Small Marketing Budget, Big Leads: A Guide to More Business

How to Stretch Your Marketing Dollars and Get More Clients

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

Jacqueline Kyo Thomas

When you have pennies and lint in your marketing budget, you’ve got to get creative on how you market your real estate business. The good news is that you don’t need a ton of money to bring in quality real estate leads. You only need a few basics and a scrappy mindset to make magic happen.

In this post, we’ll share simple marketing strategies that you can perform on any budget (no matter how small) to generate non-stop real estate leads. Let’s get started!

Create a Website


You, dear real estate agent, need to create and maintain a website for your business. Let’s spend some time on this one because it’s one of the most reliable and affordable ways to capture prospective clients. In addition to lead generation, your website also allows you to educate and nurture prospects, thereby gaining their trust and establishing yourself as an expert.

You can create a website with any budget, including free. However, because your website acts as a salesperson, you should invest some money into developing a professional site.

On a small budget, the cheapest option is to build a WordPress website. WordPress is a popular tool for creating websites. There are two options: and Opt for the .org version because it’s fully customizable and you can use your own domain name (i.e. Self-hosting your WordPress website costs less than $10 a month with a hosting service like BlueHost or GoDaddy. And instead of designing a website from scratch, you can get one premade template from a site like ThemeForest or Elegant Themes for a one-time fee of around $50.

Another option is to go with a service, such as Placester or DynamicIDX which creates customizable websites specifically for real estate agents. These services charge more than the DIY option above, but may be worth it if you’re not interested in building everything from scratch. It just depends on how much you can spend on website design.

Once you create your website, be sure to build out the following pages:

Your Home Page - This is where many of your visitors will land for the first time. Welcome visitors and encourage them to sign up for your email list (more on this later). This is also a great place to share your top listing.

Your Contact Page - Share ways for prospective clients to reach you, including your phone, email, and links to your social media pages.

Your About Page - Introduce yourself by sharing a little bit about your professional experience and (if you don’t have a lot of experience yet) your passion for real estate. Include a high quality headshot to connect with your website visitor.

List of Services - Visitors may be curious about what services you offer. Here’s your chance to discuss your niche (i.e. your expertise).

Listings - If you’re a listing agent, this is the star of the show. Visitors want to know what’s available. Start with your most impressive homes first and be sure to share high resolution images that pull the visitor in.

Blog - You may not think you need a blog, but you do. Blogging allows you to speak directly to prospective clients on topics that they care about, such as house hunting tips or staging advice. Remember to write posts that align with what your target clients are actually searching for on Google. One idea is to post a thorough neighborhood guide on your blog. Prospective clients may find you after a Google search for a neighborhood guide.

Email Opt-In - Every website needs an email opt-in. Most website visitors will leave and never return to your website, but if you invite them on your list (with an attractive incentive, such as a free ebook on how to sell a home quickly), you can stay in touch via email. This gives you the chance to build trust with your prospective clients so that they choose to work with you. You can embed opt-in boxes within individual blog posts, at the top of your website pages, or configure them to pop up when a visitor exits your website.

As you can see, there are so many great ways to generate leads through your website alone. This is a definite must for every real estate agent, whatever your marketing budget.

Spread the Word


Does everyone in your social circle know you’re a real estate agent? That includes your parents’ friends, your frenemies, second cousins, and former elementary school classmates that you keep in touch with on Facebook. Everybody that you know should know that you’re an agent. And not just that you’re an agent, but also that you’re accepting new clients.

Make it a point to reach out to everyone on your contact list. Ask them if they need real estate services and, if not, to give your information to someone else who does. But don’t forget to stay in touch with that contact. While they may not need real estate services now, they most certainly will eventually. The average person moves more than 11 times during their lifetime.

You can reach out to your social contacts via phone, email, and also social media. All of it counts.

Also, be sure to attend local social events, including business mixers and charity events. But don’t forget that potential clients may be at your kid’s sports event, too. Don’t leave the home without business cards. It’s also a good idea to wear something self-promotional whenever you’re out and about, such as a t-shirt or hat branded with your business name.

Get Savvy on Social Media

If you have a teeny-tiny marketing budget, you’ve got to get active on social media. Everyone’s on social media these days, including your prospective clients. They may not be looking for you personally (yet), but you can use social media to look for them. Once you find them (you can use ads to speak directly to your target audience), share engaging images and resources that make you stand out from the crowd.

Even if they’re not in the market to buy or sell (yet), they may still follow you because of the quality of your social media marketing campaign. All you need is a like to get a foot in the door.

In addition to topical posts on real estate, here’s how to engage your prospective clients on each of the major social media platforms:

Facebook - Pay for ads. Facebook knows so much about its followers that you can create insanely targeted audiences for your ads. It’s increasingly more difficult to reach audiences organically through Facebook, so it makes sense to pay for promotion. Plus, it’s inexpensive – you can start out with $5 a day (and stop whenever you want), and reach your ideal audience with your marketing message. This is a smart move if you’re short on funds.

Instagram - Engage your audience by imagery and video. Use your best listing photos in your feed. Also consider adding virtual house tours to your Instagram story feed, which is available for 24 hours. This allows you to capitalize on your followers’ fear of missing out.

LinkedIn - Stay connected with your contacts. Get notified whenever a contact celebrates a special milestone, and be the first to congratulate them. This allows you to stay top of mind and continue nurturing a relationship.

YouTube - YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web (Google is number one). Create videos on YouTube that are targeted to your ideal audience where you share tips and insight in the buying/ selling process. Your prospective clients are currently on YouTube searching for this information. Let them find your video as the answer to their query. Be sure that you include contact information and a link back to your website within the video and in the video description.

More Real Estate Marketing Ideas (on a Small Budget)

In addition to the basics above, here are a few out-of-the-box marketing ideas to consider:

List on Craigslist

Craigslist may seem like a relic of the early 2000s, but trust me that many house hunters still use Craigslist as part of their home search. While you may not generate a ton of leads from Craigslist, all you need is a few to justify the effort. Plus, listing on Craigslist is easy and can be done in 10 minutes or less.

Use Facebook Marketplace

A lot of real estate agents have left Craigslist for Facebook Marketplace. You should be there, too, for the same reasons as Craigslist: Listing is quick and easy. However, it’s getting harder to stand out on Facebook Marketplace because it’s so dang popular. Choose your best images and respond promptly. But don’t forget to use Facebook Marketing to promote specific listings.

Host a Virtual Workshop

You can host a workshop on social media (via a livestream) or simply market it on social media and host it elsewhere, like Zoom and GoToWebinar. Create a workshop about something that your target audience wants to know, such as a seller’s clinic or financing tips for buyers. Be sure to collect emails via registration so that you can nurture these leads via email. Host several of these live workshops every month to build up your list.

Focus on Expired Listings

Everyone reaches out to newly expired listings. That’s why you need to ignore those listings and reach out to listings that have expired a month ago or maybe even a year ago. These owners are often more willing to list again because they’ve had the time to get over their initial disappointment and may have even fixed up the property. Go in strong with a plan for how you’ll succeed and you may just get the listing. (Be sure not to call anyone who may be registered on the Do Not Call list.)

Final Thoughts

Even if you have a small budget, you can still draw plenty of real estate leads. Use the above affordable marketing strategies to attract prospective clients and build trust with them.

If you’d like even more marketing tips, check out these posts:

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