Drip emails, Facebook, SEO gimmicks — there are better ways to become an expert in your area. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me.

We all seem to use the common marketing ideas: drip email campaigns, Facebook, SEO gimmicks, internet lead generation programs and purchasing ZIP code leads or paying a referral fee for third-party leads.

They all work, but there are better ways to market if your goal is to become the leading agent in a particular neighborhood or market area. Here are a few examples that I’ve personally seen work in my career.

5 organic marketing ideas

1. Get creative, and stand out

Innovative agents are coming up with some very good ideas. They know that creative marketing that is outside of the box not only promotes them, but sellers in particular will view them as someone who will do more to market their property than simply putting it in the MLS and on third-party sites.

Social media, blogs and neighborhood web pages are also popular. Content marketing is a great way to promote yourself in a market area — and promote the area. The problem is that everyone is doing it, so it is hard to stand out in the herd.

One concept that might deserve your attention is working with businesses and organizations, particularly those that provide services to homeowners. Arranging things like neighbor discounts on services will make you stand out, and the featured vendor often becomes a great source for leads.

2. Free boat inspections beat a free home valuation

Upon moving to Florida in 2001, I wanted to continue the real estate career that I began in Wisconsin. I lived in a 400-home ocean access community. The problem was that nobody knew me.

That changed when I took a boat safety class offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Axillary.

As it turned out, this group also offered free boat safety inspections. Having a U.S. Coast Guard Safety sticker on your boat meant you were less likely to be boarded while out at sea. The instructor told me that he would come to my home to do it.

When I told him that I lived in an ocean access community, he said that if I picked a day and sent out announcements, he would bring a group out and do safety inspections for anyone who wanted them.

I tossed out my “Free market analysis” postcards and send out “Free boat safety inspections” postcards instead, with my name, company name and phone number. The result was 36 boat inspections and my first listing in my neighborhood.

Look for unique marketing opportunities that your community can relate to, and make it free and easy for people to come out and get to know you.

3. A ‘straight flush’ resulted in listings

About the same time, the county installed a sewer system in our neighborhood. One of the people I met during my boat inspection promotion owned a company that did sewer hookups for homes. He knew his sewers, but nothing about marketing.

I offered to design and print postcards for his company at no charge. The result was that he immediately got dozens of jobs. I also got several listings because he recommended me to people that mentioned that they were thinking of selling after their sewer system was connected.

Over the next two years, this scenario repeated itself several times. He hooked up lots of sewers, and I got many listings. Very quickly, I become the market leader in my neighborhood.

A lot of times, if you give a little, you will reap the benefits. Help out other professionals, and you’ll become their go-to agent.

4. Team up with a service provider to offer discounts

Some agents have discovered that arranging for a discounted neighborhood service, such as gutter cleaning, lawn mowing or pool cleaning, is a great way to market themselves. People are more likely to respond to a discounted service postcard, than a “Just sold!” one.

Not only that, but the person who cuts grass or cleans pools often knows if a customer is getting ready to sell long before any real estate agent is called. Equip your discount service provider partners with your business cards, so that they can hand them out with a recommendation when they hear clients are looking to move.

5. Arrange a neighborhood garage sale

Nothing attracts a crowd like a neighborhood garage sale. Organizing one allows you to present yourself in a good light, and it can be a good source of leads. Many people start the process of getting ready to sell by first clearing out the clutter.

I found that offering to advertise the garage sale and providing some garage sale signs can stimulate business for the next year. I also go to each of the garage sales. Because my neighbors will also go to them, I often learn who is thinking of selling or buying.

As a result, I become better known to people in the neighborhood.

Things to avoid

Your new found popularity in your neighborhood, if it has a HOA, might result in you being asked to be on the HOA board or architectural control committee. It sounds great, but you will often find yourself put in the position of making decisions that will make you enemies. Better to serve on a committee like social events.

If you, as a real estate agent, promote a certain vendor, that vendor might offer you a kick back of some kind. This puts you at risk of violating state laws regarding affiliated businesses. Avoid that completely.

Jim Weix is a Broker Associate with The Keyes Company, Florida. He is best known as being the catalyst that brought about “MLS of Choice” nationally.

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