Real Estate Customer Life Cycle

Recently, my wife and I have been searching for new tenants for our rental property.   That’s an irritating customer cycle.   We’ve had more no-shows at the showings than we’ve had prospects show up.   Most people who call seem to think that the rent on a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom house with a big yard and a 3 car garage 5 minutes from downtown Minneapolis is going to match their little subsidized Section 8 apartment.

Not going to happen.

So we keep looking.  In the meantime, it’s interesting to look at how a real estate trainer breaks down the life cycle of a customer.

Enjoy!

NEC Online Degrees

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Make Extra Money Part 2: Niche Selection

If you want to make money, help someone get healthy, wealthy or laid.

This section was quick.

Seriously, those three topics have been making people rich since the invention of rich.   Knowing that isn’t enough. If you want to make some money in the health niche, are you going to help people lose weight, add muscle, relieve stress, or reduce the symptoms of some unpleasant medical condition?   Those are called “sub-niches”.  (Side question: Viagra is a sub-niche of which topic?)

Still not enough.

If you’re going to offer a product to help lose weight, does it revolve around diet, exercise, or both?   For medical conditions, is it a way to soothe eczema, instructions for a diabetic diet, a cure for boils, or help with acne?  Those are micro-niches.

That’s where you want to be.  The “make money” niche is far too broad for anyone to effectively compete.  The “make money online” sub-niche is still crazy.  When you get to the “make money buying and selling websites” micro-niche, you’re in a territory that leaves room for competition, without costing thousands of dollars to get involved.

Remember that:  The more narrowly you define your niche market, the easier it is to compete. You can take that too far.  The “lose weight by eating nothing but onions, alfalfa, and imitation caramel sauce” micro-niche is probably too narrowly defined to have a market worth pursuing.  You need a micro-niche with buyers, preferably a lot of them.

Now the hard part.

How do you find a niche with a lot of potential customers?  Big companies pay millions of dollars every year to do that kind of market research.

Naturally, I recommend you spend millions of dollars on market research.

No?

Here’s the part where I make this entire series worth every penny you’ve paid.  Times 10.

Steal the research.

My favorite source of niche market research to steal is http://www.dummies.com/.    Click the link and notice all of the wonderful niches at the top of the page.  Jon Wiley & Sons, Inc. spends millions of dollars to know what topics will be good sellers.  They’ve been doing this a long time. Trust their work.

Niche Research

Click for full-size image

You don’t have to concentrate on the topics I’ve helpfully highlighted, but they will make it easier for you.  Other niches can be profitable, too.

Golf is a great example.  Golfers spend money to play the game.  You don’t become a golfer without having some discretionary money to spend on it.   I’d recommend against consumer electronics.  There is a lot of competition for anything popular, and most of that is available for free.   If you choose to promote some high-end gear using your Amazon affiliate link, you’re still only looking at a 3% commission.

I like to stick to topics that people “need” an answer for, and can find that answer in ebook form, since I will be promoting a specific product.

With that in mind, pick a topic, then click one of the links to the actual titles for sale.   The “best selling titles” links are a gold mine. You can jump straight to the dummies store, if you’d like.

Of the topics above, here’s how I would narrow it down:

1.  Business and Careers. The bestsellers here are Quickbooks and home buying.  I’m not interested in either topic, so I’ll go into “More titles”.   Here, the “urgent” niches look like job hunting and dealing with horrible coworkers.  I’m also going to throw “writing copy” into the list because it’s something I have a hard time with.

Bestsellers

Bestsellers

2.  Health and Fitness. My first thought was to do a site on diabetic cooking, but the cooking niche is too competitive.  Childhood obesity, detox diets and back pain remedies strike me as worth pursuing.  I’m leaning towards back pain, because I have a bad back.  When you’ve thrown your back out, you’ve got nothing to do but lie on the couch and look for ways to make the pain stop.  That’s urgency.

3.  Personal Finance. The topics that look like good bets are foreclosures and bankruptcies.    These are topics that can cost thousands of dollars if you get them wrong.  I hate to promote a bankruptcy, but some people are out of choices.    Foreclosure defense seems like a good choice.   Losing your home comes with a sense of urgency, and helping people stay in their home makes me feel good.

4.  Relationships and Family. Of these topics, divorce is probably a good seller.  Dating advice definitely is.   I’m not going to detail either one of those niches here.  Divorce is depressing and sex, while fun, isn’t a topic I’m going to get into here.   I try to be family friendly, most of the time.    Weddings are great topic.  Brides are planning to spend money and there’s no shortage of resources to promote.

So, the niches I’ve chosen are:

  • Back pain
  • Bankruptcy
  • Conflict resolution at work
  • Detox diets
  • Fat kids
  • Foreclosure avoidance
  • Job hunting
  • Weddings
  • Writing copy

I won’t be building 9 niche sites in this series.    From here, I’m going to explore effective keywords/search terms and good products to support.  There’s no guarantee I’ll find a good product with an affiliate program for a niche I’ve chosen that has keywords that are both highly searched and low competition, so I’m giving myself alternatives.

For those of you following along at home, take some time to find 5-10 niches you’d be willing to promote.

The important things to consider are:

1. Does it make me feel dirty to promote it?

2. Will there be customers willing to spend money on it?

3.  Will those customers have an urgent need to solve a problem?

I’ve built sites that ignore #3, and they don’t perform nearly as well as those that consider it.  When I do niche sites, I promote a specific product.  It’s pure affiliate marketing, so customers willing to spend money are necessarily my target audience.

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Selling Your Home: The Real Estate Agent

If you are not able or willing to sell your home yourself, you’ll need to find a real estate agent.  A realtor is someone who deals with all of the hassles involved in selling your home in exchange for a fee of up to 7% of the selling price.

The hassles include marketing, an objective price analysis, advertising on the internet and in newspapers, providing a yard sign, negotiating the sale price, reviewing and filling out the contracts, and navigating the entire process for you.  The aren’t meaningless duties, so make sure you are getting what you pay for.  You need to find the right realtor for you.

The key to to ask questions, particularly the right questions. You can ask the wrong ones if you’d like, but they tend not to help much.

Helpful questions include:

  • “Can I call your previous clients?” If the answer is no, run away!  If the answer is yes, get the list and call them.
  • “Have you sold any homes near here recently?” Get the names and numbers of the customers and call them.  Find out how it went and what they wish would have happened differently.  If the realtor hasn’t sold nearby homes recently, keep looking.
  • “Will you put your sales strategy in writing?” If it’s not in writing, you may be left paying the full commission, without getting the full promised service.
  • “What will you tell a potential buyer that wants to negotiate?”   Make sure you and your realtor are on the same page.

Now for some secrets that realtors will not volunteer.

  • The selling fee is negotiable.  If you live in a popular development, or if nearby homes have sold quickly, you should be able to get your fee reduced a couple of points.
  • You don’t have to sign an exclusive listing agreement. With an exclusive agreement, you will pay the realtor a fee if the house sells.  Period.  With a non-exclusive agreement, you can list with several agents and only pay the one who actually sells your house.  If you find the buyer, you won’t pay a selling commission at all.

Selling your house can be intimidating and realtors are there to make the task easier for you.   Have you had any problems with real estate agents?

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