Originally Posted By: aroden
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I’ve never had much luck marketing directly to buyers - some luck but not enough to put three squares on the table.
I hired trained a new inspector with a great personality, trustworthy appearance, deep ties to the community and an impressive residential construction background.
Then, I produced and ran a really good cable television ad for a couple of years, non-stop, 1000 spots a month during the day and prime-time - no middle of the night spots. It was a talking-head ad, with my new inspector doing the talking, with flashes of the inspection process inserted in at the appropriate moments.
And I direct mailed post-cards to high-end apartment dwellers as well as homeowners in the areas that I REALLY wanted to inspect - the 0-5 year old cookie-cutter homes.
I placed professionally produced half page ads in the Real Estate magazines and talked the local full-service car wash into letting me supply the in-car plastic trashbags they put, as a courtesy, into cars after they wash them - the ones that hang from the dashboard. The trashbags had my ad high where it would be most visible and the carwashes ad down lower.
I even place a huge glass enclosed poster ad in front of the baggage claim at the airport - I used to spend a few afternoons at the airport watching to see if anyone was reading the poster. I was trying to reach out-of-town buyers who were just moving here. It got read but NOBODY took any of my brochures from the stand below it. It was REALLY upsetting - me trying stand there un-noticed while screaming inside "TAKE ONE...COME ON...JUST TAKE ONE!!!'
It did have some success but it cost LOTS more than it produced - mostly what it did is make us recognizable to the new Realtors and clients - they seemed to be more comfortable with us from the start instead of us having to prove ourselves to gain their respect. So, we weren't total strangers when we showed up at the inspection. It's kind of funny, but people seem to trust you more and you become a local celebrity of sorts if they've seen you on t.v.
Of course, all this works ONLY for in-town buyers.
BUT, 9 out of 10 clients STILL go through their Realtor, so ALL THE MARKETING IN THE WORLD that you do will be LOST if the Realtors steer their clients away from you. And law or no law, Realtors WILL steer their clients to the inspectors they like to work with.
Where all this marketing does help is when there are three or more names on the LIST obtained from the Realtors - clients may choose the one they recognize. But that's such a small help that its really not worth the 1000's of dollars spent in marketing.
We did redo the t.v. ad to plug Realtors by saying this "When your ready to purchase your new home, call your Realtor - then call ENVIROCO...
And Realtors seem to appreciate it and we made it onto more lists.
I also had a base clientele to market to - my pest control customers. Marketing directly to them with postcards has worked the best because they already have a relationship with us and trust our service.
No matter who the Realtor tries to steer my pest control customers to, most will choose us simply because they trust us more than they trust their Realtor - we've already got a proven track record with them.
Bottom line. The Realtor is the gatekeeper whether we like it or not. I've had Realtors tell clients, when clients ask about us, that we no longer do inspections... just to try to get them to call someone else - someone on their list.
So, you can market all you want to buyers, but you just can't successfully leave the Realtor out of the mix - they need to be included. The more you plug the use of Realtors in your marketing to buyers, the more effective the marketing will be.
By the way, I haven't done the trashbags in a LONG time and I still get requests for them - when we stopped supplying the trashbags to the carwash, they stopped as well.