2021 Low/No-Cost Marketing Ideas

Traditionally, the best source of free leads has been Cold calling and Door Knocking – but let’s be honest. Those aren’t the only methods to choose from and they may not work as well as they used to.

Below are over 20 tried and tested low or no cost marketing ideas for generating leads that result in revenue, even during a pandemic! Let’s start with a complete checklist of free lead gen ideas broken down by must-haves and nice-to-haves. How many of these are you already using? Which ones would be the easiest to integrate with your current lead management system?

The Must-Haves

Past clients

SOI

Referrals

Reviews

FSBOs

Partner with a lender and attorney

Open House

Landing pages

Drip email sequence

The Nice-to-Haves

Phone duty Video content Virtual tours and open houses Volunteer, speak at, or attend free community events FRBOs Moving companies Marriage announcements Start a blog Contribute to articles, podcasts and publications Connect on social media Answer questions on Quora Door knocking Cold calling Zoom housewarming party

So Where to Get Real Estate Leads Post-2020

#1. Office On Call Phone Duty – Great for Warm Buyer Leads.

Sometimes old school is the best school. Most agents never considered it because it seemed old school. I know that agents hate traditional phone duty because they have to sit in the office and answer the phone. One reason agents become agents is so that they’re not chained to a desk But, the results are undeniable. Agents found that people that call in want to talk with an agent right now. They don’t want to talk to a receptionist, or a Client Concierge, they want to talk with a knowledgeable agent. Since you are immediately satisfying that need, your conversions go through the roof. We were converting around 1/3 receptionist call-ins in the past. We’re now converting almost 100% of the qualified inbound calls. It’s been a massive success. Set up a virtual phone duty with your broker. Follow simple rules like ‘don’t schedule an appointment’ and ‘pull over to talk if the call you take is a lead. Record all of the calls to identify opportunities for improvement.

#2. Video Content – Best Way to Consistently Generate Free Leads.

Video is quickly becoming a winning formula for real estate marketing. Shoot a video titled Why You Should Move to (your town) that introduces you as your town’s ambassador and will bring you two to five property deals over time. So, what’s the secret formula for creating irresistible video content? Everyone should have a YouTube channel and create playlists that focus on the community, sellers and buyers and quick tips. create both professional and iPhone videos. I know that not everyone is comfortable with staring into the camera, but the way she sees it, we’ve already spent most of 2020 living through an uncomfortable reality.  We have to get comfortable being uncomfortable, right?

#3. Video Housewarming Party – An Instant Source of Free Warm Leads.

For clients concerned about having anyone in their home and maintaining social distancing protocols, their agent can plan and host a video ‘housewarming party’ on Zoom. This obviously works well for those clients who are not as tech savvy or aren’t already regularly using video conferencing. A housewarming party you can attend in your pajamas? Who could say no to that? It’s a great way for the agent to bring additional value to their client and meet the client’s potential referrals for additional business.

Bonus Pandemic Tips. Branded face masks and hand sanitizer.

Connector of community support resources: who has senior shopping hours, who has opened a pop up food bank, what restaurants are delivering meals to high risk people, etc. Volunteering!

Community good-will political debate station. Virtual video open houses (marketed on social media) Concierge video home tours (marketed on social media) Hosting a socially distanced, mask-on, Halloween party for kids in your sphere.

It’s amazing how creative you can get when faced with a new challenge. Of course, there are also those classic, reliable sources of real estate leads you should always be working into your strategy.

#4. Smile, Dial, Email – Timeless Lead Gen for Unprecedented Times.

When Covid first hit even I started calling and spoke to more people than I ever could have imagined because most everyone was at home at lockdown.  No secret sauce, just consistently smiling and dialing. Your goal comes  to get 5 nurtures a day minimum and to keep building my weekly email. One coaching client closed 10 transactions 30% of my business from a weekly email this year. 10 transactions from an email newsletter? There’s literally no reason not to do this.

#5. Client & Agent Referrals – Best Way to Get Quality Leads, Totally Free.

According to the NAR, 64% of sellers found their agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor, or relative—or used an agent they had worked with before to buy or sell a home. Referrals cost you nothing—all you have to do is stay connected with the people you know and make sure that you’re top of mind when they or someone they know decide to transact.  What could be easier (or cheaper!) than that, right? Repeat and no fee referrals are always the most profitable and reliable. All my coaching clients generate 50-85% of their business from this source.”

#6. The Property Neighbors’ Sphere of Influence – A Completely Original Source for Trusted Referrals.

