The most commonly discussed long-term method of prospecting is farming. A farm can be a geographic area, such as a particular neighborhood or area around a particular school, or it can be a property type, such as historic homes, farms, vacant lots, or town homes. The downside to farming is that you will need to contact the same group over and over until they begin to recognize you. It may take a year to eighteen months to actually see any results from your work. The upside to farming is that once you become known as the specialist in that area or property type, it becomes very difficult for another Realtor to unseat you.
In order for farming to work, whether you’re targeting a geographic area or targeting a type of property, you must be consistent in your message and you must be in front of the group regularly.
The most effective farming, like everything else, is face to face. If face to face is impractical, you can try mixing methods. Try interspersing phone calls to the farm and mailing to the farm. Simply mailing to the group will take far longer to build any sort of relationship. Remember what we discussed earlier in this book about those individuals who open their mail over an open garbage can. You may never impact many of the people in your farm area simply by mailing.
One of the country’s top sales trainers and an incredible motivational speaker, Tom Hopkins, was a master of farming. He would visit the same geographic area on a monthly basis, meeting each owner in person. His consistent effort to be in front of his farm area led him to be one of the top real estate professionals in the country.
One of the stories about Tom Hopkins that is most often repeated in real estate circles is how Tom hired neighborhood kids one year to help him deliver pumpkins to everyone in his farm area. He was so well remembered for the pumpkins that he put a picture of a pumpkin on his business card.