Find Customers.
WHO Are You Selling To?

The first step in marketing is to find customers. The bulk of your business will come from your contact list or lists. So, the first thing to do is determine who you will be marketing to and obviously this is a very important step for the success of your business! No customers, no money. No money, no marketing. No marketing, no business.

Connect to find customers

Allowing one potential sale to fall through the cracks from a mismanaged contact list is literally throwing thousands of dollars out the window. So, without a doubt, contact management is important. So how do you find customers?

Your contact list or lists begin with, yes, you guessed it… contacts! You may want to incorporate all of your contacts into one list, but make sure you categorize your contacts well for easy identification and communication later.

Real estate contact lists usually consist of any combination of the following:

Sphere of Influence -- Friends, family, potential clients, business associates, past co-workers, etc. You can find customers much more easily from everyone you personally know.

Real Estate Farm –- a specific community for which you have home ownership information for each home in that area.

Niche -– a specific, narrowly targeted group of people who you will solicit for business. I have a section from my Home Page about "Niche Marketing." Check out my menu bar for information when you're ready.

Once you find customers, good contact management is key. And this requires attention. It is necessary to review and refine your lists at regular intervals – for best results, a quarterly review will do. Always look at your list with an open mind and consider each contact individually. Strive for accurate contact data.

Review your contact list regularly. Deciding who to keep on your list can be challenging in itself. Relationships change quickly and many people will move in and out of your life over the course of your career. Many unexpected changes will occur in your lists. That is the way of life, and so it is in business as well. Recognizing the changes and modifying your contact lists to reflect them is an often overlooked aspect of contact management, but very important.

If, during a review, you notice someone on your list that you haven’t contacted in a while, make a note to call and visit a bit -- even if only on the premise of confirming your contact data. This provides you with an opportunity to touch base and remind the person that you are in business.

Often times, it’s during these calls that you learn of life changes that have occurred for your contact. A pending divorce, a deceased spouse, a baby on the way, a child going off to college, etc. These are opportunities to connect, find ways to contribute, and update your contact list as well. Don't forget to ask for referrals too -- you can find customers just by being in the right place at the right time.

Managing Your Contacts

How you manage your contacts is up to you. If you business life revolves around your day-timer and all your contacts are in it, that’s great -- for your day-to-day operations that is. But it’s entirely too limiting for your marketing options.

If you intend to limit your contact to telephone calls or personal notes only, there is no need to go digital. But, in the ideal world, your business will grow to a point where it is overwhelming and no longer time or cost effective to personally handle all of your customer contacts. Handwriting less than 100 personal notes or envelopes is manageable, handwriting over 1000, isn’t. Delegating and outsourcing the tasks that you can will become essential to your success.

In order to market effectively you need a variety of contact options. In real estate, other than a traditional telephone call -- door-knocking, direct mail, e-mail and website content are the preferred methods for communicating with contacts. For direct mail and e-mail, if you want to outsource these options to a marketing company, a digital record for each contact is required.

The easiest way to manage your contact file(s) is with contact management software There are a few considerations concerning searching, sorting and exporting functions that you might want to consider before choosing contact management software.

If you are not quite ready to purchase software, but need to get your contact file in a digital format, at the very minimum you can use a program that stores individual records in separate field format (name, address, city, state, zip, e-mail, etc.), i.e. Microsoft Excel. The advantage to using Excel is that it is relatively simple to set up the file and type in the data. Exporting is also easy once you understand the basic principles of the program and how it operates. Excel doesn’t serve as the ideal resource for contact management and should be viewed as a temporary solution used only until you find the software that you intend to use regularly in your business.

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