The problem with real estate is that it’s local. You have to understand the local market.
– Robert Kiyosaki
It’s no secret Real Estate professionals have been utilizing farming and neighborhood marketing advertising since…well, since there were neighborhoods to farm! It’s something that has proven to be a tried and true method for cultivating and retaining real estate business.
Only in the last 10-15 years has farming specific neighborhoods fallen away with the advent of online marketing pieces like email newsletters and of course, social media.
Still, for those few ‘hold-outs’ who live and die by their farm, the practice of sending something of value once a month to homeowners has proven to be an effective means in establishing their authority, knowledge and over all value in being the Real Estate agent to use when those neighborhood homeowners turn into sellers.
Can Today’s Agent Generate Leads Through Farming
When I started out in the late 90’s, there weren’t websites or search engines to worry about and there certainly wasn’t social media available. Back then it was all about getting your name and information directly to the buyers and sellers…it was all about direct mail.
In fact, I recall vividly ‘salespeople’ from those direct mail companies continuously visiting our office plying those beautiful postcards and brochures that were both visually stunning and super effective for those agents who used them. I can remember being able to pick out the ‘Big Dog(s)’ in the office quite easily by how many mailers they sent out and how much business they got from their farming efforts.
I later worked with a very successful real estate broker who’s farm was every single family home owner on Queen Anne in Seattle. This affluent area of the Emerald City was saturated by this guys mailers and he never missed a month. I asked him once how much he spent on his mailers and he responded smugly, “More than you make in a year.”
That was just the way it was back then. I also recall that very agent gross commissions being somewhere in the $600,000 range…so, it worked!
Today, you don’t have to break the bank to set up a successful farming campaign and with the addition of your online marketing platform, farming can revolutionize your marketing efforts to meet a whole new breed of potential clients.
What Is Real Estate Farming
Definition: There’s one thing that almost all successful real estate agents have done to develop their business in a specific area or market demographic. They “farm” the area for business. The term farm implies growing something. That’s what you do when you farm a local subdivision. You plant the seeds of future business, nurture them with marketing and then hopefully reap the rewards in commissions.
Farming can involve any or all of direct mail, door knocking, postcards, newsletters, email or any other form of advertising. The key to farming an area is to do it with regularity and keep on your message. (source: About)
5 Marketing Ideas to Generate Leads Through Farming
1. Add a coupon code that folks need to use to receive a FREE gift
Again, now that we all have some level of web presence, we can couple our farming efforts to help get more traffic to our website. But how?
One of the more effective ways is to send out a mailer that offers a FREE gift or a discount to a local eatery or restaurant…it really doesn’t matter as long as the recipient of your mailer wants it!
Use a special code they need to add to a contact page that you can then forward to a PDF or page on your site that allows them to download the coupon. The bonus to all this is organic traffic to your website and perhaps a big thank you from your local establishment for the increase in business.
2. Offer a FREE Market Analysis
This one seems like a no-brainer…but wait! Instead of sending them to a less than inviting contact form to fill out, how about adding a Home Valuation site to your repertoire. In concert with your farming mailer, you can now offer homeowners an instant home valuation.
There are quite a few of these sites available, some for as little as $50 a month and they are a slick way to get your farm the info they want…AND, in turn you get a name, email address and a home address for your troubles!
3. Add just sold/Market stats as well as just listed homes for the neighborhood
Don’t have any listings?
So what! I guarantee you there is someone in your office that wouldn’t mind some free advertising. See if there is a home for sale in your farm that is listed by an agent in your office and let them know you want to help them sell their new listing…who would say no?
Sold listings are easy
Pick a few that are in the general price range of your farm. Sending out a mailer with homes that sold hundreds of thousands of dollars over or under what you typically see for your particular farm is a great way to finding the trash can…fast!
4. Make sure you add a Call to Action
While offering a FREE Market Report and downloadable coupons, you still want to give your recipients a reason to either pick of the phone and call you or visit your website!
If you’re farming a number of apartments or other avenues to find buyers, offer a direct link to your site to set up an email listing alert or the ability to set up a property search and set up their own search account on your site!
For those who are traditionally looking to work with sellers, your farming pieces need to give the homeowner easy access to market trends, recent sales in the area and home valuation tools you have on your site.
MAKE SURE YOUR CALL TO ACTION IS EASY TO SEE – Don’t let a single farming mailer go out without a large font, highly visible call to action that gets the phone ringin’ and their computer or mobile device hitting your website!
5. Door knock around your mailers
This one is likely not your favorite part of farming but it certainly is the most valuable.
If you can stop by and let homeowners meet the name on the mailer, your farm will grow quickly.
5 Sure Fire Ways NOT to Generate Leads Through Farming
1. Don’t tell people ‘The Market is HOT’ or “Inventory is Low…blah, blah, blah”
Believe me, this is not the way to get your farms attention…unless you want them to not hire you.
2. Don’t stop just because you aren’t getting any responses right away…BE CONSISTENT!
Remember my colleague who farmed Queen Anne, one of the other bits of information he gave me was the months and months when he started out where the only response he got was “Stop mailing me stuff”.
That didn’t detour him and now his business is on cruise control with every mailer he sends getting him more and more business!
3. Don’t pick too small of a Farm that has a very low turn over rate or high competition.
This is a very common mistake that many agents make. If you start farming too small of an area, you may be missing out on business just a few doors down. Also, be realistic when picking your farm. Sure we all want a farm like the Queen Anne’s of the world, but those price points may mean low turn over or a saturation of agents who’ve already established themselves.
4. Don’t use small font, too much text or small post cards
Designing your own post card or other mailers for your farm is a waste of your time. Plus, you’re not a graphic designer (unless you are then go ahead and skip this part). Find a company that already has a whole slough of print options that they know have worked in the past.
Also, don’t use a 4×6 flimsy piece! Grab their attention with a large, 6×9 glossy beauty.
When your postcard is larger than their other mail, they will very likely grab your piece first!
Leverage these companies for their design work PLUS, you can likely get Bulk Rate information that can save you money on postage.
5. Adding social media icons
Huge waste of space! Here are two very good reasons why you don’t want people going to your social media pages and accounts
- Once they go there, they stay there!
- Sure, they may spend a few seconds on your fan page but then they quickly go to see what’s going on in their Facebook world and 5 hours later, they are still looking at videos of cute kittens or babies…AND ARE NO WHERE NEAR YOUR WEBSITE OR FAN PAGE!
- It’s likely some folks in your farm don’t do social media
- Even worse…you don’t do social media so well! Now you send folks info about your accounts they’ll never go to or they actually go there and see your last post was 2 months ago…
Mix it up…don’t send the same old mailer every time
Farming is a year-long endeavor which affords you the opportunity to mix and match your farming pieces.
- Late Winter/Early Spring…send a seed packet your potential clients can sow for a nice Summer bloom…hey look, you really are farming now!
- November is a great time to drop by with a Pumpkin Pie or other festive Autumn goody
- Schedules of the local sports team just before the season start. Show your true local authority if your community/farm is big with the local high school team, send their schedule as well!
Keep your farming on Budget
Don’t get yourself in a financial bind that forces you to stop your farming.
- Pick a size of farm that you can sustain financially
- Don’t spend a gob on Calendars or extra postage
- Don’t farm a neighborhood of higher end homes if you’re not financially equipped to spend the money it takes to market the luxury market.
I think that farming is making a comeback! In part, because very few real estate agents are doing it any longer.
And what better opportunity do you need than knowing you can create a farm that doesn’t have any competition for business…you could easily take the Lions share of the market share in no time!
I can tell you I haven’t seen a real estate mailer in my mailbox for some time!