Aaron Seawood, Mark Choey and Dee Dee Guggenheim Howes discuss the importance of specialization to grow their businesses.
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When it comes to finding a niche, your own life will point the way, panelists told attendees at Inman Connect New York on Tuesday.
“I don’t think you can find a niche,” Aaron Seawood of New York City-based brokerage Triplemint said in a session called “Finding and Dominating Your Niche.”
“I think that you can surface a niche. You think about the things that you’re strong at, you think about the things you care about, things you’re passionate about. And then from there you can kind of work from a process of elimination.”
He compared it to narrowing from a floodlight to a laser.
“The laser is your niche,” he said. “Start here really wide, you narrow, and once you get there, then you fully immerse yourself. Then you dive all the way in. You learn it, you absorb it, and then that way you can share it.”
Seawood said he started out in high-end rentals, which led to high-end buyers, and now he specializes in clients who are celebrities, athletes and entertainers.
“Don’t feel intimidated that you can’t helicopter someone into the Hamptons,” he said. “You can still be thoughtful and niche with a thoughtful email. You can be thoughtful in your phone calls. You can send them a get well package. Get in where you fit in.”
Mark Choey, founder of Climb Real Estate and HighNote Labs, encouraged agents to “own that one category” when they find their niche. For his brokerage, it was condos in the South of Market area of San Francisco.
“We built a blog around it and we did social media around it and everything I talked about was that, only that,” he said. “This new building going up. What are the price points? What are the pros and cons of this building versus that building? What are the neighborhoods? We really became known as the condo experts.”
Choey himself moved into one of the buildings in the area.
“You live there,” he said. “Because 25 percent of time you meet a seller, they go with you just because you live in the neighborhood. They’re like, ‘Well, you live here, so you must like it. You can sell it best.’”
Lifestyle is key to connecting with clients, according to Dee Dee Guggenheim Howes, a Compass agent in Houston who specializes in luxury properties.
“I live that life,” she said. “I attract that client, but I use a lot of social media. What I do takes a lot of planning. We know a week out for the entire next month what we’re going to post in social media. We hope it includes a lot of media about us having sold the most expensive home or somebody that we helped, maybe a celebrity.
“But primarily, it’s about connecting with them and letting them know that I live the same lifestyle, or at least letting them think I do.”
For instance, Guggenheim Howes belong to a local club where she plays pickleball and uses that to connect with potential clients on social media.
“It’s so fun, and everybody moved last year to get more land to build the court or put it in their driveway,” she said. “But that’s how I relate to my clients, through a hobby, and so whether it’s pickleball or anything at all, you just have to find that niche. Find that hobby and use it to make that connection.”
Know your client and stay focused on that client, she added.
“Make sure that you let them see that your lifestyle aligns with their lifestyle and with that, your connection’s immediate,” she said.
Choey encouraged agents to really focus their companies on one thing, which he called “niching down.”
“You can’t do everything and that’s why it’s so important to really pick one thing that you’re going to be great at,” he said.