September 09, 2016
Before we get into the question and answer portion of this article, I want to make it very clear that neighborhood farming requires a long-term commitment. You will need more than just a few haphazard postcards.Additionally, if you don’t live in the area, plan to spend some time in the neighborhood, and be sure to attend community events.
Ultimately, this is the message that you want people to receive about you: your essence. What do you want the audience you are targeting to know about you? That you are experienced, knowledgeable— likely all of the above. Dig deeper. Do you want them to see you as someone who shares similar values, enjoys a similar lifestyle, or maybe someone that is always available. The more unique you can get, the better. This will help establish a stronger marketing strategy.
The keyword in that question is written. You might think you have it all mapped out, but if it’s in your head, it is quite possible that you are lacking accountability. You’ve likely heard the quote from Jeff Richards: “Creative without strategy is called art. Creative with strategy is called advertising.” You can have the most amazing postcards produced, but if there is no long-term strategy you won’t own the neighborhood. Plan on sponsoring community events, and sending regular direct mail.
What’s in a brand? Everything. All of your marketing and communication will be branded a certain way to help your target audience distinguish you from your competitors. A solid brand will help you establish memorability and keep you at the front of your target audience’s mind. That is, a brand is your presence. And a good place to start is by having the following: logo, professional photography, a color palette, messaging and a certain style.
You may have found your due diligence and decided that there is a neighborhood that has plenty of homes on the market and a lot of demand, and you want to get in. That’s great! Now, if you aren’t already you’ll have to become an expert in all things in that neighborhood. This means knowing all about the style of the homes and their average value, the history of the neighborhood, the schools in the area, the demographics, community activities, etc. Make sure you keep abreast of everything that is happening in that neighborhood, as well as in the surrounding area.
It is a very good idea to find out which other real estate agents are active in the community. A quick search on Google and on the MLS should provide plenty of insight. If you live in the neighborhood, you’ll benefit from seeing any direct mail they are sending.Otherwise, you’ll have to keep your eye out for their online presence and local publications. It will also help to understand their weaknesses and what would be a good hole to fill.
Once you understand the competition and because you are an expert in the neighborhood, you’ll know exactly what messages you’d like to convey to those looking to sell their home, and those looking to buy a home. At this point, it would be wise to have a landing page dedicated to that community. The landing page should contain keywords that people are searching, but should also have information on the available listings, community info, and some statistics. You can even have a spot for people to leave an email address and get regular emailed updates.
Aside from having a landing page, writing blogs about the neighborhoods and events is a great way to establish yourself as a neighborhood authority, but also to keep people informed. If you provide your target audience useful information, they will regard you as a reliable source.
Online communities offer a great way to get an insight into the neighborhood’s residents. From forums to Facebook groups, perform some research online and find out where the residents are hanging out. I will caution you not to use these groups to sell your services, but instead to make a genuine connection with people in the neighborhood/community. It is important that you establish yourself as a friendly neighborhood expert, who truly wants to help, versus a sales person. When creating online accounts, make sure they are consistently branded, which will help your target identify you quickly.
Depending on the community, you might find that around the holidays there are more events. If you don’t live in the community, this is a great opportunity to get to meet with residents in a more casual setting. A lot of communities also have a neighborhood newsletter that can inexpensively be sponsored. You don’t even have to design an ad, instead write an article with useful information.
When you go to these events, don’t forget to bring along some collateral material that you can hand out if the conversation leads you in that direction.
You may want to have brochures readily available that you can leave at houses within the neighborhood; you might even get lucky enough to meet a few of the people in the residents while delivering those.. Make sure you are well stocked with business cards and brochures, at minimum. Promotional materials are also great tools if there is room in your budget. You should also be reaching the residents through direct mail via postcards, newsletters, holiday cards, and market reports. It will take several mailers before people recognize your brand, and even more mailers for them to consider you the go-to agent.
Aside from the planned mailers, you’ll also want to send mailers when you have a new listing in the community, when you are hosting an open house, and when you sell a home in the community.
Hopefully, this article has helped you identify some things you can do to ensure that you become the leading agent for your specific community. Regardless of what you decide to do, you must stick with it and be consistent. Don’t give up and you’ll soon you’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor.