The old adage is true — putting all of your eggs in one basket is just begging for them to get broken!
Having worked in property sales for almost two decades, one thing I know for sure is that depending on a single source of business or marketing strategy is the kiss of career death for both real estate brokerages and agents.
I have seen this play out so many times.
The day Craigslist took away the ability to live-link within posts with no warning, entire brokerages which were built around Craigslist ads were absolutely crushed, and lost the majority of their business in a matter of moments.
When Google started punishing websites for excessive reciprocal linking, companies that depended on this tactic went from the top of the Google ranks to page 100+, no matter how big their ad spend, resulting in former firehoses of leads dwindling to just a few random drops.
And, of course, when Covid-19 restrictions put a halt to any and all in-real-life activities, those agents who depended solely on open houses and happy hours to fill their pipeline found themselves unable to work.
This is why a marketing mix is so important. If you spread your time, money and efforts across several buckets of business, you’re increasing the chances of filling some of them at any one time, even if one or more of them dries up for reasons outside of your control.
Here are some buckets of business
Friends + family (sphere): If you’re an experienced real estate agent, you’ll likely agree that this is one of the biggest and most important buckets. If you’ve been in the business for at least a couple of years and you run your numbers, you’ll likely find that at least 75% of your sales are sourced from people who already know, like and trust you.
Sphere referrals: Hopefully, the people in your sphere not only trust you with their own real estate questions and needs, but they also send people in your direction. These “friends of friends” should quickly become part of your sphere, and spill over into that friends + family bucket if you do a great job and add them into your nurturing systems after their transaction.
Farm: Farming is as old as real estate itself, and it’s usually achieved by focusing on a geographic area with both old-school and tech-driven lead generation tools. Depending on where you want to focus, you might use a combination of postcard campaigns, online ads and interaction on neighborhood platforms like NextDoor and Facebook groups, hyper-local event sponsorship and pop-bys, as well as big-data predictors that can help you focus on those people who are most likely to make a move.
Open houses: Yes, open houses. If you’ve heard consultants or industry pros say that open houses aren’t relevant or effective anymore, I’d bet that they aren’t anywhere close to folks who are actually selling real estate. Open houses might have had a forced hiatus during Covid-19 lockdowns, but in most areas they came back in a big way, and now that homes are sitting a bit longer on the market, they’re one of the best ways to meet new potential buyers and sellers.
Floor time: This looks different depending on a brokerage’s business model, but can be a great way to meet new people, especially if your office is a storefront in a walkable area. Open the door, and have a water bowl ready for thirsty dogs. Don’t forget to share your business card and some fun, informative swag or collateral. Have fun with it!
Online: There is definitely room for an online lead bucket in most agents’ marketing mix, but tread slowly and spend carefully. If your brokerage provides IDX leads in exchange for a closing split (or even better, during your floor time), this is a great way to give them a go. If you find that you’re good at and enjoy working to connect with and convert leads into clients, and if you have solid flow + nurturing systems to play the long game, go ahead and fill that online bucket.
Networking: Whether it’s a formal BNI (Business Networking International) group that meets weekly, a book club with your friends, participation on a non-profit board or a school or local Chamber committee, the networking bucket is filled with mutually supportive relationships that grow with a common cause. Be careful to have the right intentions, though, no one likes a helping hand who is only focused on selling their own services.
Agent referrals: This is one of the buckets that a lot of real estate professionals are missing, but professional referrals should be a strong and consistent part of your business. By going to industry conferences, volunteering at your Realtor Association, getting involved with national and international Facebook groups for real estate agents and more, you can develop relationships and create your own referral network without paying high relocation company and affiliate network fees.
Once you have established all of these buckets of Business, the magic is in the balance. If you don’t already, now is a GREAT time to start tracking your ROI on each of your sources of business. Go back through all of your transactions and note where they came from – those are the Buckets where you will want to invest the most time, money and effort, while also working to fill the others in order to maintain that awesome Marketing Mix that will sustain your future production, no matter how hard the world, or the market, tries to tip those Buckets out!
Stacie Staub is the Co-Founder and CEO of West + Main Homes.