1. Go Deep. Try to uncover potential listings before they exist. Scour rentals, and expired or withdrawn listings. Try using the “make me move” feature on Zillow. Circumstances may have changed or the market may have finally caught up with a previously overpriced home. Try not to devote too much time to chasing pre-foreclosures, as those homeowners are most likely already bombarded with solicitations.
2. Be Sociable. One REALTOR® we spoke with throws two big client events a year, a family-friendly summer carnival at her own home, and a holiday party for grownups. Offering each guest a goodie bag on their way out is a great way to distribute your business card along with notepads or other collateral materials. Be sure to include a note in each bag reminding them to send referrals your way. The same REALTOR® also invites clients to lunch on their birthday and asks them to invite their coworkers. Conversation will inevitably lead to how you originally met and what a great experience the home buying/selling process was. Be sure to bring plenty of business cards for your new referrals and collect their email addresses for your database.
3. Go Back to Your Database. Take a fresh look at your contacts, especially those who have been underwater. If they haven’t entered foreclosure or gone through a short sale, they might have gained enough equity to consider selling. Offer to go over the numbers with them, they might not be aware of the increase in their home’s value.
4. Showcase Your Listings. Create must-attend open house “events” by sending out deluxe invitations to neighbors. Treat it as a real invitation, using a high quality paper and beautiful photographs, or email the link to a virtual home tour. For high end properties, try a luncheon by the pool or a piano performance. For fixers, set up a full service open house by partnering with related industries who also rely on referrals. Arrange for a loan officer to be on hand to discuss pre-qualifying and financing options, and invite a contractor to help potential buyers envision their dream home. Since open houses are typically held on Sunday afternoons, try a wine and cheese event at 5:00 on a weekday and invite people to stop by on their way home from work. The extra care you use in showcasing your listings will show potential clients what they can expect from you.
5. Be Seen. Establish yourself as an expert by getting out there and talking about what you know. Host seminars, teach classes and offer to speak to community groups. Host a monthly coffee klatch with a real estate based theme. Try topics like: “Why this is a good time to sell your home,” “What do you need to do before you sell?” or “The selling process: how to avoid common mistakes.”
6. Stress the Advantages of Making a Move Now. In your outreach work, try being part educator and part therapist, emphasizing why now is a good time to take action. Let sellers know about the high prices their property can fetch and talk to buyers about historically low interest rates. After the recent shaky market, clients might appreciate some extra hand holding to let them feel that acting now is smart and financially sound.
7. A Fresh Twist. Instead of handing out a note pad or refrigerator magnet, try something locally relevant like seed packets for a plant that thrives in your area. Come up with creative ways to get your name out there, like hosting an annual block party, or sponsoring a neighborhood softball team — your company name will be seen on players’ uniforms and a ballpark banner for each game. Try prospecting in places where the majority of visitors are most likely homeowners already, like a local dog park. Leave inexpensive dog treats on car windows accompanied by a postcard listing “5 Reasons Why Fido Needs a New Home.”
8. Create a Virtual Community? Write a neighborhood newsletter, blog or Facebook page focusing on local news, establishing yourself as the go-to person for your neighborhood. Get more readers via open house sign-ups, and be sure to ask for “likes” on Facebook. Take advantage of the viral (and free!) nature of social media and share your content over a variety of networks, asking friends and readers to share as well. Compelling content like hyper-local news, and fun info about a neighborhood will draw more loyal readers than just a business page about you or general real estate news.
For more innovative marketing ideas, try using C.A.R.’s One Cool Thing infographics in your collateral materials. They’re stylish, relevant, and FREE for C.A.R. members to copy, use, and share.