By Ari Lahdekorpi

Marketing is an important part of any successful real estate career. Consumers are bombarded by thousands of messages each day, so the question is, “How does one rise above the din?” Here are a couple of thoughts on marketing to help ignite some ideas for you.

1) Have I selected a target market?

Half of the battle with marketing is selecting the right list and then having the message to communicate to that list. The best marketing message communicated to the wrong list will create zero results. For example, a great promotional offer for a new steak house sent to a list of local vegetarians would flop … not because the offer is necessarily bad, but because it was sent to the wrong audience, so it was bad for them. The more thought you put into the “who” you want to communicate to with the “what” you have to share with them, the more results you will generate with your ads.

Most Realtors take a marketing message and just blanket an area with it, hoping to get a customer in the process. This is like playing archery blindfolded and shooting arrow after arrow, hoping to hit the bull’s-eye. You must get a clear idea of your ideal customer criteria and send a message that speaks to that person’s needs.

Instead of mailing out 10,000 flyers to a general random list, if you have a small well-chosen list, you can create a multiple sequence campaign and communicate to a targeted group and generate contacts with each mailing. This is why the technique of “farming” a neighbourhood is so effective in the long run for many agents.

A mediocre piece sent to an eager list will impact more than the best piece sent to an uninterested list. Your list choice is key, so make sure you know who your target market is and what they are hungry for.

2) Do I have a compelling offer?

The worst offer to make is no offer at all. The “yearbook” picture ads that many agents seem to choose are a questionable investment of dollars at best. Particularly when they are cookie-cutter replications of each other. Always ask, what is the purpose of the ad, and can you measure its results? If you are just placing an ad with your name and picture to show that you are alive and waiting for business, it would be far more effective to stand on the street corner holding a sign.

One idea to help improve response is to offer a free information line (just a phone line with an updated voice message greeting) or directing people to your personal website or blog spot. In addition, websites that have a personal audio or video greeting hold more potential for you to sell yourself than a one dimensional web page bio. These are surprising cheap to create and maintain with little effort.

When you have your target list in mind, think about what the people on it really want and why, and then craft an offer that speaks to this “want”. Always make it compelling by making it easy for them to say yes. Consider what will call them into action, speak directly to that “hot button”… and yes, it is typically more than just a free CMA!

3) Am I using the right medium for my message?

Traditional methods of reaching a mass audience have been splintered over the last decade or so. Today the easy answer of placing an ad in the local paper or buying a reach program on television or radio is no longer a reality. Viewership of television has changed so dramatically with time shifting options, ad blocking software and seemingly endless programming options that an electronic media buy is no longer a straightforward thing, nor is it necessarily able to provide a good return on investment.

Radio is a slightly better option as long as a buy is made during drive times and your target group is represented well in the station’s demographic profiles. Print is becoming less of a sure thing, although specialized real estate periodicals reach an older demographic well. The print publications that also have an Internet component can be a good value because of the designed synchronicity of the reach.

Websites have become part of the “traditional media” landscape. This is largely due to the mass proliferation of the tool and the subsequent lack of attention that sites have been given over time. It is not unusual to find lovely looking sites that have received little direct attention in the way of updates or improvements beyond their initial setup dates. As a result, websites have become a wasteland of lost marketing potential.

The use of social media for marketing both a personal brand and specific properties is now a popular option, given the difficulties with traditional methods. Facebook for example has a vast treasure of psychographic data on its users. It has been mining the likes, dislikes and group interests of users for many years. This information has given the site a powerful ability to profile user demographics and interests unlike almost anything else in marketing history.

Facebook ads have become a target friendly tool that maximizes each advertising dollar. Facebook also has the ability to generate its ads to a specific geographic location, like an electronic flyer drop.

Other social media sites work well, although they don’t have the accumulated data that Facebook has amassed to date. The savvy early adopters of social media have seen a profound return on their marketing dollar in recent years.

In short, marketing isn’t about throwing money at the problem of breaking through the din, it’s about knowing who you want to reach and what medium coupled with message will hit the mark. It is not about advertising budgets as much as it is about a measured science of knowing your prospect’s profile.


  1. R.E.M. Is constantly referring to agents as the individual sales person or broker. Remember that by law the Agent is the company. To use the word in the consistent manner R.E.M. Uses it creates the impression particularly to those new to the industry that it’s okay. It’s not. It would be great if like the mortgage industry we could be agents which would clear up confusion for the public but we can’t so please for now – the right terminology in your articles please.

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