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Dominate Your Geographic Niche- Under $83/mo

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In addition to being an active real estate agent and an industry technology trainer and coach, I also teach new agents how to jump into the wonderful world of real estate. I teach them how to look for business, how to be confident and competent, and ultimately how to be successful. One of the things I talk about is niche marketing – which in most cases is the same as a geographic farm. (No, not a 100 acre plot of land with sheep, chickens, a large red structure and tractors…).

I know this really has nothing to do with cool web 2.0 gadgets and phraseology, but I still find it a useful part of my business plan and I want to share it. So there. Most of the web 2.0 world revolves around marketing, which I happen to love. However, there IS a facet to our business that cannot ever go away … prospecting. Prospecting is going and getting business – not waiting for it to come to you (marketing). Prospecting is an essential part of real estate, and it does not have to be in the form of “in-your-face-salesey-blech” either. Prospecting is a very important way to get business when you don’t want to/can’t spend a lot of money.

So, blah blah blah … Let’s continue.

Here are the Top 5 Cheap Ways to Dominate Your Geographic Niche (aka FARM)

Create a Neighborhood Blog

~ Cost: $ZERO

Okfine.

This is a little web 2.0 … Once you have defined your niche – found the neighborhood that you want to dominate – create a blog for it. Set up a free WordPress.com blog. I have a free WordPress.com blog for my niche: Greenhaven Real Estate (with a sub category: LivingInGreenhaven.com that links directly to the community specific posts).



  • Name it appropriately.
  • Have your contact information readily available on every page and post.
  • Have a “Search for Homes (or land) in [neighborhood]” link on most posts.
  • Have a “Search for Homes (or Land) in [neighborhood]” link on the main page and sidebar.
  • Post a market report every month.
  • Post pictures of the neighborhood.
  • Post about neighborhood events and activities. (New school, neighborhood BBQ’s, local businesses…).
  • Post about HOA meetings and guidelines.

Posting only about 2x a month to this blog is just fine.

Create a Simple 1-Page Quarterly Newsletter

~ Cost: $652. a Year (or $54./month)

The newsletter that I create has a couple blog posts printed on one side, the recent market report on the other. Simple cut and paste techniques. There are 250 homes in my niche and I only print and send/deliver the newsletter quarterly. Other things to include:

  • Your contact information on header, footer and side column.
  • Call yourself the [neighborhood] expert.
  • Promote the [neighborhood] blog that you created.

Tip: Mail them out 2x a year and hand deliver them 2x a year. Not only will this save you a few bucks in postage, but it will put you face-to-face with the folks in that area.
Cost Breakdown:

  • 300 homes x 300 stamps x 2 times a year = $252.00
  • 300 color 1-pg. double sided newsletters = $500.00 (source)

Go Door-to-Door At Least 2x A Year

~ Cost: $Zero

I take the time to go door-to-door at least 2x a year. Sometimes it takes a couple days to fully canvas the ‘hood, but I can usually knock it out inside a week. I use this opportunity to hand deliver the most recent newsletter. Sometimes people are hesitant to speak with me (or even open the door further than a crack…). However, they warm up to me right away when I say, “Hi. I’m Mariana. I am just delivering your neighborhood newsletter. There is some information on the recent sales in [neighborhood] as well as [whatever other information you put in the newsletter]. How are you doing?” Start a conversation. *If you live in that area, tell them that you are their neighbor.

Create Niche Business Cards and Calendar Magnets

~ Cost: $143.00 a Year (or $12/month)

I created and ordered 300 of these at VistaPrint.com for just $15

Create a custom business card for your niche. Include:

  • A picture of the ‘hood, if possible. Make it pretty.
  • Your contact information
  • The URL to the neighborhood blog
  • Call to action … a reason to visit the blog, or to call you

Take these cards and attach them to calendar magnets. Hand-deliver these to your niche – along with the newsletter. The calendar magnets are an excellent way to keep you in front of them … especially if there is a pretty picture of their neighborhood on the card.

