Build Marketing Muscle

Train yourself to develop better marketing habits.

July 1, 2002

Marketing is the fitness routine you follow to build your business.

If you have ever exercised at a gym, you know the importance of working all your muscles for overall fitness and cardiovascular health. Just as you would no more walk a treadmill and ignore the weights, you wouldn't want to skip strengthening certain muscles in your marketing routine.

Just as your body has different muscular zones, so does your business. Advertising, prospecting and farming are all part of your marketing, and they are also muscles that need daily exercise in order to make your business strong. And like the muscles in your body, your marketing muscles work in conjunction with each other.

For example, you may advertise an open house, so you can meet prospects, and add them to your farm.

Understanding marketing

It may seem as if marketing, advertising, prospecting and farming are all the same thing, but they are as different as the heart muscle is to a bicep.

Marketing is the broadest term, and it really means putting yourself, your services, and your listings before the market in the most general sense. Marketing includes all the activities and expenditures you make toward bringing in new business. Marketing also includes those actions you take to retain past clients so you can turn them into new business all over again.

Advertising

Advertising is using the media to get your message in front of strangers. Because it is easier to do business with people you know, advertising is the highest cost/highest risk for your marketing dollar. On the flip side, it also takes the least time to implement. For that reason it is tempting to depend on it. Advertising should be used to strengthen your possibilities of getting business, but it should never replace prospecting and farming. You don't want your business to depend on people who don't know you with whom you must build rapport and trust.

You need a wide variety of marketing tools to accomplish your goal of building business. These tools can include business cards, a lapel pin, market reports, a Web site, Web marketing tools, Web ads, newspaper ads, yard signs, and more. Consider these tools to be strands of your advertising muscle.

Prospecting

Prospecting is developing contacts into potential sales, with an emphasis on those people who are likely to buy or sell a home in the near future. Prospects can be people you know, as well as people you are likely to meet in your real estate circumstances. Prospecting is putting yourself into situations where you will meet people face to face or be referred by people to other people who may need your services. An open house is a perfect example of prospecting because you'll be meeting buyers you don't know and hopefully turning them into clients. Prospecting is also conducting a buyer's seminar where you meet new people and explain the homebuying process to find new clients. Networking with other professionals in clubs or at seminars can also be a form of prospecting as you look for new business and referrals.

Prospecting and farming can be awfully close in definition, but you can keep them straight by thinking of prospecting as more opportunistic, whereas farming is the deliberate, targeted cultivation of an area or group.

Farming

Like the word implies, farming is working a geographical area over which you take imaginary ownership. You may knock on doors within a five-block radius of your own home until you know every homeowner, and then start over again with the first house, so you are in contact with homeowners at least once every one to three months.

Farming can also mean working a sociological boundary. You can also farm all the members of your house of worship, the teachers at your child's school, or the high school friends you'll be seeing at your class reunion. Farming is a way of targeting a definable group of potential prospects.

To be most effective, farming should be done on a regular basis, and requires a great deal of follow-up so that you become as familiar to your territory of prospects as they are to you. Farming tools can include newsletters, market conditions reports, CMAs, postcards, e-cards and more.

Once you have their contact information, people you have met can be added to your "farm" and turned into prospects, and prospects can be turned into a sale.

Be sure that you spend a significant portion of your day in personal (prospecting and farming) and remote (advertising) contact with consumers.

Spend time every day calling people you know. Knock on doors to meet new people in your neighborhood or favorite farming area. Put yourself in a variety of circumstances so you are meeting new contacts and finding prospects in unexpected ways. Advertise your services in a several mediums including the local newspaper and the Internet with a Web site or a market conditions report. Then keep in contact with them with a newsletter, e-card, or listing alerts to stay in front of them so they don't forget who you are and what you can do for them.

And that's really the muscle memory of marketing. Muscle can only be built with repetition. Even with strong muscle, you'll find that some actions will work sometimes and others will work other times. If you have taken action in every area, you will be that much closer to making a sale.

(c) Copyright 2002 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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