It is my belief that it depends on the type of person you are. If you are a real thick skinned, impervious to the word no, then any street, door bell, market or restaurant represents an 'low cost' lead generation strategy. I would argue that walking down the street and handing every adult you see a $5 bill for 2 minutes of their time will get you as well qualified a buyer or seller as most lead generation systems to which one would subscribe. The key is getting the door open for conversation.
Now for the less aggressive among us, consider:
Ask yourself, "What questions are folks in Cypress Texas asking to which I have the answer?" Wrap your marketing around solutions, results, benefits, or outcomes you can provide related to the question. If you can tie this into the three big-spender categories, well that's even better! Now that you've got some real 'stuff' with which to engage the community, you now must get in front of them. Some choose to do this one at a time, I suggest entertaining the idea of group environments.
Oh, yes, don't forget about all that internet stuff. However, before you hand over your money be sure you understand how your message will be found and by whom. Too much of what is being sold to real estate folks is an effort to catch smoke with a net. Ask the vendor to accept payment based on your results, that will usually give you a clue.
The effectiveness of any strategy you choose will be dependent on you. If you only execute the program 80% you will only get 5% of what is anticipated. It the last 5% of effort that pays the big dividends. Pick a program, ANY PROGRAM, refine your appeal, develop a message and execute the plan fully.
Not knowing whether you are brand new to real estate, occupy an established niche market or have a database of 16,000 citizens, it's hard to be more specific in lead generation strategies. If you need some examples, just drop me a note and I'll give you some things to look at.
ReMax Realtec Group
Palm Harbor, FL
Blogging - make sure you are giving great advice about your specific market and people will respond.
Answering Qs on trulia.com. It takes one to ask the question, but many will review your answers.
Business cards - find ways to give them out every day. There is no end of ways to meet people. Exchange cards, and then immediately pop those emails into linkedin.com and expand your network. Linkedin.com is a GREAT tool - if you actually use it.
Best of luck to you!
Once you're prepared, simply offer your services as a volunteer speaker via social media and to any groups you belong to. Key point: always be prepared with your own technology, if needed. Most important: practice! Humor and personality are key. If you are nervous about public speaking, you can go through a Toast Masters or Laugh Masters program, or join a local speakers bureau (they offer classes and opportunities to practice, too.)
Every introduction by your host should include your career information and areas you serve, so that you never sound like you are pitching yourself. This should be agreed up front ,and it's usually wise to write up a two sentence introduction for the host, who may be nervous or forgetful. Do have lots of business cards on hand, easily accessible but not sitting out.
This soft sell approach, let them know who I am and approach me, has worked extremely well. I have generated a lot of direct clients and third party leads (a friend told me about you) from speaking, sometimes a year or more later. I've gained confidence as a speaker and enjoy sharing knowledge. It's fun!
The challenge I have with marketing and lead generation is that the low cost items must be traded for my TIME. If you don't want to spend the money you have to be prepared to spend your time getting clients. As a new agent nothing replaced doing Saturday and Sunday open houses. I would do one from 10:30-12:30 and then 1-3 both days. It was very fruitful, but a serious sacrifice of time. All the best.
Also, join a networking group like BNI. You will not only get business, but you will build a strong network of professionals to refer your clients too.
I have not found any low cost marketing/lead generation strategies. Either I have to pay someone else and there is a high front cost or I have to do it myself and use my own time which can be even more costly at the end. Lead generation is a cost of doing business for most agents in our industry.
For print marketing I use Vista Print, they always have some free offer going and the quality is great on the brochures and fliers.
Hope this helps! Good Luck!!