List building is a hot topic on the internet, with marketers, entrepreneurs all trying to gain traction and recognition by increasing the size of their list.
Many Realtors have been ahead of this curve for years, amassing sizable lists of contacts through a variety of methods.
You've used CRMs, Rolodexes, and straight-up bought contacts to grow your business. There's nothing wrong with any of those methods, but the best way I've used to expand my business and build trust is by growing an email list.
When Realtors get started, this is one of the parts that seems to be the most challenging, and to a point it is, along with consistently creating content. But that doesn't mean building a list isn't important or profitable to your business. In fact, it's one of the most important things you can do to build trust and authority.
As people become more protective of their inboxes, the quality of the list members becomes just as important as the size. 1000 excited, engaged members are better than 5000 disinterested people who gave out their email a few years ago.
So what can you do differently to capture the interest of a dedicated niche, in a way that also demonstrates your value in the real estate market?
That’s exactly what I’m going to show you.
You’re also going to see how to test, validate, and jump-start your list in only 48 hours.
First, let’s set out the ground rules…
1. Timeline is 48 Hours
Why? I wanted to set a very specific time constraint that motivated me to hustle and validate the topic. 48 hours is enough time to prove a concept, but not so much time that you burn out or find other tasks to distract you.
2. Goal is 100 subscribers
Why? This was definitely a stretch, but again a stretch goal with a tight timeline will crank up the motivation. Getting 20 would be easy, 50 was comfortable, 100 was scary. When you consider the consequences to this type of fear, they don’t really exist. If I missed the goal, I would just be a little embarrassed, and that will pass.
3. Topic is Farmer’s Markets in Nashville
Why? Two reasons. One, this is a need for people in Nashville. The local food market is booming, and people love going to the market. The information around the different markets is disorganized to say the least. People only know about the ones they drive past, but finding times and dates is still challenging. What if there’s one near their work, gym, or church? Information was just hard to find, and I knew with just 48 hours, I could organize enough information to get people excited.
Two, this is a niche that has direct application for Realtors. It’s a community-driven topic that people were seeking information on, and if you set yourself up as an authority, it builds trust as someone who provides value and has their best interest at heart.
You may be rolling your eyes and thinking "Matt, I'm a Realtor, not a farmer!" or "Why would I gather interest around Farmer's Markets instead of new listings?"
Good questions. Here's why. People who buy and sell homes are hot and cold when it comes to Agents. They want you when they're hot to make a play, and cold when they are comfy-cozy in their home.
So you need to find a reason for them to care what you have to say even when they're cool on what you're really selling. This is where you build trust and authority outside of a normal sales cycle.
You can do this by sharing valuable information on a number of different topics, as long as they are meaningful to the community you serve.
I chose Farmer's Markets. Here are a few more reasons why:
- I know this is something people in my demographic care about.
- There is little information available online.
- What is available is widely dispersed.
Search results are high (289,000 searches), and 1st-page content is low. There is one solid page but still isn't updated very often.
Results trend towards individual markets, without a curated home for information on all of Nashville's Farmer's Markets.
I also have a hypothesis that local farms rely on this content, and will be excited to partner with my list to connect with customers. When I started, I didn’t have contacts with farmers either, but pushed on with my theory. I contacted 15 local farms and asked them to sponsor a giveaway (more on that later).
How would this information serve a Realtor?
A list equals trust, and you have a responsibility to earn it with each message. That means the list doesn't slowly become a sales page for your recent listings.
What's exciting is that trust is transferable. If you build trust over time and share your story and the work you do, fans will look to you for help when they're hot.
Think about Apple. When they came out with the iPad, did you think "I don't trust them to make a tablet!" or this year with the watch "This isn't something I trust them to build".
For millions of people, they trust Apple to connect them to each other. Doesn't matter if it's phones, tablets, watches, or anything else in the pipeline. It’s the same for you.