Cost Breakdown:

  • 300 calendar magnets: $123.00 (source)
  • 300 business cards: $20.00 (source)

Put Together a Neighborhood Garage Sale and Open House Tour

~ Cost: Maybe $200./year ($17./month)

This is a great way to get to know the people in the neighborhood. Start early and don’t plan a date that will conflict with major holidays.

  • Advertise that you are looking for volunteers in a newsletter – or on a sign posted in the area.
  • Meet with the volunteers and assign them tasks to help you put it together.
  • Coordinate with the agents who have listings in your area. Each agent should kick in a predetermined amount of money that will pay for any advertising costs.
  • Advertise the event in the blog, in the next newsletter, on Craigslist and in the local newspaper.
  • Create maps that will be distributed at the entrance of the neighborhood. Direct people to the “featured” garage sales and open houses.
  • Make sure “[neighborhood] Annual Garage Sale and Open House Tour is sponsored by [you and your contact info.]” is on the map.
  • Read More: 20 Easy Steps to Build a Community Garage Sale & Open House Tour (AND Your Blog)

This can be SUCH a fun event for your niche. (I am in the middle of putting together the 2nd Annual Greenhaven Garage Sale and Open House Tour.)

All together, you could easily take care of all of this for about $995. a year – or just $83. a month.

With our niche of 250 homes, and the effort that we put into it, we get several inquiries a month and about 4-6 great clients a year – both buyers and sellers. With an average sales price of about $275k, that is a great ROI.

I hope that these tips help you dominate YOUR geographic niche.

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Vicki Moore

    June 5, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Totally awesome. Thanks! I’m putting some things on my to-do list for tomorrow.

  2. Mariana Wagner

    June 5, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    Sweet … I believe that there are a lot of things that can be done, but these 5 things can really help lift-off. Have fun!

  3. Irina Netchaev

    June 5, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Mariana, all excellent ideas! I love the magnets. 🙂

  4. Ricardo Bueno

    June 5, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    One of the best things I’ve done in the past is a little door-to-door…(I should probably get back to it). It’s a great way to get in front of people and sometimes that’s exactly what we need; to get in front of more people. Sitting at the computer all day isn’t going to do it.

  5. Barry Cunningham

    June 5, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    Good ideas, easy to implement and execute successfuly..somewhat of a guerilla marketing plan. Yes…prospecting IS marketing. Not all marketing is passive. Much of marketing can be proactive. This qualifies as being quite proactive.

    Most importantly you are giving yourself away as being very competent by saying you have a “business plan”…way cool!

  6. Susie Blackmon

    June 6, 2008 at 3:49 am

    Great suggestions… very NOW. Thank you.

  7. Eric Blackwell

    June 6, 2008 at 6:07 am

    Good insight Mariana…my only suggestion would be a time budget to calculate how much time you are investing and since time IS money, that is part of the the equation. but it does seems that most folks have more time than money right now.

    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Mariana Wagner

    June 6, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Irina – Thanks! I love the magnets … and so do my neighbors.

    Ricardo – Physically being in front of people is always a great idea.

    Barry – Thanks! … Regarding prospecting/marketing semantics: I just choose to draw the line between marketing and prospecting in a different area. I see my newsletter = marketing and me handing it to someone and asking for business = prospecting.

    Susie – Cool. Have fun!

    Eric – You are correct. Timeblocking is an excellent way to make sure that the time that you spend does produce a high ROI.

  9. Paula Henry

    June 6, 2008 at 9:54 am

    This is what I like – not just an idea – but a step by step action plan. Perfect Mariana!
    Do you know anyone who is working a larger area?

    As far as time-blocking – I would think much of this could be done by an assitant, right?

  10. Genuine Chris Johnson

    June 6, 2008 at 9:56 am

    Sigh. Most of this stuff isn’t prospecting. It’s lead generation to be sure, but that’s not prospecting. When we hijjack a word that has meaning and dilute it’s meaning, we make the language poorer for everyone.

  11. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 6, 2008 at 10:06 am

    The old saying of “jack of all trades, master of none” applies. Doing the generic “City real estate” sort of advertising is too broad for a lot of people. Many persons are looking for real estate agents that specialize in a specific area – as they feel that the person can provide more “real” local information about the neighborhood and community.

