This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)
I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?
- I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
- I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
- Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
- Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
- Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
- Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
- I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
- I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
- Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
- I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
- I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
- I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
- I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
- I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
- I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
- I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.
As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.
My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.
So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?