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Niche Marketing Helps You Think Big

By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine

Reaching Out: The Financial Power of Niche Marketing By Doris Barrell and Mark Nash (Dearborn Real Estate Education) 148 pp., $25.95
Buy this book from Amazon.com

Amidst growing competition and consolidation in the real estate industry, niche marketing allows real estate professionals to cultivate a loyal, consistent client base. Reaching Out: The Financial Power of Niche Marketing shows you how to select a niche group and develop marketing programs that appeal to that group.

The book identifies more than a dozen emerging and established market niches—such as single women head of households, seniors, immigrants, and military relocations—and shows you how to research, identify, and pursue these markets. “Steps to Niche Marketing Success,” a series of interactive, hands-on exercises at the end of most chapters, help readers formulate a niche-marketing plan.

The book includes an afterword, “Fair Housing Law in Practice,” by lawyer Marcia L. Russell that offers tips and strategies for working within the law when targeting a niche market.

The book’s “In Real Life” anecdotes draw on the authors’ marketing and real estate experiences. Barrell has worked in the real estate industry for more than two decades. In addition to working as a trainer and consultant, she is the author of Real Estate Finance Today and Ethics and Real Estate. Nash, who also has worked as a trainer, is a Chicago-area real estate practitioner and author of The Original New Agent’s Guide to Starting & Succeeding in Real Estate .

Tips for Real Estate Professionals

  • Find a niche that complements your interests. List all the spiritual, social, business, political, sports, and volunteer groups in which you or your spouse participate. Then do the same for your relatives and closest friends. Look for any reoccurring themes through these lists that point towards a potential niche. Ask yourself the following questions to find a niche that you can comfortably and effectively work within: What’s special about me? What unique skills do I have that could be helpful to others? What do I most enjoy doing? What area would I like to become an expert in? Which of my present clients do I most enjoy working with? “Niche marketing is not for agents who want immediate sales response,” ; the authors write. “It is for those who enjoy deriving some nonfinancial compensation in addition to the commissions, rewards that come from helping a niche grow, evolve, and prosper.” The authors point out that you are actually building a sub-business, so you need to lay the foundation of doing research and establishing relationships before you realize the rewards.
  • Analyze your current customer base. A successful niche market may be closer than you think. Studying the demographics of your established customers might provide insight into a potential niche. “You might find that you are … working a niche market whether that was your original intent or not,” the authors write.
  • Study the competition. Entrenched competitors can make it more difficult to crack a niche market. If there are other real estate professionals in your area that target your prospective niche, ask yourself whether the market is large enough to support more than one company. Secondly, how could you differentiate yourself from competitors?
  • Marketing to your niche. Once you determine a niche that you want to pursue, the authors recommend that you establish a strong business plan and marketing plan. Make sure the plans have concrete action steps with deadlines. The authors recommend that you spend at least 10 percent of your annual income marketing yourself—but know that it may take time to get the return on that investment with a niche market. “If it takes at least eight repetitions before anyone will even recognize your name, how long does it take to establish a relationship?” the authors write. “Developing a special market takes time and patience.”
  • Consider a sub-niche. Focus is important to successful niche marketing. You may want to concentrate on a segment within a general niche market. For example, rather than targeting first-time homebuyers, you may want to take aim at first-time homebuyers interested in buying distressed properties. Or rather than pursuing a general market such as baby boomers, you may want to zero in on baby boomers interested in golfing, skiing, or purchasing second homes.

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This post was contributed exclusively for REALTOR® Magazine.

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