How to Create a "Sideshow"
I call this technique the "Sideshow Method" because you are creating value and putting on a show of sorts. It’s related to, but outside of your primary business (real estate). For your community, they trust you to provide them with the information that improves their lives. It could be on schools, restaurants, concerts, or farmer's markets.
Here is a video that explains it all. But you can also read the "4 Step Guide" below!
Exactly what we’ve discussed so far.
Set the ground rules (duration, number of subscribers), and choose your Sideshow’s topic. If you’re wondering what type of Sideshow you should choose, I have a special bundle to send you that explains all of these steps in even more detail. It includes a topic selection checklist and the 5 email sequence I used to drive interest, excitement, and sign-ups.
Step 1: Outreach to Friends & Family
Even before you send a mass email out to your current list or networking groups you’re a part of, contact your friends and family with regular ol’ email. Because the 1st phase doesn’t really involve doing things that are fast or scale. All I did in the first few hours was send personal messages and emails to friends.
Not a mass email.
Not an invitation to visit an opt-in page.
A personal email, simply asking if I can share something with them.
When list building (and even content marketing) shakes down, this is the core of how it can be done well, and why people will pay attention to you. Sharing useful information that is specific to their needs.
Here is an example of email #1:
Quick, personal, and to the point. I also briefly work in the PSA method (Problem-Solution-Application), though the “A” step will be when the material is released.
The point I’m making here is that starting a list doesn’t have to be as difficult as we crack it up to be. Ask the people you know and want to help you. Let them tell their friends, and you’re off!
The tactics aren’t rocket science, but what is important is knowing what steps to take, which places to look, and having the courage to reach out.
I quickly started to see happy responses from people, validating the idea. Here’s what my friend Nick had to say…
and people started referring other friends (don’t be afraid to ask)…
At this point, I had moved on to Step 1A, which is to ask the 2nd tier groups you are a part of. I sent personal emails to people I worked with, my bible study group, and poker buddies. The value proposition stayed very similar and personal. Here’s an important distinction to make in your language:
Say “Would you like me to share what I discover with you?”
Not “If you’re interested, click here to get on the list”
These people are your friends and family, say group or community, not a list. Offer to share what you find with them, not direct them to some landing page. That’s for the next set of people and step in the process.
Step 2: Landing Page
Let me tell you why a landing page is good for this stage and not right from the beginning. Once you email your initial list of close connections, a good idea is going to spread pretty quickly. You need a place for everyone to go, and that’s the landing page. Here’s an example of mine, and you can see how simple it is.
About 12 hours into the challenge, I sent email #2 to my current list.
I’m excited that so many of you are interested in a guide to Nashville’s Farmers Markets! I know a lack of information was frustration of mine, and it’s cool to see many of us share it, along with a desire to learn more.
If you know of anyone else who would like to receive the guide, they can email me directly, or you can share this page if it’s easier: mattragland.leadpages.net/nashville-farmers-markets
Thanks for being a part of this community and making it a great place to live!
At this point, you don’t have as much control, and that’s a good thing. So you want a place for people to land and opt-in to the group.
The rest of day one I spent preparing for Steps 3 and 4, the giveaway and quick wins. Both steps are initiated close to each other, and honestly can be launched in either order. I started the giveaway first, then quick wins. Next time I’ll switch the order, so I’ll share that progression with you here.
Step 3: Quick Wins to Encourage the Community
At the end of day one, you’ll send email #3 to the current list.
This email shows a quick win to boost excitement and provide an immediate takeaway for the group. So far in the day, I had researched the different times, locations, and dates of the markets and put them all in a Google spreadsheet.
To share the Farmers Market information, a couple quick wins stood out. Use the spreadsheet to create a custom Google map with all the locations, and dates/times listed in the details. Then I made both resources public and shared the links with my list.
Please realize that I didn’t create a website, write several blog posts, or buy a Facebook ad to do this. I simply researched the information and created two public resources. You can do the same, even with a limited amount of time.
Step 4: Giveaway to Drive Excitement (and Sign-ups)
At the beginning of day 2, send email #4 in the sequence, announcing the giveaway.
