Last week’s article, "In protest of open houses," caused some protests of its own, so I am following up with some thoughts on marketing and prospecting. I spend 10-15 hours a week prospecting — every week without fail, no excuses.
Some readers contacted me directly by e-mail regarding last week’s article. They all said the same thing. They are struggling to get business; the market is slow; and they have not had success with open houses and no longer want to do them. In every case, their broker/manager is telling them that they need to do more open houses. They were relieved to hear that not every agent believes in open houses. They got that message through my article and from the comments.
There are several ways to prospect and to sell listings. Just because I am not out doing open houses on Sundays does not mean that I am not prospecting and marketing my listings. We all have to prospect and sell our listings. While other agents are hosting open house events, I am writing blog posts, creating property Web sites, visiting with friends, walking the dog, or wandering around with my camera taking pictures.
Each of those activities helps me meet people and helps sell my listings. Recently, one of my listings sold in 10 days; the buyer said she was attracted by the photos. She was not looking in the neighborhood where the home is located; she found it through Google and told her Realtor about it. She is a nurse who usually works on Sundays and did not go to any open houses.
The next-door neighbor liked the photos too, saw me outside and introduced himself. He is a local artist and put me on his mailing list so that I will get an invite to his next show. Nice for me since five of my listings are artist’s lofts, and I like art, and I will meet people. The neighbor down the street saw how quickly the home sold, and asked me to list his. He called me shortly after it went on the market just to tell me how much he likes the photos I took.
My blog and the photos are how I meet people — the kind of people I need to meet and the kind I love doing business with. Real estate is a people business and meeting people is a must. During the time that it takes to do an open house I can write a week’s worth of blog posts. Each post will be available around the clock for as many years as the blog exists, and each will get 500 to 1,000 visitors the first day. A percentage of those visitors are looking for one of my listings or they are looking for me. I know because eventually they call or write, and they always mention the blog.
I would never tell an agent who is struggling that if she is not successful she should go home and start writing blog posts and buy a decent camera and learn how to use it. I would not beat her up and question her commitment because she is not writing at least 400 words a day and cannot take photos at night in manual mode and have them turn out well. We all have talents and skills that can be used in a real estate business. There is room for new ideas, creativity and imagination when it comes to prospecting and marketing.
Teresa Boardman is a broker in St. Paul, Minn., and founder of the St. Paul Real Estate blog. Boardman will speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. Register today.
What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.