Do You Think Like a Real Estate Salesperson or a Real Estate Marketing Professional?

Why thinking like a marketer is so Important to success in sales!

Do You Think Like a Real Estate Salesperson or a Marketing Professional Who Can Attract a Steady Flow of Clients and Real Estate Leads? 

Working with real estate salespeople day after day, I see a huge waste of time, money and energy that comes as a direct result of agents thinking like a salesperson instead of a marketing professional. Unfortunately, most agents have no formal training about what marketing is and how it relates to their sales activities. While most agents have gone through a significant amount of sales training, the sales training they get revolves around classic sales skills that assume that face-to-face or over the phone selling skills are all you need to succeed as a real estate agent.

This training doesn’t cover the impact that marketing has on the overall success of an agent. The reality is that most real estate trainers do not have a marketing education or come from a marketing background. They were successful sales people that enjoyed training and management, and they teach agents what they did to succeed as a salesperson, which only works if you have agents that are clones of each other.

So, what exactly is the difference between sales and marketing and why is it important that you understand how marketing and sales work together?

The classic definition of marketing is; Marketing is comprised of the total impact of all activities involved in the transfer of goods from a seller to the buyer, including market selection, product or service features, design, packaging, branding, advertising, shipping, storing, selling, delivery and post-sale customer service. Selling is one just one step out of the complete marketing process and is defined as a salespersons’ actions that are used to induce (someone) to buy something when they are face to face or on the phone with a prospect.  Ok, I know you are thinking, “I just wasted my time reading that.”  What it means is that great marketing makes sales much easier and excellent sales skills maximize the ROI from the investment in marketing.

How Marketing Works

Think about companies like Nike and Proctor & Gamble, which rely purely on the marketing process to persuade people to buy their products. When was the last time you walked into a store to buy a product like toothpaste and a Proctor & Gamble salesperson walked up and gave you a sales presentation on the advantage of Crest, Tide or any other P&G product? P&G relies on the impact of their marketing and advertising to create a buyer who walks into the store predisposed to buying Crest or Tide, over all the almost identical product choices that they have in the store.

Classic sales methods were designed to work without any marketing support. From the early-1930s to the late-1970s, there were countless numbers of direct salespeople who sold aluminum siding, cookware, encyclopedias, vacuums and a myriad of other goods, simply by knocking on doors and giving a sales pitch and then closing.

Supporting Your Sales Function

By the early ’80s, Two-income households were the norm, and people became less tolerant of door-to-door sales, and most pure direct sales companies disappeared. The companies that survived were the ones that found a way to give their salespeople marketing support – companies like Avon, Tupperware, Amway, Herbalife, and others. These companies’ marketing activities created demand for the products that their salespeople sold, making the salespeople more productive. They also moved from door-to-door selling to home parties, group meetings, seminar selling and other methods that combined marketing with selling.

The old-school idea of a salesperson was someone who could sell icemakers to Eskimos based on their charismatic personality and closing skills. I remember one of the real estate sales training seminars I attended in the 1970s was titled “How to Convince Anyone to Sell their Home Anytime.” It was a hardcore sales script using a combination of fear and humiliation to make people sign a listing on the spot. I remember the trainer telling us, “Remember, this presentation works on average one out of every 25 times you use it, and it will also get you thrown out one out of every 25 times.” At this point, I realized that if this what being a real estate agent was all about, that I would never make it. I believed there had to be a better more professional way to persuade people to do business with me.

A Better Approach to Building a Marketing Driven Business 

In marketing, I found what I believed was a better, more professional method for succeeding in real estate. The secret to marketing is strategic thinking, planning, and execution. You have to pick a target market that you have a passion for. Develop a point of differentiation and marketing message that makes it easy for prospects to remember you so that you can drive your personal brand into their consciousness. This predisposes them to calling you when they have a need to buy or sell a home.

