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"Mr. Internet on The Power Of Targeting!"

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2/3/06 Interview with Michael Russer

Russer Communications
1124 Las Olas Ave, Suite 100
Santa Barbara, CA 93109

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The Importance of Target Marketing

  1. Focusing your marketing on a particular market niche is an incredible way to dominate in that area, yet many real estate professionals are overlooking the opportunity.
  2. Effective marketing answers the question in the minds of consumers: What's in it for me?
  3. The answer is different for each target market e.g., first-time home buyers are looking for something different than a potential buyer of a vacation property or investment property; trying to be all things to all people is a big mistake because your message is diluted for any one group.
  4. The more a particular market feels heard that you really understand their situation the more likely you are to engage them and convert them into clients.
  5. There are two basic ways to approach target markets: demographically and psycho graphically; the latter is more powerful because it deals with the emotional profile of a consumer group.
  6. "First-time buyer" is more potent than "condo buyer" because first-time buyers tend to be scared and uninformed; other psycho graphic markets are empty-nesters and seekers of vacation properties.
  7. Demographic markers include lifestyle and income level; examples of niches of this type are sellers or buyers of exclusive residential properties separate luxury markets because their needs/wants are different.
The Myth of the Shotgun Approach

  1. Agents who solicit a broad range of real estate business feel that narrowing their market would shut them out of a lot of business Russer points out that they never had it in the first place; the main advantage of targeting is that you are not competing against everybody.
  2. Anyone who has been in real estate for a while has two implicit target markets sphere of influence and current/past client base; you can potentially mine them effectively, but you cannot grow them quickly.
  3. A problem with sphere of influence is that it overlaps the sphere of other agents, so you still have strong competition there; setting an explicit target for your market effectively eliminates most of your competition.
Why You Should Target Online

  1. You don't have the benefit of influencing someone who lands on your web site with the power of your personality in real time (by phone or face-to-face); if your site fails to immediately answer the question "What'sin it for them," visitors will leave immediately or be resistant to conversion.
  2. An example of a powerful, targeted site is Joe Thyne's; his location and military background gave him an immediate advantage for targeting military clients around Fort Hood; his site has moved into branding other agents near other bases are using his brand.
How to Pick a Target Market

  1. The first criteria is to choose a market you feel passionate about; working with people and properties that you find fulfilling and fun will inspire your creativity and energy a positive spiral of the more you do it, the better you get, and the more differentiated you become.
  2. One parameter to evaluate is whether your dominance of 30%­40% of a market specialty would provide you with sufficient income to meet your financial goals if you practice in a small, rural area, the market may not support niche specialization; instead become the explicit expert for your geographical area that will still distinguish you.
The Synergy of Targeting and Branding

  1. Targeting is the process of identifying a particular group of people with similar needs/wants, with similar ability to use your services financially and who are reachable with your message.
  2. Branding is a way of uniquely identifying the value of your package of services for your target market (separate from you as a person) e.g., Rick Miner's brands waterfront properties in Seattle.
  3. The importance of keeping your brand identity separate from your personal identity is that you create a salable entity if brand recognition is not dependent on you; this consideration should be part of your exit strategy for retirement. [Listen to Alice Held on Real Estate CyberSpace Radio for more on exit strategies.]
Engaging the Target Market Online

  1. The aim is to get your targeted consumers to feel that they are part of the process; rather than flashy graphics and animation, good copy is the best tool.
  2. Avoid writing your web site in third person like a report; instead, address the reader directly emphasize "you" and "yours" over "I/we " as though you were having a conversation.
  3. Pose questions in your copy and encourage the reader to submit answers offer to provide feedback in a reply; by drawing the reader in, you get them to feel ownership for their understanding of the process.
Differentiating Yourself from Your Competition

  1. Create a memorable brand around your services; ways to do that include having a targeted web site and writing a column for the local paper whoever writes a column is perceived as the expert.
  2. Write a UPS unique positioning statement; it is a short phrase that inspires instant recognition when seen or heard by your target market that you are the best value option for them.
  3. Examples of effective UPSs are: to attract engineers "I understand engineers because I've been married to one for 28 years;" for fix-and-flip buyers "I make sure your fix-and-flip doesn't turn into a fix-and-flop."
Favorite Web Sites

  1. Google Earth gives users a new perspective on the world; it can be downloaded if your computer has sufficient power.
  2. is a powerful marketing site that also offers a free weekly email service.
  3. (focused on South Beach condos) exemplifies an incredibly targeted web site.
Contact Information for Michael Russer:

(v) 805-882-1170
(f) 603-720-5823

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

RUSSER Communications:
Joe Thyne's site:
Rick Miner's site:
Google Earth:
Kevin Tomlinson's site: