In the real estate industry, you've probably heard the term "farming." 16 years ago, I recall being confused the first time I heard the term "farming" used in relation to real estate. Then I heard other people refer to it as canvassing and other terms.
The point is that farming includes connecting with the community in some way, whether it is door knocking, mailing, retargeting, newsletter, et cetera… There’s a whole way of doing this and I want to dive into this with you.
When it comes to farming, there are some statistics that you need to be aware of, and those statistics come from NAR (National Association of Realtors). I want to share some with you so you can understand how we approach this and why we do the things we do.
In their 2022 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, NAR provides us some insight on home sellers and their selling experience. According to them, “69% of all sellers moved within the same state. For Younger Millennials, 81% purchased in the same state compared to 63% of Older Baby Boomer sellers.”
This data matters in the marketing that you are doing, what you are sending out, and how you are communicating with them.
Also, as far as the psychology that people have when they want to sell, this one is important to note too:
For all sellers, the most commonly cited reason for selling their home was the desire to move closer to friends and family (18 percent), followed by the home being too small (17 percent), and a change in family situation (12 percent). Older generations were more likely to move closer to family/friends, and younger generations were more likely to desire a larger home. (Source: NAR, p. 98)
Knowing their main intentions, think of how you frame your message when sending out emails or talking to people.
As real estate agents, it is important to understand that we need to show up consistently, and when we do, once we get their trust, only then will consumers avail of our services and refer us to the people they know.
“The typical seller has recommended their agent once since selling their home. Thirty-eight percent of sellers recommended their agent three or more times since selling their home. That number jumped to 42 percent among Gen Xers,” NAR reports (p. 127).
If you are doing this routinely, if you’re showing up, and your branding is apparent in the right way and you are delivering the message that can connect with the person that’s reading it, trust is established. Regardless of whether the interaction happens on social media, in person, or in the mail you send out (emails or postcards).
This is what we do. This is the farming outline that we follow. We have a total of 24 mailers in 12 months, and we send out around 10,000 pieces per month. Of all the things we send out, the one that gets the biggest response is the Top 5 Books to Read This Year. Quotes on Making a Better Life also get a great response. You can check out the outline and study it deeper.
In our mailers, we also do something on the backend. There are four different things we are testing out. One of them is a QR code, and once you scan it, it will take you to one of our landing pages. There is also another one that sends you to our home bot process. This way, when someone registers, we are notified and they start getting these notifications from us. The thing is, we are A/B testing all the time.
The other part of this is what I really wanted to share with you. What I noticed is that we lack creativity when it comes to farming and diving deeper into our community.
We use the Chime app for this, and it is built into all of our CRM so we can track our door-knocking activities. Aside from door knocking, you've got to get a little more creative.
Also, make sure to put everybody on your CRM. That way, you can keep track of the people you meet and keep in touch with them.
This is something I learned from my first experience of door-knocking: you need to give them something, whether a flyer or a postcard, anything that will make people trust you. You are a stranger. They don’t know you, so they don’t trust you yet. And trust is essential in what we do. What can you do to get over that hurdle? What can you give that will make these people trust a stranger like you? How can you break the ice and get their attention long enough to deliver your message?
When you’ve broken the ice and, through the initial conversation, got them to agree to keep in touch via email, what happens now is that you start building a whole separate farm on a newsletter: letting them know what’s happening, updating them on what’s going on and what’s in the neighborhood.
All of a sudden, you have another way to touch them. In the world that we live in now, with social media and all that, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a Facebook group for a community. It could be a smaller niche, like a track home area, or it could be a wider range.
If you are door-knocking and you got their email and you can keep in touch with them for a follow-up because they know you, now you can add them to your Facebook group.
Think of other ways to communicate and keep the relationship, because it matters.
The next thing that you can do is mail. I mentioned the mailers earlier, and we alternate between those 24 mailers within the year. Messaging your contacts matters. Now it is just a matter of tweaking the contents of the message. Talk to the consumers about what they are most concerned about—right now they are concerned about a possible housing crash or bubble; they are concerned about home prices. We address those concerns with our mailers.
Build an online community through blogs and social media. It isn’t enough to have a Facebook group. Write a blog, tell them stories, and update them on what is happening.
Give them content that is of value to your consumers: tell them what’s happening, what they should be paying attention to, where they could be taking their kids, what parks are there in the area, and what’s good to eat out there.
The deeper you dig into that, the more you can connect with people because you are truly trying to help them out.
As you are doing this online community, think “It’s not just blogs and social media.” It can also be YouTube. Think of what else you can do. Look at what TikTok has done really well, just over the last year. When you go niche and use location tags and keywords on your descriptions, the algorithm finds the people closest to you and suggests your content/video to them.
Write notes to the people you meet. Sometimes, when you are door-knocking, you get to meet nice, friendly people. Those are the moments when you create relationships.
Nurture those relationships because, in this business, the thing that no one can take away from us is that it is a relationship business. If you treat it that way in everything that you do, specifically these: door knocking, farming, creating value, and thinking “I’m going to create a relationship with every person that I talk to,” all of a sudden, things change.
Now, when you finish talking to somebody that you engage with, it doesn’t end there. You don’t just put them into your CRM and let the automation take over. You sit down and write a note to them. Or use services like Handwrytten.
Make it personal. What other ways are there that are going to allow you to connect with people in an authentic way? Because that's what’s missing.
Don’t always think large-scale. Think “How can I go super niche?” and then grow from there. That’s where you learn.
During my first few years, I realized that for every hour that goes by while I am door knocking, I am reaching 13 people (living in normal-sized homes, not the massive mansions in Malibu), but does this hold true the next day too?
I also learned through experience that if I go to condos and townhomes, they have a different demographic and they are home at different times compared to other areas and to the people I will find in multi-million-dollar homes.
Think of the possibilities.
I’ll end it with this. As you do this farming process more often and you start breaking into a community slowly, think of community events you can do. How often do you want to do those events?
We are not big on events, but if you are, think of the holiday events. How will you connect with the community?
And lastly, as you grow as we have in farming, don’t forget about PR. That’s something I don’t think a lot of people do. When you go PR (public relations) and you hire a company, all of a sudden, they put you on the local news, the local magazines, or the local news stations. That is something that you can think of later on as you go along.
The bottom line is, I want you to focus on farming. The world around you is changing. You have an opportunity to connect with people and create long-term relationships.
What does that look like for you? Where do you want to start? Around your home where you live, like I did? Or do you want somewhere else that really inspires you? Just don’t make it too far because you need to show up on a daily basis.