It's Time to Start Selling to the Real Estate Industry
In the real estate business, hospitality is key. When people are searching for their future home, they want to feel comfortable, not only with the physical place they will be living in, but also with the person they hire to help them find it. This is what makes the job of a real estate agent so important. Their work doesn’t begin with a tour and end with a signature. No, rather it is a long and complicated process that has everything to do with impressions and, once again, hospitality. Here’s where you come in.
A Perfect Match
While a good attitude and friendly demeanor can certainly go a long way alone, there are certain tools that real estate agents rely on every day to get the job done—one of which is promotional products. These tools can serve multiple purposes, acting as marketing, such as a lawn sign; tools, like a tape measure; gifts, such as a crock-pot; or even all of these, such as a branded kitchen knife. There are a lot of clauses in that sentence, but we felt that would reflect the utility of promotional products in the real estate business. See what we did there?
Anyway, real estate agents depend on promotional products every day, which makes them valuable clients in the promo industry.
Dan Kielman, vice president of sales and marketing for American Made Cutlery, Waverly, Iowa, elaborated on the use of promotional products in real estate and why agents pay close attention to what purpose a product can serve their clients.
“Real estate agents want to give gifts that serve both as a reminder and as a way to contact them when their client is ready to sell or buy their next home,” he said. “This means the gift needs to be something useful that won’t be thrown away and be able to be found when needed. For all of those reasons, kitchen knives, cooking utensils and cutlery gift sets make ideal real estate promotional products.”
In fact, the real estate industry is pretty much a perfect match for the promo business. Just ask Kielman, whose own experience working face-to-face with realtors has shown him just how much the two industries rely on each other for business.
“Real estate is a competitive field and so the salespeople are looking for ways to grow relationships and be remembered,” he explained. “They are also accustomed to advertising to build their personal brand awareness. These conditions make realtors a perfect match for promotional product advertising.”
There’s obviously a lot of consideration that goes into a real estate agent’s decision as to which promotional products they will need, and for what specific purpose, in order to get the job done. Lucky for them, there’s a wide range of products available to fulfill even the most specific of needs.
John King, owner of AIA-LogoMotions, Seattle, Wash., broke down some of the categories real estate agents use when narrowing down what promotional products they need. “The most common categories are broker gifts, new home buyer welcome gifts such as ‘home’ goods like cheese sets, cutting boards, tool kits and wine glasses,” he explained. “For agents or mortgage lenders, practical desk items such as pens, notepads and mugs, as well as items for their vehicles like phone chargers and travel mugs.”
Just gazing at this rather cursory list can be enough to make one dizzy, but it proves a point: The promo industry has a ton of options to offer to realtors who are eager to put their names and brands onto quality, even high-end products.
That being said, it can be overwhelming for inexperienced distributors looking to get into the business of selling into the real estate industry. What kind of products are realtors looking for? How much are they willing to spend? How do you get in touch with realtors, a notoriously busy bunch? These questions, among many others, are enough to discourage anyone.
Breaking the Ice
Luckily, our professionals were willing to offer some valuable advice to promotional products distributors looking to break into the real estate market.
“I would start by researching any contacts that you might have in the broader industry via LinkedIn connections,” said King. “Starting with the real estate company and mortgage lender that you used for your own home purchase is always a great place to begin as well, because you are a customer of theirs and they will typically be glad to direct you to the proper contacts.”
Kielman offered his advice as well, pointing out that distributors, once they’ve made contact with a realtor or real estate agency, can stick to similar sales tactics when approaching them with a business proposal. “It is typical solution selling where you help the realtor understand why shifting their marketing dollars to promotional products will help them accomplish their goals of getting new and repeat business,” he said.
Land of Opportunity
Overall, there are ample opportunities for the promotional products industry to increase its foothold in real estate. For 2018, however, there are some things to look out for in order to ensure success. According to Dan Kielman, rate hikes for the upcoming year will encourage more and more home buyers to purchase their homes, meaning that realtors want to get in on this business, and fast. What does this mean for the promo industry? Kielman cleared this one up for us.
“As rates start to nudge up, it is likely to create more demand—buyers will feel the urgency to lock in rates by making their purchase,” he clarified. “Any distributor that can help their realtor clients develop solutions to capitalize on this environment is likely to write new business.”
Despite the pressure, the market is practically bursting with positivity and opportunity. King was equally optimistic, especially for distributors just starting out with the real estate industry.
“In my area of the Pacific Northwest, the real estate market is on fire, so it’s a fertile category to tap into,” he said. “Start with your low-hanging fruit of contacts to see who they could introduce you to in the industry. Have fun with it!” What more do you need? Get out there and sell."