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Two Vastly Different Real Estate Markets, One Incredible Success Story for Chris Lofthus

As a former PGA professional golfer and instructor, Chris Lofthus is no stranger to overcoming challenges. He worked in a number of high-profile club director positions at golf courses throughout Nevada and Washington, where he honed his business savvy and sales skills.

Thanks to his marketing campaign and business savvy, Chris Lofthus has been able to generate more business than he can handle—even after moving nearly 1000 miles from one challenging market to another.

As a former PGA professional golfer and instructor, Chris Lofthus is no stranger to overcoming challenges. He worked in a number of high-profile club director positions at golf courses throughout Nevada and Washington, where he honed his business savvy and sales skills.

When Chris decided to leave the golf world and take on a different career challenge—real estate in the ultra-competitive San Diego market—he knew marketing was going to be vital to his success. He first turned to a friend who worked in the direct mail/printing industry. This friend recommended that he look into Hobbs/Herder to create his campaign materials.

The Start of Something Big

In 2005, Chris contacted Hobbs/Herder and signed up for a full package of direct mail and online materials (brochure, Powerkard, houseflier, identity package, website and e-mail farming). He actually purchased the campaign prior to attending a Hobbs/Herder seminar, but while his materials were in the works he went to the Gateway in Palm Springs, California, and saw the full potential of what he could achieve with the right marketing system.

“I took one look at the quality of their work, and it made my decision easy,” Chris says. “The more I researched my market, the more I saw there was nobody else doing this type of marketing. There were no dominant agents in the market. The turnover numbers were good. I could clearly see the window of opportunity.”

Chris launched his campaign in the spring of 2006, mailing out PowerKards and his personal brochure to 1500 homes in the inland San Diego area, selected from neighborhoods right around where he lived. After just four mailings, he started getting calls. “I sold several million-dollar-plus properties right out of the gate. Every lead came directly from my marketing.”

A Shift in Priorities

Chris ran his real estate business in San Diego for about a year. Though he was thriving, he personally longed to live in a more rural community, where he could enjoy all of his favorite outdoors activities and have a better place in which to raise his children. This fateful decision would force Chris to uproot his business completely. In 2008, he moved to Eagle, Idaho, a mountain resort town not too far outside of Boise.

“I knew the lifestyle was perfect for me and my family, but I made sure to do my research on the real estate market before making the final decision,” Chris explains. “The numbers made sense and I actually got my Idaho license well before we actually moved. That way I could hit the ground running.”

Starting All Over Again

As part of the moving process, Chris returned to Hobbs/Herder to have them revamp his personal marketing materials. He was able to keep the same slogan, design look and sales message, however, much of the text was reworked to best reflect his passion for the Eagle lifestyle. “Because the marketing is so personal and true to my personality, it was a very easy transition to make in terms of the campaign pieces themselves.”

Chris settled on a 2500-home farm in Eagle and by the time he had officially moved, all his marketing systems were in place and ready to launch by the time he arrived. And again, after just a month’s worth of mailings, he started to generate leads. Even though he was brand new to the market, people responded as if he were the longtime market leader because his materials were of such high quality.

New Market, Same Story

In his first half-year in Eagle, which was experiencing one of its slowest markets in the past 20 years, Chris did 25 transactions with $9 million in total production. It was well beyond even his own lofty expectations, but it was just the start. In 2009, while many agents were struggling just to stay in the business, he did 57 transactions for $14.7 million and after the first quarter of this year, he’s well on pace to eclipse those numbers by far.

“The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is the seasonal aspect of the Eagle market. In San Diego, business was done year-round, so it’s taken some getting used to,” Chris says. “The other challenge I thought I would face is the more laid-back pace of life here. I wasn’t sure if my high-energy approach would translate as well in such a rural market.”

Chris was able to find his niche in dealing with other transplants in Eagle, which is a popular resort area that draws clientele from big cities throughout the western U.S. These more business savvy people have connected with Chris and his style of real estate service. At the same time, he was building market share with the local population through his direct mail program. Now, it’s hard to go anywhere in Eagle without seeing Chris Lofthus yard signs peppered throughout the neighborhoods.

It Goes Beyond Just Direct Mail

Chris has also found great success with his website, though he’ll admit he’s not getting everything he can out of his online marketing presence. All of his direct mail pieces drive traffic to the website, and his yard signs all feature his URL prominently. Chris estimates 15-20 leads a week coming directly from his website, which has actually been hard to keep up with. “I feel like I am missing a lot of opportunities, so I am working on my systems and bringing in an assistant to better handle all of this business that’s coming in. That’s my biggest goal for 2010.”

The other goal Chris has set for himself moving forward is to keep building his marketing campaign and incorporating different media strategies to maximize his exposure in the market. “All of this business has been great and a little overwhelming, so I haven’t made the time to build my media presence as much as I’d like to. But that is going to change this year. I know I can double, if not triple, my production with additional marketing investments.”

One such investment Chris has made is running print ads in a local publication, Eagle Magazine. This bi-monthly magazine gets mailed to homes throughout the Eagle area and can be found as a free hand-out in many local shops and restaurants. It has a high-end appeal and quality printing, which fits well with Chris’ own commitment to top-notch marketing. In addition, he was able to negotiate an exclusive contract with the magazine. He’s the only Realtor® who advertises in it—with a full-page, full-color image ad in every issue. For just $600 a placement, it’s well worth the investment. Chris attributes seven listings just from his advertising in the magazine in the past six months.

When it’s Right, it’s Right

When you ask Chris why his marketing materials have been so successful, he’ll tell you its because they are the perfect representation of who he is both personally and professionally. “You’ve got to give people a true story and accurate representation of your personality. When they meet you, you have to be the person they expect from the brochure. And then you have to be able to back it up with service. If you don’t, you will fail.”

“You also have to keep investing in yourself and your marketing. The amount of business I’ve been able to do is great, but I know there are even more opportunities out there that I can take advantage of. If I keep growing my marketing reach, there’s no limit to what I can achieve.”