Lead generation and neighborhood farming are two topics we receive many questions about in Information Central. Recently, the NAR LinkedIn Group featured an insightful discussion on this topic, with experienced and successful REALTORS® across the country sharing their expert advice and tips.
The discussion group concurred that neighborhood farming is tedious, clerical, and repetitious. Because of the nature of this type of work, many suggested hiring an assistant. The common theme in the discussion is consistency. Consistency relates to both messaging and branding (making sure language and style are uniform in all communications) and in terms of follow-up (making sure communications are sent regularly).
They agreed that success in farming is tied to repeat contact and follow-up, where initiating contact just once is not enough. Often prospects might save mailers for years before making contact. One REALTOR® said to invest a minimum of six months with no ROI, as it takes time to establish oneself as a neighborhood expert. Additionally, the discussion group established that personalized messaging with neighborhood-specific data is essential. Examples of personalized messaging might include something like “x number of homes sold in your area last quarter with an average sales price of x” or “Three homes I’ve sold in your area recently include x, y and z.” If you’re looking for examples, check out our free letter templates. Several REALTORS® cited success with sending “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” letters. They suggested posting the median home sales price for homes in your target market. Some sources for home sales data include NAR’s monthly metropolitan area median home prices report and local market reports (Realtor.org login required).
The best method for farming depends on the neighborhood and preferences of those living within. Some REALTORS® cited great success with door-to-door knocking, as it made home owners feel special and honored, while others cited success with purchasing tax records to contact out-of-area owners.
Though all agreed that frequency and consistency are important, some suggested mailings every 6-8 weeks, while others suggested every 3-4 weeks or even every 2 weeks when first getting established. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for determining frequency; it depends on your budget, ROI estimates, and the preferences of those in your market niche. For more information about market segmentation and developing a niche, check out our post here.
There is much variation in the suggested format of mailers. Some claim that simple black and white postcards on matte cardstock is best, while others assert that including a professional profile picture is necessary. The format of mailers, again, depends on your market niche. The consensus amongst all is that you need to do something to set yourself apart, so it is helpful to find out what your competitors are doing.
Return on Investment (ROI)
When engaging in any sort of marking program, it is important to first set goals and then determine how you will measure goal attainment. With a mailer, the end goal might be as simple as “I want to get one new client or referral from each mailer” or more specific, such as “I want to get one new Twitter follower or newsletter subscriber from each mailer.” After setting goals, it is in then important to determine your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). A KPI is a way to measure your success at achieving a particular goal. With a mailer, a KPI might be “I sent out 300 postcards with a ‘call to action’ requesting that post card recipients respond with a phone call; I want x number of people to call me for more market information.” With a KPI of returned phone calls, you can then focus on how many calls you received per mailing.
The discussion group also offered numerous creative and innovative ideas for neighborhood farming, including:
- Purchase county tax record data to identify and target out-of-towners; offer them local market investment data, property management resources, and neighborhood updates
- Issue a “Call to action” to inspire your prospects to call you for more information
- Institute a monthly trivia contest with gift card rewards
- Send out client and team member “spotlights” to give personal appeal
- Offer boat tours (for waterfront property listings)
- Send out “8 Reasons to list with me/us”
- Solicit donations to community charities (i.e. Easter Seals, Toys for Tots, Boys and Girls club)
Get out there and walk your neighborhood. Conduct formal or informal interviews to learn about your prospects and their preferences. And, be consistent. Whatever the plan you decide upon for mailings: be sure to stick with it and be patient.