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Opportunity Knocks

Editor’s Note: This feature originally appeared in the October issue of DS News. 

It is always a tricky balancing act when it comes to the inventory level brokers have versus the number of properties they are working on. How many is too many and how many can you effectively manage? If you subscribe to the theory that you need to keep the funnel of your sales pipeline full as you work on the properties at hand, you might find yourself working 60-hour weeks, looking for new business while keeping tabs on the current challenges of live projects.

The time to look for new business, new clients, and new projects should be the next moment after you start working on your current project. With today’s market dominated by low inventory, it adds additional stress, knowing that you need to be creative and think outside of the box when bird-dogging and trying to uncover new business, properties, and business relationships.

Stand Out With Direct Mail 

Thinking outside of the box also involves diversifying from what you have been doing in the past. If you are a staunch advocate of never dealing with homeowners, you need to change that mindset. It might even take you down the path to consider creating a marketing campaign through email or direct mail to let the audience of homeowners know that you are also an expert in working with them. If you are open to staging a marketing campaign, consider direct mail.

Direct mail has lost some of its allure in recent years, surpassed by email marketing as the latest and greatest way to communicate and attract attention. Now that everyone is being bombarded with emails, what was old can be new again with direct mail. You can create an attention-getting campaign by sending physical promotional material, such as a USB drive with your logo on it, to a prospective or existing client in the hopes of showcasing your skills to secure their business or nurture an ongoing relationship.

The message points in a direct-mail campaign should include relevant information or an offer to entice recipients to respond. If you don’t want to use a promotional product, think about directing the recipient to your website to download an article that would be of value to them. It could be on the housing market or how to enhance your home for sale, and it could also showcase the benefits of working with you by providing a list of what you bring to the equation. With a direct-mail campaign, you should use the list of your current clients and also look into purchasing or researching a list to send to new prospects.

Leveraging Networking Groups 

When inventory is down, you need to market yourself even harder to become the individual who is top of mind with as many asset management companies as possible within your geographic area. Set up a schedule for yourself to complete applications and even update your applications with asset management companies. Research outlets such as national and local banks to give your information to the individuals who can consider you.

Don’t be afraid to get involved with networking groups to get your name out there. Most metropolitan areas will have chapters of the following networking groups:

» Business Network International
» U.S. Chamber of Commerce
» Sales & Marketing Executives International
» Kiwanis International
» Rotary International
» Toastmasters International

Jumpstart your networking activity by reading Keith Ferrazzi’s book, Never Eat Alone. This quick read will take even seasoned networkers to the next level. Ferrazzi writers that he “discovered early in life, what distinguishes highly successful people from everyone else is the way they use the power of relationships—so everyone wins.” The book covers everything from “Managing the  Gatekeeper” to “Turning Connections into Compatriots.” Remember—if you are invisible, you are not memorable.

Get the Most out of Conferences 

Whether you and your company plan to exhibit at a national or regional tradeshow, or just plan to attend and walk the show, it costs you time and money. If you want you ROI to be worth it, follow these important steps.

1. Determine your objectives. Who do you want to connect with? What booths do you want to visit? Make a game plan.

2. Contact those individuals or companies to see if they can have breakfast, coffee, or dinner with so you can start building a relationship.

3. Create your own event at the conference by reserving space at a restaurant or the conference hotel for a business dinner with critical individuals whom you want to target. It can be drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres or an informal meal.

4. Figure out which breakout sessions would be the most beneficial to attend.

5. Practice a 30-second “elevator speech,” giving brief info on who you are and what value you bring to your business relationships.

6. Is there an opportunity to position yourself as a speaker at the event? Contact the show organizer to see if someone has dropped out of their lineup and provide a strategic overview of the subject-matter expertise you could present. If you are too late for the current conference, find out who you need to connect with to be considered as a speaker for the next one. The chance to showcase yourself as a presenter will be a tremendous boon for your brand and your business.

7. Don’t forget to follow up with the individuals you connected with during the conference. It might take a few months to get them to give you a “sale,” but you will be filling your pipeline funnel and no doubt working on value for your ROI for the time and money spent.

Collaborate With the Competition 

What is that saying? “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Well, that philosophy could work to your benefit if you are connecting with peers within your field who are doing business
in another geographical area.

Perhaps they are doing business with a national bank that has outlets in your area. By asking for an introduction through your competitor, it could be the “foot in the door” that you need to gain more business, or at least have that bank recognize the value and skill set you could bring to them.

In return, there may be contacts in your backyard that could translate to an introduction for your new friend in another city. You can play it forward by doing an introduction for them via the solid relationship you have and asking them to give you the name of the person to contact in the other city. You may have to go the extra mile and ask your contact to do an email introduction with your person’s name.

Social Media as a Marketing Tool 

Many individuals see Facebook, Twitter,  Pinterest, and other social-media networks as hobbies, useful for sharing information with their families and friends on non-work related topics. Some professionals also use social media, including LinkedIn, as a marketing tool to post information they wish to share on the housing market, new insights on homes, banking, and other topics. You can also share articles you write on how you solved a challenge with a client or a new way to approach what seemed like a no-win situation until you came up with an awesome solution.

Positioning yourself as a subject-matter expert who is also seeking collaboration and commentary from your contacts can be very rewarding as you try to expand your business. People like to work with individuals who are open with information that also helps them in their careers. If you are positioned as an expert in your field, it is likely that people who need your expertise will connect with you.

Looking for new opportunities in a low inventory market is never easy. All of the suggestions above require time, energy, money, and some of your blood, sweat, and tears. The alternative is to keep doing what you are doing and hoping, expecting different, better results. That is the very definition of insanity.

About Author: Al Freedman

Al Freedman is CEO of First Freedom Preservation (FFP), where he oversees all aspects of FFP, a property renovation and preservation company that manages and services bank-owned, HUD, and real-estate owned properties. Freedman founded FFP in 2008 on the philosophy of “do it right the first time.” The more lenders, banks, and brokers Freedman worked with, the more he realized that the biggest service FFP provided its clients was the ability to sell REO properties faster and for more money—often before the renovations were complete. Freedman leads a staff of 70 full-time, licensed employees who complete renovations and upgrades and perform repairs and regular maintenance to restore the homes to a marketable condition. He is also a member of the Five Star Academy, a leading source of online education for the lending industry.

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