Marketing yourself in today’s world is imperative in gaining a reputation and a dedicated following as a commercial real estate professional. Missing the mark on this skill could be an enormous impediment as a new agent, however, real estate education focuses primarily on the legal obligations of agents, as well as the local and regional laws/standards that govern the conduct of CRE professionals. Here are five marketing mistakes that new and experienced agents commonly make—and how you can avoid them.
Mistake 1: Relying on a Single Marketing Channel
If you speak with high-level agents, many of them will ascribe their success to their ability to network and create connections—both personally and professionally—to drive listings. Of course, personal relationships are a fantastic way to increase your business, especially between SIORs, but they aren’t the only way to hit your goals. If you make the mistake of exclusively relying on one marketing channel, you put yourself in a vulnerable position if that channel becomes ineffective. Instead of just relying on intrapersonal contact, utilize many different marketing channels such as internet ads, social media posts, viral content, videos, and more. Your aim should be to create redundancy in your lead sources so that if one slows down, you can immediately pivot to a new channel. Every minute your message is not getting in front of a buyer's eyes is a lost opportunity.
Mistake 2: Not Following Up
This one is huge. Follow-up is arguably one of the most critical skills for success in the real estate game. Clients, co-workers, and other real estate professionals need to know they can be in contact with you, especially during deals. Getting better at follow-up starts with your purchase/sale prospects and extends to everyone you deal with, from mortgage brokers to loan officers to appraisers. Aside from the respect issue, follow up is incredibly important for building your sales and prospect funnels. Remember: you are competing with brokers from your entire state and your clients have the choice to go with any other CRE professional that catches their eye. If you take too long to reach out to a client, it’s very likely they will find another broker, leaving you without a deal. Follow up regularly to ensure that you do not leave any deals on the table.
Mistake 3: Wasting Time on "Tire Kickers"
In the automotive sales industry, customers that show up to deal with a salesperson with no intention of buying are called "tire kickers." This basically means that they are there to see a vehicle but have no real intention of buying. You see these customers in all facets of sales, and yes, in commercial real estate. There are many individuals and companies that may want to start looking but have no plan of actually making a move. If you are unable to discern them, or to tell them no, you risk wasting a great deal of your time with them. The best way to avoid tire kickers is to prequalify your prospects. This can be as simple as a quick, organic conversation or email when you first meet your client. Ask them a lot of questions to get a better idea of their current purchase standing, at this moment. More information is always better, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to evaluating clients. Having a dedicated lead sheet that you use when speaking to all new clients will go a long way towards helping you determine who is worth your time and who is wasting your time.
Mistake 4: Improperly Managing Your Marketing Budget
Your marketing budget is the engine of your business. In order to be a successful broker, people need to know your name, your history, and how they can get in touch with you. As we mentioned earlier, there are a multitude of marketing channels to use, like direct mailers, paid internet ads, magazine inserts, and more. Every market is different, so make sure that whatever you invest in marketing makes sense for your region. For example, in an area with a predominantly rural, older population you may have more success with physical mailers, while a younger, urban population may respond better to social media ads. Try and see what other SIORS and industry leaders in your area are doing as far as marketing and emulate their methods. Networking with successful brokers may give you unique insights into their process and how they got to the point where they are at.
Mistake 5: Prejudging Clients
The adage you can never judge a book by its cover has a great deal of truth. Some of the wealthiest people in the United States wear clothes from Wal-Mart and drive sensible, economical vehicles. This is largely due to the fact that the greatest correlation between wealthy people is not their income—it is their savings rate. Frugal people are more likely to save their money and watch it grow. As a CRE professional, you cannot judge any prospect by the way they look, how they speak, or any other exterior characteristic. Earlier we mentioned that you should not waste time on tire kickers, but that does not mean you should avoid clients based on what you THINK they can buy. Always get the information from clients regarding their wants and needs and cross-reference this information with the financials they provide. If you are unwilling to deal with someone based on outside appearances, you will end up losing many potentially lucrative deals.
Starting out as a new CRE broker is exciting, scary, and daunting—all at the same time. If you think about it, you are building a small business from the ground up, with only your skills, knowledge, capital and personality to back it up. The upside is that with drive and dedication you can build yourself a stellar reputation and a profitable business where you make the rules. Take heed of this advice and make your business more efficient by learning from the mistakes of others.