Although a select few Realtors know that real estate is their calling from day one, most have tried at least one other career before starting in real estate. Consequently, they are well-acquainted with one type of service career or another. Maybe that one service spanned multiple industry verticals, but the service itself for the most part was the same. Unless you’re a Wal-Mart and can change a customer’s oil while she’s getting her hair cut before she swings by to purchase chips and a big screen television, you probably are most familiar with a niche service category.
Most people don’t begin a career trying to carve out a niche; it generally just happens on its own. A niche may start with how you market, the kinds of clients you work with, or the referral networks you belong to. When most Realtors start to figure out what their niche is, they start to tailor their marketing strategies toward that niche. As a rule of thumb, it takes the majority of Realtors at least one solid year to begin discovering their niche in their market.
Your niche could be working with distressed properties owned by homeowners who are facing foreclosure. It could be working with buyers from out of town who want to purchase in your area. Or your niche could just flat out be that you’re the Realtor with the most transactions in a specific community. Once you start to think about what your niche is in your market, it then becomes a compass to guide you on your marketing path. Many people don’t know whom to target or where to start when it comes to putting together a marketing plan, so this may be of great use when brainstorming!
Let’s say you’re stuck in a niche that you don’t want to be in. How do you get out of the market that’s generating you referrals and revenue but that isn’t making you happy? If, for example, you’re primarily working with first-time homebuyers who are barely able to get a mortgage and want to start working with clients who are moving up, then you should start to focus on those types of clients. What about past clients you’ve happily served? Have you asked them for referrals for anyone they may know who might be thinking about selling his or her home and buying another? Have you tried contacting expired listings in your area for the price range that you’re targeting? What about sending out some helpful tips, neighborhood comparative market analysis and other great info to the community you’re targeting? These can all be great ways of shaking that niche that you’re trying to escape.
If you’re happy with your established niche, the next step is to start marketing. If this is new territory for you, here are some great tips to align the marketing strategy in your niche with the income you want to generate:
1. Call expired listings for properties you would like to list. The worst they can do is say no! It all depends on how bad you want to be where you currently are not. Remember this quote from Zig Ziglar: “Timid salesmen have skinny kids!”
2. Contact other Realtors in your network and ask if you can market their properties in advertisements. Who knows, you may get an interested buyer in that price range from doing so.
3. Craigslist is a site that always works, but as we all know, you never know what you’re going to end up getting off of Craigslist. Please be careful!
4. Start a monthly mailer directed at your targeted community. Consistency is the key!
5. Contact past clients with whom you’ve had great relationships and just flat out ask them if they know anyone who wants to buy or sell in your target price range. (I’m definitely not suggesting you turn away potential clients who don’t meet your requirements either, as you never know what it could lead to.)
6. Pound the pavement! After college, that’s exactly what I did when I started a lawn care company. I went door to door introducing myself to certain neighborhoods and, all of a sudden, I had about 15 new clients. You’d be astonished by the kinds of people you meet; they can empathize with someone who is humbling himself to look for business. Remember, there are many Americans who are a couple of paychecks away from being homeless … everyone can relate.
7. Make cold calls to some mortgage loan officers to see if they’d be willing to team up with you in referrals. This is always difficult, but suggest meeting for coffee and maybe you can agree to a referral exchange relationship.
These are all great ways to get your new niche off to a rolling start. Most Realtors don’t just start off selling million-dollar homes. They earn their status through targeted marketing, strategic alliances and some creative know-how. Anyone can do it if he or she has the persistence, perseverance and work ethic to get there.
Andrew Molz is an expert strategist when it comes to merging social media with real estate. Currently, Andrew is the managing partner at Dallas-based startups The Reputation Shop and 12 Rounds SEO.