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MARKETING DARWINISM: How To Avoid Being The Biggest Loser

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In today’s changing marketing landscape being eaten alive by your competition – Big or Small – is a distinct possibility.  How a sole practitioner — and I include teams here, too — can survive is everything.

Yet, exactly how – when only the fittest survive – can you avoid becoming the biggest loser in today’s life-or-death game of Marketing Darwinism?

First we must believe: Prospects haven’t stopped responding to marketing. They are just consuming marketing differently. The issue isn’t: Should you stop marketing? The issue isn’t: Can the little survive amongst the big? The issue is: How to adapt to this new environment and thrive by being the most direct.

5 Facts Of Real Estate Marketing Life

  • Fact: 60-70% of real estate business comes from people you know.
  • Fact: 70% of sellers and 67% of buyers only contact one agent (NAR’s 2014 Profile of Buyers & Sellers).
  • Fact: 90% of buyers, who used the Internet to search for homes, also purchased their home through a real estate professional (again, NAR’s 2014 Profile).
  • Fact: 53 is the average age of home sellers (“Younger Boomer,” born 1955-1964), and lived in their house 10 years before deciding to sell (NAR’s 2014 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends).
  • Fact: Internet leads are very perishable. Even with virtually instant response, online prospects are already clicking through that Mega Portal to visit your competitor’s listings.

The secret isn’t beating the Mega Portals at what they do best: Traffic. Let them use their online traffic domination to link the online search prospect with you — the live real estate professional — when they can. Trying to beat Portal websites at their own game is what odds makers call the “short end of the stick.” Why? Because quantity without quality is not the best use of your marketing time – and money.

The solution is to be direct. Rather than running after a stranger online, the best way a real estate professional can beat the competition today is to treat strangers as dessert. Instead, focus first on the main dish of people you know and the people they know…who live or want to live within your sphere.

5 Things That Make Direct Marketing Powerful

Why direct mail marketing is so powerful compared to digital marketing channels:

  1. Direct mail is the only channel that can reach everyone in your database. Let’s face it. Most contacts don’t want texts, phone calls, visitors, updates, tweets or pins…and they tend to route marketing e-mails and social media to oblivion. Direct mail gets delivered.
  2. Customer home-address lists are the most stable. Email lists degrade eight times faster than postal lists. Why? People live at the same address for years. Not so with email addresses. Better still; the property located at that postal address is the very essence of your real estate business.
  3. Mailboxes are less crowded than they used to be. Messages can be lost in the bombardment of daily emails and flash-and-gone news streams. Whereas well-designed direct mail jumps out and commands attention.
  4. Direct mail positions you as the expert. Information, tips, current market trends, all create conversations and top-of-mind awareness with past and future clients who appreciate the human connection that direct mail provides.
  5. Direct mail is the most compelling messenger. Prospects touch it. Feel it. Respond to the richness of color, images, design. Tangibility, credibility and trust are the best friends of your relationship marketing.

Even in the digital age, with direct mail marketing you don’t have to be the biggest. All you need to be is more direct and consistent than your competition. Or, as that marketing master once said, “You don’t have to out run the bear. You just have to out run your competition.”

Dan Gooder Richard

Dan is the President/Founder of GOODER GROUP - RAINMAKER LEAD SYSTEM. He is also the author of two successful Real Estate books: REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Successful Strategies For Real Estate Marketing (Wiley) and REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Guide To Online Marketing (Wiley).

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Some Things Never Change

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Did you know?

70% of sellers hire the first agent they interview.

That’s according to the NAR’s 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

In real estate marketing over the decades many changes have come – and gone. Some skyrocket then disappear. Others are permanent. Classifieds. Direct mail. TV. Internet. Email. Social media. Mobile. And many others.

Yet one rule has remained constant…year in, year out.

2 out of 3 home sellers only interview one agent to list their home. (The same is true of buyers — 67% only interviewed one agent in 2014.)

How do we know?

In 1998 our company, Gooder Group, sponsored several questions on the NAR’s survey of home buyers and sellers. Those questions became permanent features. One question particularly stood the test of time: “How many agents did you contact before selecting one to assist with your home sale?”

Here are the figures from the NAR’s research over the years: 

2014   70% of home sellers contact only one agent
2013   66%
2012   65%
2011   66%
2010   66%
2009   64%
2008   67%
2007   64%
2006   69%
2004   73%
2003   69%
2001   70%
1999   74%
1998   63%


Why is this important?

If you are that One Agent, then 2 out of 3 times you get the listing or buyer’s agreement. Slam dunk. Money in the bank.

If you are not that One Agent, then 2 out of 3 times you’re out of luck. Not considered. Nada.

Even in the digital age listings and buyers come from relationships…from the people you know and the people you stay in touch with constantly. By direct mail. By email. By social media. By phone. And, in person.

It bears repeating: Relationship marketing is the secret to building a profitable real estate practice.

In 2015. And in 1998.

Dan Gooder Richard

Dan is the President/Founder of GOODER GROUP - RAINMAKER LEAD SYSTEM. He is also the author of two successful Real Estate books: REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Successful Strategies For Real Estate Marketing (Wiley) and REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Guide To Online Marketing (Wiley).

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Lead-Gen Like A Giant, Follow-Up Like A Mad Man

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“Pre-Leads” are home sellers and buyers before they get gobbled up by the giant listing portals (and before they are sold back to you as online “leads”).  More and more top agents today are focused on pre-leads to dominate their local markets.

In a nutshell these top agents build customer databases at the core of their businesses — postal databases, email databases and social networks.  In the pre-lead marketing model “lead generation” — that is identifying interested prospects — is focused on driving a continuous stream of prospects into their database where 60-70% of their business comes from.

Lead Generation In The Digital Age

In the digital age lead-generation choices have multiplied like rabbits. Back in the day, the Big Five of Print, TV, Radio, Signage and Direct Mail were everything. In this century the choice of media channels has exploded into a fragmented universe — some gurus call it ‘fracked’ — as our graphic above illustrates.

Exactly how you “feed your funnels” to grow your database depends on your business focus, your market, your niche(s) and your skills. Everyone does it their own way. Some use online tools. Others use offline strategies. Still others use a mix of almost anything that works from pay-per-click search, signs, print ads, EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) geofarming, cold calls or duty desk to door knocking, referrals, Expireds, FSBOs, paid leads or community sponsorships.

Ultimately whoever builds the largest database wins.

New Old-School Marketing

While some agents will forever chase the latest mobile craze or social media fad, many top listing agents today are taking a new-old approach. These listers are taking advantage of hitting people in their mailboxes. Why? Because direct mail is targeted. Direct mail is hyper-local (in fact, a property address is the very essence of real estate)…and because direct mail gets delivered — without being routed to the oblivion of spam folders or dropped into flooded inboxes or news streams.

In a word, direct mail works.

The real secret today is not lead generation, but following up and converting the prospects you’ve already captured…and retaining past clients and sphere to maximize referrals and repeat business.

It bears repeating: Consistent lead generation is important to grow your pre-lead database. What’s critical is to follow up that database like a mad man to dominate your real estate market today…and tomorrow.

Special nod of thanks to Walk Like A Giant, Sell Like A Madman, the title of Ralph Roberts’ brilliant 1997 book with John Gallagher that inspired the title of this post.

Dan Gooder Richard

Dan is the President/Founder of GOODER GROUP - RAINMAKER LEAD SYSTEM. He is also the author of two successful Real Estate books: REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Successful Strategies For Real Estate Marketing (Wiley) and REAL ESTATE RAINMAKER: Guide To Online Marketing (Wiley).

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