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Your Farm Area Doesn't Suck. Your Marketing Material Does.

August 02 2018

la your farm area doesnt suckThe first time I speak with a new client, a common complaint that comes up fro agents is that part of their wanting to change marketing firms is so they can start fresh. That fresh start includes picking an entirely new area to market to. You see, they go on to explain that the farm area they were previously marketing to just wasn't any good. Their logic on this is instead of throwing good money at bad, they would rather just make a clean cut and start over.

More often than not, this is a terrible idea. You see, upon digging into this, what I discover is the farm area probably isn't the culprit. The agent generally has no idea on what type of people live in their farm area, isn't sure which homeowners, if any, are interacting with their marketing messages, and couldn't pinpoint any homeowners in their marketplace that have shown at least entry level interest in putting their home on the market in the near future. Because of these things, it is impossible to lay 100 percent of the blame on the farm area itself.

We haven't clearly defined any of the metrics described above, so we don't know that the farm area is a bad one. The agent has also been investing in this area in the hopes of building their real estate practice. Geographic farming takes time, so cutting this one and starting over is only going to add to the length of time and the amount of money they are going to have to spend before getting any sort of return on investment. For these reasons, my suggestion to any agent that is considering cutting a farm area and starting over to at least consider the following things before truly deeming the farm area bad.

Your Story and Your Messages Have to Speak to Homeowners' Needs

One of the most common reasons Realtors fail when marketing their real estate practices to homeowners is because their messages have no personal meaning to the homeowners in their farm area. A message without meaning will not resonate. If your messages do not resonate, you are not burning your brand and your services in homeowners' minds. It's as simple as that.

In order to win over homeowners in your farm area and grow your practice, your marketing messages need to be targeted, timely, and relevant to the lives of the people living in your farm area. The easiest way to do this is by creating client personas for the homeowners in your farm. Simply put, a client persona is a semi-fictional story about the people that live in your farm area that speaks to their current life circumstances, interests, needs and background. These personas are targeted towards your 'ideal' clients. You may find you end up having three, four or even five client personas for your farm area.

Once you have these personas created, you can use what you learned to put together an educated, well informed campaign that is going to engage the homeowners in your farm.

If You Aren't Tracking Your Response Rates in Real-Time, You Cannot Call a Farm Area Bad (or Good)

Most of the time, when we ask agents that want to start over on their farm areas about responses they had received to date, and how many leads they know of in the farm, we receive no response. They might be able to tell us that a handful of people called them, but as for leads, they have no idea how to determine who might be a lead and who isn't. This is because they do not have a mechanism in place to track their marketing piece's performance.

Before you rule out a farm area, you need to make sure you have been not only tracking people that are directly interested in your marketing pieces, but also any potential leads that might be thinking of selling in the near future. My favorite way to do this with postcards is by using capture marketing codes on the postcards. These codes will allow you to get real-time response alerts to any homeowner that is engaging with your marketing messages. This allows you to follow up with them and then categorize them. They might be ready to talk about selling now, they may end up simply being a solid lead that is thinking of selling in the near future, or perhaps they were 'just looking' and aren't really thinking of selling. No matter what category these homeowners fall into, you can see how you should quickly be able to use these responses to gauge effectiveness, not only of the farm area itself, but also of the content in the marketing messages you are sending out.

Use Two Different Marketing Vehicles in Your Farm Area

Again, you have to remember that every farm area is different. It stands to reason that area to area, homeowners could also be very different as well. The client personas you build will help with this, but another good way to test whether it's the marketing piece or the farm area is by varying the types of marketing vehicles you use in a farm area.

For instance, if you are sending postcards to a farm area and they just aren't working out, before you blame the farm area, let's examine the marketing vehicle itself and do an A/B test. Perhaps you can simultaneously run a Facebook digital farming campaign to homeowners in the exact same area. This will allow you to rule out the possibility that perhaps the homeowners in your farm simply don't like to read their mail, but would rather engage with you online. If that ends up being the case, you've learned that it's not the farm area--just the marketing vehicle.

Even with all these tests and measures in place, it could end up turning out that your farm area is just not a good one. Without methodically working through the possible scenarios, though, you risk acting too quickly and risk losing out on a potentially great area that you've been spending your hard-earned money on.

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