Finally, you have to execute your plan. Your marketing plan shows exactly how your marketing message is going to get in front of your prospects and when to send email, mail brochures, what ads to runs to run and who those ads work with your website and branding concepts, what support materials to send out when people do respond, the follow-up plan that converts leads into clients through a well throughout set of email, mail, online retargeting ads and landing pages that create a powerful predisposition to select you a an agent so that when you actually talk to a prospect for the first time they are 80% sure that you are the right agent for them. This requires an agent to make lots of difficult decisions and trade-offs and to develop the patience to let the marketing plan run long enough to actually start working – which is normally six to nine months.

To Build a Business, Resist the Lure of Instant Gratification

Instant gratification: the problem that too many sales people get bogged down in the marketing process. The number of decisions and sacrifices they must make overwhelms them, and so does the cost associated with developing all of the pieces needed to execute a plan. Finally, they struggle to actually execute the plan consistently over time. As the decisions, organizational details and costs of building a marketing campaign bury them, the lure of getting the instant gratification of a short term sale starts to pull their focus away from marketing and turn it toward short-term sales activities like working FSBOs, cold calling for an hour a day and door knocking from 6 to 7 each night.

They think why waste all that time and money on marketing when you can just go out and cold call expireds? This is why I believe the majority of agents end up failing in real estate and those who do survive simply hang on for ten years until the referrals from their past client base start to kick in and they finally make a decent living.

Along the way, most agents end up trying some sales gimmicks that a trainer or manager they know referred to as marketing. The litany is endless: mailing free CMA flyers, holding a raffle for a new TV, car or other prize, giving away flags on the 4th of July, pumpkins at Halloween, notepads, pens, chip clips, calendars, and a host of other promotional stuff agents give away. Recently I was asked to judge a special marketing meeting for a large company that had a number of offices. Agents had been asked to bring their best marketing concept to this meeting and share in front of all the offices. Three mangers and I were asked to pick the winner from what we saw presented.

Sales Gimmicks Are Not Real Marketing

I was totally dismayed as agent after agent got up and presented some sales gimmick, open house invitations with cute bunnies, mailing out half a dollar bill and promising the other half if they would come by an open house, paper weights, social media gimmicks, magnets, beautiful presentation packages to give to FSBOs and expireds. During a break, the owner came up and asked me “What do you think is the best marketing concept you have seen so far?” I told him that I had not seen a single marketing concept during the first two hours. I explained that what I had seen was a bunch of short-term-oriented sales gimmicks that no matter how clever or cute, were hit or miss pieces at best. I realized that most agents think sending out a flyer or giving away a notepad is marketing, and that is why most of them become disillusioned with marketing and why most end up failing as agents.

A great real estate marketer starts by looking at two things. First, the marketplace they are in and, second, their skill set and personality. Then they, based on who they are, determine what segment of the market is most likely to relate best to their personality. They then look for their unique marketing proposition. A UMP should be something that is very hard for your competition to copy and something that you find naturally exciting and compelling. Then you need to take that and turn it into your core brand identity. This is made up of your core point of differentiation, and turning into a personal logo, slogan and graphic design that you will use in every single piece of your marketing. Then go to work on creating a basic marketing plan that will be used to deliver and differentiate your brand in client’s mind so that they want to do business you long before they ever meet you.

This all takes time, money, focus and it’s hard work. In many ways, it’s like growing crops. You have to analyze the soil, select the right crop to grow in that soil, add fertilizer, plant your seeds, water it, weed it and care for it during the spring and summer. All this is done so that when the fall rolls around you have something significant to harvest.

Commitment is Key

The most frequent question I have been asked over the last 30 years is something like this: “I can see how marketing is the way to go, and I really want to build my business through marketing, but how can I get started without limiting my options by having to actually pick a niche and by spending almost no money?” It is like a farmer saying, “Well, I don’t really want to commit to growing corn, because I know the wheat market could be good next year, and I really like beans as well, so I think what I will do is plant my field with mixture of seeds from the five crops I think will get me the best price next year.” We know the outcome will end up in failure, but we get to avoid having to make the difficult decisions that must be made.

