5 Strategies for Generating Veteran and Active Duty Military Leads

5 strategies for generating active duty military and veteran leads header image | AgentAdvice.com

Each year, almost half a million U.S. active military families relocate and must buy or rent a new home. Thousands relocate across the country. Active duty military and veteran communities, given their frequent mobility, tend to go through the home selling and buying process more often than others.

This pattern of frequent moving presents unique challenges for active military in particular. Fortunately, there are also unique resources and opportunities for active duty military and veterans alike. These distinct circumstances make active duty military personnel and veterans a huge source of leads for real estate agents. 

However, agents must be careful when working to develop leads in the active duty and veteran military communities. If not executed well, real estate agents can come off as tone-deaf at best, and crass or exploitative at worst. In such a tight-knit community, this can cause irreparable damage to real estate agents’ reputations within the local military community. 

We’ve curated a list of methods to help agents respectfully break into and serve this community. Here are 5 top strategies for generating veteran and active duty military real estate leads.

Paid Partnerships with Veteran-focused Organizations

There are a number of organizations set up to help active duty military and veterans navigate home ownership and real estate transactions. While government departments, such as the U.S. military and VA, are the primary ways to find resources like government-funded benefits, there are several prominent organizations focused on assisting veterans in real estate. 

One of these groups’ key services is matching veterans with veteran-friendly agents in their areas. The flip side of this dynamic is that these organizations are a bountiful source of leads for agents looking to work with veteran buyers or listers. 

The specific logistics of lead gen partnerships vary across each organization. They differ in price point for agents, the volume of leads, and even the pricing model itself. For instance, some organizations charge a flat fee per lead, while others only charge for a lead after the deal has successfully closed. 

These organizations can be competitive for agents to looking to become members.. They are often run for, with, and by veterans, so their application and vetting process can be quite rigorous to ensure that they’re setting veterans up for success. 

Agents looking to work with these groups also face competition from other agents, since active military and veteran communities are attractive lead pools. Additionally, these associations can offer side benefits, including marketing and promotional assets and affiliate networks to facilitate agents’ relationships with loan officers, home inspectors, etc. 

Top Associations Working with Active Military and Veterans

There are several nationwide organizations that specialize in helping veterans work with real estate agents, and vice versa. There are also local groups and organizations agents should reach out to in their specific market. In many cases, the following three national groups are great starting points in most regions. 

  • MilitaryAgent: MilitaryAgent specializes in connecting veterans, reservists, and active military personnel with real estate agents. They require agents to apply before being added to the MilitaryAgent network. Once agents are accepted, MilitaryAgent works to pair military personnel with an agent in their area that is the best fit with that particular buyer. The group charges for leads up front. 
  • Veterans Real Estate Benefits Agent Network (VREB): VREB offers agents a military lead gen service, as well as marketing and promotional tools and a Military Designation they can market after some coursework. After an application, VREB membership comes with an initial fee and annual subscription cost, rather than a per-lead pricing model.
  • Homes for Heroes: Unique on this list, Homes for Heroes provides real estate agents with buyer and lister military leads. The organization advertises an average of 14 clients and 4 closed deals annually per agent. Homes for Heroes also connects agents with affiliate partners, such as loan officers, home inspectors, and other real estate-related businesses, further expanding agents’ local networks. 

Homes for Heroes Circle of Giving

Source

There are also paid certifications and qualifications that you can use to stand out and generate inbound military leads. One of the most well known certifications is the Military Relocation Professional (MRP) certification. Certifications like this help agents differentiate themselves as having the knowledge and skills to help military personnel navigate their unique challenges and circumstances. 

Leverage Your Existing Network

There are plenty of lead gen strategies that rely on agent’s non-paid capabilities, as well. For instance, agents that have already developed a client network in other areas can leverage existing or prior clients to expand their network into military communities. Working through an agents’ existing network can be particularly effective if there is a sizable active military population in their market, which could be the case if there is a nearby military base. 

The process here can be as simple as mentioning your interest in helping active military or veterans when working or networking with clients, to more concerted efforts like targeted marketing communications. Like other inbound lead strategies, your existing network can pass your practice along to military friends or family in the area, as well as send leads directly to you. 

There are some attractive advantages to this strategy. For one, it can be a low-cost way to generate business.. Additionally, leads are likely to respond much better to a personal recommendation instead of less familiar 3rd parties. Current and former clients can usually offer the strongest recommendation on an agent’s behalf.  

