If you promote your real estate business to everyone, you’ll wind up with a very unfocused marketing campaign. Creating a brand that appeals to everyone is entirely too overwhelming and not feasible. To sell your product (homes) or services (ability to sell properties), you must know your customer. Identifying your target market is more difficult than it sounds. You must give yourself some time for self-reflection. What do you want your niche to be? What is your expertise? Knowing your strengths help when determining what demographic to target.
Defining Your Target Market
What criteria should you use when defining your target market? “Peter Johnson, National Vice President of Sales and Marketing for YourDox, suggests using geographic, economic and social criteria to narrow down your potential clientele. “Defining a target market can be a key to success for those who do it well; a Realtor® or broker may market themselves specifically to luxury properties, for example, or to families with young children, and gear their marketing efforts and materials to their desired clientele, says Johnson.
Avoid wasting time by coming up with a wish list of clients. Research what types of properties people are buying or selling in your geographic region.
You can never know too much about the real estate market in your area. In fact, research is absolutely essential for finding your niche. “I did some research to figure out where most of the condo transactions were happening in the areas near my home. There aren’t many single-family homes in the area, so I had already decided condos would be the focus, says Jon Sterling, sales associate at Climb Real Estate Group. Sterling decided that he would specialize in selling homes in an up-and-coming neighborhood in San Francisco called SOMA (South of Market), because the transaction volume was higher compared to other parts of the city.
In some extreme cases, you will have to tailor your target market to the most popular ideology around you. Mark Warden, owner of Porcupine Real Estate, specializes as a buyer’s agent in New Hampshire and targets people relocating to the state with Free State Project. “My clients are all libertarian-leaning and thus typically want property with very few zoning restrictions (certainly not CC&Rs), lower property taxes, and a “less-is-more” small town government,” says Warden. Once you’ve figured out your target market, you are ready to create a focused marketing plan.
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Creating a Marketing Plan
Your target market will dictate how you approach planning marketing strategies. Ben Fisher, real estate agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty, targets out-of-state vacation home and condo owners. He’s found that a combination of monthly direct mail and online advertising consistently reaches the homebuyers and sellers he’s looking for. “Instead of a broad campaign reaching the masses with a basic sales proposition, we can target ourselves as leaders in selling and representing buyers purchasing vacation property throughout the area,” says Fisher.
Like most things in marketing, there will be some trial and error before you find the right marketing combination that reaches your target market. However, any type of marketing plan or campaign you implement must showcase how well you know your target market. Blogs, articles, website content, direct mail and newsletters must demonstrate your expertise in a particular field. “I have a blog devoted to the condo market in the area. I share information on new developments, condos for sale, and market statistics in SOMA. Whenever I talk to clients and potential clients about my business, I make it clear that I focus on SOMA condos,” says Jon Sterling.
If you are rolling out a new marketing campaign, you should also keep tabs on how well it’s doing.
There are numerous ways that you can measure how successful you are at creating a target market:
- An increase in website traffic.
- A higher click-through rate from social media networks to your website.
- A larger client base.
- Brand awareness throughout your region.
- Closing more homes or adding more listings.
Your goal doesn’t need to be as large as doubling your revenue in a year. Some real estate agents are happy with satisfied clients. “The satisfaction of my clients is how I keep score because it drives market share. Real estate is a referral-based business, and if my clients are happy, they will refer me more business. My market share grows as an extension of me keeping my clients happy, which feels good,” says Jon Sterling. It’s like the old adage, “If you build it, they will come.”
Building a focused marketing campaign that is tailor-made for your target market will help you increase revenue. “Focusing on this smaller niche has led to increased response rates to our marketing efforts as well as increased sales,” says Ben Fisher.
If you’ve found that your target market is too small, all is not lost. You may find that there are complementary audiences that can benefit from your expertise. For example, those selling loft properties may be able to widen their audience to condo or apartment buyers. Be flexible, but don’t overextend your brand to accommodate too large of a client pool.