By Pass Competitors: Find a Niche

Niche marketing requires more market research on your part, but it eliminates the scattershot aspect of geographic prospecting.

August 1, 2002

If you rely on geography to target prospects, join the herd. It’s a relatively easy way to group and research potential customers. However, it puts you in fierce competition with other salespeople in your area.

Alternatively, seeking out prospects with specific needs helps differentiate your message from the din. The more distinctive your targeting criteria, the less competition you’ll face.

When I was actively selling, targeting specialized groups allowed me to minimize my prospecting costs. I contacted fewer prospects, but increased my closings because I secured better quality leads. And I could design promotions that excited prospects by focusing on their particular needs. Once I discovered prospects’ hot buttons, my phone lit up!

Say you decide to target mature homeowners with houses larger than 2,000 square feet. What are these customers looking for? The answer will likely be convenience and financial security. Sell these customers on the benefits of trading down to a smaller home: an easier-to-maintain yard, lower interest rates, and freed-up equity to re-invest for the future.

Here are other groups to target:

  • Fellow worshippers and community service activists. Potential customers are easy to find; they’re sitting in the pew next to you at services or working side by side with you on community projects. These people already know and trust you. Why not make the most of your shared interests? Donate 20 percent of your commission on every transaction received from a member of this group to a project sponsored by the organization. I pledged money to a mission in Mexico, supported by my church, which helps build housing in depressed areas. Such good works let prospects know they’re not only getting a great salesperson but supporting a cause they care about.
  • College students’ parents. Does your local college or university suffer from a housing shortage? Offer your services as the solution. Ask the administration if it will sell or give you parents’ addresses or e-mail information, so you can help their children find housing. I gathered leads from California State College at Long Beach in this way. Suggest to parents the advantages of buying an inexpensive condo for their children: It provides tax benefits, appreciation potential, and a real-life course in ownership 101.
  • Local attorneys. Become attorneys’ real estate expert and gain valuable word-of-mouth advertising among their clients. Identify attorneys in your town via the phone book and offer them free inventory and comp lists, rental estimates, forms, and investment advice. Ask them to pass along your name to their clients with real estate needs. Let the attorneys know you’re available as an expert witness, too.

So which niche do you pick? That depends on your location and the answer to several questions. Are other salespeople in your area carving out niches for themselves? If so, is there room to compete? Do you have any special interests or skills, such as a second language, that could help you reach a particular audience?

Niche marketing requires more market research on your part, but it eliminates the scattershot aspect of geographic prospecting. Whenyou focus your special brand of service on a select group of clients, you increase your chance of success.

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