Don’t cast your net wider … go where the fish are.
When you work in a saturated market, how do you set yourself apart from the competition? Common sense says that if you send out more marketing, take out more ads, and cold call more people, you’re sure to land more clients. But that strategy runs the risk of getting your message lost in the noise. The key to standing out from the pack involves narrowing your focus on a smaller group. It’s called defining a niche, and it’s a powerful tool for building your client base.
In simple terms, a niche is just a specific segment of a larger market. And you don’t have to look farther than your television for a good example of this. HGTV has a roster of talented home improvement and real estate professionals who all work within the network’s format of “fix your old house or find a new one.” But within that large genre, its stars have carved out very specific, recognizable niches. Chip and Joanna Gaines built an empire not by performing high-dollar renovations on mansions one week and building vacation homes the next … they stuck to what they knew, which was renovating mid-priced houses in Central Texas.
In other words, by rejecting the common advice to “Think big!” when building your business, you can differentiate yourself from the competition by offering specific, deep expertise to a targeted client base, instead of trying to be all things to all people.
In a word, yes. Once you start breaking down the real estate market into its many component parts, you’ll see that you’re not that limited when it comes to limiting your targeted scope!
All of these are examples of types of niches that you can specialize in, and you can probably think of more:
Disability- or senior-friendly
Generational groups (millennials, baby boomers)
You can get even more targeted by combining different niches, like specializing in first-time buyers looking to live in specific suburbs, or positioning yourself as the expert negotiator for investor clients looking to purchase luxury properties.
Once you’ve found your niche, you can dig in and develop the value-added service and expertise that will set you apart from your competition. And as your reputation builds, word of mouth will bring in even more clients.
Don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you when you start to explore niches. Apply some of these tried-and-true methods to succeed in a crowded market.
Research local demographics. Are you in a college town full of first-time buyers? A sunbelt city that attracts retirees looking to downsize? Are there underserved groups in your area that need someone to represent their interests? All of these are possible markets to tap.
Play to your strengths. If you’re passionate about saving the environment, become the go-to professional for finding (and marketing) eco-friendly housing. If you’re addicted to home improvement shows, build yourself a market (no pun intended) in fixer uppers. Find something you’re passionate about, and let that spark your business strategy.
Check your networks. If you’re part of an alumni association, community organization, sports league, or parent group, you may be connecting with potential clients every day without thinking about it, and you already know those clients’ interests and concerns. Those personal links can be the basis of a solid niche!
Get Schooled. Certifications and continuing education programs can help you master the ins and outs of a specific market base and may even point you toward a niche you weren’t aware of. You can earn certification as a specialist in green homes, or in real estate marketing, or as an accredited buyer's agent, or in many other areas, which gives you credibility (and marketability) in these niches.
Deviate from the competition. Even a snowbird heaven can have too many professionals flocking around the retirees. If one market is already saturated with representation, focus on a more specialized or underserved market segment.
Don’t get stuck in a rut. After all this talk of creating a niche, this may sound counterintuitive, but recognize that business strategies need to evolve with the market. Keep an eye on your metrics (profits, client numbers, referrals) to evaluate if your niche is working for you. If not, go back through this list and course correct as needed.