Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.
Top Performer: Jerome Scroggins
A winning campaign
July 1, 2000
Need proof of the power of a great marketing campaign? Just look at how Jerome Scroggins turned a little ingenuity into a lot of sales.
Scroggins, a salesperson with Realty Executives, Shreveport, La., has been selling real estate since 1985. Two years ago, he decided he was tired of incremental growth; it was time to jump-start his business.
“I was the No. 2 guy in the company by a narrow margin,” he says. “I wanted to do something to boost me over the edge.”
That something was a new marketing campaign. “I came up with the slogan ‘Elect Jerome Scroggins for your real estate pro’ and promoted the campaign the way a politician would,” he says. “I did everything--newspapers, billboards, direct mail, and yard signs. I bombarded the market.”
The cost was surprisingly reasonable--$7,800 in all. “I didn’t use an outside advertising agency,” he says. “But both the billboard company and the newspaper had an art staff that helped me.”
The results were dramatic. “I did 38 transactions in 1997,” he says. “My goal for 1998 was 52 transactions. But after the marketing campaign, I wound up with 63.”
The campaign also gave him something he had previously lacked--a high-profile image in the community. “Some people think I’m actually running for office,” he says. “I’ve had people come up and ask me what I’m running for.”
Scroggins sells mainly entry-level and first-move-up housing in Shreveport, a town of about 190,000 residents on the Red River in the northwest corner of the state. The average price is $85,000, but he has listings as low as $20,000 and as high as $229,000. About 65 percent of his customers are buyers.
“I’m a hometown guy,” he says, “and I get tons of referrals.”
Scroggins’ approach is almost defiantly old-fashioned. “I’m a one-man show,” he says.
As for the Internet, “I get leads from it, but I haven’t put a lot of attention there,” he says. “I mean, if your car is running well, why change the engine? And my business is doing extremely well.”
What works, he says, is face-to-face contact. “Wherever I go--supermarkets, gas stations, clothing stores--I let people know who I am and what I do. I’m active in my church, and I coach a Little League team. All those things put me in contact with people who at some point will need my services.”
One of his goals this year, however, is to hire an assistant. “The biggest issue I have right now is that buyers can’t get to me because I’m too busy,” he says. “I need an assistant who’ll free me up to do the kind of hands-on selling I enjoy.”
He’s not kidding about the hands-on part. Back in the early days, Scroggins says, he showed a buyer 79 houses before making a sale. Today’s market dictates a different approach. “Today, if you find a dozen houses to show a buyer, you’re doing well,” he says. “Generally, it’s more like six. I have a good number of buyers who are approved, but there just aren’t any homes for them.”
|Shreveport, La.; 318/674-1555|
|Web address: www.realtyexecutives.com|
|1999 gross production volume||$5 million|
|Average sales price||$85,000|
|Average number of listings||7-9|
|Hours per week I work||55-60|
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