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The 5 Smartest Questions to Ask About Marketing Your Business

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by Rebecca Chandler

As the holidays approach, many of us will spend some time reflecting upon last year’s successes and failures and trying to learn some valuable lessons. Here are 5 questions to ask about marketing your business.

to determine what to repeat and expand and what to abandon.

  1. What was the smartest thing you did to drive digital traffic, leads, and conversions? If you’ve done a good job of tracking, you can determine not only where the traffic came from, and which traffic converted best and which was the most cost-effective. Think specifically about these categories
    • Online sources such as SEO or SEM
    • Offline sources such as print or direct mail
    • Mobile tools such as text or QR codes

 

  1. Did you use all the tools available to you? From a marketing perspective, consumers don’t search in a silo. They search everywhere – web, mobile, print, social, video, etc., etc., for information about real estate and real estate professionals. Did you limit your exposure to your website and your listing syndication only? Then, you may be drowning in a sea of online data. What about other media such as interactive print with text and QR codes? Or highly geographically and demographically targeted direct mail? Or display advertising? Social media? All of your advertising and marketing efforts should work in orchestration to amplify their effectiveness and you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.

     

  2. How did you engage hyper local buyers and sellers in the real world? Did you wait for them to stumble upon your blog, your website, or your listings on an aggregate site? Considering that 69% of sellers pick up local real estate magazines, and 76% want to see their homes advertised in one and that over 87% of local editions of The Real Estate Book get picked up every 4 weeks*, this type of advertising reaches out to your hyper local prospect versus waiting for them to type in the right phrase in an online search. And, using direct mail in a highly targeted fashion allows you to narrow your message down to the areas and demographics of your target client.

     

  3. Does your site provide a compelling experience for a mobile shopper? Your site should be responsive to the device on which it is viewed so the user doesn’t have to “pinch and stretch” the screen to read. This year, Americans will search the web on their mobile device more than their laptop device. If your site doesn’t display properly, you stand to lose a lot of hard-earned digital traffic.

     

  4. Are your marketing efforts all about YOU or what you can do for YOUR CLIENT? Marketing yourself is important so you and your brand stand out, but equally important is how your market your listings. It’s the most important service sellers expect from their agent.* Your awards and designations may be impressive, but ultimately, they expect you to sell their home quickly and for the best price. Tell them how you do that via multiple media will give your listing presentation a competitive edge.

     

    If you answer these questions honestly and thoughtfully, reflecting on 2013 will help you devise an improved plan for 2014. Need help? Contact your local Real Estate Book representative. They are local and well-trained real estate marketing professionals.

    Looking for tracking tools? Download our “Income Based Approach to Real Estate Marketing” worksheets here.

    *2013 Home Seller Research (NPMG)
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What Do Milk and Real Estate Marketing Have in Common?

By Adam Brown
I recently sat down with three different top agents in Charlotte and reviewed their three very similar marketing campaigns. My local colleague I agreed. A lot of top agents’ marketing campaigns have become “homogenized.” Much like the contents of the jug of 2% on your kitchen table, they are uniform in content and character – and so to potential sellers, they are all the same. These agents are not alone and there are several factors that have contributed to the trend over the last several years.

The abundance of Internet Listing Sites has decreased the value of and traffic to brokerage and agent sites. ILS’s dominate Google Search Results and make it very difficult for individual agent and broker sites to rise to the top and to stand out. From a seller’s perspective, any agent can put their listing on these sites at the top of the Google Search Results. On some sites, they can even do it themselves. This makes online marketing on an ILS for their home a basic expectation of little value in terms of differentiation between listing agents.

The reduced marketing spend in the down years. For most agents, their marketing investment as a percentage of total income decreased during the down years. From a business perspective, it seems to make sense. However, this means that all agents started using the same, high volume, low expense, and low value marketing outlets – and they all started looking the same.

The focus of ILS sites to market the agent over the listing. ILS sites are listing-centric and agent agnostic. In other words, they focus primarily on the listing and feature only a few, local agents. Many have exclusives that dole out the total impressions to the highest bidders, regardless of the agent’s own listing inventory, level of expertise or knowledge of the market. In doing this, they leave some of the best agents in the area drowning in a sea of online data, with little differentiation.