Yes, you can succeed through a pure sales approach to real estate. Every now and then, I meet one of those incredibly rare, totally disciplined selling machines, who doesn’t get burned out using some script to try and close prospect after prospect. But they are very few and far between.

What’s Your 10-Year Plan?

I tell agents, in the long run, it is better to go back and get a salaried job for awhile, save up $15,000 to $20,000 to invest in executing a marketing campaign and then approach real estate as a marketing business. If you were advising your teenager who just graduated from high school whether they should go to college or not, even if it meant working part-time, borrowing money and struggling a little bit, would you advise them to go out and get a job as soon as they could because a job will make them money today, or would you advise them to invest in their education so that in the long run they are much better off?

Ten years from now your life will be determined by the choices you make today. The question is really simple: Which approach to real estate will ensure your life will be what you want it to be ten years from now? The direct-prospecting person plan or the marketing driven business plan?

I would love your feedback on this article. Send your answer, along with any questions or comments, to Greg@MegaAgent.com

 

Greg Herder

PS: If what to know how your marketing plan is or if you would like to improve your marketing plan press the link below and take my Marketing Review Questionnaire. It will take you about 15 minutes to complete, and it will make you think. For a limited time, I will be giving a free one on one, 30-minute marketing recommendation and consultation call for everyone who completes the Marketing Plan Review. 

Click Here to Take Your Marketing Review


Why are offbeat Personal Cards are such an effective addition to a marketing campaign?

Why information alone is not enough to generate business.

Over 35 years ago as an active agent, I was trying to figure out how to stand out in my local marketplace. I had been sending out Just/Listed and Just/Solds as well as the standard free CMA coupons consistently for close to a year, but it was not working like I had hoped it would. I realized that I was sending out information that was similar to other agents. My mailings were higher quality and more personally branded than my competitors, but I realized that was not enough. I was new to the area and did not know a lot of people. I realized I needed to make a connection with the people in my farm so that they saw me as a person, not just a salesman. I knew that if I could build a relationship with them, it would increase my chance of becoming their agent of choice.

In my brainstorming as to how to stand out and connect with people in my farm, I came up with the idea of sending out a “Merry After Christmas” a card. I knew that would be different, draw a smile on the recipient’s face, and it would create an emotional connection. However, I could not find one in any store, so I hired an artist to draw an image of Mr. & Mrs. Claus relaxing with the words “Merry After Christmas.” On the inside, I put my name and a friendly picture of me and a fun message that I hoped who make a connection.

When I mailed out the cards, it generated a few thank you calls from people saying how clever the card was and how much they enjoyed it. But no one called me after I sent out the Merry After Christmas card and said come list my home. It had been pretty expensive to send out, and if you asked me a week after I sent it out if I thought it was a good marketing piece, I would have probably said “No.”

But then I would be in the grocery store or a restaurant, and a stranger would come up and say, “Hi, I liked your Merry After Christmas Card.” Then I mailed out a Market Update Card, and some calls with questions about the market came in, and one person asked me to give them a CMA. When I meet with them, it went well, and they listed with me, and I sold their home. During escrow, I dropped off some paperwork for them to sign and they had some friends over. They introduced me as their agent and turned to their friend and said, “This is the agent I was telling you about that sent out that Merry After Christmas Card, it was so clever that I knew this was the agent I was going to list with.”

Over the next few months, a number of people who called from Just/Listed or Just/Solds commented about how much they liked my Merry After Christmas card. I realized that it truly had made me stand out and it had built a personal connection with me.

