Farming 101: Five key concepts to grow and expand your market reach
April 16, 2014
Most people come to us with an idea of what neighborhoods they think are best to farm. Around Lake Norman, every realtor and landscaper wants the Peninsula, The Point (Trump National), and River Run. It’s very predictable. Businesses think they need to market to the communities with the most money to spend. On the surface it makes sense, but sometimes it may be the toughest area to make headway in. Below I’ve outlined some key strategies that will help as you develop your farm, and expand into new areas.
Rule #1: Commit to your farm
Since there are dozens of realtors all competing for that “luxury home” space in this area, homeowners in those communities are receiving dozens of direct mail postcards each month. If you are serious about building your brand in these communities, there’s no going half-way. It’s possible to be successful, but you need to keep in mind that you need to be better and be there more than your competition. If a business is only willing to commit to 3-4 mailings in these neighborhoods each year, chances are that it’s money down the drain. The businesses that are consistently hitting those homes each month are going to reap the greatest rewards.For those of you utilizing Google Ad Words, it’s the same principle. The graphic will show you how much your competitors are spending on their daily ad limits. If you want to increase your market share and visibility, you need to be spending more money on advertising than your competitors. Same rule applies for farming. Whatever neighborhoods you choose to farm, commit to them with consistency and be present more than your competition. No farmer ever produced a good crop by just working his farm periodically. Farmers understand that consistency and repetition of hard work equals success.
Rule #2: Farm where you live
If you live in a neighborhood, it should be at the top of your farm. Marketing to your friends and neighbors gives you a significant advantage over outside businesses. Hopefully, you’ve already earned respect and credibility with your neighbors – and neighbors like to help neighbors out. When they need someone with your line of business, you will be at the top of their list. Especially true for the real estate business is the expertise you hold in a given neighborhood as an area resident. You will likely be more familiar with the various home floor plans, amenities, and community vibe – all positioning you to be better equipped to list your neighbor’s homes. I always encourage business owners to develop special marketing pieces to use just in their own neighborhoods that will position them as “your trusted neighbor and owner of x.”
Rule #3: Farm where you do the most business
If you find yourself with three landscaping jobs in one community, add that neighborhood to your farm. Not only will it be more efficient for your business to naturally expand in the areas that your crews are already servicing, but you’ll benefit from the added punch your branded trucks, street signage, and work crews carry each time they service a property in that area. In marketing, repetition is key. The more impressions you have on a target, the greater success. When people see your trucks servicing your neighbors on a regular basis, and then receive a postcard from you the next week, they will already have a mental note that they’ve seen you do jobs in the neighborhood. When they need to call on a contractor for similar services, they already know that you’re “trusted” in the neighborhood because they’ve seen that you’ve done work there.
Rule #4: Farm your existing crops
The goal of “farming” is to plant seeds that will hopefully grow and turn into produce. If you’ve taken the time to farm territories and gained customers, do not abandon your farm for greener pastures. So many businesses concentrate only on acquiring new leads, they’ve forgotten about their past customers. Past customers will not be loyal if they no longer feel appreciated. While it’s not as essential to repeat mailings to existing customers as frequently as you would to a new territory, this group should still be “touched” by your marketing efforts 4 times per year. It costs far more money to acquire a new client than it does to keep one in your fold. So, if you abandon your crop, you run the risk of your current crop not coming back in the future.
Rule #5: Zig when they’re zagging
If you’re frustrated that your competitors are honing in on your desired farm, perhaps it’s time to mix things up. Above, I mentioned the problem of everyone wanting to “own” the same obvious Lake Norman neighborhoods. This is especially problematic if you are using some of the area flyer box delivery companies that only hit a community on one specific day of the month. Just last week I received eight pieces of direct mail in my flyer box, with several businesses that competed from one another. If this is a problem you’ve faced, I would encourage you to reach out to us. We want your direct mail to be successful, so it’s not in our best interest to bombard flyer boxes with multiple pieces of mail or dilute your message by sending your mail out with a competing company. If it’s important to still market in a heavily saturated neighborhood, at least zig when your competitors are zagging and make sure that your efforts are timed to go out separately.
Another way you can zig when everyone else is zagging is by looking for communities we call the “hidden gems.” Did you know that the majority of flyer box delivery companies aren’t adding to their list of neighborhoods as new communities emerge? We have a pulse on some of the newer areas that aren’t on the radar for other delivery providers, and we’ll target those for you. While everyone thinks to target the Peninsula, there are other areas with similar demographics like Joy’s Serenity Point – a new development of waterfront homes off of Nantz Road in Cornelius. There are lots of ways we can suggest hitting your desired demographics in areas that are less inundated with direct mail than the obvious targets.
We hope that you’ll keep these points in mind as you continue to farm and expand into new areas. Farming truly is a science – those businesses that are applying these proven principles are going to be the ones who reap the greatest rewards.