This month, we’re looking at a variety of ways to get more leads and make them count. You don’t have to just buy them off Zillow.

In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: prospecting. 

Every month we put out calls for questions to readers and social media followers. This time, we asked for the biggest question on your mind whether you are a new or seasoned agent. The response was loud and clear: How can I make lead gen more effective?

Following are three representative types of lead gen questions we received from a number of readers this month.

1. Where should I invest my efforts to develop the listing leads that I need to grow my business?

Whether you call it farming or circle prospecting, one of the best ways to develop listing leads is through a focused, faithful, consistent outreach to a particular street, neighborhood or town.

As you grow your business and your reputation, you can expand your efforts and your budget. Starting out, just focus on a small area where you can maintain consistent marketing efforts.

Do some research on some areas that might work well for your purposes. Begin a database tracking the condition of each home in the area, as well as when it was last purchased. This will begin to help you follow movement in the area.

Provide value-added information for homeowners in your chosen farm. Create market snapshots, personalized comparative market analyses (CMAs), and community information. Share this through both direct mail and online resources. Connect your direct mail efforts to your digital marketing through dedicated email addresses, website addresses or phone lines, especially if you are prospecting more than one micro-market.

Continue to follow up on a regular basis, developing as much contact information as possible for that area. Once you get your first listing, use it to market yourself as the agent of choice in the neighborhood. Market the “coming soon,” “open house,” and “just closed” phases of the home sale, and use these opportunities to offer updated valuations to the neighbors.

This type of marketing is a marathon, not a sprint, but with consistent effort you can gradually grow your top-of-mind status — and your farm — to bring in ongoing listing leads.

2. Should I focus on social media and digital marketing or on some form of old-school relationship building?

Many people think that digital marketing versus in-real-life marketing is an either/or proposition. In reality, of course, you need a variety of lead gen channels to grow your business and stay top-of-mind with people in your sphere and beyond.

If you are an introvert, it may be tempting to think that you can do all of your marketing online without having to play the social game. If you are an extrovert, you may think that you can network your way to a solid marketing plan. In reality, for most people it is a combination of the two that will get you the most return on the investment of time and effort.

Remember, you don’t have to participate in old-fashioned civic organizations or professional organizations to see positive results. Taking classes, working on a political campaign, joining a sports team or hiking club — all of these can help you get to know people in your community and become the go-to agent for their real estate needs.

3. How can I develop and nurture leads organically rather than just buying leads from Zillow and other providers?

There are a number of strategies that you can employ to create organic leads rather than purchasing. Each will require time and effort; the trade-off is the money you save. Here are a few time-tested strategies:

  • Content marketing: Whether you are a blogger, podcaster or video creator, a content marketing plan with a solid website, consistent content creation, and social media or email to drive traffic can help you bring in warm leads who value your expertise and want to work with you.
  • Farming: As I mentioned above, farming or circle prospecting a specific neighborhood can help you generate consistent listing leads over time. Grow your farm as you grow your business to generate even more leads.
  • Niche marketing: Whether you focus on a particular market segment like first-time homebuyers or senior clients, market to expired listings and FSBOs, or specialize in new home construction, military relocation, or real estate investors, defining a narrow niche allows you to market more effectively and build your expertise. Your status as an expert in a particular part of the market can help you generate a pipeline of leads who are excited to work with you.
  • Networking: If you have a particular gift for getting to know people, you may find that effective networking and outreach to an ever-growing sphere of contacts will be sufficient to keep you busy each month. Letter writing, meetups, pop-bys and other strategies employed consistently over time can keep you top-of-mind. Grow your network by participating in community and professional events and organizations.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

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