April Fools Day Card

When I started doing marketing for other agents, I started to do some research. I took agents in similar markets both running similar marketing campaigns. Once each quarter with one agent I would substitute one of their branded Just/Listed or Just/Solds with an off-beat relationship building card like a Love Your Realtor Day or April Fools Day Kard. Consistently the agents who included three to four of these offbeat cards generated between 15% to 20% more business than the agents who did not include them. I ended up calling them PersonalKards.com, and they have been used successfully in a wide range of businesses.

My research shows that adding three or four relationship building pieces a year into an ongoing campaign produces the best results. I also found that they worked only when they were part of an informational rich marketing campaign. I knew this worked and I thought it was because it built that human connection. Then I read Robert B. Cialdini’s new book “Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade,” and he actually provides the scientific proof for how and why these type of fun connection building cards build relationships and influence behavior. It also explains why relationship building personal brochures are so effective and are becoming even more important today as we spend more time-consuming data from the internet. Remember, it’s all about standing out, making a strong impression and building an emotional connection. The Personal Kard and the Personal Brochure are designed to do just that. The bottom line is that building relationships is still the key to successfully building your real estate business. That is a fundamental principle that will never go away. It’s a shame that so many agents don’t understand the value of investing in relationship marketing.

I would appreciate your comments and feedback about this post.

Sincerely,

 

Greg Herder

CEO MegaAgent.com

High-Performance Branding & Marketing

PS This coming Wednesday at 11:00 PST I am conducting a free live webinar on How To Build a Successful Marketing Plan. If you would like to join me Press this Link.

 


How Long before Your Peak Selling Season Should you Start Marketing to Ensure Maximum Results?

How to set up the peak selling season for success.

At the start of each year, I get questions about when agents should kick their marketing into high gear so that they ensure that they have a great spring selling season.

My answer, backed up by a huge amount of research data, is 90 days before the start of your peak season. Unfortunately, most agents wait until the spring season starts, to start their marketing. About 70% of sellers start researching their options between two and four months before they list.  Yes, that means that 30% wait until the last minute and you will still generate business from starting your marketing late, but make no mistake it will cost you a lot of commissions.  

Some of my one-on-one coaching clients have had great success this month mailing out Powerkards and running Facebook Ads advertising a Free Prelisting Home Preparation Guide and or a Free Home Inspection.

The key to this type of marketing is making sure you have the follow-up systems in place so that every lead you generate now gets followed up with two or three pieces a month for the next six months. You must understand that the majority of leads generated in January and February will turn into listings in April, May, and June if you follow up consistently.

Now is also a good time to use the age old offer of a “Free Home Evaluation.”  Throughout history, this time of year produces a huge number of Free Home Valuation Offers. Even though we have seen an explosion of Home Value Offers online, they still offer homeowners something they value. The most successful offers today are hyper-localized offers that imply change and also build your brand as an agent. Like the Powerkard offer we created that drives people to LagunaWoodsHomeValues.com.

Remember that when you start marketing three months in advance of your prime selling time, your marketing message should remind people that now is the time to prepare and to make sure your brand as an agent is also “Top of Mind.” Offers from well-known (branded) agents tend to produce dramatically higher conversion rates than blind (unbranded) offers.

 Finally remember to make your offers (lead magnets) something consumers value, not something you as an agent believe they should find valuable. Then automate your follow up plan, so that you do not let the goodwill and leads you generate today, slip through your fingers.

Now get to work!

I would greatly appreciate it if you would post your comments about this blog post and share it with those who you think would find it valuable.

Sincerely,

 

Greg Herder

P.S. I am doing a free webinar next Wednesday at 12:00 am PST.  Titled How to Create a Winning Marketing Plan. If you would like to join me press this link.  Click Here


License to Sell! The Art of Turning a Conversation into a Listing!

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O ver the years, we’ve preached the importance of changing from a “sales mentality” to a “marketing mentality.” A sales mindset is basically chasing prospects who are ready to sell now, while a marketing mindset is all about setting up a system where you brand yourself and work that brand to create a steady flow of business coming your way.

