Two of the most pressing matters in real estate are: how to do efficient farming and how to do efficient follow-up with your leads. The farming process can be quite costly and it can consume a lot of time. At the same time, lead generation is the most important part of your business. Getting and keeping leads will determine the success of your business.
Quite a conundrum, and difficult to avoid altogether. But it need not be so hard, especially with the aid of the Internet, more specifically, the process of newsletter publishing. According to the 2003 NAR survey, trust ran high as a motivation for sellers to choose a certain realtor. 73 percent chose trust over referrals from close persons (38%) and the realtors reputation (54%).
It is a well known fact that agents need to know the community and the community needs to know them in order to build trust. This process is defined by constant, quality contact. Trust, as well as a professional image can only be build in time. The best way to attract and keep leads is through follow-up, also know as farming. Building a relationship between realtors and communities through traditional means (cold calling, direct mail) has high immediate costs and it is time consuming. The profits are significantly slower to appear, because people do not buy or sell houses every day.
According to the 2003 NAR survey, 65% of homeowners use the internet as an information source for real estate compared to 49% for the newspapers. Still, the number one source is the real estate agent. The same report states that the Internet seems to be "bringing consumers in touch with agents, instead of disintermediating them as experts predicted long ago." It is certainly too great an opportunity to be missed. Realtors need a farming method that would be efficient, cheap, easy to use, and time-saving. Sounds impossible, doesn't it?
Fortunately, it is not so. The Internet comes once again to the rescue offering realtors the chance to get in touch with their prospects through various means. The Internet has brought a virtual revolution of a real estate market. Most real estate agents and brokers today also have websites for keeping in touch with their customer base. The newsletter is a logical step forward in this process. Indeed, it is a most fitting tool for the farming process. But what is a newsletter? A newsletter is a periodic publication by email sent only to those people who subscribe to it. Its purpose is to provide useful, quality information to a highly targeted audience. In simple terms, a newsletter is an email containing articles of interest to your subscribed members.
The articles can be written by yourself, or they can be taken from the large, free-for-reprint database available on the web. Why is it so appropriate for lead generation? Well, because:
1. It's cheap You need only think about eliminating the costs of paper, envelopes, stamps and postcards to realize how much you'll be saving. Traditionally, your traditional, direct mailing list has only 1% response rate. So basically you're throwing 99 letters out of 100 in the trash. However, if 99 of your newsletters are erased, it won't cost you anything. Email is free, fast and reliable. Also, you can make the design yourself or hire someone to create it for you. Either way, the printing costs will be zero, since newsletters don't cost money to duplicate. When you decide to change the layout or the content, once again, no printing costs. You can do it at home, on your own computer.
2. It's time saving No more putting papers into envelopes, no more glue, no more stamps, no more trips to the store or the mail, no more checking each copy for errors. You can send a great number of emails almost instantaneously. There are plenty of programs that send emails automatically and provide auto-responders that are time saving and efficient.
3. It's efficient Any professional will tell you that the key to a successful business venture is a good relationship with your customers. On one hand it will build trust which will entice customers to come to you in the knowledge you'll take care of them. On the other hand, it will keep you wired to their needs, thus enabling you to adapt your offer to fit their requests. An internet relationship is characterized by the offer of high quality, informative content. If possible, directly on their doorstep metaphorically speaking. Using newsletters, you will be able to send your customers something of value to them instead of a simple commercial add. More importantly, good content will build up your reputation of industry expert. The informative articles, as well as the fact your recipients have already agreed to receive it, will ensure your email won't end up in the trash.
4. It offers the possibility of fast, direct feed-back People are traditionally lazy. They prefer to do things with minimal effort in the shortest time possible. So how much feed-back can you count on when your leads need to complete forms by hand, or write testimonials then go out and mail them? Not as much as electronic feed-back that's for sure. You can include polls in your newsletters. Also, they can write you back with just a couple of mouse clicks. It's considerably easier to follow up on their comments.
5. It's versatile How easy it is to modify an electronic document compared to a printed document? Infinitely easier. You needn't worry about small changes and errors cropping up at unexpected times. You can fix anything fast and easy, starting with content and ending with layout. Want a different color? Want to change the article order? A few mouse clicks will do just fine.
6. It's viral When people get interesting emails in their
inboxes, they forward it to friends. A newsletter is much more likely to
be forwarded than a commercial email. Who knows where your newsletter
will end up? Perhaps in the hands of prospective leads. So give
newsletters a try and you'll be amazed by the results.