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Offer Creative Incentives to Jump Start Sales/Users/adamp/Desktop/MAR_IMGS/YouInc

When old-school advertising isn’t working, offer buyers and sales associates creative incentives to spark interest in your properties.

That’s how Carol Marra perked up her sales in 2006, when she realized that traditional advertising methods were no longer generating interest in her listings. She circulated fliers to her competitors, advertising incentives if their buyers closed transactions with her sellers.

She’s seen a 10 percent increase in the number of showings for her listings and comfortably stayed on par, with about $3 million in annual sales in both 2006 and 2007. And the fliers cost pennies on the dollar—just 10 cents apiece for printed ones and $70 to design and send an e-mail blast, Marra says.

“Most of the incentives I offer have evolved [as] I’ve learned what gets me showings,” says Marra, a sales associate with the Lakewood Ranch office of Keller Williams Realty in Sarasota.
Here’s how to design an incentive campaign:

1. Appeal to the Right Group
“A $200,000 home is different from one that’s $500,000. For some reason, the lower [priced] the home, the [better the incentive of cash back to the buyer seems to work … ,” Marra says. “It may be that the person tends to be conscientious about the cash—maybe they don’t have enough for a large down payment and need the dollars more. An incentive like paying for partial closing costs is good for them.”

Be creative: You could offer a flat fee to the successful agent, thus increasing showings and moving more properties more quickly, she says. Marra offered a $1,500 fee for the sale of a $600,000 property in 2006, which resulted in the sale.

Another incentive is a straight price reduction, rather than a cash-back offer. Marra has found that this is more effective with higher-end customers, who focus on the deal itself. Or, suppose your customers are selling an investment property. Offer a Lowe’s gift certificate toward home improvements, Marra says.

Each month, assess the strength of the incentive based on the number of showings, she adds.

2. Highlight the Hook
The selling point of the home should be prominent, and the incentive, while also important, should be secondary. Does the home have a beautiful elevation? A fantastic pool party area? Feature a vibrant photograph, with incentive information beneath.

Marra uses her home computer to print fliers that she takes to other brokerages. She also hires a company that designs a digital flier, which it then e-mails to Sarasota sales associates.

3. Get the Word Out
Marra first circulates word about any incentives through a caravan tour. Then she attends networking events, like builders’ luncheons, where sales associates will be in attendance. “I’ve gotten showings just by saying, ‘Hey, I’ve got a great pool home priced right.’ It sticks in the mind better. Then, I mention the incentive,” she says.

In invitations to her open houses, she also mentions any incentives, plus any treats to be offered at the open house, like scratch-off lottery tickets.

Marra plans on continuing her effort in 2008. But each incentive may be different than the last, she adds. “Ideas have to shift with the market, and you can never remain stagnant. Always reach for the next great idea, because if that brings a buyer, so be it,” she says.