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How niche will you go? An introspective look at niche marketing

As the market began to crash in 2008 (or for some of us in the Fall of ’07) I jokingly started telling people that I was going to be specializing in flood plain properties under $50,000 as my primary marketing focus. Little did I realize that in this age of specialization there are agents that are pulling things in so tightly that their marketing areas are nearly that thin.

The age of niche marketing in real estate continuing to spread is no surprise. What challenges me is that as someone who has consistently had success in price points across a township or a county, how would I stay competitive with those passing out donuts to 14 chosen condo owners in one development? The answer was actually simple. I had to find more efficient ways to serve those niches and maintain a brand in the areas I want to do business.

That niches are growing is no surprise. For anyone over 45, you knew back in the day that the thought of one television channel dedicated totally to weather, cartoons or only sports seemed absurd….and yet here we are.

That real estate niches have narrowed comes as no surprise either when you consider the competition has
become more intense than ever before, total market sales dollars have shrunk and units of sales are down. Many of us are scrapping for every sale and to get those done takes more hours, more energy and more commitment than ever before. It only stands to make sense that in the battle for each of us, our resources must become laser like in their focus.

So how do we get there? Everyone’s got to find their own comfort level in the tools they use. For me, it’s video. While my videos have occasionally sparked some debate, they can also be used as a cost effective potentially viral tool that can be shared easily with a given niche market. I have a bit of a gift for reciting market data. Initially when I started doing videos I would park myself in front of a chosen housing development and rattle off three to four minutes of local data on camera and then sent it to 10 of the association members urging them to share it if they found it helpful.

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I tried to present in a way that was as non self serving as possible (called ‘non whore like’ by a member of that particular community – gee thanks, Max). I just tried to have fun with it. After 10 days, I’d gotten 356 views simply by emailing it to the association. The next month’s video was sponsored by a mortgage company in a non intrusive way. The following month I had a landscaping company on board for ‘mulch day’ where they were delivering mulch to that neighborhood on a given Saturday at a reduced rate. Now I was finding ways to niche market, increase revenues and serve these areas I wanted to build a brand in.

There are numerous video marketers and bloggers that are far more effective than I but if anything it’s proof that there are ways to get to our niches with a solid brand AND do it in a way that doesn’t break the bank. Wine Library guru Gary Vay-ner-chuk urges wine drinkers to ‘stop drinking Yellow Tail.’ I would take that in real estate to mean ‘stop sending recipe cards.’ Frighteningly in my market there are those dinosaur agents that still drop hundreds of dollars in their pasta primavera 4 x 6 card stock to a given ‘farm’. They still think this will get people to call them on about a $300,000 home listing.

For the rest of us, we’re all trying to find out how to serve those markets, stay relevant and build our brand in a world of ever increasing marketing clutter.

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Written By

Realtor, Speaker, former Indianapolis radio personality. Least prettiest person ever on HGTV. Crashed in a helicopter and a Cessna 182. Seven lives left. Blessed by an amazing family!

25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Benjamin Ficker

    August 24, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    But… but… how will my farm know how to make lemonbars when they invite me over for their family gatherings?!?!

    Seriously, I couldn’t agree more. As much as we want new friends, our clients (and future clients) NEED someone knowledgeable about what’s important to them. Niche videos are perfect for that. They will use you again when you’ve shown them you are the most knowledgeable and effective agent in whatever niche you specialize in.

  2. Stacie Wells

    August 24, 2010 at 2:38 pm

    Greg – Your post is right on target and you’ve managed to give me a few great ideas. We’ve known for quite a while that niche marketing was the way to go in order to be perceived with value. Try to appeal to everyone and you end up appealing to no one, right? I’m in the process now of trying to pinpoint ways that I can create value for my niche. Like I said, you’ve given me some great ideas and I appreciate you sharing!

    Stacie

  3. Chris Lengquist

    August 24, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    The great thing is if you go niche the other stuff follows anyway. Then you choose to do when slower or refer when busier.

  4. Joe Loomer

    August 25, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Like the post, Greg, but I would change the title to “niche prospecting.” When you focus on farming a given area, demographic, or neighborhood (excuse me if I seem to think that’s exactly what you’re talking about) – it’s prospecting to a farm. Much, much higher conversion rate than the “marketing” shotgun blast of recipe cards to half the county or $,1500 billboard you think someone’s going to call you about.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. stephanie crawford

    August 26, 2010 at 1:23 am

    In my market agents are moving away from niches. At least I am… a little bit. I used to make my living primarily by representing Buyers in the Nashville urban condo market. This year, the biggest chunk of my commissions have come from first-time buyers in the burbs, as well as agency referred corporate relocation listings. You gotta make your dollar where you can. In my case, strong landing pages has helped me convert all kinds of buyers and sellers.

  6. loftninja

    August 27, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    also important to keep in mind the differences between a niche and a demographic
    The best and simplest definition of an online marketing niche that I’ve seen is “a group of people with a common problem who congregate together.”

    What isn’t a niche? Freelancers are not a niche. Work at Home Parents (mums, dads, or both) are not a niche. Small business owners are not a niche. Copywriters are not a niche. Women over 40 are not a niche, neither are men after retirement.

    Those are all demographics — and they’re all groups that I’ve seen people try to market to.

  7. Susie Blackmon

    August 28, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I love Greg’s writing.

    I’m a horse farm kind of girl who loves marketing, and promoting horse farms …. for others. On that refocused path… one day at a time.

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