By Debbie Hanlon

Debbie Hanlon_cropIn my previous column I talked about the importance of establishing a database of contacts and adding contacts to it on a daily basis. Obviously these contacts become clients and start taking your time. You still need to add new contacts whenever and wherever you can, but now you need to take it to the next level and have people contact you. It’s the difference between you going out and knocking on people’s doors for business and them coming and knocking on yours. Wouldn’t that be nice for a change? It’s not that hard to do and it was what helped me kick my career into the next gear on my way to becoming number one in Canada.

So, how do you do it? How do you get people to think it’s in their best interest to call you, out of all the other real estate agents out there? You market yourself. The mistake most people make is they market themselves as a real estate agent or, even worse, they market a house they’re trying to sell. By taking that approach, all you’re really doing is wading into the fray and saying you’re just another option they should consider when buying or selling property. All you need do is look at any real estate publication to see the seemingly endless number of real estate agents who are doing this.

Sure, you could stand out more with more ads or you could make a bigger splash with bigger ads. Maybe you could get more attention with more colours in your ads instead of the sticking with the usual black and white.

At the end of the day, these approaches not only cost you a lot more money, but they still sell as a real estate agent looking to sell or buy houses. You don’t have to be bigger, more frequent or more colourful to stand out in a crowded marketplace – you have to be different than the person next to you offering the same service. You have to sell yourself.

The way I did this was very, very simple and equally as effective; I marketed myself not as a real estate agent, but as a real estate expert.

That set me apart, it gave me instant credibility and it opened up lines of communications with people on subjects other than how much they should buy or sell their homes for. In short, it widened the net I was using to get potential clients. I was probably a lot further from being a real estate expert back then than you are now. I was a mere few months removed from being a single mother on social assistance who had never entertained the idea of buying my own house, let alone selling someone else’s. But I knew even then that I wasn’t going to compete with everyone else in trying to sell houses, I was going to sell myself.

The first thing I did was scour the local papers and gather the contact information for their reporters. These promptly went into my growing database. While I was collecting their contact information, I was also reading the information CMHC was sending out, as well as local and national real estate magazines, for readily available expert advice. I also contacted city hall and had myself put on the mailing list for economic updates for the city. This gave me an almost inexhaustible supply of expert advice that would be helpful to people buying or selling homes. I would then send the stories and updates out to all my media contacts as press releases from me. The original name of the publication was there and I gave it credit, but it was me who was offering it to the reporters, so I came to be seen as the expert.

The results were almost immediate and I began getting calls from local reporters doing stories about real estate. The interesting thing was, all the stories I’d read to find information I could send as press releases actually helped me know what I was talking about to these reporters. So, not only did I get a load of free media exposure and marketing, I also got a free education and ended up being a real estate expert in the real sense of the word.  So set yourself apart from the crowd and sell yourself as a local expert and in no time you’ll be one.

Debbie Hanlon is the president and founder of Hanlon Realty. She is a three-time top 50 CEO winner and was named one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada. She is currently an elected city official in St. John’s, Nfld. and is available for motivational and training seminars. Email [email protected]

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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