A marketing mindset puts you in the minds of consumers long BEFORE they need to sell. (I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me that they go to take a listing and the home owner says, “we always knew we were going to use you when we were ready to sell, and now we are!” That is the type of result you’ll see by moving to a marketing mentality.) (more…)


License to Sell! The Art of Turning a Conversation into a Listing!

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Over the years, we’ve preached the importance of changing from a “sales mentality” to a “marketing mentality.” A sales mindset is basically chasing prospects who are ready to sell now, while a marketing mindset is all about setting up a system where you brand yourself and work that brand to create a steady flow of business coming your way. A marketing mindset puts you in the minds of consumers long BEFORE they need to sell. (I can’t tell you how many times clients have told me that they go to take a listing and the home owner says, “we always knew we were going to use you when we were ready to sell, and now we are!” That is the type of result you’ll see by moving to a marketing mentality.)

However, like many things in life, it’s not an easy process. A common question and quandary that I hear when consulting with clients is, “Selling real estate and handling transactions is a full time job, when do I have time for implementing my branding and marketing?”

Think Big Picture and Long Range
In the 26 years I have been working with agents and helping them with their marketing and branding, that has been a common question and dilemma. The advice I always give is to look at it from a big picture and long range perspective. A strategic branding campaign and marketing plan that is correctly implemented is designed to be a semi-automated way to create a steady flow of clients coming your way. It allows you to create a flow of leads so that you are not spending so much energy chasing and prospecting for leads, they are coming to you. Yes, you are spending money to have the branding created and implemented, but you are not spending precious time and energy on CHASING leads, and the results more than pay for your expenses.

It takes some time to get an effective brand created and established. So in the beginning, yes, it can be a lot of work, but your diligence and focus will pay off.

Marketing & Prospecting
A perfect example of that diligence and focus paying off is Dayton, OH agent, Phil Herman.  He has spent over 20 years working with our agency to build a brand and create optimum name recognition. Many years ago, he went through that “sweat equity” phase of building the branding and marketing, just like many agents have to. Over time, he was able to take his earnings and leverage it into building the brand and turning it into a lead generating machine. He now spends more money in his marketing and advertising budget than the vast majority of agents earn in commissions North America (remember the old adage, it takes money to make money!). That being said, one of the things that strikes me about Phil is that even though he has this big machine working for him bringing him leads, he is still hungry and looks for every opportunity to prospect. He is not afraid to make 100 calls a day. This week, he shared with me that he had 15 listing appointments on his calendar for Monday and Tuesday!

A Superstar at Both
Phil completes on average about 300 transactions a year, and has been doing that production for several years. What has made Phil’s rise so remarkable is that he is both a consummate marketer and a consummate salesperson. It’s a powerful combination.

One Great Example
An example of this “consummate salesman” is his lack of fear of making 100 calls a day. Another example is Phil’s ability to turn ordinary daily encounters with people into a sales pitch. Here is an example: Phil has a life and business philosophy built around the Japanese mindset of “Kaizen.” That is the philosophy of “constant improvement” through constant learning. He actually got a personalized license plate with this word. Phil shares with me that people constantly see his plates and then ask him “what does that mean?” He quickly explains the philosophy, then masterfully turns the conversation into properties and real estate, and on several occasions, he was able to get listings from those conversations.

Conversation=Listing
For instance, Phil was filling his car at a gas station. A man approached him and asked about his license plate. Phil explained the philosophy and told the man that it’s an important part of how he approaches daily life. Phil also explained that the philosophy is exactly what Phil and his business team embrace. The man “bit the bait” and asked Phil what he did for a living. That’s how Phil turned the conversation around to real estate. It turned out that the man was getting ready to sell his home and Phil got the listing — from a casual conversation!

In fact, that is one of the top ways to do this, ask the person you are talking with what they do for a living. It opens the door to introduce yourself as a Realtor®. The other way to do this is to find a comfortable way to find out where they live, then you have multiple ways to bring the conversation around (“I just took a listing there”; “the housing market there is doing well”; “one of my favorite developments to take buyers to.” etc.).

