Just as there are medical specialties like neuro surgery and psychiatry, so are there specialties in real estate, yet the industry’s professionals have been slow to catch on.
Seth Godin, author, entrepreneur, marketer, and public speaker, in a speech to a group of real estate agents, talks about micro-specialization and claims that it’s the best way to build financial assets for the long haul.
Micro-specialization is drilling down into the various specialties you might offer and choosing just one. So, instead of being the guy or gal in town that handles everything from condos to ranches, you would be the golf course home specialist, or the XYZ Neighborhood expert.
Then, you will employ target marketing until you own that specialty. It’s not a quick process, but if you stick with it you will find long-term success.
Niche marketing in large real estate markets, such as Los Angeles or Chicago is easy. Agents in tiny markets, however, will probably find that the strategy narrows your potential client pool drastically and the benefits you might find in a large market just won’t present themselves. So, if you’re a small market agent, move on — I have lots of other posts you might be interested in.
Real estate agents are still pretty much cut from the same cloth. Oh, sure, they like to pretend they’re unique in their market yet most drive the same types of cars, put their decade-old photos on their business cards, use taglines that really don’t mean anything and live by the mantra “It’s a GREAT time to buy a home!”
Why? Because everyone else is doing it and because breaking away from the pack is frightening to many people. So, they allow the fear of driving away even one potential client to fuel their march, in lock-step, with every other agent in town.
Godin likens this fear to burning all other bridges in the industry. But to become memorable – to own a specialty – you must burn those bridges. You must step outside the safety zone of the pack.
I wrote about the process a long time ago on RealEstate.com. In the piece I offered a scenario: “you’re an agent that specializes in condos in south Boston. Last year, 465 condo units sold, with an average sales price of $382,283. This represents an average commission of about $11,469 per side.”
Now, if you’re a generalist and shooting arrows in multiple directions, hoping for a deal, what are the chances that one of those arrows will land in the condo market? Not very good, right?
Now, assume that condos are the focus of your real estate practice – you are branded as the condo expert in your community. What are your chances of getting the bulk of those condo listings when folks wanting to buy condos are seeking a condo agent?
“Let’s be conservative and say that you only close one condo deal a month,” I wrote for RealEstate.com. “That’s about $11,000 a month, give or take a few dollars. Of course, the more you become known as the condo expert, the more buyers and sellers will seek you out and you’ll do far more than one side a month.”
But, in the meantime, is $11,000 a month an ok salary for you?
Choosing a specialty comes with a bonus – branding becomes a snap. Once you’ve settled on a niche you know who your audience is, you know where to find them and, sometimes, even their ages.
In the past, I’ve used the agent that specializes in the veteran market as an example. Choose that niche and you’ll automatically know that most of your targets are male and you will know that financing their home loan will be a snap.
It’s the same thing in the world of journalism. I can write about gardening, about current events, even about travel — and I have. But I write about what I KNOW — real estate. Let me tell you, the day I decided to cut all the other topics loose to concentrate on writing only about real estate was interesting. I was scared. I was unsure of the future — but I did it.
Am I sorry? No way! I’m not only writing about a topic I know well, I’m working with what I consider the cream of the business crop — real estate agents.
If you want to stop chasing business, choose a niche and own it. Become the Military Specialist, the Ranch Property Expert or the Condo King or Queen and let prospects come to you instead of you chasing after them — while competing with every other generalist in town. You won’t be sorry.