  12. Mariana Wagner

    June 6, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Paula – I am all about step-by-step layouts. It makes it easier to wrap my mind around things.
    Jennifer – The more “hyper-local” the better IMHO.

    Chris – Can you offer the exact definition of “prospecting” and its source? If I diluted a word that has a definitive meaning, I apologize, but am very interested in learning more.

    I have found these definitions:
    1. Going after “a potential or likely customer, client, etc.” … When going door-to-door in a geographic niche, I AM talking to potential or likely customers. (dictionary.com)
    2. THIS SITE gives me the impression that prospecting is a form of marketing that is actively going out and seeking potential customers… going directly to them. (Compared to traditional marketing which is passive “come to me” approach.)

  13. Jayson

    June 6, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Sounds like a great way to develop a lasting relationship and get your name out to a few hundred neighbors. The best part is that you can easily reach them several times a year in a few different ways without killing your budget…might get a few loyal readers too.

  14. Thomas Johnson

    June 6, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Mariana: This is the recipe I have been looking for! I can now add your special sauce to revise the web 2.0 portion of my business plan. It is so easy to get off track.

    @ Barry: I love your stuff on https://www.realestateradiousa.com and totally agree with your advocacy of agents having a business plan.
    Good weekend to all!

  15. Barry Cunningham

    June 6, 2008 at 8:24 pm

    Hi Thomas and thank you very much! Yes..I believe that all agents, if they intend on running a BUISNESS..should indeed have a business plan. Mariana seems to have hers in place and her idea here seems to be worth looking into.

    Need to figure out if it’s better to go with a section on a blog or a completely new site though.

  16. Mariana Wagner

    June 6, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    Jayson – I JUST got a call (today) from a homeowner who moved to Denver and rented out their Greenhaven home. They thanked me for maintaining the neighborhood site, so they can always know what is going on in the market.

    Thomas – Yay! I hope it is useful for you.

  17. Bill Lublin

    June 7, 2008 at 6:04 am

    Mariana – I love this well structured and organized structure so much that I just emailed a link to this post to all of my managers with a request that they review it and use the material for coaching with their agents.
    Great job from @Mizzle 🙂

  18. Maureen Francis

    June 7, 2008 at 11:43 am

    I flippin failed the math thing twice by not entering anything and lost long comments. URGGGH How could I do that twice.

    I will give you the shortened version:

    Please do not show this to anyone in my market.

  19. Faina Sechzer

    June 7, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    Mariana, this is: simple+brilliant= great ideas. Thanks a lot. Would it work in upscale neighborhoods (where neighbors could call police when they see some one unfamiliar)?

  20. Mariana Wagner

    June 7, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    WOW! Cool, Bill! I hope that they will get some use out of this. I am sick of the “great ideas with no way to implement them” kind of ideas. I figure … If I can figure out a step-by-step way to do things … why not share?

    Maureen – Would you like to send you some flash cards? LOL! You know … Honestly? I would wage a good bet that even if I DID send this to people in your market (which I wont) … they would either not follow it, or they would not pick the same area or tactics that you would. I think you’re safe!

    Faina – I would imagine that this WOULD work in an upscale neighborhood. However, I would consider these 2 things:
    1. Make sure you dress “one level above” the area demographic
    2. Make sure that the newsletters, etc. are on high quality paper

  21. Ken Smith

    June 10, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    Mariana great post. Have a project in the works for one of my buyers agents that will incorporate some of these ideas. Thanks!

  22. Holly White

    June 16, 2008 at 7:31 am

    Mariana – Great advice! I love every idea you have here and if it’s done right and consistently, I’m sure it has/will produce amazing results! I can’t wait to implement them!

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Business Marketing

Bite-sized retail: Macy’s plans to move out of malls

(BUSINESS MARKETING) While Macy’s shares have recently climbed, the department store chain is making a change in regards to big retail shopping malls.

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Macy's retail storefront, which may look different as they scale to smaller stores.

I was recently listening to a podcast on Barstool Sports, and was surprised to hear that their presenting sponsor was Macy’s. This struck me as odd considering the demographic for the show is women in their twenties to thirties, and Macy’s typically doesn’t cater to that crowd. Furthermore, department retail stores are becoming a bit antiquated as is.