Everyone talks about taking advantage of your sphere of influence, but have you ever considered reverse engineering the sphere of influence of a neighbourhood to get new listings? Here’s how you do it: When your buyer looks at a property in a neighbourhood but doesn’t buy the property, statistically a new listing is going to come up in that neighbourhood in the next 30 days and you’ve got what the potential seller wants…buyers. This is when you should send out a letter to the neighbourhood and call the neighbours with the same message/dialogue.

Hi (neighbor),

My name is (Agent Name) and I work with (Brokerage Name) and I just wanted to let you know that I showed your neighbor’s property over at (Address) the other day.

Unfortunately it wasn’t a perfect match for them but as I’m sure you are not surprised, they absolutely loved the neighborhood!

What they are looking for is (describe just about every house in the neighborhood).

Can you do me a favor? If you or anyone you know is even considering selling, could you please let me know right away? I may be able to sell your house without it ever even hitting the market.”

Brilliant, right? Use the same template when they have a buyer looking for a house. The student records a video that lets their audience know what the buyer is looking for but with a specific ask – reach out if the audience or anyone they know is considering selling, because they may be able to sell their house without it ever hitting the market. Then the agent promotes that video to the target town/city so that everyone sees it and reaches out to them if they are thinking of selling or if they know anyone that is.

#7. Third Party Reviews – The New Word of Mouth for Real Estate Leads Targeting millennials or younger buyers?

Reviews are the way to go. According to Consumerist, almost 70% of consumers check online reviews before making a purchase. But just like everything else, it’s all about your level of commitment. Millennials make up a third of the buying population. A millennial goes to 8 to 12 different sites before they pick up the phone and talk to an agent. What do they do when they get to 8 to 12 of those sites? They read the reviews. Watch people coming to your site in the analytics—they log in, and then they go to the review page and read every one of your reviews before they even pick up the phone and call. The conversation on getting reviews starts on day one when you meet the client.

#8. Blogging – Best Way to Attract Quality Leads.

One of the best decisions I ever made in my real estate career was to start a real estate blog. Blogging is one of those free lead gen unicorns—when you’re blogging the leads seem to magically drop from the sky. But free doesn’t mean easy. It all comes down to intention and commitment. Provide a wealth of knowledge to buyers and sellers to help make sound business decisions. Buyers and sellers love working with knowledgeable real estate agents. By having a recognizable blog you are able to readily show off your expertise to those who are buying or selling a home. Over the years my blog has brought a substantial amount of yearly business. In fact it is one of my top lead generators.”

A blog as a top lead generator? Believe it. Real Estate blogging is certainly not for everyone. Like anything else, it takes time and dedication. It is not a magic bullet that will bring significant amounts of business unless you put in the effort. This means you need to have exceptionally good content combined with a strong grasp of both search engine optimization, as well as solid social media promotion. Without proper digital marketing your blog will be lost in the shuffle. Alternatively, you could try a tool like Keeping Current Matters or CityBlast that automatically publishes blog and email content, creates downloadable guides and posts personalized updates on your social media accounts for a set monthly fee. Another option is to hire a real estate VA with marketing or blogging experience or look for an affordable content writer and marketer on sites like Fiverr and Upwork. You’ll still need to set aside time to generate relevant content ideas, proofread and promote the work but a great freelancer can significantly cut down on the time you spend researching and writing, making it way easier to stick to a consistent publishing schedule. Last but definitely not least, if you’re determined to make a go of blogging, make sure you set up a drip campaign to capture and nurture any leads that come in via the blog.

#9. Niche Marketing Websites – An Amazing Organic Source for Ready-to-Convert Real Estate Leads.

Thanks to various changes in Google’s search algorithm, building a niche website is now another surefire approach to rank higher on search engines than non-targeted sites. Best of all, it’s completely organic through and through. Buy the domain moveto (your town) .org .com .ca  then hire a full-time content writer to write or write yourself to gain enough traction and generate leads and a robust pipeline. Create  a local guide on all things (your town) and start attracting some seriously motivated leads. Agents are getting about 10-15 leads monthly. That’s not much but they are much more likely to convert. Target organic leads by targeting topics like ‘rent vs. buy (your town)’, ‘Master Planned Communities’, and ‘Reasons to Move to (your town). Then retarget to landing pages that have property listings or other information about choosing a Realtor.

#10. Thank You Card & Hand Written Notes. Most Beautifully Simple Source of Free Leads.