However, there is some risk to this approach, like other in-house strategies. Agents should strive to be genuine and honest in their approach when trying to work with veterans and active military. Otherwise, agents risk coming off as disingenuous and not having veterans’ best interests at heart. Chris Mancik, a Navy veteran who now helps businesses connect with and serve the military community with his business Mil-Speak Marketing, emphasizes this point: 

“Don’t Be Fake.  Trying to build fake rapport is rarely a good idea for the general public, but is absolutely never a good idea with the military community.  Military community members do not need a real estate agent to understand everything about the military.  However, any attempt to “fake it till you make it” will kill not just one lead but countless others as warnings go out to “stay away.”

Network with Third Party Groups

Military and veteran support groups that don’t offer formal lead gen services can still help real estate agents drive leads. Networking with groups in a more “casual” capacity can still deliver inbound leads in spades. 

Real estate agents should look beyond groups dedicated to helping veteran homebuyers. In fact, there are groups designed to help veterans navigate multiple areas of civilian life. Common groups that many communities have include support groups for mental and physical health, recruiting and employment, and faith-based transition groups. Agents should become familiar with their local communities, as groups like faith-based support groups may be more or less prevalent depending on local dynamics.

Tailor Your Marketing Content and Strategies

There are also adjustments to agents’ existing content, outreach methods, and cadences that can improve their chances with military opportunities. Many standard lead gen strategies can apply to active military and veteran opportunities as well, but they should be optimized to help agents’ odds. 

Targeted messaging is particularly relevant in personal outreach to individual military personnel and veterans, such as emailing and LinkedIn outreach. In these cases, prior research is worth its weight in gold. Generic outreach based on their “military” status can come off as half-hearted, or worse. 

To avoid this issue, find out what specific branch a lead is a member of, and use the appropriate corresponding language. “Understand the applicable nicknames of each branch,” as Chris Mancik explains: 

“Army = Soldiers, Navy & Coast Guard = Sailors, Marines = Marines, Air Force = Airmen.  Whether creating marketing/sales material or just trying to build rapport, mismatching the titles is nearly guaranteed to send your prospect to someone else.”

In the same vein, agents should update their other marketing material. For instance, avoid generic military graphics and imagery. Don’t “Use random stock military pictures in your material.  This is the fastest way to lose a prospect.  Ask any military member or veteran to take a look at any marketing material with a military picture.”

example of stock photography military family | AgentAdvice.com

Source

Be a Resource for Active Duty Military and Veterans in Your Area

Being known as knowledgeable, informative, and helpful is the best way to passively, and cheaply cultivate inbound military and veteran leads. Real estate agents have the opportunity to be active duty military and veterans’ guide through the entire homebuying, or listing, process, especially if they’re new to the area. This expertise will make agents more effective in other lead generation efforts as well. 

For instance, real estate agents should have a working knowledge of the main national-level resources and programs available to help active duty and former military personnel. For veterans, the VA Loan Program is by far the most well-known funding source. Nongovernmental programs, such as Homes for Heroes and VREB mentioned above, also provide some rewards programs for participating veterans. 

There are also a range of more specific or niche benefits, from disability protections to moving discounts, which we dove into in the past. Getting knowledgeable about these resources will make agents more helpful and valuable for military and veteran clients, even if agents don’t actively use the resources themselves. 

The evaluation and decision-making process may also be different for active duty military personnel. Since active duty military folks tend to relocate more frequently, they may place more value in finding a property that they can resell within a few years, if need be. Agents should be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the market with any lead or buyer, but they should be able to show they understand how to incorporate active duty military personnel’s unique needs into the search, evaluation, and negotiation processes. 

Agents should also be aware of the non-financial complications that former and active duty military folks experience when buying a home. Active duty military in particular tend to be under very strict, tight timetables set by their deployment schedule. In these cases, agents should be ready and able to expedite the process so that homebuyers can view the best options, make a decision, and close in time for their relocation. 

As in many other cases, military home buying is often a 2-person process. Even if only one person is in the military, agents should look for ways to reach out to and be a resource for their spouses. Chris Mancik described how agents can win, lots of leads by reaching out to both homebuyers and their support groups, or lose leads by failing to do so:

“Don’t forget to include military spouses in your lead generation efforts.  Every military facility and unit has a family/spouse support groups, connect with the groups as a resource for current and future members.  Military families rely on one another for referrals, become a trusted partner of spouse groups and you will have a steady source of warm leads calling you!”

Approaching Veteran and Active Duty Military Lead Generation with the Right Mindset

Each of these considerations and strategies can contribute to an agent’s efforts to generate leads within the military community. The most important factor for real estate agents to keep in mind across all lead generation efforts is to strive to be as helpful to the active duty military and veteran community as possible. As experts in this field will confirm, working with the military community should be viewed as a long-term investment, which can yield leads, clients, and referrals aplenty. However, approaching these lead gen strategies as a quick cash grab will come off as just that, and will leave agents out in the cold while their competition cashes in instead.