From Cold Calling to Inbound Marketing Machine: One Agent’s 3-Part Strategy for Generating Warm Leads

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Brandon Grass only had to run the numbers to see that his business plan was missing something crucial.

It wasn’t his work ethic. Brandon was averaging an outstanding 37,000 calls per year. And it wasn’t his transaction volume. He was selling more than 4 times as many homes as the average agent in his area, the Okanagan region of British Columbia.

For a solo agent who had been in the business just five short years, Brandon was killing it.

But his efforts weren’t bringing him any closer to his eventual goal of having his own real estate team. And while impressive, his numbers showed that cold calling alone wouldn’t deliver enough leads to feed an entire team.

Brandon needed to launch a new strategy — one that would not only enable him to rapidly reach out to cold leads, but also deliver warm leads to him. So, he pivoted.

“Instead of an outbound call perspective, I went to an attraction-based model.”

Over the past year, the high-octane solo agent has put his focus into building a stellar real estate website, executing a targeted email marketing campaign, and launching his YouTube channel, The OKGN Life.

We sat down with Brandon to find out how he diversified his marketing mix from a primarily cold-calling play to a demand gen machine that brings warm leads straight to his door.

Table of contents

  • The ‘Aha!’ moment that came from a podcast
  • Building a brand with a 3-part real estate marketing strategy
  • A learning curve, a linking strategy, and a little faith 
  • How to get over yourself and make the move to inbound marketing

Rather watch than read? Check out the full interview with Brandon below! 

The ‘Aha!’ moment that came from a podcast

Real estate isn’t Brandon’s first rodeo.

As a natural entrepreneur, he’s always gravitated towards the roll-up-your-sleeves and get-it-done school of learning.

And so far, it’s paid off. The restaurant cleaning business Brandon founded before he transitioned to real estate grew from a few local clients to all of Canada. But it also kept Brandon traveling nine months out of the year, too long to be away from his young family.

Real estate seemed to offer a good balance for making a living while keeping the home fires burning, and Brandon went for it with the same dedication he applied to his cleaning business. 

For six months, he studied for his real estate exam by day while continuing to run his cleaning business by night. With his real estate license in tow, Brandon netted about 18 transactions in his first year, all on the back of cold calling.

And he might have continued on that path, if it weren’t for a real estate podcast he happened to catch one day.

“I really had an eye-opening experience with a podcast where they said a minimum of 10% of your GCI should go into marketing,” Brandon remembers.

He did a quick tally of the money he was spending — $150 for a dialer, $99 for his real estate CRM, and $39 for his weekly email send — nowhere near the suggested 10%.

“That was the only marketing I was doing,” says Brandon. “The problem was, every time I stopped calling, that’s it! My business stopped. I was putting in so much more effort making calls and still not having the results I wanted because I hadn’t been marketing. Marketing was the missing ingredient.”

Building a brand with a 3-part real estate marketing strategy

Cold calling was converting leads for Brandon one at a time. 

But by adding an inbound marketing component to the mix, Brandon aimed to build a real brand — and with it, a market for his services that would eventually become self-sustaining.

So he cut his cold calls way down, making only 1,900 calls last year compared to 37,000 the previous year.

Instead of cold calling, he invested that time into developing a 3-part marketing strategy:

Today, Brandon’s website is filled with useful information about the Okanagan region and the four neighborhoods where his business is concentrated.

“I’ve always wanted to have a site that’s a resource center,” explains Brandon. “If you’re moving here, you can find out about the schools, the neighborhoods, where the parks are — all the information that’s super important and helpful for you. Not just ‘here are some listings, search yourself, and find your own home.’ I really wanted to provide value.”

Brandon has also become an avid video creator, producing roughly 150 YouTube videos that offer tips and insider insights about neighborhoods, home buying and selling, and other useful information.

As the organic leads roll in, he uses Follow Up Boss to capture and follow up with the warm-to-hot prospects that come in via the website, emails and YouTube.

“Where I’m coming from now and where real estate is going, rather than having a pay per click site where there’s 1,000 people registering, and I’m going to get 2 deals from that, I’m going to have 25 people registering throughout the year, and 15 of those people are going to buy or sell because they’ve reached out to me,” Brandon explains.

Here’s how Brandon takes deals from mid-funnel to finish line in his lead management system.

  • A lead opts into Brandon’s content (e.g., signing up for his ‘Ultimate Relocation Guide’)
  • From there, the lead enters their name and email into a ClickFunnel
  • Zapier fires the lead’s contact info straight into Follow Up Boss
  • Follow Up Boss triggers an Action Plan specifically for leads who opted in

With his website up for just a few months now, Brandon notes that his real estate marketing plan is still a work in progress. But the way he sees it, he’s developing a brand-driven growth plan — not just to convert leads today, but to build a lasting business for tomorrow.