You know, as a new agent you’re blindsided by a million other things. You just need to talk to a lot of people and get over the fear of cold calling. After talking go drop off a simple thank you card and that changes everything. In the age of automated everything, Brandon’s all about keeping the personal touch. And at $1 per card, the ROI on this lead source can’t be beat. Just write a handwritten thank you card like, ‘Hey Jill, great talking to you. Thank you so much for your time. I look forward to the opportunity to work with you. And then I put your business card in there and seal it up. Easy!

#11. Craigslist, Kijiji, Classifieds – Great for Free Diamond-in-the-rough Leads.

Never take a lead for granted and that includes leads from Craigslist. Some of my coaching clients most reliable source of free leads has been another source that most agents or people sometimes no longer feel is relevant or also frowned upon or thought of not to be the savviest… Craigslist.

#12. Open House – Golden Opportunity to Get Buyer & Seller Leads.

Most agents have been programmed to think that it’s a waste of time. Like all marketing, if they do one and don’t get much out of it, they generally fall into that bucket. To me, it’s the easiest and least expensive way to get people in front of you. However, you need to have a system like everything else to make it profitable. Systems = profits. The best tip for bringing in free leads via open houses is don’t advertise open houses and use lots of signs. This way if someone walks into your open house and they would like to look at property, I just close the door. You need to make sure you have every possible cross street covered with an open house sign. The more signs the better.  But what if you can’t meet for an in-person open house? Agents have sold houses with digital open houses and virtual tours and use Calendly to actually capture the lead info, then plug them into your CRM for focused follow up.

#13. Internet Community Pages – Perfect Source of Free Buyer and Relocating Leads.

There’s a little known content marketing tip that only the best of real estate marketers typically take advantage of: Community Pages. More often than not, any buyer looking to move into a new area is going to do some fairly extensive research. By setting up community pages on your website YOU become the local go to expert. Here’s what makes a great community page:

Community pages are filled with information buyers would love to know about. Things like the quality of the schools, area attractions such as lakes and parks. Where  people do their shopping, etc. They can be filled with an endless amount of information. The best community pages are crazy detailed! These kinds of pages should be optimized so they come up in search for things like “Realtors (your town)” and “Top Real Estate agents (your town)”. Consumers who are searching in Google with terms like these may be looking to hire an agent immediately!

#14. Quora – Most Untapped Source of Leads.

A huge untapped online community like Quora is one of the top respondents for all things real estate, for getting you name, face and web link in front of thousands of online buyers every day. With over 200 million monthly unique visitors, Quora’s Q&A entries regularly show up on Google’s page 1, and some are re-published by major sites like Forbes and Inc. Plus, it’s completely free. All you need is an email address and you’re in. Start by looking for questions that have been asked repeatedly. If a question has been asked more than once, chances are the answers (both on Quora and Google) aren’t that great.‍

#15. Wear Your Company Name Badge – Easiest Way to Get Free Leads.

Ever take every cushion off your couch hunting for your glasses, only to realize they’re right on top of your head? Sometimes the most obvious things are hidden in plain sight. The simple name badge is one of those things. Here’s a great tip… An often overlooked way to generate leads is to wear your name badge or company wear such as a hat or polo shirt. When people ask, ‘Oh, you’re in real estate—how’s the market? Be prepared with a concise answer about how much inventory is on the market, how much prices are increasing or declining, and offer to send them a free report on their property. Agents can use a Realtors Property Resource (RPR) to gather this data quickly and of course, you need their contact information to send them the report. Name badges have long been used by maintenance service companies to establish a connection with the client and develop trust. So, why not real estate?

#16. For Sale By Owner (FSBOs) – Excellent Lead Source for Agents with the Right Approach.

There are those who shake their fists at FSBOs and there are those who go out and convert them into free sources of multiple millions in revenue. FSBOs are one of the best and most reliable sources of free leads out there. “Literally millions in commissions!” can be made. The trick as usual is to start the conversation by listening and offering value. Remember, there is a good chance this seller has been burned by an agent before, and that’s why they’re attempting to go it alone. Start the conversation by asking why they’re selling. Take time to listen, get to know their motivations and build a personal connection. Offer advice or insight on the market wherever relevant. Once you feel like you’ve truly heard them and offered them some genuinely helpful info, ask if they want any help finding a buyer. They might turn you down flat the first time. That’s ok. Ask if you can check back in on them in a few weeks then add them to your CRM for simple, friendly follow up. Sometimes it can take a few quiet weeks (or months) in the market before they come around to the idea of working with you.

#17. Ask Engaging Power Questions – Most Powerful Way to Get Free Listings.