The sponsorship made more sense once I learned that Macy’s is restructuring their operation, and now allowing their brand to go the way of the ghost. They feel that while malls will remain in operation, only the best (AKA the malls with the most foot traffic) will stand the test of changes in the shopping experience.

As we’ve seen a gigantic rise this year in online shopping, stores like Macy’s and JC Penney are working hard to keep themselves afloat. There is so much changing in brick and mortar retail that major shifts need to be made.

So, what is Macy’s proposing to do?

The upscale department store chain is going to be testing smaller stores in locations outside of major shopping malls. Bloomingdale’s stores will be doing the same. “We continue to believe that the best malls in the country will thrive,” CEO Jeff Gennette told CNBC analysts. “However, we also know that Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s have high potential [off]-mall and in smaller formats.”

While the pandemic assuredly plays a role in this, the need for change came even before the hit in March. Macy’s had announced in February their plans to close 125 stores in the next three years. This is in conjunction with Macy’s expansion of Macy’s Backstage, which offers more affordable options.

Gennette also stated that while those original plans are still in place, Macy’s has been closely monitoring the competition in the event that they need to adjust the store closure timeline. At the end of the second quarter, Macy’s had 771 stores, including Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury.

Last week, Macy’s shares climbed 3 percent, after the retailer reported a more narrow loss than originally expected, along with stronger sales due to an uptick in their online business. So they’re already doing well in that regard. But will smaller stores be the change they need to survive?

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Why you must nix MLM experience from your resume

(BUSINESS MARKETING) MLMs prey on people without much choice, but once you try to switch to something more stable, don’t use the MLM as experience.

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Discussing including MLM experience on a resume.

MLM experience… Is it worth keeping on your resume?

Are you or someone you know looking for a job after a stint in an MLM? Well, first off, congratulations for pursuing a real job that will provide a steady salary! But I also know that transition can be hard. The job market is already tight and if you don’t have much other work experience on your resume, is it worth trying to leverage your MLM experience?

The short answer? Heck no.

As Ask the Manager puts it, there’s a “strong stigma against [MLMs],” meaning your work experience might very well put a bad taste in the mouth of anyone looking through resumes. And looking past the sketchy products many offer, when nearly half of people in MLMs lose money and another quarter barely break even, it sure doesn’t paint you in a good light to be involved.

(Not to mention, many who do turn a profit only do so by recruiting more people, not actually by selling many products.)

“But I wouldn’t say I worked for an MLM,” you or your friend might say, “I was a small business owner!”

It’s a common selling point for MLMs, that often throw around pseudo-feminist feel good slang like “Boss Babe” or a “Momtrepreneur,” to tell women joining that they’re now business women! Except, as you might have guessed, that’s not actually the case, unless by “Boss Babe” you mean “Babe Who Goes Bankrupt or Tries to Bankrupt Her Friends.”

A more accurate title for the job you did at an MLM would be Sales Rep, because you have no stake in the creation of the product, or setting the prices, or any of the myriad of tasks that a real entrepreneur has to face.

Okay, that doesn’t sound nearly as impressive as “small business owner.” And I know it’s tempting to talk up your experience on a resume, but that can fall apart pretty quickly if you can’t actually speak to actual entrepreneur experience. It makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about…which is also not a good look for the job hunt.

That said… Depending on your situation, it might be difficult to leave any potential work experience off your resume. I get it. MLMs often target people who don’t have options for other work opportunities – and it’s possible you’re one of the unlucky ones who doesn’t have much else to put on paper.

In this case, you’ll want to do it carefully. Use the sales representative title (or something similar) and, if you’re like the roughly 50% of people who lose money from MLMs, highlight your soft skills. Did you do cold calls? Tailor events to the people who would be attending? Get creative, just make sure to do it within reason.

It’s not ideal to use your MLM experience on a resume, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Still, congratulations to you, or anyone you know, who has decided to pursue something that will actually help pay the bills.

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This smart card manages employee spending with ease

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

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But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

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These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

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Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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