As a busy real estate agent buying and selling homes every day, it's easy to get distracted providing good customer service. But it's hard to keep that list of customers coming in if you don't also focus on marketing your business to connect with new leads looking to buy or sell in your area.
As a result, too many agents end up out of balance, so to speak, when it comes to prioritizing the customers they already have today over the ones you need for tomorrow.
That means important decisions like what lead generation tools you use, how to best advertise digitally on the web and social media, as well as even who builds and hosts your website are far too often rushed, ill-informed and hastily made.
The most common thoughts? Pay away the problem. Quick fix. Shortcut. Get an edge. Get results fast. I've got better things to do.
It even sounds off, right? Think this way for too long and your business will be too.
Simply put, there is no quick way to get more real estate leads. It takes a commitment to daily diligence over time to develop a brand that consistently performs well at attracting new customers. Also known as "hard work" and "smart work."
Here are five things you can do to stay grounded and get ahead with generating real estate leads over the long term:
- Examine how you get leads - Too many agents make "knee-jerk" decisions to spend more on ads, pay more and more on Zillow or buy the latest new tool without really knowing their market or understanding exactly how they've been performing so far. The result? You never know if you're spending money well or in the right places. Just taking the time to go thru how you have successfully attracted and converted leads over the last year is eye-opening and well worth the time spent to do it. These exercises always tell you what you should do more of, what isn't working and what may be a new channel for you to spend on. As an example, if none of your leads come in through your website, you may have a big problem in these days where mobile and web search are becoming again the top driver for younger generations looking for homes and real estate services.
- Diligently collect data - If you find you can't perform an in-depth examination of how you're getting leads, start gathering data from now on. Without it, you can't be sure you're not completely wasting your money on what you're doing now and you can't figure out if you're, well, missing out. Make a point of documenting how leads come in and are sure to ask your new customers how they found or chose you (and record the answer!). A simple spreadsheet is all you need to track your lead sources. Your marketing budget will thank you in the future for what is just a moment of your day.
- Do competitor analysis and make a plan - Once you have your data on hand and have examined how you're getting the leads you have, identify the shortcomings and areas that you're not getting measurable results from and make your budget and marketing plan accordingly. As a key step, it's very helpful to compare and contrast with other market leaders in your area. Start with a simple Google search like "real estate in ____" for your city. Look at who's growing in brand presence around you. Chart what they're doing and evaluate each channel you see them growing in. Are you there too? Spending is required to successfully market yourself and, while It may be painful to shift your time and money away from "what's always worked," making a real plan and putting real percentages and dollar figures against how you can "catch up" not only keeps you honest, it keeps you in the game. If you don't, before you know it you can be at the bottom of the pack when consumers make their choice.
- Move more toward digital now - If you aren't retiring and you want your business to grow, you must embrace digital now. $55 trillion will change hands in the next 10-20 years from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Real estate over the next decade will be transformed and those that get tech-savvy and become used to attracting and working leads that come in from the web and mobile search, new mobile apps, and social media will become the "haves." The "have nots?" They'll be the ones who lean on traditional networking non-digital marketing methods (billboards, local TV and radio, flyers, etc.) and repeat clients. It's not as simple as having a website or a Facebook page. It's more than running indiscriminate, low-payoff Google or Facebook ads. Sound digital marketing is a very long game and one that takes making a commitment to over the long term. The sooner you get started, the better as digital - like anything worth the payoff - takes a while to get good at. It's like eating poorly for decades. The new diet is painful and takes a lot of getting used to, but it will save your life. Don't seek out quick fixes. Find marketing outlets and tools that help you get healthy, measure/show you your results and chart a plan for long term lead generation.
- Lead with your website - Lead generation and your website are two sides of the same coin. If you're paying for lead generation of any type but don't have a good, digitally sound website, then you have a big hole in your lead generation efforts. Quite an expensive one, at that. It's kinda like fishing with a net that has a big hole in it. Almost literally. Most consumers search for what they need as step one, then, for step number two, they research and compare. Increasingly, this means they search Google to find something, then search Google immediately to research it before making a decision. Using home buyers as an example, they go to the web, search something like "homes for sale in Annapolis MD," find an agent who ranks highly and has lots of good reviews or they hit a site like Zillow, then they research the agents who appear on those listings. Either way, guess what the common denominator is? A highly search-visible web brand. If your website doesn't rank well in search, any lead generation you pay for is only partially effective. The proverbial hole in the net. It's only getting more important now with the average home buyer getting younger and younger.
To get consistently good lead generation, like everything else, is hard work. It takes preparation, planning and consistent execution. If you think plucking any led gen tool off the shelf will simply let you "pay away" your lead generation needs, you're better off heading to Vegas and gambling it away. There simply are no real shortcuts or "get rich schemes" and the sooner you start, the quicker you see the results.
See how well your website is performing in Google search with a free site scan:
About the Author
Jason Polancich is founder and lead architect of HomePocket, a data-driven, residential real estate marketing and listing network. Polancich also founded SurfWatch Labs, a cyber data analytics firm founded in 2013 that provides highly accurate, timely and actionable information to businesses regarding the cybercrime threats they face. Polancich is a serial entrepreneur focused on solving complex internet security and cyber-defense problems. Novii Design, a company he co-founded in 2005 with Rebekah Lewis-Polancich, was based on his contributions to cloud architectures, distributed computing, data analysis and systems integration. The company assisted the U.S. Intelligence Community and Department of Defense in building some of the largest data warehouse and analysis systems ever put into operation within the government and defense contracting sectors. Novii Design was sold to Six3 Systems in 2010.Follow on Twitter More Content by Jason Polancich