Are you trying to be everything to everyone?

Are you trying to be everything to everyone? If so, being a generalist can cost you much more than you realize.

Virtually all top producers specialize in a particular real estate niche. By contrast, the concept of being a generalist, i.e., someone who attempts to serve a wide variety of clients over a diverse geographical region, almost always lands poorer results. Whether you’re a 30-year veteran or a new licensee, one of the best ways to expand your real estate business is to specialize in a particular market segment.

Many companies support niches by having agents who specialize in estates, commercial, investment, resort, relocation and international clients. What hasn’t caught on as quickly, however, is the concept of forming niches based upon people’s preferred lifestyles or professions.

On July 1, Realty Executives announced a new initiative to pursue this approach on a company-wide basis. Their first foray into the lifestyle arena will be to proactively assist teachers in buying homes. According to Rich Rector, president and CEO of Realty Executives International (REI):

“Our goal in creating this program is quite simply to help facilitate home ownership in the educator population. Even though teachers have such a large effect on the future of our country, our society has chosen not to compensate them well enough to afford housing easily. Helping teachers buy homes with fewer roadblocks and in areas closer to their schools is how our company can help with this dilemma.”

The REI Homeworks program has teamed up with title and mortgage providers to create special title and mortgage incentives to assist teachers in purchasing their first home or to help others refinance their homes at better rates. According to Rector, REI will be working with Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to assist teachers with special programs that will make home ownership more affordable.

Clearly, this type of initiative will be extremely attractive to educators. The question individual agents must answer is, “How can I capitalize on the niche marketing trend?” The guidelines below can help you “niche” your business, whether it’s targeting teachers, attorneys, nurses or any other group of professionals.

1. Target market

If you have experience in another industry, this can be a lucrative way to specialize your business. People like working with someone who understands their client’s profession in addition to being knowledgeable in the real estate field. To target market, you can advertise in print newsletters specific to the profession. For example, the American Federation of Teachers puts out a monthly newsletter. Local school districts often have a teacher newsletter. These are both great places to advertise. You can use the same for other professions. For example, you could advertise in the local bar association newsletter or in any publication that reaches members of your previous profession.

2. Obtain multiple URLs and tie them to specific landing pages on your Web site

One of the best ways to “niche” your business is to create separate landing pages on your Web site. A “landing page” is a page on your Web site that is linked to a specific group of search words and that often has a separate URL. For example, I might have “www.Homes4LATeachers.com.” This page would reside on my primary Web site, but would appear to Web visitors as a separate Web page. On this page I would have all the special programs I could locate for teachers who live in Los Angeles in addition to a list of properties where teachers could qualify to purchase. I could also include a link to the California Credit Union (formerly the LA Teachers’ Credit Union) plus other lending and title resources for teachers. A great strategy would be to set up a whole series of URLs that could include www.Condos4LATeachers.com or www.FirstHomes4Teachers.com. Each of these would reside as a separate landing page on your Web site and would have a separate URL. Hire a search-engine specialist to help you buy the appropriate advertising terms, or key words, to better support these domain names.

3. Use your print advertising to drive professionals to your landing page

The smartest way to Web market is to use your print advertising to drive visitors to your Web site. Once they arrive, offer a free online course on topics such as “How to buy your first home” or “How to know if you are taking out the right mortgage.” Rather than sending them a free report, offering an online course allows you to send them multiple e-mails. To set this up, find a report that is appropriate and obtain permission to reprint it from the author. Next, divide the report into four or five segments and send them out using an autoresponder system. This means that once you put the person’s name into your autoresponder system that the various lessons in the e-course will go out automatically with no additional effort from you.

4. Provide a wealth of resources

Many professionals love to explore the purchasing or listing process in detail. The more useful information and relevant content that you have on your Web site, the better they like it. This increases the probability that they will work with you. Topics to include are Chamber of Commerce information, a mortgage calculator, school information, crime statistics, entertainment, parks and recreation, etc.

Creating niches to serve specific groups of professionals can result in a steady stream of happy clients who consistently give you referrals to other members of their profession. If you have experience in another profession, creating a niche for that profession can be the ticket to years of future income.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com, has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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