Leveraging for rent by owners and FSBOs, calling expired listings and nurturing your SOI are all classic (and classically overlooked!) ways to bring in tons of free leads. But sometimes what matters most isn’t which lead source you choose, but how you choose to approach those leads. The best way to bring in more free leads is to simply ask questions: Ask questions – How can I help your business? What does your perfect client look like? Focus on providing service and coming from a spirit of contribution – the leads will come.

#18. Farmers Markets, Swap Meets and Flea Markets – Don’t be afraid to take free leads where he can find them.

That includes local swap meets, flea markets and farmers markets. The craziest ideas for lead generation are sometimes the least wanted or the most frowned upon or things that people might think don’t work. If you do frequent swap meets, flea markets and farmers markets. It totally works even though many agents feel it’s an undesirable type of method. There’s something to be said for getting out there and networking with real people. Remember, when it comes to free lead gen, it doesn’t matter what’s popular. All that matters is that it works for your unique real estate business.

#19. Social Media (Evidence Of Success) – Great Way to Get Real Estate Leads Who Already Like You.

You didn’t think we were going to leave social media off the list, did you? Depending on how you approach it, social media can either be a major time drain or a brilliant way of nurturing your connections. Here’s his awesome advice for using your social media to nurture your SOI without feeling salesy or sleazy: Your sphere of influence is still an extremely overlooked source of business. The key is to not bombard your network with boring, worthless “asks” for business. Instead, you should simply be reminding your network that you’re a real estate agent, and that you’re a local expert. Posting on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat is a great way to do that, as long as you’re providing something of value to your network (education, humor, etc), along with the occasional humblebrag if you receive an award, or some recognition for something. Even a sincere humbled, gratitude post for helping a buyer or seller buyer or sell versus bragging I just sold or I just listed. I’m talking maybe once a month, or less. But if done tactfully, those humblebrags help your network see that you’re good at what you do. You heard it from the pro. Relax and have fun on social media. It can lead to some great free leads.

#20. Instagram – Easiest Source for Warm Organic Leads.

It’s all organic, with posts that are more lifestyle posts and less about sales. We want people to follow us because they like our post then reach out to us for help because they like our brand and how we do things. It’s been working well and that’s exactly what happens. Leads come in from the posts and stories. From there, you follow up via DM to connect and convert. It’s easy, organic and extremely cost-effective.

#21. Shock & Awe Marketing – Funniest Way to Get Free Real Estate Leads.

Every so often, it pays to go a little rogue with your marketing. The most innovative idea I ever heard of was an agent had a house that was zoned for commercial use that  was located in an area where there were a lot of attorneys. She created a marketing piece that looked as if the attorney she was sending it to was being served in a lawsuit. The strategy generated leads and she sold the property. I love the expired listing paper towel tube in the mail that looks like a stick of red dynamite with the expired letter inside. Sometimes it pays to think outside the box (or, zone in this case) and do what you’ve got to do to grab the attention of your local market. Don’t be afraid to get creative.

#22. Knock on Doors – Most Classic Way to Get Real Estate Leads The level of “craziness” of this free lead gen idea is debatable.

Some die-hards in Facebook groups will claim this is the best way to get free leads, but you have to wonder, do they actually get out there and do it? Tip! Knock on doors in a neighborhood where you have a qualified buyer that wants to buy and say ‘Quick question: do you want to sell your house? My buyer wants to buy here. Not sure? Talk to the Family and call me tomorrow.’ Yes. It worked. If nobody is home then leave a door hanger with the same written message and they will call as well off the door hanger! Sometimes you just never get, until you ask. While it may seem old school, knocking on doors is still a proven way to get free leads. If you’ve got the guts, go for it.

#23. Serving & Give Back – Most Fulfilling Way to Get Buyer and Seller Leads.

If you focus on service like some agents do the business will come simply by connecting with the community. Serving the community and throwing great social events creates an amazing amount of people that want to reciprocate by working with you. Get involved in at least one non-profit and build your spheres through acts of charity and service. You’re meeting people in your community who want to do good. It’s not really service to transaction, it’s service to relationship. We want to build a network that people actually want to be a part of.

#24. Become a Community Catalyst – Crazy Simple Way to Get a Long-lasting Source of Leads.

Your commitment to becoming THE go-to expert in your community. As real estate develops, knowledge is what makes agents more valuable to buyers. Buyers don’t want to spend time learning. As an agent, you’re the catalyst—the connector between the buyer and their new community. It’s your job to open that door and make it as easy as possible for them to walk through it.

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