Regardless of the reasons the reality is that most top agents are doing less to make themselves stand out from the crowd. So here is the question. In the “golden” age of digital marketing what are top agents able to do to keep themselves and their listings from becoming a part of the homogeneous jug of real estate marketing? Become heterogeneous – integrating a diverse set of tools into an orchestrated, yet differentiating campaign. For example –

Agent and broker sites will rarely be able to compete with ILSs with millions of unique users per month. Instead, they should showcase their unique LOCAL value – What it’s like to live in their specific community – things like the arts, parks, commute times, and the best shopping. What areas are hot? Which are up and coming? Are there local laws or ordinances of which local home buyers and sellers should be aware? In what ways does the agent or broker serve the community and their clients that makes them happier, more satisfied customers. Testimonials. Photos. Local advice. Local expertise.

Seek out local clients. This sounds basic, but actually takes some strategic planning. Most agents and brokers know their prospective clients – demographically, geographically, and behaviorally, yet they expect the client to search and find the agent versus the agent reaching out to the prospect in the places where they live, work, shop and play – locally. If the agent knows their prospective clients are likely to frequent a specific restaurant, school, shopping center, coffee shop, or event, why wouldn’t they make every attempt to intersect with them there and in relation to there? Whether that means local advertising or relevant content on their website or blog, it just makes sense.

Show sellers a real marketing strategy for their home. According to the National Association of REALTORS® Annual Survey, the #1 thing home sellers look for is savvy marketing. This means more than just posting the home on the MLS, a few ILSs, the agent website, and putting a sign in the yard. Every agent in town can do that. Creating a real marketing plan for the home that targets the potential buyer using the right tools such as the property’s own mobile site with text and QR codes, direct mail sent to a demographically and geographically targeted list, and advertising in a locally distributed real estate magazine. This is how the “crème de la crème” of agents and brokers rise to the top of the homogenized crowd.

For more information on local real estate marketing, contact your local Real Estate Book representative or click here.

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CONFESSIONS OF A REAL ESTATE JUNKIE/TOP 5 MEDIA TRENDS FOR 2011

Like many of us in this business I have been awe struck by the rate of decline in almost everything related to the housing industry over the last three years; existing homes sold, new homes built and purchased, mortgages sold, real estate agent commissions and of course the one that most directly impacts me and my business, the significant drop in advertising and marketing spend.  If this is any consolation,  books will be written (some already have been) about this period in time and we’ll all be able to say we witnessed it first hand.

There are plenty of people better qualified than I to predict how the 2011 American housing market will play out, so I won’t try to second guess them. Their forecasts range from more of the same (4.8M to 5.0M existing homes sold) to slightly more aggressive numbers, closer to 5.5M existing homes sold. The consensus is the recovery in housing will be tepid in 2011.

But there is less consensus around real estate marketing media trends for 2011 and so I’d like to further that discussion with my own predictions for the Top 5 Media Trends we’ll see develop in the coming year.

Top 5 MEDIA TRENDS FOR 2011

1. Common sense will return to the media market. Top Agents and Brokers recognizing that real estate always has been and always will be a hyper-local business, will stop following the larger crowd and decide instead to find ways to stand out from the crowd in  their very specific, very local market.

2. Local housing guides, especially color catalogs integrated with an online offering.  like The Real Estate Book and its companion website http://www.realestatebook.com  and other well executed products, will regain favor due to their hyper local characteristics and their ability to attract buyers and influence  prospective sellers to list their home with a market leader.

3.  Internet marketing will change radically. The idea that simply posting listings on large national sites is innovative marketing and that “if we post they will come” will be replaced with a smarter approach, better leveraging the real power of the internet.  Large sites today like Realtor.com and other popular sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com get anywhere from 5 to 10 million unique users every month, which is amazing considering the lackluster pace of home sales this year, but lead generation from those users is low at between 1 and 2% of traffic. These sites can be a great research tool, but for whatever reason the medium just doesn’t engage people to take action, like send an email or make a phone call, to the same degree other mediums offer.

4.  Content marketing solutions, like http://www.brokersherpa.com  where Agents and Brokers are able to leverage their existing digital assets, like listing data mentioned above and  integrate it in a more meaningful way to intersect and engage with buyers and sellers as they are online searching in any of the major search engines or social media sites, will be a major trend for 2011.

5. Cost and return on investment will continue to be major drivers to media and marketing decisions as the housing market recovers, but at a slow pace in 2011. Commission dollars will still be tight and very precious. Every decision should have a measurable and productive outcome and top Agents and brokers will insist that the vendors they choose to work with can back up their claims with concrete results and reporting.

That’s my list for Top 5 MEDIA TRENDS for 2011. I”d love to hear your thoughts and invite you to  let me know if you agree and if not, how you might modify the list.

 

Happy New Year!

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