Approach real estate as if you were running for mayor

What you can do to raise your profile and give back to your community

What happens when someone builds a dominant online presence in your community? One of the ways you can lose market share in your farm is when a tech-savvy agent works as hard online as you’ve worked offline to capture market share by educating homeowners and homebuyers about the local market.

Being recognized and trusted as a local expert is an important part of growing, and preserving your position as the go-to real estate agent in your community. In years past, simply farming your neighborhoods consistently might have worked pretty well. When you are the most popular source of estate information in your community, you hold the key to a stable and profitable business model.

What happens if you are just getting started in a new community?  If you are new to real estate, or recently moved into a new city, community or market, breaking into the community as a real estate expert can be challenging.

What is mayorism?

Mayorism is a business philosophy that asks, “What would your business blueprint look like if you were trying to get elected as mayor of your town?” When you consider that most of real estate marketing and sales training is “agent-centric” and focuses on self-promotion and marketing saturation, there are definite differences.

Running for an elected position requires a fundamental shift in your perception of exposure from self-promotion to public service. If a local politician ran only on a platform of self-promotion, it would be unlikely that enough support could be generated to win.

Think of the most successful and respected local politicians you know. How much time do they spend in the community supporting organizations, businesses and charities that serve the community? A mayorism candidate strives to first win the hearts of the people and then their votes.

Marketing as a public service

If you already have a foothold in your community, whether online or offline or preferably both, you already have a head start. I propose that in today’s business environment, using your influence and experience to build awareness for local businesses, charities and causes is even more powerful than dropping fliers off on doorsteps or calling expired listings.

I am not suggesting that you change what is already working for you. I am suggesting that you start looking for opportunities for public service within your community. As a local expert, you probably know a lot of people. Leverage those relationships to connect those who need with those who can help. Being a connector is one of the most powerful and stealthy marketing strategies you will ever do.

Look for local-level needs in the public sector. Schools are a great place for you to start your mayorism campaign. Think about how much money you spend every month printing and mailing post cards, fliers or advertising online. Peel off just a small portion of that and commit it to a local school or school district to help fill in the gaps left from lost state funding, or start or help grow after-school projects that enthusiastic teachers are trying to launch or save. You will quickly gain recognition as someone who is a supporter of local needs and causes.

Return on investment

If you were to start a political campaign today, how long do you think it would take before you could earn enough votes to be elected to the position you are running for? The answer is: It takes a long time. A lot of hand shaking and baby kissing goes into a successful political campaign. And when you do capture the attention of a group of voters, you must be prepared to provide a laundry list of experiences and public works that show you have the experience and passion to represent the people of your community.

I am using a lot of metaphors here to describe the mindset of growing your business using the public service strategies, and there is a deeper level of importance to approaching your business this way. There is a real need in your community right now. Private business has a very real and virtually untapped opportunity to provide solutions to public problems.

Who better than you to use your influence and local knowledge to act on efforts to improve the community you live in? Remove your marketing focus from you, and invest that energy into the public service and local businesses that are the foundation of your community. The return on this investment depends on your commitment to your constituents.

Your business will grow from this strategy, not because of what you do for a living, but for who you are and what you do for others. This strategy takes the reciprocal approach to building your business to a whole new level.

A mayorism case study

We have invested in this business philosophy for years. Most recently, I had the opportunity to move my office into a new city, Long Beach, California. This decision was not made by throwing a dart at a wall map; the decision was made to move closer to the community outreach efforts we have been working on for close to two years now.

One of our local school districts lost funding to their PIP program. PIP is a primary intervention program that provides one-on-one counseling for kids who have challenges communicating or “fitting in” with their classmates. Sadly, most of this is due to the fact that many of these kids come from troubled homes, low-income families and worse. For almost two years now, we have financed this program, which allowed the district to hire specially trained counselors to help over 900 children in 2014.

As a result, we’ve received the attention and support from both state and U.S. politicians. The U.S. congresswoman from our local district has appeared at several events honoring our contributions to the community. Both the congresswoman and our local state senator are interested in having us conduct financial education classes in the community that we serve.

One of our loan officers has dedicated his business strategy to this school district and is, in fact, running for and sure to become elected to the local school board. The community rallied around him and pressured him into running after spending a year on the Ed Foundation board responsible for fundraising for the school. After investing almost two years of his professional life to this cause, his selfless commitment to our local school district has recently begun to produce a high volume of personal business for him. It started with one principal, and has spread through the teacher’s union and local leaders, and he has even evolved to being promoted through the district email channel that goes to all employees of the school district.

Probably the biggest thing we’ve learned from this business model is that large, one-time donations are not nearly as powerful or helpful as offering a lower-denomination, monthly investment to community causes that are in need of constant support. It can be as little as a few hundred dollars, to as much as you can afford. The only thing more valuable to local causes is your time. Philanthropy is more than writing a check — it’s about consistent support and hands-on involvement.

Are you electable?

I again ask you the question. If your career depended on you garnering enough public support to elect you as the official real estate agent of your local community, would you be able to get enough votes? And if the answer is no or you’re unsure, what can you do to earn the trust of your community? What can you give of yourself that is deserving of their trust and loyalty?

The year is young, you still have an entire year of campaigning you can embark on before launching your 2016 mayorism campaign.

Scott Schang is a branch manager at Broadview Mortgage in Long Beach, California.

Email Scott Schang.