Inner Circle E-Lesson: Who’s your best prospect?

Who’s Your Best Prospect?

There’s a super-important step to effective marketing that people seem to skip right past when they’re thinking about attracting sellers, buyers, renters, partners, etc.

As you may have heard me say before, there are three things that work together to make marketing “work”—

  1. Having the right message
  2. Putting it in the right medium
  3. Getting it front of the right people

I’m going to deal with issues of message and medium in upcoming weeks and on Thursday night’s webinar (register at, but when you think about it, deciding what message to convey and how is kind of dependent on WHO “the right people” are.

You wouldn’t, for instance, create a website if your prospective customer was likely to be in his 80s. You wouldn’t send a letter about avoiding foreclosure to a landlord with a paid-off property. You wouldn’t spend 20 hours creating a campaign to any group of people that you didn’t already know you had a way of reaching.

So, really, the first step in creating ANY marketing, whether to prospective sellers, renters, buyers, partners, and so on, is figure out how you’re going to reach that person, and THAT’s a matter of thinking through who your ideal prospect is and what he does on a day to day basis.

I like to ask myself these questions:

What kinds of situations are likely to be motivating my best prospects? (We know that things like foreclosure, job loss, divorce, bad tenants, and so on motivate sellers; buyers are often motivated by positive life changes like new babies or new jobs; private lenders might be motivated by an unstable stock market, impending retirement, or a sudden inheritance)

What kinds of jobs are they likely to hold? Is there a company nearby that might employ a lot of my prospects? (I know an apartment manager who fills his efficiency units entirely by putting up flyers at nearby teaching hospitals, and several in college areas that use the same strategy by advertising in the cheap campus paper)

Are there professionals that my prospects are likely to consult? (Financial planner for private lenders, attorneys for executors of estates etc)

In what ways would by prospect most likely be looking for my service? (Most prospective tenants think Craigslist first. Most buyers check Zillow and call an agent. )

Are they likely to be near a certain location often? (For instance, rehabber buyers for wholesale deals are at Lowes or Home Depot at least once a day.  If you have a college rental available, you know exactly where your prospects are, at least from 9 am-3 pm)

Are they likely to be involved in some sort of legal action? (Evictions, divorce, bankruptcy, foreclosure, probate)

Is there a non-profit or governmental agency that serves my prospects? (Credit counselors, Red Cross if you’re willing to provide emergency housing to people who’ve been displaced by fire etc, Section 8)

Is there a professional organization that serves my prospects? (The local bar association, if marketing to attorneys to buy their client’s homes, the local mortgage broker’s association, if marketing to mortgage brokers to find not-quite-qualified for a mortgage lease/option buyers, your local REIA association, if looking for buyers for wholesale deals)

Is there a publication that takes advertising that specifically serves my prospects? (Realtor

magazines, your REIA group’s newsletter, publications of your prospect’s professional organization)

Is there a publically-accessible website or websites that sell advertising that specifically serve my prospects? (Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist,, your REIA group’s site)

Is there anything that they own in common? (Potential private lenders might own CDs)

In talking to my colleagues, are they finding that their customers for the same service have things in common?

The purpose of this brainstorming exercise is, of course, to figure out the most effective (and least expensive) ways in which to reach out to your  prospects. For instance, if your goal is to market to probate properties, and you find that you can’t easily get a list of probates in your area, your next step might be to see if you can get a list of probate ATTORNEYS, or perhaps advertise in the local Bar Association magazine, or otherwise reach out to executors through the professionals that serve them.

Don’t skip this important step in your marketing. It will save you from a lot of expensive mistakes and wasted time, like the time I decided to target Doctors for a particular campaign, spend hours designing an ad for their local trade journal, and then discovered that it didn’t accept outside advertising. Yeah. I did that.

Until you understand who your prospect is and how to reach him, you can’t do a good job designing the right marketing to get him to do business with you.



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