Never Cold Canvas Again

Are you still cold-canvassing? You can get a lot further with other simple, memorable techniques. Learn how.

April 10, 2013

New real estate professionals often think, “I have to make myself known in my market.” So they go knocking on doors, cold-canvassing. Unfortunately, many experienced practitioners do this as well.

The sad reality is that the people out there don’t care that you have to “make yourself known.”

I often ask my real estate audiences, “Who likes cold-canvassing?” With rare exceptions, the answer is no one. Then I ask if the public likes being cold-canvassed. Again, the answer is no.

So for the life of me, I cannot understand why salespeople who hate cold-canvassing will continue to do it to people who hate having it done to them. It makes no sense at all.

There are so many prospecting techniques that can be done instead of cold-canvassing. In a previous column, I talked about photo testimonials praising individual agents or offices. These can be a great start.

Another example: For years, I’ve known a real estate salesperson named Julie who farmed an area that included around 1,200 houses. Here in Australia, we celebrate Australia Day. Prior to that, she purchased a quantity of cheap, small Australian flags. Then with the help of some friends, she placed one in the front yard of every house in the area with her business card stapled to it, merely saying “Happy Australia Day.”

Within a short time, she had spoken to around 450 of the people in the area. Some had called to say they had two or three children, but only one of them had the Australian flag. They asked if she perhaps have any spare flags for the other children. How simple and powerful is that?

Also, at Christmas time, every household decorated with lights received a certificate she printed off her computer, rolled up with a ribbon around it. It simply said, “Thanks for brightening our holiday with your Christmas lights” and included her card and contact details.

Others use devices as simple as a voucher or gift card saying “have a coffee on me” and asking them to let you know know if they have any real estate needs or would like to receive regular updates on prices in the area.

Another version of this: I’ve seen others who provide a business card with 10 numbered squares on the back of their card — each one entitles them to a free coffee when they spend $5 or more at the particular coffee shop.

This means consumers have to look at that particular agent’s card and perhaps photo 10 times as they pull it out to be stamped at the coffee shop.

And there are other innovative ways to get noticed. For instance, assuming it’s not a windy day, imagine a row of houses on a street with cheap helium balloons flying from each mailbox, with your business card attached. The balloons can even be printed with your name, contact info, and real estate office. Don’t you think that would get noticed?

There’s plenty more, but that’s enough for now. My hope is that these tips move you away from old-fashioned cold-canvassing. As always, if you would like to contact me any time, please do so through my Web site or e-mail me at Happy selling!

Ian Grace

Australian-born Ian Grace, one of the world’s leading authorities on real estate advertising, is the director of IGM Global and head of Ian Grace Business Training. For 16 years, he worked in and researched advertising and customer service in England, South Africa, and the United States.