In my last post, I outlined the research you must do as step one if you're interested in breaking into the real estate market as a designer or other creative freelancer.
Once that research is done, once you’ve conducted the interviews, it's time to step back, take stock and then ask yourself some questions as well:
- Can I afford to work with this industry?
- Do I have 3-6-12 months to invest to possibly land a potential client?
- Will they fit into my current workload?
In my region I have found five points very high on the priority list if you are looking to partner with a real estate professional:
- Research and partnering. Research was covered in my last post. But this step also includes building a relationship and being genuinely interested in your client’s success. There are some real estate professionals that just need one job done here or there which is a great way to get your foot in the door, but the real money is in cultivating a steady stream of ongoing jobs, in which that company perceives you as a valuable partner who cares about the success of their business. (In fact, that could probably be said for just about any industry.)
- Provide creative solutions. Always be on the look out for ways of presenting their brand through advertising and marketing that will build on what they’ve already accomplished. Suggest what needs to be tweaked, upgraded or completely dissolved if it isn’t growing their brand or business as long as it coincides with their mission and marketing goals. Fit in a social marketing campaign if their budget will allow as well. With 90-95% of women as the final decision maker of new home sales today, the social marketplace is a great way to connect with this sector and raise awareness for real estate professionals.
- Be budget savvy. When you keep their budget in mind, they’ll want to return to you for more projects and campaigns. In the last 5-10 years some larger companies have had to downsize considerably because of the economy. They may no longer be able to afford a large ad agency, so the opportunity to partner with a creative professional like you who will offer these same services at a fraction of the cost is very enticing to them.
- Talk numbers. When the opportunity arises, don’t be afraid to communicate costs and return on investment. Be prepared for those conversations. You should know what kind of budgets your potential client is working with, what you can afford to do and not do for them. If you don’t, go back to researching. Never be afraid you are asking too many questions. Your beautiful presentation and eloquent speech will do little to win over real estate professionals when it is time to close the deal on a new project or campaign if you don’t know the cost. They’ll be more interested if you show you are prepared from beginning to end.
- Be ready with a contract. Their world is filled with contracts and numbers so don’t forget to use them. It will keep everyone on the same page, hinder scope creep and get you paid along the way. Remember, these folks are used to reviewing contracts almost daily and they eat numbers for breakfast. Speak their language, make it easy to communicate and have all the appropriate paperwork handy when you need it.
As with any new industry, there is always a lot to learn. Within the real estate industry there are solo realtors, brokerages, custom home builders, multi-state and large national builders and more. If you are a solopreneur and you have your heart set on working with a national builder, you may want to start with a smaller builder first. Or try freelancing for a larger advertising/marketing agency that has these types of clients already.
I truly believe if you take the time, research your local landscape, there may be a lucrative niche within the real estate industry perfect for you to grow your business.
Good luck and let me know how it goes!