I’ve served this industry for the past 10 years and a lot has changed, yet stayed the same, through the years. Depending on your geographic location, the economy, history and demographics, your potential clientele pool could be very different from that of a neighboring state or region. If you are committed to landing this sector, you’ll have to put in some time researching it thoroughly.
Step 1: Online Research. Check out the potential real estate professional or home builder website(s), trade magazines, conferences (national and local) that they attend. Look at chamber of commerce events, state and national realtor and home builder organizations and associations. Also if you have friends and family in the industry, make an appointment to interview them about their experience and how they view the current landscape.
Step 2: Reach out to people. Mark O’Brien of Newfangled.com (and author of A Web Site That Works) made a great point at the 2012 CFC/HOW conference in Boston. He encouraged the audience to take two weeks to go through a development process. This process is about reaching out to former, current or perspective clients and asking questions.
Use a recording device so you can pay close attention to the conversation and your list of questions. It will be more efficient and you’ll have a fluid dialogue with your subject.
Step 3: Ask good questions. Start with an easy ice-breaker, such as “I am conducting research on your industry and your perspective is really important to me. Thank you for agreeing to speak with me.” Through this process you’ll not only gain valuable insight into the industry, you won’t be perceived as trying to sell anything, and you’ll still be able to introduce yourself and gain valuable insight.
Here are some other questions you may want to ask:
- How long have you been a ________ (realtor/ broker/in home building)?
- How long have you been with XYZ company?
- What is your favorite part of the job?
- How does one break into the business?
- Who is your advertising and marketing partner? and why?
A great question to end with: "Anything I forgot to ask or you’d like to add?"
In part 2, I'll go over what to do once you've asked those questions. In the meantime, anyone have experience in real estate? How are things going?
And for more on how to target a market, whether real estate, healthcare, arts and culture or even the asphalt industry, read The Designer's Guide to Marketing & Pricing.