Tuesday, November 4, 2014
Orlando REALTOR® | November/December 2014
Search inside yourself for clues to a niche market that will help you business thrive
By Julie Collins
Many real estate agents mistakenly believe that they aren’t good candidates for niche marketing or that they can’t afford to specialize. The truth is, there are many excellent reasons to claim your niche and many ways to do it.
For example, a niche built on geography is one common and successful approach. (Just be careful about claiming a territory that’s too large and diluting your credibility as a niche specialist.)
Niches can also be built on:
--Certain types of properties (such as new construction, historical homes, downtown lofts;
--Expert knowledge about special types of real estate transactions (investment properties, homebuyer assistance);
--Shared hobbies and interests (pet rescue, gardening, community involvement); or
--Types of buyers/sellers (first-time buyers, relocation, age-restricted housing).
Be sure to consider what’s “too narrow” and what’s “too broad.” Often, the answer relies on blending various niche possibilities into something that uniquely defines “you.” (Example: a suburban agent who concentrates on helping apartment-dwellers in My Town achieve homeownership by offering credit repair assistance.)
Niche marketing is a tried-and-true strategy that works especially well for real estate agents. Why? The simple answer is that any business built on one person or a small team usually finds it very difficult to stand out and compete successfully in a large and crowded field. But if that same business decides to zero in on a particular segment of the market, they have a very good chance of attracting people who are interested in that niche. Other compelling reasons include:
Marketing becomes easier
Real estate generalists are abundant. But if you can articulate exactly what type of client you’re trying to attract, you’ll find that broad and vague website messages about your services can be turned into sharp, crisp communications. This is partly because you’ve clearly and precisely identified your target audience. But it’s also because you’re now using the same language that your prospective clients use and your messages resonate more strongly with them. Narrowing your focus also makes it easier to pinpoint where and how to reach your audience.
It’s easier to win with search engines
You want buyers and sellers to find you when they search online, right? That’s pretty difficult if you’re trying to be among the top 10 results when a buyer searches for “Orlando real estate,” for example. On the other hand, it would be much easier to rank on page one if your chosen niche was “lake homes near Orlando” or “downtown Orlando condos.” Adding a blog that includes keyword-rich content specific to your niche is the best way to achieve these results.
It gets better and better
Staying focused on one area of specialization lets you continue expanding your expertise. In addition to gaining more knowledge, you’ll develop new ways to deliver the best possible service to your clients. And when you “wow” a client, your odds of earning referral business from them improve dramatically.
Specialists have a higher perceived value
People are usually willing to pay more for the services of experts than generalists. While real estate agents typically have limited control over their compensation, it’s probably fair to say that if clients view you as an “expert,” they will (accurately) perceive that you’re delivering more value to them and will rarely question whether your compensation was “justified.”
You’ll enjoy your work more
Ideally, your chosen niche is based on an interest you are genuinely drawn to. Maybe it’s a certain type of property that reflects your passions (like log homes) or working with a certain type of client (like helping military families or the elderly). Most people agree that work becomes fun if they’re surrounded by the things they care about most — or people who share their interests.
You’re in the driver’s seat
You are the one who gets to pick your area of specialization. That doesn’t mean that all niches work equally well. You still have to research your market and make smart decisions. (No matter how much you love horses, for example, a successful niche in equine properties in an urban market is highly unlikely.)
Niche marketing is a powerful way to own a special “sweet spot” in the larger real estate market. You get to shine a bright light on what you do best and enjoy most. Most agents who choose this path say that once they seriously committed to specialization, the rewards greatly outweighed their initial concerns.
Julie Collins, BlueStem Marketing ( www.bluestemmarketing.com ), is a consultant who specializes in real estate niche marketing. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting Started With A Niche
ORRA Business Specialty Councils
Thinking about delving into a real estate business specialty niche but don’t quite know where to start? Begin your exploration with one of ORRA’s specialty councils! ORRA’s five specialty councils offer educational and networking events tailored for those with a common interest, and several offer affiliation with national groups and associated marketing power.
This council hosts free breakfast events that feature speakers and presentations on timely brokerage management issues. Free and open to brokers and managers.
Members enjoy regular events that feature a lecture on servicing clients from selected countries of origin. The council even has its own website, orlandointernationalcouncil.com, with a “find a member” function for consumers. This council, one of ORRA’s biggest, costs $55 per year to join.
This council is ORRA’s newest and reflects the ever-growing interest in property management. The council offers education/networking events plus additional special workshops and panel presentations. Free.
This council meets regularly to network and learn the latest about developments in and around Orlando. In addition, members’ listings are given exposure via Total Commercial, an online listing portal for commercial properties in Florida. Free.
Its purpose is to help young real estate professionals of all ages excel through educational events; its networking events are super popular. The $35 annual fee for this organization includes membership at the national level.