A real estate agent’s career is about much more than a real estate license. A real estate agent’s career is also about building a business from the ground up.
In other words, a real estate agent is something of an entrepreneur. And like all entrepreneurs, it’s important that a real estate agent start their career right. Keep reading to learn how.
Choose your niche
According to an estimate by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO), nearly two million US real estate licensees are active. That’s a lot of real estate agents for your potential customers to choose from.
In this case, one of the best ways to convince customers to choose you over another agent is to develop a niche. While setting a niche does limit your potential market, it also sets you apart from the competition. Setting a niche allows you to position yourself as an expert in that particular subject, and most customers prefer a subject matter expert to a jack-of-all-trades. As the saying goes, the jack-of-all-trades is the master of none.
Now that you’ve settled on your niche, the time has come to start marketing yourself.
Marketing yourself should comprise both traditional and digital marketing methods. Traditional marketing methods can include headshots and business cards, while digital marketing leans more towards professional websites and social media accounts.
Although digital marketing is essential to becoming a successful agent in the digital age, traditional marketing should never be ignored. Traditional marketing is one of the easiest ways to connect with local customers. Local customers are more likely to discover your business simply by driving around or having a conversation with someone else in your target market.
That possibility alone is why paper business cards are still an important part of marketing yourself. Business cards are an easy and inexpensive way of putting your name out there.
That being said, you should think twice before designing and printing your business cards on your own. While you might think it’s cutting costs, the price of ink cartridges and high-quality paper can quickly add up — especially when you’re printing multiple copies of your business cards.
On top of that, if you aren’t trained in graphic design, then you will have a more difficult time knowing what makes a design “good.” Low-quality paper, black-and-white images, and a poor design can give customers a bad impression of your business. They make customers think that you will put as little effort into your services as you did into your business cards.
Luckily, both the online and the offline world have simple solutions to both problems. Hundreds of thousands of customizable templates (free and paid) are available on the Internet.
Additionally, many offline printing centers like FedEx and UPS offer business card services that are quick, affordable, and look great. More importantly, they also have locations all over the United States.
Besides high-quality paper and a good design, a professional headshot is also key to a polished business card. As with design, a headshot that you clearly took with your iPhone signals how little you care about your business. And while cheaper alternatives to a professional photographer are few and far between, a photographer is nevertheless a long-term investment that will pay off handsomely in the end.
Plus, a photographer can help you pose in the most professional way possible to make the best impression possible on potential customers.
In addition to business cards, direct mailers are another traditional method that should be included in your marketing plan. While direct mailers may appear to be losing ground to e-mail newsletters, the marketing research institute MarketingSherpa actually proved the opposite.
In October 2016, MarketingSherpa asked 1,200 consumers “which type of advertising channels [they] trust more when [they] want to make a purchase decision.” A whopping 76% said they trust ads and catalogs that they receive in the mail over ads that they see on digital devices. Among the digital ad channels included in the survey were search engine ads, online video ads, sponsored posts on blogs, social media ads, pop-up ads, and more.
This phenomenon partially owes itself to the time, money, and effort that goes into print ads and catalogs. Whereas anyone can build a website or buy advertising space via digital channels these days, ads and catalogs typically require a team of experts to produce. These experts understand not only who their target audience is, but also how to best get a message across to them.
Some direct mail experts specialize in direct mail for realtors. Wise Pelican, for example, provides custom mailing lists and hundreds of templates for anyone in the real estate industry. Wise Pelican’s direct mail for realtors also has no order minimums.
Customers also trust print ads and catalogs more than digital ads because they feel more personal. In fact, a neuromarketing study by USPS and Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making found that physical ads induced “a stronger emotional response [in participants] and [participants] remembered them better.” That emotional response is an important first step to building relationships with your customers.
Digital and social marketing
That being said, digital and social marketing channels still have their place in your path to success as a real estate agent.
While most of your customers are going to be local to the area, they may still assess your online presence before they will even consider contacting you. According to Rehan Fernando, CEO at EIGHT25MEDIA, “over 70-80% of people will research a company on the web before making a purchase decision, usually by visiting its website.” Customers do this to verify that “the business is actually real and has taken the time to put out a presentation.”
One way to increase your online presence is to have a Facebook page. Survey results on Statista show that Facebook has more than 200 million users in the United States alone. Therefore, customers in your target market are more likely to have a Facebook account than not. What’s more, those customers are discovering new businesses while browsing Facebook.
Facebook is a simple, but incredibly effective way of connecting with local customers. And best of all, it’s free. However, you can write an ad and pay Facebook to place it if necessary. The same is true of Instagram, which Facebook also owns.
Speaking of ad placements, one of the largest online advertising platforms is none other than Google itself. Formerly Google Adwords, this platform is now known as Google Ads.
Like Facebook, Google Ads allows paying customers to display an advertisement across Google’s network. Google’s network includes its famous search engine, YouTube, Google+, Google Shopping, and much, much more — so even a single Google ad can have incredible outreach potential.
If you follow these simple guidelines, you will be in the best position to maximize your opportunities for success!