Farming with a custom real estate publication improves brand awareness and supercharges lead generation

Innovation starts with challenges

In 1993, a struggling real estate professional and single father came home to a dark house. The electricity had been cut because he couldn’t pay the bill. That same week, the youngest of his four children came home without school pictures – because the $14 fee hadn’t been paid. The man was a year into the real estate business and worse off than when he had started.

He realized he needed to change his approach. After tucking in the kids that night, he sat in his special chair with a flashlight and began scribbling endless notes about prospecting, generating leads, converting them, and the cost of it all. He was familiar with the idea of “farming” but had never done it well. He’d tried sporadic postcard mailings, which hadn’t paid off.

I need to do something different, he thought. Something no one else is doing, something people will actually pick up and read – and remember.

That’s when it dawned on him. A local publication! Not a new idea, but a novel idea for a real estate agent, especially in 1993.

He created a 12-page local publication in Worthington, Ohio, by teaching himself how to use desktop publishing software. He wrote the articles, took pictures, and compiled a really nice little local paper. The problem? It took a month to put together, the sizing was off for Web Press Printing, and he had no clue how to mail it.

At that moment, with his 12-page real estate publication design file and nothing else, he faced a crossroads. He could continue in real estate with the same old easy-to-use tools (postcards, door-knocking, calendars), or create a really effective tool and share it with the industry. With all the effort involved in publishing, he knew he couldn’t do both. He chose the latter, took out a $3,500 loan, and got to work.

That man was Leo – our founder here at Discover Publications. Over 25 years ago, when he made the decision create turn-key direct mail real estate publications, he had no idea he would change the farming game forever.

What’s so great about a real estate publication?

The power of Leo’s custom real estate publication  – as opposed to, for instance, postcards – is that it strongly develops a brand, but does not blatantly appear as though it’s trying to. The valuable content of a local real estate publication is what homeowners notice – an agent’s brand is always there, but never as a blunt hard sell (that so often just turns people away). This is why a custom publication brings reliable, measurable growth.

When Leo Zupan first conceived a custom publication back in 1993, it took many years before the company realized all of the facets this powerful marketing tool could encompass and engender – and most especially, the many ways it can benefit top agents. Here are the most important.

1. Thought Leadership

To utilize a custom paper as a thought leadership platform, Discover Pubs works with real estate agents to provide personalized articles, custom market stats, event calendars, and hyper-local, custom-written stories that deliver the agent as a true Thought Leader. The agent becomes an Expert Agent who consistently, month after month, provides local and relevant information, insight, ideas, and even a little entertainment to your local community.

This positions real estate agents as an experienced, reliable, credible leading experts in the market. In conjunction, brand awareness is deepened (with the agent’s name, face, and logo above the fold), even if their paper is tossed after a quick glance.

2. Market Domination

For many decades, top-producing agents in almost every state have come to know and appreciate the results that come from farming with a custom real estate publication.

Discover provides all the content (except the listings, logos, and headshots), and customizes each edition with articles, stats, listings, and other local features. Through frequent and consistent marketing, homeowners begin to know and trust the agent.

After receiving 6-8 mailings, the agent is top of mind when a homeowner is ready to sell. They may not be the only agent top of mind, but consistent farming, at a minimum, puts them on the short list. Many of these sellers have had poor experiences with agents in the past, and want to work with a real pro on their next go-around.

Sellers have told agents at listing appointments that because of consistently receiving the publication, coupled with all the “For Sale” signs around the neighborhood, they remembered the agent, associated them with success, and were compelled to get in touch.

Discover’s reps have heard so many stories like this. By regularly sending a direct mail real estate publication, most agents break even on the total cost after about 6 months. After 2 years, the numbers are much more impressive (upwards of 200-400% ROI reported). This is because as the market turns over, sellers ready to list in the later stages of an agent’s farming have received 6-8 (or more) touch-points.

Over time, top agents who farm with custom publications are able to not only maintain their hard-won market-share, but to truly dominate their market as the leading agent.

You can view a case study here to see how other top agents have dominated their markets with the help of a custom paper.

3. Community Engagement

Business growth aside, a custom publication is an important way for top agents to engage with the local community. Many agents use their paper to promote seminars and special events in their farm area. It’s also a great way to expand your sphere of influence by promoting local charities & volunteer opportunities, while supporting causes important to you and your company.

Many agents come to appreciate how they can really make a difference in their communities, while also reaping the financial rewards from aggressive marketing. Beyond just listings and GCI, publishing a paper enables agents to connect with their community at a deeper level than before.

One often overlooked advantage to publishing a real estate publication is that agents don’t have to foot the entire bill. With so much space in the paper, agents can (and should) invite their closest vendors to buy an ad. A substantial element of Discover’s program is the benefit of advertising and offsetting the price  – on average, by about 30%. Beyond the resultant greater affordability by leveraging vendors, advertising also cultivates and nurtures strong relationships with service providers.

4. Additional Benefits

Publishing a local real estate publication to thousands of homes in a targeted community brings agents a steady stream of leads and listings, and offers multiple additional avenues to capitalize on.
Agents who choose to publish with Discover can also benefit from a turn-key system. This means agents do not need to write, design, print, or mail their paper; all of this is done for them. Discover has specialized in this single tool for over two decades, giving agents reassurance that it is built to perform. Discover also grants Territory Exclusivity to clients who mail consistently.

5. Getting started with a custom publication

Publishing a custom real estate publication is much easier than many agents might think. With Discover, it’s as simple as conducting a single 1-hour setup call and then providing a few materials for each mailing.
You can learn more about publishing a paper here, and look to see if the territories you farm are open and available now. 

Contact us today!

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