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What’s the best way to get listings – marketing or prospecting?

It’s an age-old debate in real estate. While the end goal of most agents is to have an attraction business, how to get there isn’t always agreed upon (heck, even industry leaders can’t seem to agree!). 

James Tostevin lives and dies by his prospecting, as does million dollar agent Hanan Cawley. Others, like $10M agent Alex Jordan invest heavily in marketing and some go so far to say they’ve never made a single prospecting call, just like Bayside Property Agents’ Luke Humphrys.

But like so many arguments, it doesn’t have to be a case of either/or. In fact, often a combination of both is the driver of success. So, when should you prioritise one of the other? We break it down below. 

You have a limited budget. 

When you’re starting out in real estate or starting your own agency you may have less free cash lying around to invest in marketing. If this is you, prospecting should be your go to. Strike that, it should be your non-negotiable. 

Every morning, your day should start with prospecting calls. No exceptions. To ensure your prospecting time doesn’t get bumped, add a repeating prospecting block in your calendar and let your team know that no meetings should be scheduled during that time. 

But I have buyers to follow up,” I hear you say. They can wait until your calls are done.

I’ve got enough listings now!”. I call bullsh*t. And even if you do, if you’re not prospecting while you have listings, what happens when they sell. If you’re like me, you don’t want your career or your income to be a roller coaster, and prospecting will keep you on the straight and narrow.

I’m scared/don’t like/would rather lick the toilet than prospect!”. Fair enough. Most of us don’t love prospecting but if you don’t have the budget for serious marketing you’re going to have to find a way to make prospecting palatable. The great news is though, that the more you do it the better you’ll get at it.

Want some prospecting tips? Watch Hanan Cawley below – he’s gone from 0 to over $1.5m twice from prospecting alone.

You have the budget to invest in marketing

Great! You’re on your way to building a brand that people will remember. But there are a few catches. 

To make marketing work without the support of prospecting, you’re going to need a big budget and even stronger willpower – marketing momentum takes time to build and many agents pull their campaigns when leads aren’t coming through straight away. Don’t do this. If you think you will, scroll back up to the previous section and get those phone fingers and your vocal chords warmed up. 

Have the discipline to invest in marketing? Here’s some advice to follow. 

Focus your marketing on your core suburbs. Ideally, you want to hit at least 25% market share in each suburb to become the market leader. And the more Sale (and Sold signs) in that suburb, the more attraction will build. To achieve this you want to reach as many people in that suburb as many times per month as your budget will allow.  

Run brand building and lead generation campaigns. Brand building campaigns are those which don’t have a direct response or call to action. Think billboards, market reports, content featuring local businesses, school and sporting team sponsorships – anything that gets your name and your brand recognised.

Lead generation campaigns build on your brand campaign, and have a more direct response. For example, appraisal requests, just listed and just solds with an ‘interested in selling’ call to action, ‘what’s your property worth’ social ads etc. Again, these should be targeted to your core areas. 

Want to become the Maccas of your core suburb without prospecting calls? See how Luke Humphrys did it below:


Really want to fly? It’s best to do both. 

Like everything in life, it shouldn’t come down to one or the other. The best results come when the two approaches are combined. Here’s an example from a few days ago.

I got home and saw an A4 folded letter in my mailbox. It was from a local agent talking about how the house 3 doors down had sold, with the price, and a soft call to action about now being a great time to sell. Within seconds, it was in the bin. 

Two days later, my phone rang. It was the same agent, calling to talk about the interest in the property, the high number of registered bidders at the auction and the buyers who missed out. 

Because I’d been primed by the letter (and other billboards and sale signs I’d seen over time), I was receptive to the call. 

On the other hand, if the call had been made in isolation, it wouldn’t have been as impactful. As for the letter alone? I’d forgotten about it until I answered that call.

So the key to success is doing both. Your unique circumstances might change where you start but you should always look to introduce both prospecting and marketing into your business. 

And when prospects start calling you, don’t stop.

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