Debbie Hanlon_crop - webBy Debbie Hanlon

If you’ve been paying attention, your database is no doubt bursting at the seams with contacts. You’re keeping in touch with them on a regular basis and you’re adding more names daily. You’ve also been setting yourself up as a local real estate expert by sending out press releases to local newspapers and radio stations about the latest real estate trends. Now it’s time to take the next step that will take your career to the next level.

This is the one that really helped me reach No. 1 in Canada and it can help your career too. It’s time to roll out an advertising campaign that’ll get you noticed and let the world know you’re ready for their business.

What’s that, you don’t have the money? You can’t afford advertising? When I did it I couldn’t afford a car, I was still hitch hiking to work and I hitch hiked my way all the way to No. 1. I did it and so can you, but you can’t let little things like having no money get in your way. You’d be amazed at what you can accomplish without a dime to spend on it. Don’t think about money, think around money.

What I did (and you can too because we all work with the same people – lawyers, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, appraisers and so on) was I decided to hold the province’s first-ever first-time home buyers seminar. That would get people who were interested in buying a house talking to a Realtor who knew all the right people they’d need.

I had it figured all out. My plan was fail proof. It costs around $5,000 to hold a seminar – to do it right, and that’s the only way you should do anything ….right. All I had to do was come up with that money and I was off to the races.

I didn’t have $5,000. At that time it might as well have been $50,000.  There was no way I could come up with it on my own. The only thing worse than not having money is not knowing anyone who does. Luckily I knew people who did and so do you. Our suppliers. These other businesses were more established and already had marketing budgets in place or were willing to spend money to make money. I figured maybe they’d want to spend some of it on a marketing event.

I approached them and told them about the seminar.  Because the Realtor is the first point of contact when buying a home, they were cool with me calling it the Debbie Hanlon First-Time Home Buyers’ Seminar. I spoke at mine but if you’re not comfortable speaking I’m sure you know someone who is, and who’d love to be a part of it.

I told them my plan and said they would have to invest X number of dollars to be a part of the seminar. They recognized it as a great opportunity and were all happy to invest. We ran a comprehensive marketing plan that included all forms of advertising, booked the room and covered all the other expenses….and of course we invited the media with our press releases. What I could not afford to do alone I could now do, thanks to their financial support. The seminars, which we held on a regular basis, were a huge success. We all got clients, a lot of clients. We all made money. We all grew our businesses. We all forged long-term relationships that continue to this day. What’s not to like?

So if you don’t have the money to pay for marketing, look around you. Who do you deal with? Who are your suppliers? Would they be interested in going in on a co-operative marketing event with you? Chances are they would love to. It doesn’t have to be a first-time home buyers’ seminar; it could be whatever you’re comfortable with. The knowledge and experience you gain from preparing for the event is invaluable. It’ll get your face out there. It’ll get you noticed and recognized as a leader in the real estate industry. It’ll get you in front of potential clients. It’ll get you business. It’ll get you money and it won’t cost you a penny, but it’s priceless.

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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