8 Hot Marketing Ideas for 2004

Top performers offer tips for how to get you, your listings, your company noticed in a world of information clutter.

January 1, 2004

With the start of the New Year, it’s time to assess your marketing programs—what worked and what didn’t last year? Marketing is crucial to your success, but it’s sometimes a challenge to keep coming up with great new ideas that help distinguish yourself, your company, and your listings. If you’re looking for some input to start 2004 right, here are eight ideas that were recently collected from top performing real estate professionals with an average of 200 annual transactions and $35 million in annual production. Tailor these ideas to fit your needs.

Marketing Yourself

  • Promotional Item. Bud and Beth McKinney of RE/MAX UNITED, in Cary, N.C., give customers a pad that attaches to the dashboard of a car and holds in place cell phones or sunglasses. They add a card with their logo, contact information, and this message: “Don’t let that new home SLIDE AWAY from you. STICK with the Bud and Beth McKinney Team! We would love to be your buyer agent.”
  • Eye-Catching Advertisements. Sam Miller of RE/MAX® Stars in Mount Vernon, Ohio, flaunts the fact that the average real estate practitioner sells only about seven homes per year but he sells more than 100. Miller runs an ad with a black background and several rows of little white houses – 107 in all – to dramatically illustrate his point that he sells far more than most real estate practitioners.
  • Word Play. Paul Maranger, an associate broker with Judy Marsales Real Estate in Hamilton, Ontario, drives traffic to his Web site by playing on the word “mouse.” He runs an ad with a photograph of himself holding a mouse in the palm of his hand, under the copy: “Do you have a MOUSE in your house?” Click on www.paulmaranger.com. He bills his site as “The Best Full-Service Web site for Real Estate,” offering 360-degree color virtual home tours, a real estate resource center, links to helpful sites, tips for buyers and sellers, financing information, and a “Just for Kidz” section. (Marilyn Kohn of RE/MAX Unlimited in Peoria, Ill., originated the kids’ section idea).

Marketing Your Properties

  • Home Information HotLine. Don DeHanas of DeHanas Real Estate Services in Waldorf, Md., markets the heck out of the company’s properties. The centerpiece of their system is a monthly eight-page newsletter with photos and descriptions of their listings, usually numbering about 50 at a time. They direct mail 47,000 copies of the newsletter to their farm and distribute more copies around the community via newspaper “street boxes” that they purchased for that purpose. They also advertise the listings on their Web site and in a local weekly newspaper and two monthly real estate publications; furthermore, they put copies of the newsletter into brochure boxes at the properties. The newsletter and ads promote a 24-hour hotline that allows customers to call in, enter a code for the property that interests them, and hear prerecorded information. The hotline service captures the prospect’s name and phone number and e-mails the leads to DeHanas every morning. During an average week, DeHanas says the hotline generates 70 to 80 leads.
  • Signs. Dave and Judie Crockett of Smythe Cramer Co. in Mentor, Ohio, developed distinctive signage that includes a cute cartoon representation of key team members. They also use hard-to-miss Sold signs, outlined with jagged white lines in the style of newspaper ads, which they can add to the top corner of their yard signs. Many agents don’t bother to post Sold signs. The Crocketts not only take this important step in advertising their success, they play it up.

Marketing Your Company

  • Building Demand for Rental Property. Kristan Cole of RE/MAX of Wasilla, Alaska, encourages parents to buy a rental property as a college investment. Her “Give Your Kids a Chance” ad describes five facts about the cost of educating college students. The ad explains how buying rental property free and clear over 15 years can help finance the education costs.
  • Easy-to-Use Referral Sheet. The Crocketts of the Smythe Cramer Co. have a handy one-page document for gathering testimonials and referrals. The top of the page includes three testimonials from prior customers. The next section has several blank lines for customers to write in their own comments, with the disclaimer, “We may use these comments in our advertising.” The third section allows the customer to write in three names and addresses of referrals.
  • Community Service. Elaine Garner of Keller Williams Realty in Austin, Texas, sponsors a blood drive in conjunction with several other organizations. She runs an ad with this challenge: “The club or group bringing in the most blood donors will win $400.” Local merchants including restaurants, spas, and jewelry stores provide giveaways for drawings. The ad provides details about how, where, and when to donate blood. Elaine gives the ad a Halloween tie-in with a photo of herself in a Dracula costume under the headline “Blood Drive.”
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