“What I feel is going to happen is there’s going to be a storm,” Brandon says. “You know when you see a storm that’s kind of brewing? You’ve got content going, and people are visiting your website and engaging with your videos, and then, all of a sudden, it’s going to be, ‘Whoa! Where did this business come from?’ That’s what I’m hoping happens. We’ll see.”

A learning curve, a linking strategy, and a little faith 

For Brandon, jumping into video marketing took a little chutzpah and a lot of trial and error. 

He doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at his early attempts, which he describes by mimicking a robot voice. 🤖

“If you go back to one of my first videos on ‘Moving to Kelowna’, it’s so bad,” he laughs. “I’m so awkward in it. It’s like, ‘You are moving to Kelowna. The weather is okay.’ But 9,000 people have seen that video and now people are paying attention.”

Practice makes perfect

Not only did Brandon have to overcome his initial camera shyness, he also had to learn how to use video editing software like Adobe Premiere. 

But today, he’s more than comfortable in front of the camera. In fact, Brandon even writes his own scripts and uses a green screen to superimpose professional background images.

He’s also developed a library of playlists (sometimes his own productions, sometimes from other sources) linked to his videos so that viewers can access additional information on a topic. 

For this camera-shy agent turned video-producing thought leader, inspiration can come from anywhere. To make sure he’s always ready to capture a good premise, Brandon uses the note-taking app Evernote to jot down his ideas whenever lighting strikes. 

And the results are paying off.

Today, Brandon’s first video on Moving to Kelowna has racked up over 9,000 views. And one of his more recent videos on the cost of living in Kelowna has already garnered more than 5,000 views.

Watching the traffic and leads compound

The beautiful thing about Brandon’s organic marketing play is that every marketing channel builds on the other.

Links take viewers from the website to the videos and from the videos to the website, or other videos. Brandon also features some of the videos on his website with links back to YouTube, giving both his website and his channel additional exposure, while capturing more and more viewership along the way. 

The third component of Brandon’s strategy, email marketing, has generated $500,000 in GCI over the past 2 years, and has driven even more traffic to his website.

Brandon says he got the idea for sending emails from real estate coach Ricky Carruth, and built it into his cold calling system using these four steps: 

Step 1. He cold calls to determine if a lead has an immediate real estate need.

Step 2. If not, he asks permission to stay in touch via email.

Step 3. Leads who agree to receiving emails are entered into his database.

Step 4. Those leads receive weekly email market reports that Brandon also posts on his website.

By adding more inbound fuel to his email marketing fire, Brandon is set to deliver a serious boost in the amount of GCI generated via email.

“I get 400 to 600 people a week clicking on my site for my email,” says Brandon. “The majority of people are looking for, ‘What’s new? What’s on the market?’ Inventory is so low. People just want to keep an eye on the market, and they’re using my website to do it.”

For Brandon, marketing success is about building trust and authority.

By consistently producing value-driven content and leveraging it across several platforms, Brandon has not only achieved a higher ranking on YouTube, he’s also showing up more and more in Google search rankings.

“If you go to Google and type in moving to Kelowna, the third result is my video.”

And with his Lake Country videos, Brandon owns 9 out of the first 10 spots.

How to get over yourself and make the move to inbound marketing

Brandon admits that, like a lot of real estate agents, he worried too much about what to say and how to say it.

After all, it’s one thing to flub a phone call, but a misstep on a video or a website will live on the internet forever.

“If it was the old me, my website probably wouldn’t be online for another year and a half,” he says, only half-joking. “But at some point, I’m thinking, I have to do it. I’m still working away and getting things perfect, but it’s up and done and…

“Done is better than perfect.”

For Brandon, keeping a consistent flow of content on his website, YouTube channel, and weekly market report emails is more important than sweating the details — not just because it gets in the way of productivity, but because consistently sharing your content is the best way to keep a connection with potential buyers and sellers.

The way he sees it, building a brand is a long game. And he’s ok with that.

“You tell me you’re going to sell in 3 years, so I’m going to call you in a year, and when I call you in a year you’re going to be like, ‘Brandon who?’ With a weekly email, you’re going to be like, ‘Hey Brandon, oh yeah, how’s the family?’ They’ll know so much more about me, so that’s where I found the real value-add is.”

Even with 150 videos under his belt, Brandon’s not stopping anytime soon. 

His goal for the year is to have 400 videos on his YouTube channel, creating the kind of online presence that will grow his customer base to the point where he can’t handle all the business on his own.

He’s already dreaming of the team he hopes to create, freeing him up to focus on his new favorite part of real estate — marketing.

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