A very close friend of mine recently became a licensed realtor. As is often the case for new business owners, she was struggling to develop a cohesive marketing strategy. Erin called one evening & asked for my help in putting together her real estate marketing plan. We spent well over a month on the project - and, of course, continue to tweak as needed. I decided to write this article to highlight a few of my key takeaways.
As with any marketing plan, you must set practical, realistic long & short term goals. Success in real estate indeed requires playing the "long game."
While lucrative to many, real estate is hard work! If you're reading this, you perhaps already understand that. Not to mention, it is incredibly competitive - perhaps more so than most any other industry. As I soon discovered, it's not a place for the meek or timid.
When we started discussing real estate marketing, Erin was surprisingly only thinking about paid marketing. If you're like me, I'll take free promotion over paid promotion any day of the week!
Reputation & word of mouth referrals will make or break you in this business. A successful realtor must be genuine, friendly & genuinely interested in their customers best interests. While this may seem like a no-brainer, I believe it's always important to reiterate the basics.
Of course, those qualities come easier for some than others! Erin had a tendency to view herself as the "expert" & at times her confidence came across as condescending. She didn't mean to be that way, mind you. Nonetheless, we put a lot of work into viewing things from the customer's perspective. Empathy goes a long, long way in building rapport.
Prompt, courteous service should be your number one priority. Always. Your service has to be your value proposition. Spend a lot of time asking yourself why anyone should choose you as their realtor? Face it; there are plenty of alternatives. They should use you because you take care of things; You communicate & keep them in the loop; You keep your word.
Knowledge plays a key role in building confidence with your customers. Demonstrate that you understand the local market & that you have a knack for negotiating & finding the best value.
Real Estate Marketing is Not "One Size Fits All"
Just because everyone else is doing it doesn't mean you have to. Yes, specific marketing strategies have been used for ages & proven to work. I wouldn't dare recommend pulling your listing out of the latest home buyers guide. However, carefully analyze your return on investment. If you don't see value, don't be afraid to stop throwing money at it.
Erin had spent nearly $1000 on park bench signage because one of her competitors had done so. Nevermind the benches were in an area frequented by individuals whom I can guarantee you would never have a need for her services! Here are a few alternative ideas I gave her:
Invest in your existing clients. Have you sent them a card lately? How about a lunch & learn on a relevant topic? If you have several customers that happen to be new to the area, invite them all out to dinner. They may greatly appreciate the introductions.
Develop a responsive, mobile-friendly web presence. Did you know that nearly 70% of all emails today get opened on mobile devices? Are you mobile friendly? Never underestimate the effects of social media marketing.
Automated content marketing. Let's face it - writing may not be your strong suit. No shame in admitting that - but don't try to pass yourself off as a writer if you aren't one. Invest in quality content for your blog, email blasts or social media. Services such as Contently can put you in touch with freelance writers. Flipboard is an excellent source for finding content to share on social media.
Build an email list. Never be afraid to ask for an email address - ask for one in person, on your web site, on social media. Collect email addresses! Not only can you market to your existing customers, you'll be able to reach a much broader audience if you collect addresses directly via your web site.
A few words about sharing on social media. Don't share a link & expect it to go viral. It doesn't work like that. Always include your own short commentary, including either a clear call to action or an open ended question. Your goal is to encourage engagement. Doing so will greatly increase your reach on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.
Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!
Have you claimed your listing on Google Places, Yelp or Facebook? If not, go do that now. Reviews - more specifically GOOD reviews - will always provide incredible ROI. Spend a lot of time reviewing your pages & verify that all information is correct.
Any time a client offers praise, ask them if they would be willing to share that praise online. While I would never suggest directly paying for reviews, I see no problem with providing small incentives - perhaps a small gift card to a local coffee shop or a monthly prize drawing.
Always take the time to follow up on reviews. Thank customers for their positive reviews. However, don't be surprised to see a negative review from time to time. When you do, provide a well thought out, rational reply. Remember - many potential clients will be reading what you write.
Wrapping It All Up
As I've discovered, real estate marketing is an incredibly broad subject - one that I expect to cover again in the future.
I hope that the ideas presented here will provide you with food for thought - a jumping off point to begin your own marketing efforts. I'm always happy to answer questions in the comments.
Thank you for visiting & I'd like to give you a free copy of my eBook which contains 77 proven Social Media strategies, applicable to any business.