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From Mundane to Wow!

James L. Katz
Surprising everyday items can help you make the sale.

Who’d guess that handing out $3 tins of mints would result in two waterfront property listings totaling more than $3.2 million?

What may seem like a fluke actually took careful planning, thorough market research and deliberate geographic selection, says James L. Katz, the broker who came up with the idea.

His secret? He blends self-promotion with practicality. Katz designs items that are handy so his potential customers and clients will keep them, use them, see his name on a routine basis—and call him when they’re ready to buy or sell.

Katz worked as a sales associate for several years with another company before opening Katz Realty Group in Aventura last March. Based on the success of his mint promotion, he projects 65 to 70 percent of his sales—at least $15 to $18 million a year—will come from similar projects. And he’s willing to lay out the cash to achieve the objective. So far, he’s spent $2,000 to $3,000 per month.

The ideas were 25 years in the making, says Katz, whose father, a 35-year real estate industry veteran, also took pride in his marketing approach. “Coming up with ideas is a full-time job,” Katz says. Here’s his strategy:

1. Test-market Concepts
First, Katz tries out his ideas on 25 handpicked friends and family members. “I ask them, ‘Would you throw this out if it came from a sales associate you didn’t know?’” If they say yes, he scraps the plan.

“Don’t fall in love with an idea,” he says. “If [your test group] doesn’t like it, try another one until you get an overwhelmingly positive response.”

One day he asked his wife for a mint and she pulled out a tin. “I said, ‘Honey, what if that tin of mints had my logo on it? Would you [keep it] if it came in the mail as a promotion?’ [She said], ‘Absolutely!’”

With a little more thought, he came up with the slogan, “Don’t let your next real estate deal leave a bad taste in your mouth!”

Katz brands all his promotions with his logo and contact information. Even his phone number bears his name: (305) 932-KATZ.

The tins cost $3 apiece—$1,500 for 500—and mailing costs, including a padded envelope and a pen, brought his costs to $2,500. Within two weeks of sending the tins to his target area, Katz had two listings—one for $2.3 million and another for $900,000. He’s also received calls from people who loved the promotion and plan to call him when they’re ready to list.

2. Justify Your Worth
Katz believes in persuading people he’s worth the sales commission, which is imperative for his target audience of high-end property owners. His mint tin promotion included a postcard that said, “If you thought this marketing was clever, imagine what I could do with your home!”

3. Give Useful Items
To hit your own home run, always consider the customers’ and clients’ daily needs, Katz says. His latest brainchild is 100 USB chips that come on a key chain, adorned with his logo. Each chip costs $18 and holds up to 256 megabytes of data, and he loads his clients’ and customers’ closing documents on them. “When an accountant or attorney asks to see their closing documents, they’ll have them at their fingertips,” he says, adding that the USB chips can also hold photographs and other documents.

Most importantly, Katz says, is to follow through after you’ve sent a promotional item. “No promotion, no matter how creative, can take a [transaction] to the closing table on its own.”