First off, I really wanted to title this article, “If you think neighborhood farming is ‘old school,’ prepare to get ‘skooled’ – but I figured that might look like I was trying too hard.
In the marketing world, there’s a lot of buzz out there about direct mail making a major comeback. In my experience, it was never dead to begin with. Furthermore, as people become increasingly tired of a never ending stream of email hitting their inbox, a good direct mail strategy may become even more valuable.
Understandably, I have Agents come to me asking about lead generation on a regular basis. When I mention neighborhood farming, either
1. They’re really gung-ho until you explain how much work, persistence, and patience is involved, or
2. They dismiss it as old school.
I get it, modern systems and technology have taken us to some amazing places in the industry and have allowed us to reach more people than ever before. But at the heart of it, real estate is still a local game.
Admittedly, in the past it was thought that there were too many other agents trying to gain a foothold in a neighborhood…that the field was too crowded with multiple agents trying to gain exposure in every neighborhood.
Newsflash: Have you seen the internet lately? Talk about a crowded playing field!
With that in mind, I urge you to take a look at these numbers just within one area in our own organization and you’ll get a clearer picture of the long-term benefits of nurturing a small, geographical area using Direct Mail and other tools:
Jeff Casterline – The Farm at Carolina Forest: +121 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers, Neighborhood website, President of Nextdoor in the neighborhood
The Shine’s – Prince Creek: +154 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers (including annual magnetic/refrigerator calendars), started a Facebook neighborhood group
Blanche Welborn – Cherry Grove: +85 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers, Neighborhood involvement/investments
Notice the common denominator, “years of.” These numbers didn’t happen after the first mailer. These numbers didn’t even happen during the first year. These numbers are a culmination of years of consistently showing up in their farm.
Did it involve a considerable amount of time, discipline, and investment ? Yes. But I assure you, it has paid off for them.
So, how do you do it? You make a plan, create a schedule, set your budget, and get to work.
At BRG, we provide our agents with the tools and templates to do it all themselves. If you work with a brokerage who doesn’t provide this, there are a number of outside companies/vendors to help you.
I recommend you start with a mailer every month for the first 6 – 12 months. After that, your farm will be used to seeing your name and information so you could cut it back some.
Real Estate Farming:
How do I get started?
When sending mailers, you have a couple of options, you can send either postcards or letters. The Shine’s use a combination of both.
The process itself involves either using a mailing service such as Quantum Mail, or pulling your own list from a resource like RPR. If you use your own list, you will need to print the mailing labels, affix them to the card, and then buy postage or use your brokerage’s bulk mail permit if available.
Another option is to use the USPO EDDM (Every Day Direct Mail) service. Personally, this is not my favorite option because your mailers end up with the “junk mail” delivery. However, I know agents that have certainly had success with it.
What should I send?
Interesting and informative information like Local Market Stats; Just Listed Announcements; Just Sold Announcements (Buyer and Seller side); Local Business Spotlights; Other local information and tips.
Blanche Welborn: “My farming consists of mailers only. I only mail stats of what I’ve sold and I don’t really put any fluff verbiage on the postcards. Almost all of my listings come from mailers and it’s taken me about three years to consistently produce good results. For example one card I sent last year, I listed the address of all the houses I sold in Cherry Grove that year and the closing price (14 homes). I had over seven listing appointments where the potential sellers said they took the card, drove to each address to look at the outside of the house and compared theirs.”
The schedule we provide our agents for the year looks something like this:
Jan: New Real Estate Goals
Feb: Real Estate News/Facts
Mar: Local Market Report
Apr: Home Maintenance Tips for Spring
May: How to Increase Your Home’s Value
June: Local Market Report
July: Favorite Local Summer Roadtrips
August: Local Business Spotlight
Sept: Local Market Report
Oct: Trick or Treat
Nov: Home Maintenance Tips for Winter
Dec: Holiday Greeting
Intersperse these with Just Listed and Just Sold mailers every time you have the opportunity.
Note: Every mailer should have a “Call to Action” and either a link (or preferably a QR code) where they can easily access information depending on your call to action.
Additional Ideas for Real Estate Farming:
- Start a Facebook Group Page for your farm area. It can be a place for residents to share information, ask questions, and post events.
- Enter your mailing list into a Facebook Custom Audience List and use it to run inexpensive, targeted information to people in your farm.
- Get involved with any community events or local school events in your farm area.
- Follow up!
Deborah Shine: “Ours is continued follow up with past clients via email, phone, post cards, newsletters, calendars each year (which they point out on their fridge when we have a listing appointment), sympathy cards , birthday calls and whatever gives us an opportunity to keep our name out there. It may take years but that is how you build a long term referral business.”
Start with this plan and you’re on your way to sowing some long-term seeds and reaping some long-term rewards in your own farm area.