The best tool you can use for this type of giveaway is the KingSumo Giveaways plugin for Wordpress. Why? Because it builds in a viral component to the contest by motivating people to share the links. Think about that for a second....
What’s the biggest problem with most contests? You aren’t motivated to share because each sign-up actively decreases your chances of winning.
And you don’t want to share, YOU WANT TO WIN.
Sounds terrible when you say it out loud, but it’s true right?
KingSumo is different. When you sign up, you receive a personal link to share with others. For each person that signs up with your link, you triple your chances of winning.
Now, sharing is caring!
I created a giveaway that took advantage of this. The prize was 4 boxes of produce from a local farm, valued at $100. I posted that 2 people would win.
Here’s another important part.
I didn’t have the prize confirmed when I started the giveaway.
I didn’t have any farmer contacts to call and ask to hook me up.
But I launched anyway.
I used the “Field of Dreams” approach to this giveaway (i.e. if you build the list, the sponsors will come). I decided to contact the farms with a set number of fans they could reach, rather than asking without an audience.
Ask yourself which pitch sounds better:
Pitch #1 (no list):
Hi! I’m starting a farmers market interest group, and am growing the club with giveaway of produce from a local farm. I would love to have you donate $100 worth of goods to us for the giveaway. Thanks and let me know!
Pitch #2 (with list):
Hi! I run a farmers market interest club with 75 members (and counting). I’m growing the club with giveaway of produce from a local farm. If you’re interested in sharing your story and farm name with 75 members, I’d like to speak with you about sponsoring the giveaway. Thanks and let me know!
For me, pitching with a list behind me was a better option. I believe you are better off asking;
“I can put your product in front of 75 people. Want to be a part of this?”
“Hey, I don’t know how many people are interested, but can you help?”
I have already validated their interest and the group’s viability, and it gives authority when speaking to the farmer. Chances are high you will get someone to agree, and when you do turn around and announce it to your group.
This is email #5 in the sequence.
It actually occurs after the 48-hour window is closed.
Before we wrap up the giveaway sequence, let me share my 48-hour results.
At the conclusion, I had gathered 41 emails in 48 hours. I was short of my 100 subscriber goal, but pleased with the results. Here’s a couple that jump out to me.
- Start the giveaway earlier, allowing people more time to share
- Contact Market Directors to ask if they would share the information
If you do take the Farmers Market niche as a sideshow of your own, here’s a suggestion. When you contact the Market Directors, ask these 3 questions.
- Do I have the right information for you?
- Am I missing anything you would like to include?
- Are there any special Market days you’d like to list?
By asking several times how you can help them you’re proving that you have their back. Then ask if they are willing to share your guide or group with their community.
What Happened After 10 Days
As I said before, even if I fell short of 100 subscribers there was a lot to be excited about. The members definitely were excited about it…
Now that people are really excited and the giveaway is running, send email #5.
Share more about the farm that's sponsoring the giveaway and remind people to share with their friends. I promoted it more on social media at this point, and at the end of 10 days the list had nearly doubled!
If you like, share another email reminding people that 24 hours is left in the giveaway. I also included some market news for the weekend and a special festival that was going on. People loved it, including this group member…
So in the next couple of weeks, this story, this group, this start-from-scratch idea is going to be featured on a site with thousands of readers and members.
All because I gave myself 48 hours to test an idea.
Special RESAAS Blog Giveaway
With the steps I’ve outlined in this post, I hope you will take the opportunity to create a Sideshow. As a gift for RESAAS Blog readers, I created a special bundle to help you take action.
- A Concise PDF of the 4 Steps to Creating a Sideshow + Checklist
- Access to the Google Doc with the (always-updated) email sequence copy
- 5 Extra Ideas for Realtor-Friendly Sideshows
- P-S-A (Problem-Solution-Application) Method Worksheet
- How to Setup a Landing Page & Email List in 5 Minutes
- Click here to get your bundle, and we’ll stay in touch!
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by Suzanne Cohen