This article covers several important tips for real estate agents and brokers who wish to develop a successful FARMing campaign.

A FARM letter, at its core, is a reflection of you and your business. This small publication will often be your best opportunity to make a lasting impression on homebuyers or sellers in your community. In this writer’s guide you will find a number of helpful strategies to consider when composing an informative and engaging FARM letter.

Know your audience. You are likely trying to reach people in your local community who are interested in either buying or selling real estate. Although you certainly do not want to underestimate the savvy of your readership, you should always keep in mind that this is not a trade journal and you are not writing for real estate professionals. Thus, your content should be light but not simplistic, engaging but not fluff.

Make it local. FARM letters are used to create a presence and develop business in a territory you select and appeal to the particular concerns of your targeted community by highlighting local news. This “news” can be real estate specific or general in nature. It is good practice to include both types of information in order to offer your readers a variety of content and to increase the odds they will read your letter and respond favorably.

Keep it simple. You can also read this directive as keep it short. Your primary goal is to keep hold of your reader. Your ability to do so usually boils down to word count. Have reasonable expectations of your reader. People take different approaches to reading publications they pay for opposed to those that are dropped at their feet. You only have a couple of seconds to get their attention— then your topic must maintain their attention for at least the next few minutes.

Text appeal. Resist the urge to clutter your letter with images in an effort to entertain your reader. You are not in the entertainment business, and if you take this approach, you risk that your FARM letter will be perceived as junk mail, replete with advertisements. Consider promoting a listing in your letter by developing an editorial story narrating information about the property, so it does not appear to be a newspaper advertisement. Your goal in a FARM letter is to create an impression of substance that will brand yourself and drive business by developing a readership and reputation.

What’s your budget? An effective marketing campaign begins by determining the amount of money you are willing to spend, such as 5% or 10% of your anticipated earnings. FARMing, as with any marketing technique, drives more business your way as you invest more effort and money in the endeavor. As you enlarge your farming letter activity you will at some point experience diminishing returns where one more hour or dollar of your time and money invested will yield no greater response and your farming letter program will grow no further. Thus, besides budgeting your expenditures for farming by use of a letter, you need to budget your time and energy as well. Shop around from time to time to control your printing costs, supplies and mailing arrangements. As it is when advertising any worthwhile venture, you will invest more at the outset in your FARMing campaign by an initial blast of letters, and as you become established as a brand, your frequency of mailings and your costs in time and money will diminish.

Follow up. Be aware that mailings provide the initial activity in your farming scenario. Once your letters start going out, it is the face time you put in with individuals that will make for a truly successful marketing campaign. Think of your FARM letter as a unique initial calling card. Later when you have made a personal contact and inquire about your letter, your prospects will then be more likely to take your letter seriously.

Make the most of it. When you receive inquiries about your services be sure to ask how the prospect was referred to you. Your FARM letter is just another referral method to add to your list of marketing techniques. Use the results to reevaluate your approach and continue improving your letter. Be persistent but not bothersome with your FARMing campaign of mailings and follow-up. When you begin, you should be sending FARMing material to prospective clients 3 to 4 times per month. After you have established your brand, you will likely distribute your materials less frequently—about once monthly.