Real Estate Farming 101

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Whether you are a seasoned professional or a new real estate agent evaluating different marketing ideas, you’ve probably heard of farming.

What is Real Estate Farming?

gothic-260If you are tweeting about real estate and have a core group of followers, you are farming…

If you are just knocking on doors, you are not farming. You are wasting your time.

Should you concentrate on a geographic farm, a social farm or both?
What real estate marketing materials would be the most effective tools for your specific farm?

We are going to concentrate not only on the “DOs” and “DON’Ts” of Real Estate farming and prospecting techniques but also on a whole array of other marketing ideas and methods including integrating web and email marketing into farming.

The very first “DON’T’ would be spending all your resources and money on “old school” farming marketing materials and products without a proper web presence.

Times have changed.
Real estate marketing has moved to the web and this is why you have to establish and develop your web properties first before even thinking about printing your farming postcards of fliers! Your printed marketing materials will need to be directly related to the content of your main website and other web properties.

Real estate prospecting ideas of today should be much more diverse and composed if more than just passing out business cards and notepads with your name and phone number!

The goal of “old Real Estate farming” was to become somewhat familiar with homeowners and to be remembered at the right moment.
The new farming should replace most of the notepads and fridge magnets with happy faces of Realtors with browsers’ bookmarks, social bookmarks, Google+ circles, etc.

The new goal is to be “remembered” not only in people’s minds but by mobile phones and computers as well.
People are not going to do this because of your pretty face or your awards. You need to give them something really valuable in the form of useful information that is not easily available anywhere else.

Nowadays there is no reason for doing real estate farming with printed material or even with email newsletters without having a quality website!

Not just any website – it needs to be outstanding in terms of content and unique geared toward your community.

Once your website is set up and filled with all the goodies, you are ready for farming.
Read some tips on setting up and using your website for marketing along with your farming program.

The first step would be to pick a farm as a group of people or specific neighborhoods you would like to target. The ideal group to test your real estate marketing ideas would be your social farm: family, friends, acquaintances, your church fellowship, school carpool partners, fitness club buddies, golf partners, etc… – you get the drift.

Make a list of everyone you feel comfortable with to mail/hand out your marketing materials on a regular basis to solicit business or just keep your name in front of them in case some need in your services or consultation would arise. If you have come to real estate from some other line of work, it may be logical to send all your former business associates an introductory email newsletter in addition to announcing your new profession through social media websites.

Your social farm may not yet be big enough to sustain a constant stream of referrals. You will need to find a geographical area you can target and come up with a solid real estate marketing plan for long-term marketing. Take some time to research the area, check the average sales price, see if any agent is dominating listings and sales and if the farm is getting his/her real estate newsletters.

If the latter is true, your efforts and money could be wasted. It is much harder to take away a farm from a seasoned professional who has already won the trust and business from many residents than to start fresh in a new geographical area that doesn’t get consistent delivery of any marketing materials.
Now you are ready to start “farming” – a planned prospecting campaign in which you heavily service a geographic area (or social group) with marketing materials in an effort to get listings, buyers and referrals.

Real Estate Farming is a long-term prospecting goal.

It will take about six months to a year and a lot of unique real estate marketing ideas to start becoming productive. As you break into a farm, it will become a strong base for your growing business and it will get easier as time goes on. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results – consistency with marketing materials and personal contact are imperative to becoming a successful farmer.

In the first year of your Real Estate farming, you should plan on delivering at least 25 -30 different marketing materials. Ideally, you want to do 52 different types, that one per week. You will also want to sponsor one garage sale for the neighborhood. It means that at least every other week your farm residents should get something from you (like a postcard, paper newsletter or email newsletter) with your photo and contact information.

If you study farming ideas of your most successful colleagues you would notice that they would concentrate on custom real estate newsletters, and professional calendars with community events, postcards highlighting “Just Listed and Just Sold” properties in the neighborhood.

You should always look for unique ways to deliver your marketing materials – not just traditional mailing that gets more and more expensive every year or hand-delivering your newsletters to residents. That can be time-consuming and counter-productive as they quickly disappear into the recycling bin.

Talk to your local coffee shop owner and have your custom real estate newsletters available there when your prospective clients are relaxing with their daily “cup of Joe” and are more open to reading something useful and short – you may have more luck of successfully delivering your message to more prospective clients and widening your client base.

When you are evaluating marketing ideas, imagine yourself in your clients’ shoes — would you rather read a local newspaper filled with doom and gloom about the economy or quickly check on property values in the neighborhood, get some useful remodeling tips, solve a Sudoku puzzle and laugh at a couple of cartoons in a fun-filled real estate newsletter?

You may ask now: “How will all these Real Estate farming postcards and newsletters help me promote my website and heighten my search engine ranking?”

It is not complicated. Your Real Estate farming postcards and newsletters should always include multiple links (textual or QR code) to different sections on your website. For example, when advertising a community garage sale, invite your clients to register on your website to win a free breakfast from Starbucks. Your newsletter or postcard should always include a textual or QR code with the words: “For more information go here…

Your website needs to target visitors that will stay on your page. To accomplish this, you will need to provide useful and relevant information – this will be noticed by search engines and result in a higher ranking in search results. You may also collect a good number of emails from your farm after each mailing cycle.

As long as your custom real estate newsletters are professional and provide unique information, potential clients will assume that your website will offer the same. Knowing what different types of information are valuable to particular communities is the key to the successful realization of all your farming ideas.

Our step-by-step Real Estate Farming Program (found here) describes some of the aspects mentioned here in more details.