The future of farming: Transition to geo-marketing in 4 quick steps

October 17, 2017 by Joan Dailey in Articles

geo farmingWe all know the saying: Everything old is new again. And when it comes to the age-old real estate technique of “farming” your local area for potential business, that’s definitely true. If you’re wondering what “geo-marketing” is, and how it varies from traditional farming, you’re not alone.

Here’s the scoop on geo-marketing, plus the four steps modern agents can take to transition from old-school farming to this more advanced, localized technique.

What is geo-marketing?

In short, geo-marketing is using a consumer’s location to determine current and future marketing efforts. Geo-marketing differs from traditional farming because it uses real-time data and insights to recommend marketing tactics or campaigns (instead of sending one message or one postcard to every person within a given area).

STEP #1: Get localized predictions

So, how can a real estate agent narrow down their prospects from an entire ZIP code of homeowners, down to a smaller group more likely to convert? The answer is data — lots of it.

Every homeowner has thousands of data attributes that are related to their current and future choice of residence. Some of them are visible to the naked eye — perhaps your neighbor recently got a promotion and traded in their Kia for a Maserati. It may be obvious to you that a house upgrade isn’t far behind.

For most home sellers, though, there isn’t just one reason for selling. It’s a combination of factors that could range from personal finances, to home equity, to the age of their children, a new career choice, a bad commute or literally thousands of other factors. Because most homeowners have varied reasons for selling, it can seem impossible for the “average Joe” to predict who’s going to sell and when.

Big data and predictive algorithms, however, go beyond what seems subjective to find established patterns. Predictive engines churn through thousands of data points to determine their relevancy and make back-tested, proven selling predictions in any area of the country.

But let’s say you get a list of 150 homeowners who are “likely” to sell in the next year. What do you do with that information, exactly? In the new world of geo-marketing, it’s time to scrub (or qualify) those predicted prospects… and turn them into leads.

STEP #2: Qualify local sellers to create data-backed leads

If you’re overwhelmed by Step #1, don’t fret. Step #2 brings us back to the old-school. It’s time to get on the phone and determine if these predicted prospects plan to sell… and when.

Whether you have a full script prepared or prefer to wing it and talk casually, be sure to start calling or door knocking right after you get your list of seller predictions. That way, you can nab the homeowners who are preparing to list soon, while getting to know those who are still a few months out.

Common question: What if a predicted seller is adamant that they aren’t ready to move?

First of all, don’t push people against their will. These qualifying conversations are meant to be friendly and informative — so you don’t want to turn people off by implying you know more about their personal homeownership timeline than they do.

Still, many would-be sellers are just waiting for a gentle nudge in the right direction, so it can be advantageous to talk to the homeowners about their current situation and why you think they’d benefit from selling and moving. Ask easy, conversational questions about their family and home life, career and career prospects and future goals. Provide them with local market info that could help them understand how much similar homes are earning at closing.

At the end of the conversation, be sure to mark your CRM with an indication of their selling timeline and the next time you should follow up.

Don’t have the time to do it yourself?

Hire an inside sales agent (ISA) to handle your lead qualification calls. The best ISAs will follow a script and log warm leads… while teeing up hot leads directly to you so you don’t miss a chance at easy business.

STEP #3: Target your marketing efforts to top prospects

In step three, you’ll use your predictions to create targeted marketing campaigns focused on local sellers. Here are some basic guidelines as you create your marketing pieces:

Limit mailers or ads to your top-predicted sellers — which saves you money and time.

If your ads or mailers include home exterior shots, be sure they match your market area perfectly. Consider uploading your own listing photography so local sellers recognize homes from their neighborhood.

Include a clear call to action aimed at sellers — such as a CMA request. You want to give your top prospects an easy way to say, “I’m ready for your help!”

DO NOT include more than one call to action. To increase your engagement, give your audience one clear thing to do... and one clear way to do it.

STEP #4: Nurture til you get the deal

At this point, you know (from your qualifying calls) which predictions are the most accurate and the general timeline for when these predicted homeowners want to list. Plus, you know these homeowners are receiving your marketing campaigns, which offer seller assistance.

That means it’s time to go off auto-pilot and hit them with real-life interactions that can help you close the deal. Whether it’s making a casual call, emailing a local market update video, inviting them to a local community event or dropping by with a quick “Homeowners Guide to Selling,” it’s time to turn up the dial — and the charm — to win their business.

Wish this could be automated? It can!

Like its less-technologically advanced cousin, farming, geo-marketing can be time-consuming when it’s a fully manual effort. SmartTargeting is a geo-marketing solution that automates the first three steps so agents can access qualified, predicted seller leads, then target these soon-to-be sellers via engaging online ads and direct mail pieces.

A lightweight CRM app, CheckIn, helps agents stay engaged in Step #4 so that outreach doesn’t feel like a drag… but like a natural conclusion within the geo-marketing process.

Hear from agents who use SmartTargeting to build their business and win listings.

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