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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

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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