MARKETING TIP: When you do have a face-to face encounter, (whether or not you were able to turn the conversation to real estate) be sure to pass out your personal brochure as you disengage from the conversation. If you made a favorable impression, the brochure will solidify you in the mind of this prospect! In fact, we have always coached our clients to carry a stack of personal brochures and hand them out instead of business cards. It’s an essential and effective part of a successful marketing campaign. In fact, it’s an integral factor in Greg’s powerful E-Book, “How To Generate 10 Transactions in 90 Days with Your Personal Prospecting Brochure.” Please send me a link to download 10 Transactions in 90 Days ebook

The point of this blog is that it is important to switch from a sales mentality to a marketing mentality to grow your business and take control of your time. It helps you get off the “hamster wheel” of chasing deals and looking for the next hot prospect. However, as Phil has shown, even though you have established a successful marketing campaign and system, you should never stop your daily prospecting, always be ready for the face to face encounter that can be turned into potential business. (The fact that you have a brand and name recognition makes it even more effective.)

As you go about your day to day routine, look for ways to engage with people and if the conversation lends itself to it, move it to a discussion of real estate. Don’t force it. It takes practice. You may want to explore several scenarios you might encounter, and craft some ideas how to turn the conversation gently and naturally. Good luck and happy marketing and prospecting!

Dennis LeBlanc
VP/Creative Director

 

 

 


Why Are You in Real Estate?

Greg Herder poses the critical question to help you determine the purpose of your career. Learn why having a true purpose – beyond making money – is a critical component of long-term success, and happiness, in real estate.

More than likely you did not grow up dreaming of being a real estate agent. In fact, becoming a salesperson of any sort was most likely something you never aspired to become. You may even have some feelings of ambivalence now that you are in sales instead of more traditional professions like being an architect, engineer, doctor, lawyer or accountant. In the back of your mind you are probably asking yourself: “how did I end up selling real estate and why does it seem so hard.”

If you are like most people, looking at real estate from the outside probably seemed so easy. After buying a home or two, you felt that it would not be hard for you to do a better job than the agent you worked with. You read newspaper articles about successful real estate agents who were making tons of money and it seemed like real estate would offer you unlimited income potential, flexible hours and a chance to be your own boss. So you made the plunge and decided to become a real estate agent.

The Common Misconceptions

What you didn’t understand was what a real estate agent really has to do to succeed, what skills you would need to have and how few agents actually make it in this industry. In fact, the numbers show that three out of 10 people that get into real estate leave during their first year. Only four out of 10 last five years and only eight percent of those who start in real estate make it to that magic 10 year mark – the milestone that most people say is the minimum amount of time that it takes to build a big enough past client and referral base that your business becomes self sustaining and much more enjoyable. Even then, in a recent survey that Hobbs/Herder Research conducted of agents with more than 10 years of experience, less then half of them said that they were earning the income that they had hoped for when they started real estate.

Over the years I have had numerous discussions about how the perception of real estate is easy, has flexible hours with high income and attracts a lot of people into real estate who end up failing. Over the years I have followed all the research studies to try and figure out what the key factors to success in real estate are. The research has looked at age, education level, past experience, broker training, brokerage size, people skills and a wide range of other factors. In study after study, no significant factor for success emerges that could be used to predict success in real estate.

What’s Your Purpose?

Recently, I went back and re-read a book titled Purpose: The Starting Point for Great Companies. As I went through the book, I realized that its message was critical to the success of an individual real estate agent. The message of the book is that if a business is just in business to make money or pay dividends, it would never experience truly great success. As I read the book, it helped crystallize my belief that the number one predictor of success in real estate is the purpose that a real estate agent has being in real estate. If it is simply to make money and have flexible hours, then they are destined to fail.

