What’s the No. 1 thing that virtually every marketer in the real estate industry would like to know? It’s knowing who out of all the people you contact is most likely to transact right now.

Real estate professionals pour millions of dollars into advertising every year. Much of it is a waste of time, especially if the agent is relying on print marketing. There are a number of reasons that print marketing is not particularly effective.

1. Transaction-based rather than lifestyle-based
A major problem with most print marketing is that the content is directed primarily toward people who are interested in buying or selling now. The challenge is that only about 1 in 7 people will move in any given year.

Granted, people like to know what their home is worth, and that information can be valuable for appealing their property taxes or refinancing. Nevertheless, if only 14 percent of all your recipients will be moving, that means mailing to the other 86 percent is pretty much a waste of money.

2. Ineffective calls to action
The call to action on most Just Listed cards is normally, "Please contact me for more information," or "For a private showing please call me at 555-1212." If someone is thinking about moving, perhaps she will contact the agent. Sadly, the research shows that sending out Just Listed cards builds the broker’s brand instead of the agent’s brand.

3. Vanity marketing
A third challenge is that agent’s continue to promote their businesses by making their marketing materials about them rather than their potential clients. Today’s consumer has no use for the agent glamour shots and brochures that were so popular 20 years ago. Instead, they want someone who understands their needs, is in tune with their lifestyle, and who comes across as authentic.

4. The early bird gets the worm
The National Association of Realtors’ research shows that more than 70 percent of all clients do business with the first agent they meet face to face when they are ready to transact. So how can you separate the 14 percent who will be most likely to transact and see them face to face as opposed to having to market to the 86 percent who have no interest in transacting now?

5. How to identify "right now" business
In the past, we have trained agents to focus on "right now" business — people who are likely to transact now or within the next 30-90 days. While Web buyers may track an agent for 18 months before they ever let the agent know about their interest in buying or selling, print marketing can still put you in contact with people who are likely to take action now.

RealAgile.com and SmartZip Analytics, as examples, have created tools that allow agents and brokers to identify high-probability buyers and sellers. By targeting those homeowners who are likely to transact, both companies claim that they can improve your success rate from your geotargeted marketing campaigns.

RealAgile’s predictive program can be used with your current database as well as generating new leads. The company’s "Move Score" uses predictive analytics to rank the home’s likelihood of selling.

The approach is based upon the same technology as FICO scores. In terms of prospecting your sphere of influence, the program yields three categories of potential clients: "The ‘red hot’ leads are those people in your personal database you should ‘take to dinner once a month.’ The ‘yellow leads’ are a ‘take to lunch,’ and the ‘blue leads’ are ‘contact regularly face to face.’ "

The fee for the program for your personal database is about $150 per month. If you want to get leads from the general public, that program runs about $500 per month.

SmartZip draws its data from nearly 80 million homes across 56,000 U.S. neighborhoods. Each month the company ranks the probability the various homes in your territory will sell. The company also encourages agents to focus on the top 20 percent who are most likely to transact. The company’s numbers show that the top 20 percent of their list represent 40-50 percent of the for-sale listings over the next year.

In addition to identifying high-probability clients, SmartZip also provides a print marketing program that targets those clients, as well as a comparative market analysis website that helps you to capture leads.

Is it worth the cost to pay for an exclusive territory or to identify who the high-probability clients are in your database? With the price of mailings ranging from 75 cents or more per postcard, it may be worthwhile to focus your efforts on the most likely sources for a return on your investments.

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