Company News

Burgan Real Estate Targets Behavior, Not Demographics

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Need the perfect house for a newly married couple who like working on fixer-uppers and prefer to shop at Target over Walmart? Not a problem, says Burgan Real Estate.

Since the start of this year, the Boardman-based real estate agency has targeted its marketing to personalities and behaviors rather than typical demographics. It’s a significant shift from traditional marketing practices in real estate that co-owners and brokers Patrick Burgan and Sue Filipovich say they never would have anticipated four years ago when they took over the company started by their fathers, John Burgan and Leon Turek.

“We were focused on keeping the culture and foundation they built,” Filipovich says. “We’ve got to change with the way the industry is moving.”

The new marketing strategy is made possible by the partnership of the agency with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, or LeadingRE, an invitation-only network of independent residential brokerages in more than 70 countries. A research study LendingRE conducted looked into the personalities and purchasing habits of more than 4,000 consumers in the United States. 

The study identified “specific, differentiated, natural market segments,” into which consumers fall, according to its website. Burgan uses the information to better focus its marketing.

“A big part of it is where they’re at in the time of their life,” Filipovich says. “So it’s not demographics; it’s not necessarily income-related or age-related. It’s based on their personalities.”

The Mahoning Valley region is dominated by the so-called “Strivers,” “Prime Movers” and “Contenteds” segments. Strivers are “always looking to better themselves, to better their living situation,” she says. People who remodel their home and fix it up, then decide to change a few years later are considered Strivers. Identifying those people allows Burgan to target Strivers with specific marketing tactics and messaging to connect them with the agency when they’re ready to take their next step, she says.

“They just need a little help getting there, but they’re open to take that chance and opportunity,” she says.

Another personality is a “Prime Mover,” characterized by recent life events, such as a new job, getting married, having kids, or getting a divorce, Burgan says. So-called “Contenteds” are people who have been in their houses for a long time and are happy with where they are and the equity in their houses, he says. 

“They’re not exactly looking to sell their house anytime soon,” Burgan says. “We’ve targeted our marketing to drip on them over time to help them with any maintenance around the house, tips like that, so eventually when they are ready to sell, maybe to downsize, they think of us.”

Targeting prospects for specific properties helps the agency spend marketing dollars more effectively, “versus sending out 10,000 postcards to the general public,” Filipovich says, “and 95% of them thrown away.” 

The agency recently rolled out its targeted strategy, working with 898 Marketing, Canfield, so it’s too early to gauge return-on-investment. And while the agency has seen savings in its marketing budget, the real value is in “reallocating our budgets into more effective means,” Burgan says.

“We’re spending the same amount of money, but more effectively,” he continues. “Because we know a bit about their personality and their behavior, we can really target that messaging to make a better connection.”

And that benefits the 45 Burgan agents, Filipovich says. LeadingRE trained them on how to use the data when they profile prospects and existing customers to their needs, she says. For example, a Prime Mover, or someone just entering the market, might have more questions and might need more direction than someone who has bought or sold houses before, she says.

“Training our agents with that aspect, they recognize that and meet them right where their needs are,” she says. Agents have more confidence during the sale as well. And sellers are “very receptive” to the new marketing. “It’s what we need to be doing.Demographics only go so far. We’re actually relating to personalities of people.”

That kind of targeting dictates the rest of the agency marketing efforts, says Jeff Ryznar, owner of 898 Marketing. The two companies started working together in August 2017. Information from LeadingRE allows Ryznar’s team to break down the segments that should be targeted and “effectively communicate with them,” he says.

“It involves direct mail, but it also involves targeted Facebook and targeted display,” he says. “It involves where they drive and why we pick the billboards we did. In involves how agents get involved.”

Targeted marketing pairs well with other initiatives, including the Burgan Real Estate Guaranteed Sale Plan, which the agency revised from the early 2000s and relaunched this year, Ryznar says. If Burgan doesn’t sell a customer’s home, the agency will buy it back at or above fair-market value.

“This plan was created as a way to further target and appeal to the segments they are focusing on with their marketing,” Ryznar says.

Targeting also makes the job of  the marketing agency easier, he adds, because the data provide a “defined scope” of who should be targeted for a particular property. That alleviates the months the agency would normally spend running analyses to identify the best prospects to receive marketing materials, he says.

With the fast-paced nature of the residential real estate market, that is valuable time, Burgan adds. Time on market can affect how much a seller has to pay in taxes, mortgage and utilities while waiting for a sale, and can sometimes lead to a lower offer from a buyer, he says. Targeting the best buyer in or around Mahoning County shortens the days on market, “which is giving the sellers not only a better price but a better net in their pocket.”

In 2018, the agency recorded an average 60 days on market, the lowest among real estate companies in the Mahoning Valley, Burgan says. Transactions in the first quarter outperformed the record first-quarter 2018 by 29%, with 168 units sold for more than $19 million in volume. The company is on track to increase overall sales again this year, he says.

Targeted marketing will be a driver for that growth by allowing the agency to extend its reach outside of the Mahoning Valley, Burgan says. Its affiliation with LeadingRE has already helped the agency connect with prospects in Florida, California and Barcelona, Spain, he says.

It also gives Burgan a way to help clients move to other states, Ryznar notes.

“They can help someone who’s moving to Tennessee because of the GM relocation find a home there as well as sell a home here,” he says. “It almost makes Burgan a national real estate company with that local feel here in Youngstown.”

Pictured: Burgan Real Estate is owned by brokers Sue Filipovich and Patrick Burgan.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.