I have a theory about lead generation. I believe every lead generation strategy in real estate can be categorized as either an asset or a liability, just like on a balance sheet. Loosely speaking, an asset is an item of value that we own, and a liability is a debt that we owe. And it is through this lens that we can evaluate our lead generation efforts.
Now, imagine yourself for a moment, not as a real estate agent, but as a factory owner. Your factory has two machines. These machines (should) produce the same product. You built one of these machines yourself from the ground-up. You know how every gear, cog and belt works together in that machine to produce your product. The other machine is on lease from Big Giant Corp. It is a sleek, shiny metal box whose internal workings are a mystery to you. All of your fellow factory owners have one or more of these sleek and shiny boxes from Big Giant Corp in their factories too.
Every day, you feed your homegrown machine high quality inputs. You keep the bearings greased and the right mixture of octane in the tanks. Every day your machine rewards you for your efforts with high quality outputs. These are the products you’re proud to call your own. When they go out into the world, they bear your trademark. The world associates your products with quality, and you get more repeat business because of that quality than any of your other marketing efforts.
The sleek, shiny, leased machine is a different story. The inputs are a mystery to you because only Big Giant Corp’s inputs are allowed in the machine. The machine howls day and night, spitting out hundreds of products – of suspect quality. Most of these products are not even half assembled. You routinely spend hours and days coaxing them into something resembling a quality product. Many are never viable in the first place, dead upon arrival. You call Big Giant Corp to complain, and the rep tells you that you’re probably not spending enough time coaxing the half-assembled product into something viable. You need to revamp your post-production process to get better results. And if you don’t want the machine anymore, that’s fine, because there are 100 other factory owners on the waiting list who want to rent it for more money.
Your machine is an asset. You built it, you own it. You keep it fed, you keep it oiled, and it faithfully produces for you. The other machine is a liability. You don’t own it. You don’t control how much it costs every month. You don’t know how it works. It can be taken away anytime. Worst, the products are of significantly less quality and take a lot more coaxing to make into something you’re proud of.
Both machines will make you money, there’s no question about that. But ask yourself, which machine is really worth your time and effort? Which machine will see your business through the good times and the bad? Your own homegrown, unique and valuable machine that no one else can replicate, or the leased machine that everyone else has?
These two machines are a blatantly obvious (forgive me) analogy for our lead generation efforts as real estate agents. We can choose to craft our own lead generation machines, using our unique value proposition as the inputs and generating sustainable, repeat and referral business year over year. Or we can lease the lead generation machine from someone else, never controlling the quality of the outputs or the price.
Which do you choose? The asset or the liability? Created or leased? It’s up to you, but for my money, the choice is clear: asset over liability everytime.