worldwide for 15 years. To receive free training from Craig with no obligation, visit: