One of the hottest trends for 2011 is hyperlocal marketing, or serving a very narrow market segment. Will this hot trend work in your area.
When I’m out on the speaking circuit, I regularly talk about hyperlocal marketing at my seminars. It’s amazing how many agents don’t believe it will work in their market. Some of their excuses:
- "Manhattan is different — what works somewhere else won’t work here."
- "Our town is too small — what works in the big city won’t work here."
- "If you want to succeed in our market, you have to be willing to work with people of all types and price ranges."
Granted, there are regional differences in terms of how we close transactions and what is required in terms of the state and local regulations. There is no such thing as a multiple listing service in most other countries, for example.
Regardless of whether they have access to an MLS, most real estate professionals are eager to market their properties to consumers nationally and internationally via the Web. Web marketing fundamentals apply across the board, no matter where you do business.
In California, escrow and title companies close transactions. In some other places across the country, there are face-to-face closing meetings where the principals hash it out with their respective attorneys and the agents who represent them. Even though the closing process may differ, the principles of negotiation are applicable across the board.
Regardless of where you do business, your clients want to feel that their real estate transaction matters to you. When you market your services the same way that every other agent in town does, you hurt yourself in two ways.
First, you don’t stand out from your competition; and more importantly, your lack of specialization fails to provide your potential clients with the feeling that you and your services are uniquely suited to fit their needs.
In contrast, when you focus on a narrow or hyperlocal niche, potential clients are more likely to be drawn to you as compared to the person who attempts to be everything to everyone.
To illustrate this point, I recently heard the "that-won’t-work-in-my-market" objection from an agent who works in a town with a population of 20,000. His response, when I suggested focusing or two or three specific niches in his area, was, "Our market is different. Our town is just too small to not work with everyone who wants to do business with us."
Using a town of 20,000 as an example, we can assume that there are at least 7,500 single-family residences. Of these, 14 percent, on average (one out of seven), will typically be sold in any given year.
This would represent 1,050 sales and 2,100 "sides." In a town where there will be over 1,000 sales, there will be a cross-section of various types of clients.
Some agents have built successful real estate careers working with geographical farms that range from 250-500 homes. Thus, in a town of 20,000, there conservatively could be 30-50 possible geographical farms.
Furthermore, the techniques for doing geographical farming still rely on many of the same real estate fundamentals: door knocking, open houses, yard signs, and postcards.
The key in selecting a niche or micro-market to serve is to choose based upon two different factors. The first is based upon your production. In which price ranges and in what locations are you closing the most transactions?
The second issue is: What do you like to do outside of real estate that can be a means to connect with potential clients who share the same interests? This can be anything from a book club, cooking, gardening, golfing, politics, religion, etc.
Once you have identified these areas, ask yourself if there is enough potential business there to justify creating special marketing materials and a landing page on your website for this group.
For example, almost half of today’s buyers are first timers. If you work with this niche, why not create several pages on your website devoted to first-time buyers’ issues. You could include information about the buying process, explain how title and mortgage work, plus provide great resources where the buyers can search for other services they will need.
By making the page exclusively about first-time buyers, you stand out from those agents who do not specialize.
Suppose you speak a language other than English. If there is a large group in your area that speaks the same language, it would be smart to set up a second home page on your website that says, "I speak your language," and provides information in that language.
You can also use Meetup.com to identify other potential niche groups. To illustrate, in Austin, Texas, there is a group of Chihuahua enthusiasts who meet regularly. They had 32 signups for their upcoming meeting and another 11 people who were thinking about attending.
The Law of Attraction states, "You attract who we are." Identify those areas that represent your strengths and your interests. Next, develop the specific Web and traditional marketing materials to serve those areas.
This is one of the best ways to stand out from the crowd of other agents in your area and to build your income for years to come.