A few months ago I wrote about inbound marketing and its importance to promoting yourself and generating leads. One of the big reasons inbound marketing is so appealing is that it seems to be easier than traditional type of marketing. You build it, maintain it (can’t forget that step) and they will come. You’re out to catch the low hanging fruit – those who have a need and are taking active steps to meet it.
On the other hand, outbound marketing’s purpose is to find people who may have a need but aren’t taking active steps or those who could be persuaded. You do that by pushing your product via email, direct mail, display or print ads, cold calling or talking it up at trade shows. Outbound marketing has derisively been called “interruption” marketing and deemed an antiquated, ineffective way to sell anything.
No one likes being bugged but like it or not, everyone is susceptible to push methods. It’s why people use things like toothpaste or deodorant. Marketers “created” a need by identifying a problem, pushed the solution and persuaded people to buy. And it still works no matter what anyone tells you.
It’s nice but unrealistic to think that you’ll be able to draw everyone to you with only an inbound marketing strategy. But inbound marketing takes time. Sometimes, outbound methods are all you’ve got when you have a limited time frame or need quick results. You can‘t always wait to be found.
So here are some tips to help you create better outbound campaigns. I’m skipping online advertising (Adwords, etc.. – worth a post of its own), TV/radio (too expensive and in my opinion not an effective channel for CRE) and print advertising (good for branding and announcements) and sticking with the most productive outbound tactics for CRE – email/mail and personal contact.
Some agents are of the opinion that sending to everyone and anyone is the way to go. That’s fine if you have the budget. I’ve heard too many stories of the long-shot that worked out to dismiss this. But sending a very relevant message to an highly targeted audience is Direct Marking 101. You’ll get better results if you take the time to define your potential user. Who needs your space? What industry would they be in, what job titles would they have, where would you find them? Or is there a way to create a need by making an emotional appeal? Does the location attract a certain type of client, is the space exceptional or the terms/pricing highly favorable?
The next step is to identify real people that meet your ideal prospect.
Your Own Contacts
First stop should be your CRM app and if your brokerage offers them, go through company contacts or lists. Create email groups for your own contacts if you’re going to send from your CRM software or export contact info into a spreadsheet that you can import into email marketing tools, use for a mail merge or print labels.
I’ve heard lots of complaints from agents about email blasts from other agents – and that’s who the unsubscribe link is for – agents who complain. But this is a logical target group since they could be representing clients who may need what you’re offering. Make your lists better by identifying agents who specialize in certain types of properties…or not. Many agents, particularly in smaller markets, are often generalists.
Creating broker lists can be a pain. You’ll need to go to local websites and copy all those email addresses. But check out sites like theBrokerList that specialize in B2B communications. If your market is covered, you’re all set.
Good purchased lists are expensive but for high value properties, they may be worth the cost. Or use subscription services you have to cull lists or look at CRE specific marketing sites like REDNews or Catylist that have email marketing services. Ask around to see which have good results.
Also look at industry related groups’ and trade show websites. They may have member information, vendor/attendee lists or useful links. Some may even let you contact their members. And don’t forget LinkedIn. You can search by industry, title and other criteria then send inMail to your selections.
The second part of the equation is the message with the point of grabbing their attention – and it’s not a PDF attached to an email. If you haven’t figured out HTML email you need to do it now. The worst part of the whole process is creating a template but most services have several professional looking ones to choose from. If you have a marketing department or want to hire a designer, you can create something that’s different from what everyone else is using.
Your message doesn’t have to look like a listing page on LoopNet either. Provide the highlights only – especially those with emotional appeal – and use colored type sparingly – you want them look at your great photos. Whether for email or direct mail, less is more – not because you want to be deceptive but because you want to grab their attention. That’s the point of “interruption” marketing – get their attention.
Add a download link/page URL for more information. With links, you’ll be able to track interest/clicks – something you can’t do with an attached PDF. You’ll also get an idea of how compelling the first part of your message is.
Send your email in the morning or early afternoon (make sure you take time zones into account). According to numerous studies, 8-9am and 3-4pm tend to be the times when people review their email – and respond to it.
Even if you don’t use direct mail much anymore, it’s still effective if you target correctly. Plus, you may stand out from the crowd since it’s so infrequently used these days (and not just by CRE).
Choose a large postcard format that includes a URL or phone number (use a service like RingCentral or set up a Google Voice account) specific to that mailing where prospects can go for more information. When designing your postcard, keep in mind the hallmark of good design – simplicity.
Don’t try to jam everything in, use “empty”/white space as a design element and use color to draw attention. Sites like VistaPrint make printing cost effective and you can use their postcard mailing services if you don’t want to make a trip to the post office.
Person to Person
Those lists you created? There’s nothing wrong with calling or stopping in, especially if you weren’t able to get an email address. Directly contacting high probability prospects first – especially if you have relationship with them – lets them know they’re worthy of more than just an email or postcard.
With personal contact you’re also able to tailor your message either based on what you already know about them or by asking questions. At the very least, you’ll get an immediate response and maybe even pick up some useful information along the way. And if you can’t get through, you can at least ask for the opportunity to send information and get an email address in the process.
Plan your outbound campaigns to integrate with your inbound efforts. Publish a photo of your postcard on Facebook, write about about the industry you’re targeting on your blog and create landing pages for the properties you’re sending emails about. Post something brief on your blog or social networks asking if any of your readers/followers are interested in receiving your mailing instead of blasting out a “new listing.”
Keep in mind that inbound marketing isn’t a replacement for outbound methods no matter what anyone tells you. Plus there’s really a thin line between inbound/outbound tactics. Just because you choose to follow someone doesn’t mean you want stuff pushed at you all the time. There’s room for both and as the graphic shows, you need a diverse marketing plan so look for ways you can use them cooperatively.
Image by Chris Heiler