Though most agents have the similar goal of generating more leads, some still don’t have a complete and functional database to market to. Here’s why you should be organizing your list — and the most cost-effective marketing method to use.

When coaching real estate agents, whether they’re brand new or 25-year veterans, on more effective marketing strategies, I realized that what they want most is to generate more “seller leads.”

However, I soon discovered that most agents share a common obstacle — they don’t have a complete, up-to-date and functional database for marketing to their sphere of influence. So that’s where we begin.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 90 percent (so nine out of 10) of consumers say they would use the same agent again. However, only 15 percent actually do. I’ve seen the number as high as 18 percent. But that’s still only one in six. Where are the other five going? They’re going to other agents whose marketing has the right balance of frequency and messaging.

Too often, when I consult with agents and ask to see their database, it can’t be exported because it isn’t in one place. Their contacts are on their smartphones, in Word docs, on post-it notes stuck to their computers and even in the recesses of an old computer drive in their garage.

The fact is — your database is your most valuable asset and should be the foundation of your marketing plan. Those contacts provide both the easiest audience to reach and the one most inclined to read, watch or listen to your material, because these people know, like and trust you.

Not to mention, because acquiring new clients costs five times more per individual than maintaining existing clients, it should be your most economical and productive method of acquiring new listings.

I’ve found that what holds many agents back is thinking it takes too much time or tech training to do database maintenance. Others have organized their lists, but don’t use them in this way for fear of seeming too pushy and driving clients away.

However, if you don’t market to them enough, they will fall away and end up using another agent to sell their house. And once a client becomes connected to another agent, the referral pipeline that client represented closes, too. So, we have to strike a balance.

Earlier this year, I sat down with an agent to go through her database. She called one of her past clients and found they had recently moved. With a little research, we discovered they had sold their house just six months earlier. Now worried, the agent wondered if that was the case with many others, and within 10 minutes, we found three more listings from her database that she had missed out on.

She said she had been sending emails and postcards once or twice per year. But I explained that those, along with direct mail, are passive forms of marketing. Recipients get so many of them that they easily get lost in the noise. 

The method I recommend as the best avenue is also the most overlooked — marketing to your database on Facebook. We all spend a lot of time on Facebook, and it’s still a friendly environment. In fact, last year, we spent an average of 153 minutes each day on social media, primarily on YouTube and Facebook.

Facebook makes it easy to import your client list and reach them on their news feeds. You can vary the messages, from listing announcements and market reports, to favorite recipes, local things to do and holiday greetings. Anything you’d send out normally via a postcard can be a digital postcard.

Social media is also incredibly cost-effective. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on lead platforms, such as Zillow and realtor.com to market to your sphere, you put it in places where it’s seen, and is in a safe environment.

Some ask me why they should pay money to put Facebook ads in front of clients who already know them. I tell them it’s a gentle shoulder tap that reminds them who you are, so you can always stay top-of-mind. What’s more, if you aren’t, someone else is already doing it.

Another agent and I went through her old clients. She said she hadn’t contacted some in as long as eight years. We imported them into Facebook, and she began casually pushing a variety of fresh content out on the platform targeting the contacts on that imported database.

Lo and behold, her phone started ringing. In fact, she and I were on a Zoom call one day, and she stopped to take a call. Someone had seen her video on Facebook and was so impressed they had to call and say hello. 

This is a smart way to channel a little time every day to organizing what’s, by far, your most reliable and productive asset. Start with your smartphone. It holds about 70 percent of your database. Export your phone contacts into a program that will flesh out those minimal records, and you’ll be prepared to load them into Facebook or some other social media platform.

Larry Hales is a marketing technology director with West, a Williston Financial Group, in Washington. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn

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