Identify Your Objectives
The key is to ask yourself why you want those things, what do they mean to you and what does it mean if you don’t have them. Longtime client, Realtor® Peggy Lucas is a prime example of what I am talking about. Back in 2003, she was a police officer and left law enforcement in order to have more flexibility and the opportunity to earn more money. She was smart, disciplined and loved people but found her first year in real estate a nightmare, working 60 hours a week and experiencing a drop in income.

It was only after attending the Hobbs/Herder Marketing Mastery seminar in 2004 that Peggy started really thinking about why she was in real estate. The seminar helped her reconnect with her purpose to become the best mother she could be, and reevaluate her career to determine what skills she needed to have to succeed in real estate on the terms that fit her life and values. Looking back, she realizes that not until she acknowledged that she was not living up to her own values and purpose was she ready to make the necessary changes to succeed. Once she reconnected with what her core beliefs in life were, she was able to make the changes internally that allowed her to develop a plan for her life and her real estate career that allowed her to turn it around and go on to accomplish massive success in real estate.

And now in 2015, more than 10 years down the road, she is a phenomenal success story, outlasting the law of averages, she’s a respected Top Producer and co-owner of her own brokerage, Lucas & Associates, with husband David. She now shares her knowledge and inspirational guidance with her team of agents, giving back to the industry!

The reality is that right now you probably already know a ton of things that could improve your success in real estate, improve your relationships and your financial health, but you simply cannot bring yourself to take the action you know you should. You don’t want to rock the boat. After all, it could get worse. The reality is that the only way to overcome the inertia that is keeping you stuck is to reconnect with what your simple purpose in life really is. You have to answer the question “Why are you in real estate?” If the answer is simply to make money, please do yourself a favor and get out now. It will save you a lot of time and grief. If, on the other hand, you can find a reason (purpose) for being in real estate greater than yourself, your chances for success will go through the roof.

I urge you to set aside some time to reflect on your personal objectives and the real purpose of your career. Then analyze how you spent the first half of 2015 to see if your actions are aligned with your objectives. The answers just might surprise you. Regardless of whether or not your actions have been aligned with your purpose, it will be a valuable exercise for you. Even if you are on track, it’s never a bad idea to set aside some time to remind yourself why you do what you do.


Phil Herman Dayton’s Top Realtor Shares How he Closed 6000 Transactions

In this powerful interview Greg Herder gets Dayton’s Top Realtor Phil Herman to shares how he has closed over 6000 transactions in his amazing real estate career. Phil shares how he get sellers to come into his office for his listing presentations and so much more this is an hour of nonstop information that you will not want to miss. 


How to Find a Niche that Gives You a Long-Term Sustainable Advantage!

Agents looking for a competitive advantage in their markets need to stop looking for quantifiable benefits and start looking to make an emotional connection with a specific market segment. Greg describes how to find the right niche for you that can’t be duplicated by your competitors.

Agents, both rookies and veterans, constantly come up and ask me what’s the hottest new marketing angle that they can use to differentiate themselves? I always tell them the same thing, it’s not hot, it’s not new, but without a doubt the best way to succeed in real estate is to find a niche that gives you a long-term sustainable advantage over all the other agents in your marketplace. They always say, “Greg, that’s exactly what I am looking for! Tell me, what niche will give me a long term sustainable advantage?”

I always tell them, every agent has a different niche that will give them a long-term sustainable advantage, but they have to find it within themselves. I tell them finding it is without a doubt the hardest and most important thing they will ever do in their real estate career and, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. My objective in this article is to guide you along this path so that you can find your niche.

Emphasize the Differences
Start by asking the question “What advantage would an agent have if they had a niche that differentiated them in a way that gave them a long-term advantage over their competition?” Unless you understand the true value in creating a long-term competitive advantage, you will never be able to make the sacrifices necessary and will always be looking for the broadest marketing appeal and end up with marginal results.

