Before you have listings to sell, you must market yourself to homeowners. And with about one million real estate agents working in the United States, you have to think of a way to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Placing the same tired "here I am" ads that everyone uses is more effective than nothing, but barely.
So - first you need to look at your own business and see what you do that's better than your competition. It could be specialized knowledge in a certain niche, it could be extra service, it could even be a fanatic dedication to returning calls promptly. But it has to be something. If you choose a niche, be sure it is a certain kind of property, and not a certain kind of person.
Never suggest discrimination.
Then you need to seek out ways to get your message to the people. I recommend choosing a "farm area" and using direct mail. Just be very careful to write a professional, "you-directed" letter. Tell them how you'll help solve their problems; don't ask them to solve yours.
Of course you need to hand out business cards at every opportunity - even if you have to create the opportunities. Talk to people and be willing to give free advice when asked. Make friends with EVERYONE. You never know when that boy who carries your groceries out will go home and tell his Mom that he's met the best real estate agent in town. Be creative, keep your eyes open, and market at every opportunity.
Marketing to buyers is more difficult, because you don't know who they will be. The good news is NAR did a study and reported that over 77% of home buyers search first on the internet. That gives you the opportunity to market yourself and your listings at the same time. Just be sure to create a strong presence, because a listing on page 44 of a search won't do you much good.
Marketing your listings is another two-part process. First you have to determine the words to use, and then decide where to put them.
Where to put them is the easy part. The internet is the obvious first choice, but you also have the MLS, a local Homes magazine, perhaps the newspaper, and direct mail to clients who might be interested. E-mail also offers a good opportunity to reach a large number of people at no cost.
The words are a little more tricky. Writing an ad that sounds just like every other ad will get you past the gatekeepers at MLS who insist on some ad copy, but it won't bring you buyers excited to see your listing.
The creativity went out of house ads when the ADA and Fair Housing laws told us that we couldn't use any words or phrases that might be considered discriminatory. Therefore we could no longer say "You can walk to the mall," or "You can hear the leaves rustle in the trees."
When ads were financially restricted to just a few words it became impossible to write good descriptions. But now, the internet allows unlimited words, so there's no excuse for boring ad copy. Your real estate marketing can once again be creative, descriptive, and exciting. Your flyers also allow space for your creative efforts - so use it!
Stay away from mere features and bring back benefits. I don't think anyone has outlawed the word "enjoy" yet, so you can tell buyers that they'll enjoy the breeze, or the view from the deck, or the flickering fire in that massive rock fireplace. In other words, you can tell them there's a view, you just can't suggest that they can see it.
My first broker, way back in the Stone Age, said: "Put the reader in the house." That advice is as true today as it was then. Make them "feel" how fantastic it will be when they live in that house.
In return, you'll get faster closings, happier sellers, a better and better reputation, and... more money in your pocket.
Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and former real estate broker who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries.
Her e-book, The Land Buyer's Survival Guide, is a resource for both land buyers and beginning real estate sales people - offering a guide to the questions that must be answered before it's safe to close on a land purchase. Learn more about the Guide at http://www.marte-cliff.com/Survival.html offers a weekly ezine for real estate professionals and others with an interest in marketing themselves or their property. Subscribe by sending a blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll immediately receive a copy of her real estate ad writing report.
Visit her at http://www.marte-cliff.com or contact her at: email@example.com.