Building a Lead Generation Plan from the Ground Up

With the real estate market as tight as it is, brokers are beefing up their lead generation efforts in an attempt to find more listings and garner more business. However, before you jump on the lead generation bandwagon, it behooves you to take some time to structure a plan that is different than what others are doing while being true to yourself and how you like to do business. 

For example, if many brokers in your office are sending out the same “call me for a free market analysis” postcards, it is time to find a new message, a new audience and make connections in a way that is a better fit. 

Oftentimes, brokers take a “throw mud on the wall” approach to lead generation. They go online to a print and mail company or pay for online advertising using a template that is not custom-branded and has a very generic message. They don’t spend a lot of time determining the best audience to send it to and they don’t have a long-term plan beyond that one mailing. From my perspective, that is throwing money away. 

Instead, I encourage you to consider:

What you bring to the table.

If you have an extensive background in financial planning or interior design, for example, those both include an amazing skillset that carry over into real estate. How can you use these resources for future business? If my background was in financial planning, I would be targeting either out-of-area owners or investors to help them finesse their real estate portfolios. If my background was in interior design, I would offer complimentary staging services to my sellers, which could net them thousands more on their transactions. But in both cases, I would need to develop a campaign and materials that not just told the potential clients what I could do, but also provided proof of my results. 

Your message.

If in the above example I was going to help out-of-area owners, I would first consider what they may need my help with. Even if they are working with a property manager, they probably haven’t seen a photo of their property in a while, they may not know what the real estate market is doing for their neighborhood, and they may not be aware of zoning changes that are proposed nearby. I would then hone my message to speak to those pain points. If I were an interior designer with advanced staging services, I would definitely promote the idea of netting more from the sale as part of my marketing message. 

The target.

Once you have determined your resources and your message, you need to find the people to market to. My first stop would be to talk with a title company. Many title companies have access to great sets of data. You would be amazed at the information that is available. Everything from last sale dates, assessed values, loan-to-value ratios, non-owner-occupied properties, and yes, even demographic information such as approximate owner age, whether they have kids, and if they like dogs can be found on many properties. Some title companies will sell you a list for a nominal price. If you specialize in assisting probate or divorce candidates, you can check court records or a leads service for that. Alternatively, your local print and mail company has access to a wide variety of data and specializes in direct mail to specific demographics. Facebook has great resources for creating an audience. And don’t forget opportunities to connect live. 

The connections medium.

Will you be mailing postcards or letters? Are you going to join a group and make live connections? Are you going to create a series of ads on Facebook?  Will you be a guest on a talk radio show? Will you connect with professionals who may recommend you (such as attorneys, estate planners, or financial planners)? Will you write articles on the topic and post them on your blog and share them online? Will you pay for online ads at the local paper? My recommendation is to take a multi-pronged approach. I like to think of lead generation like layers of an onion. More layers mean your message will have more impact because it is delivered in multiple ways. 

Let’s go back to the financial planner who is going to help out-of-area owners finesse their investment portfolios with real estate assets. An example of a multi-pronged approach would be to get a list from a title company of out-of-area owners in a specific geographical area who owned more than one property (because they are more likely to be bigger investors). I would send them a customized property report, would send them monthly real estate market information, and would keep them up-to-date on the local zoning issues that might impact their investment. I wouldn’t call them. I wouldn’t invite them to my client event. But I would keep them up-to-date on their investment. 

I would also build relationships with local property management companies as well as financial planners and 1031 exchange facilitators by sending them real estate market information. This information would be more generalized to the whole area but would include a neighborhood breakdown. 

I would also go on radio shows and discuss real estate investing and write articles for my blog as well as for publications. 

I would take a different approach if I was an interior designer and offered staging services. I would first make sure I had professional photography for all my listings and take several “before” photos. I would do this for all listings as this would be the basis of all future marketing. I would make sure my website showcased beautiful homes and it would have information about the impact that staging can have on a listing, including staging resources and case studies of my own listings showing days on market, list-to-sales-price ratios, and how these stacked up against the competition. Of course, I would also have all of this information with me at a listing presentation along with beautifully-presented samples of my work.

In terms of my message, it would be that staging done right yields more money for properties. I would send an oversized postcard out to 100 homes in the area when a property of mine was listed and advertise it extensively on Facebook both when it listed and when it sold. When it sold, I would include the stats and again send the message that staging means more money. 

I would also connect with local furniture store personnel (sometimes they may lend furniture and accessories with the hope of making a connection with a future buyer) and provide them with some brochures that they could use when referring. I would return the favor if I was using their furniture.  

The above examples and process are geared towards long-term results, but this philosophy can also be used as a short-term lead generation faucet. Imagine creating a 12-week campaign for out-of-area owners or searching for potential listings using staging as the carrot—these can still be effective because the message is still unique to you and your strengths. 

Don’t feel like you have to use the same lead generation methods that everyone else is using. Homeowners want solutions to their unique challenges or concerns. While yes, they probably would like to know the value of their home, they are more likely to be moved by the special skillset that you bring to the table. Don’t be like everyone else! Stand out, build a lead generation strategy that is a great fit for you. 


The founding partner of The Lones Group, Denise Lones, brings over two decades of experience in the real estate industry with expertise in strategic marketing, business analysis, branding, new home project planning, product development, and agent/broker training. Denise can be reached at The Lones Group: (360) 527-8904 or online at


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