Consider radio for a marketing edge

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By Connie Adair

For six years, Cameron Nolan demonstrated Real Estate Made Simple. Nolan, broker at Re/Max Escarpment Realty Inc. in Hamilton, Ont. hosted the radio show on AM900 CHML and garnered “quite a following” during his six-year stint.

“I’m not sure the precise genesis. I was listening to CMHL and noticed that on talk radio, most shows had an “ask the experts” segment – car experts, mortgage experts and people who redo sewers, but there was no real estate show. I thought there should be and wondered if they (CMHL) would be interested.”

An inquiry soon revealed that he would have to pay for the privilege. “I didn’t realize people pay to have a show,” Nolan says. But after talking to his wife Angela, a sales rep, he decided to go for it. “I found a time slot and an affordable arrangement,” says Nolan, who did the show one Saturday a month.

“Radio was a way of doing two things: 1) I had my own philosophy that the better educated a client is, the better I can serve them. Educate the public is what I do, and 2) it was a quick way to gain credibility. When I started (radio) I had just over two years as a Realtor. The show exponentially increased my credibility.”

It wasn’t direct business, where people would call in and ask him to sell their homes. “I would meet people and they would say, ‘I know who you are’ and want to do business,” says Nolan, who produced his own show and came up with all of the topics.

“It was a quick way to gain some credibility, and then it was good fun, with positive feedback. I’ve done about 70 in total,” he says.

Ideas were relatively easy to come by. “There is a whole series of things clients need to know. How to interact with a stager and what they do, how to choose a lawyer, how to know if mortgage people are right for you, listing a home in winter or in summer and what to keep in mind,” he says. “The second way to come up with ideas was to interact with someone” and then talk generally about their questions or concerns.

Nolan had a few wheelchair accessible homes for sale. Using soft marketing, he did a show about how to find and market accessible homes, and then talked about the listings in the same show.

Each show would feature Nolan and Shiona Thompson, producer of the morning show on CMHL, who acted as a host. Nolan chose the format and had full control of the topics to fill his 42.5 minutes. (The rest of the hour featured news and ads.)

Cameron Nolan

Nolan, who recently completed his last show, says radio is a good way for agents to market themselves, but it’s not for everyone. “My wife says I have a good radio face, which means I have a reasonably good voice,” says Nolan, who has no formal radio training. Since he was 15 or 16, he has conducted interviews and has been involved in presentations. His work experience also helped.

Nolan attended his hometown university, McMaster, and then went to work at the Junior Achievement of Canada’s national office. From 1983 to 1988, he worked for the electrical and mechanical associations in Hamilton. An 11-year stint in labour relations with the Hamilton Construction Association followed. It was there that Nolan gained “lots of experience in negotiations,” he says.

He worked for Alberici Constructors, an international construction company, for 2.5 years and later worked as a consultant. Unfortunately, he says, “People don’t want to pay a consultant.”

Around 2003, when his wife had been a sales rep for about four years at a Hamilton brokerage, Nolan got his license. “I became a professional to help Angela,” he says. It wasn’t long before he was involved in real estate full time. He sells residential and commercial real estate in the Greater Hamilton Area, which includes Burlington.

“I was still having fun and educating people, but now we’ll be putting our dollars into different forms of advertising,” he says. Radio is a “significant budget item,” costing around a couple of thousand dollars a week.

“As we move forward, we’re looking to hire an assistant. It was a good idea to pull back (from radio) and refocus the dollars.”

Nolan’s radio experience won’t go to waste.  He is president-elect of the Realtors Association of Hamilton-Burlington and will be its 2012 president. “The president has to interact with the media and assist membership in communicating their message,” he says. He’s ready.

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