Pick your niche and market it – Stan Albert

Stan Albert: Pick your niche and market it

Apr 27, 2007

“In the field of observation, chance favours only the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur 1822-1895

Ever heard of The Long Tail? It’s the name of a book that you should read, written by Wired Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Chris Anderson.

This article was partially gleaned from the website Prof-IT, The Technology and Marketing Newsletter for Real Estate Professionals. (Issue 42). Quoting from the article: “If you’ve got any plans to see your real estate business succeed online, especially with the aid of search engines, then you better read on.”

The basic premise of TheLong Tail is that the market at large is starting to evaporate and is being replaced by dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of “mini-markets” or “niche markets.” I’ve written and preached to agents over the years about niche markets and yet few of the registrants have heeded this call.

The book describes this trend as the “tail of a comet”. There are relatively few large players who market to the mainstream, pursued by an almost endless trail of individuals who can get almost anything they want.

Let’s illustrate this with what is happening in the computer business. Companies like Intel, Microsoft and Dell face sluggish computer sales. All are under siege from free open-source software, which uses the Net rather than the P.C., and a vast number of free unnecessary upgrades on the Internet.

Look what is happening to one of the largest icons in the computer industry. Dell is restructuring its business units and slashing costs. They’re spending $150 million on customer service, and will forge partnerships with retailers to stock its computers and open stores of their own.

So, what should we take from this example in the real estate industry? It’s about being unique. In every market, consumers will be surfing the Net to find a home that suits their wants and needs – and then they will be looking for an agent who is knowledge-specific.

In the media, the area of specialization happened shortly after Ted Turner’s CNN, 24-hour news appeared on the scene in 1980. Now look what’s happening – Google Earth, YouTube, Itunes and I could go on and on. From only a few companies in the area of Internet marketing a few years ago, we now have search engine experts, pay/click experts, article marketing, blogs and so forth. It’s as Anderson describes in his book, a niche within a niche.

So, again, I pose the question, what has this got to do with you as an agent?

Almost everything.

If you look at most Realtor’s websites, even successful ones, they get less than 50 per cent of the traffic from main keywords. If your main keywords are “Brampton Real Estate,” and you somehow managed to get to a top ranking, it would only be attracting a fraction of the loads of traffic that you should be attracting.

If I were looking to move to Brampton, but really wanted to move to a specific area like Milton, where my friends or business would be located, why would I just choose a site that was marked Brampton?

The obvious answer is that I would choose an agent who specialized in a specific area because, like a normal consumer, I would want true expertise. Maybe you’ll choose to specialize in “I sell only bungalows” or “I sell only waterfront views,” or “I specialize in large family homes.”

I think that you get the idea by now!

In Anderson’s book, he says: “The whole Long Tail thing is a big topic with BIG potential for your real estate business on the Internet.”

There is no real quick fix, but you must address this in your present and future marketing if you are to survive. Pick a niche, no matter how small, and you will rise quickly and will surpass your competition.

We are advancing so fast that it makes my head spin. I read just the other day that the technology university and college graduates are studying today will be out of date next year!

As a Realtor, you have to adapt quickly to the changes around us and use it to your advantage. Ask yourself: “How can I be more of a specialist? Where can I dominate? What niche can I completely dominate?”

Most brokerages have a decent website, but is it time for a makeover? There are many excellent web providers out there. My suggestion is to contact your current provider and go over what will make you “The Niche Marketer” in your area. See http://www.computersuperguy.com/ for some great ideas.

Now, let me remind those who are becoming involved with their websites that one guiding principal remains: You must continue to expand your spheres of influence daily in order to maintain your business. As stated in my last column, a successful Realtor will treat this business as a business and not one that is transaction-based.

And that’s the way I see it from my desk this month.

Thought for the month: “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Stan Albert is celebrating his 36th year in active real estate. He serves on the Complaints, Compliance and Discipline Committee at RECO, and on two committees at the Toronto Real Estate Board. He is an established trainer and business consultant and can be reached at mailto:salbert@trebnet.com