Marketing

What’s the one low-tech, high-ROI tool you need now?

Yard signs are the single-most effective marketing material for any agent
  • Following other agents on social media sites usually won't help increase sales.
  • According to an NAR survey, the for sale sign is the second-most common way for buyers to learn about homes for sale; the No. 1 source was the real estate agent and the No. 3 source was a mobile app or a website.
  • There is a little secret in getting the most out of the sign -- have a phone number on it that goes to a real human being who will actually answer and know all about the listing.

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What is old is new again in real estate. And when real estate agents read about how this one thing worked for an agent somewhere this one time, everyone wants to try it.

If the miracle tool that results in sales is something on the Internet, agents will set up profiles like crazy, and then they’ll follow each other, probably hoping that maybe they will catch some success.

If the miracle tool that results in sales is something on the Internet, agents will set up profiles like crazy.

I used to know if a class on how to use Twitter was being taught to agents anywhere in the country because I would suddenly get a couple hundred followers from the same area, and coincidently, they would all be affiliated with real estate companies or associations.

Twitter doesn’t seem to be a hot topic anymore, but currently, Instagram is being revisited as the latest thing again. If you want more business, it’s time to work on that Instagram strategy — and let’s not forget Periscope and Snapchat.

Following me or other agents on social media sites usually won’t help agents increase sales.

I want to talk about the low-tech miracle tool that has recently helped me attract a cash buyer and a new listing. It requires no electricity or Internet access, and most agents won’t have to attend webinars to learn how to use it.

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It’s the “for sale” sign with phone numbers on it and an information tube or brochure box that has flyers in it.

People who are looking for a home for sale see the sign, and they grab a brochure. Most often, they call me on the phone, and I end up showing them something or selling them something.

Sometimes I sell the listing that the sign is in front of, and sometimes it’s a listing in a neighborhood five miles away — six months after they see the sign.

This is a true story. Yesterday, an agent was showing a condo that is near one of my “for sale” signs, and his clients walked over and grabbed a flyer.

Even though I advertise like crazy all day long all over the Internet and use Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and a blog all at the same time, they found out about the condo because of the sign and brochure.

rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com

rSnapshotPhotos / Shutterstock.com

According to a National Association of Realtors (NAR) survey, the for sale sign is the fourth-most common way for buyers to learn about homes for sale. The no. 1 source was an online website, followed by real estate agents and mobile or tablet apps. That might not sound compelling, but yard signs were used in 48 percent of home searches, according to NAR’s report.

There are two other condos near my for sale sign, and neither of them have a sign — the single item that has created a kind of business bonanza for me. I have shown them all and wrote an offer on one of them. We are in a seller’s market.

If I have a listing on a busy street, I could withhold it from the MLS and keep it off of the Internet; I’d sell it with nothing more than a “for sale” sign and some brochures.

I don’t even have to put my face on or near the sign. My total investment would probably be less than $100, but I would never do something like that.

Last week, I was at an event talking with a friend, who asked me all about my listing. She saw the sign. Another friend saw it on his way home from work one day and congratulated me on my new listing.

The sign sure beats going to the grocery store with your name tag on like that one woman did. She ended up listing the home of a total stranger who just happened to see the name tag and also just happened to have a house to sell — and for some strange and unfathomable reason did not know at least 10 agents who could help her.

It also beats sitting at your child’s or grandchild’s soccer practice trying to strike up a conversation about real estate or hoping that someone will notice the logo on your shirt or jacket and mention that they need an agent.

There is a little secret in getting the most out of the sign — have a phone number on it that goes to a real human being who will actually answer and know all about the listing. Seriously, this is a killer combination.

The “for sale” sign is also a great way to attract millennial-aged homebuyers. They are attracted to any “for sale” sign, but mine have phone numbers on them that accept text messages.

Many of my competitor’s signs go to a main number, and it won’t receive text messages. And if someone answers the phone, they don’t know enough about the property to answer questions.

It’s also possible to take a picture of a for sale sign and post it on Instagram or on any social network that accepts photos or video.

With all of the technology and new marketing ideas I have at my disposal, sometimes the lowest-tech, least expensive items have the greatest impact.

Please don’t forget about the “for sale” sign. Keep the brochure box full, and be reachable by voice or text message.

Teresa Boardman is a Realtor and broker/owner of Boardman Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is also the founder of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com.

Email Teresa Boardman.