Next, ask yourself, “What elements make something a long-term competitive advantage in real estate?” I believe the answer to this is simple. It’s offering your clients something that they value and respond to at an emotional level, and that your competitors have a very difficult time duplicating.

Don’t Quantify Your Niche
Once you understand this, you will understand why most agents’ efforts to differentiate themselves fail miserably. They work extraordinarily hard to offer something new or different, and as soon as what they are doing starts to produce results, their competitors copy them, effectively killing off any chance of a sustainable differentiation. I have seen this over and over again with countless numbers of agents’ Service Plans, Guaranteed Sales programs, Direct Response Systems and Advertising Campaigns that quantify some number as proof of an agent’s value. The problem is, most agents don’t ask themselves, “If I launch this program, how will my competitors respond?” It is always critical to ask yourself where the weaknesses exist in your strategy.

What Drives You
After agents go through this mental exercise, many of them email me and say, “Greg, this is hard. I cannot find anything to differentiate myself with.” So I ask them to think about what their friends and family find most interesting about them. I also ask if they have any specialized knowledge of an industry or hobby that they are totally passionate about. Once you have identified these areas of who you are, think about the niche markets that you could select from in your area. What you are looking for is a target market that will emotionally respond to one of your personality traits, specialized knowledge, or passions that you have. Then you ask yourself how you could serve this group of consumers in ways that amplify these differences, and that agents will have a hard time copying.

Be True to Yourself
One of our early clients at Hobbs/Herder was a horsewoman who had competed in the Olympics in dressage 20 years before she started in real estate. When I met her, she was frustrated with how things were going in real estate. She was a very disciplined agent who provided outstanding service, but was struggling to attract a steady flow of clients. She had been promoting herself as the agent with outstanding service but found that was just not setting her apart in a way that emotionally resonated with consumers. After getting to know her and understanding her personality and background, I suggested that she refocus her marketing efforts to go after people that loved horses and upscale horse property.

We crafted her marketing materials to tell her story of how she used her passion for horses and personal discipline to overcome her shyness and go on to great success as a dressage rider, and how today she used what she learned in dressage to create success in her real estate career. Horse people instantly connected with her story in an emotional way. In dressage, the horse and rider are judged on the elegance, precision and discipline of the horse’s movements. All of her marketing materials carried this theme that served to differentiate her in a way that became almost impossible for anther agent to duplicate.

Connecting with an Area or Lifestyle
When agent Damian DiCesare signed up for his Hobbs/Herder Personal Brochure, we looked to connect Damian with the West Hollywood area of Southern California. This regional niche was a natural since Damian was so familiar with the area and its lifestyle, and the focus helped him capitalize and leverage the networking he had steadily built up over the years. It was the perfect niche and he has sustained his presence in this market for many years.

Use Emotion to Your Advantage
The most amazing thing to me is that this approach seemed so natural and so right to the client, yet she fought it all along the way. She did not what to talk about the Olympics because she had not won a medal, it was a long time ago, people didn’t care about what she had done in the past, and a laundry list of other stuff. She wanted to talk about her service program and her own experience in buying and selling her own homes over the years.
The problem was that lots of other agents provided pretty good service, and had lots more experience in buying and selling their own homes that would allow them to imitate and even exceed her claims. The real problem is that those things simply do not create an emotional connection with consumers and they turn into just more meaningless marketing messages that get ignored, no matter what marketing gimmick you use.

Agents tell me, “Greg, that’s great, but I never competed in the Olympics!” That’s fine, but I promise there is something about you, your personality or your passions that a segment of people will respond to in an emotional way that will give you your long-term sustainable competitive advantage.

Find Your Connection
The opportunity is to look inside yourself and find that one thing. Until you have that to build on, you are simply spinning your wheels and you will always be disappointed with the results of your marketing efforts. I know it can be hard, even frustrating at times, to figure out, but the payoff is huge. If you can’t do it on your own, hire someone who can help you – it’s the best investment you will ever make in your real estate career.