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Spring has Sprung! New Marketing Trends for Real Estate

By Rebecca Chandler

springtimeAhh. Spring. Trees bud. Flowers bloom. Baby birds are singing. The time when we awaken from our winter hibernation and embrace a fresh start – and home buyers and sellers are actively shopping for homes and real estate agents. Are you keeping up? Or is your marketing plan still in hibernation?

As the media landscape has changed and consumer home shopping and media consumption habits have changed, have you? Here are some new trends you should embrace and some old trends you should leave in hibernation.

Old marketing habits you should leave in hibernation.

STOP – Referring to your home marketing presentation as a “listing presentation.” The most important service a seller expects from their real estate agent is marketing.* Begin referring to the presentation you make on an appointment with a potential seller as a “marketing presentation.” Include all the ways you will put their home in front of potential buyers. Make a list. Bring samples. Your presentation will outshine those who only bring a CMA.

STOP – Relying primarily on listing aggregation sites for leads. You absolutely should put your listings on free listing aggregation sites. They get a lot of traffic and are a basic expectation for your marketing presentation. However, your listings are competing with every listing in town and you are drowning in a sea of online data, waiting and wishing that someone will stumble upon one of your listings and waiting and wishing that they would call or email you. It just doesn’t happen that often. Consider it web exposure, but not robust lead generation. Look for ways to reach out to local buyers and sellers using active advertising and lead generation strategies instead of waiting for them to find you.

STOP – Relying on your referral network for ALL your business. Your referral base is a great source of business, but it can’t be the only source of business. Repeat business only happens every 6-10 years in most cases, and agents who consistently advertise and market their services may gain top-of-mind awareness that you’ve lost. Also, today’s consumers have high expectations. A simple referral may not be enough to seal the deal if a seller doesn’t feel you will actively market their home – or if a buyer has not seen you actively working their area of interest.

New trends you should embrace.

START With a fresh look at your branding. Is your website old and tired? Is your photo the same one you’ve used for the last 10 years? What about your branding in general – colors, logos, and style? Does it look clean and fresh? Dark, heavy colors are out. Light and bright colors are in – especially for spring. Freshen up your marketing “wardrobe” to get new attention.

START –Mobilizing everything. What does you website look like when you open it in the browser on your phone? If you have to “pinch and stretch” to see it, most will abandon it and move on. Do you have single property mobile sites for all your listings? Text code lead generation? GPS-enabled sign riders? More and more consumers are relying on their phones to text codes for more information, download apps, search the web, browse the Internet, etc. Make sure you are taking advantage of being able to reach consumers on the go.

START – Incorporating an IDX feed into your site. Buyers and sellers today think a home shopping experience should be comprehensive. They want to search, on their own, every available property – from one location. Create a home shopping experience for them that keeps them on YOUR site. If they can find all the available listings and search in a rewarding way, they will bookmark your site, and regardless of whether the home they are interested in is your listings, they will contact YOU.

START – Putting YOUR brand front and center. Of course you want to be everywhere a potential client looks for real estate information. But – are you lost in the crowd or do you really stand out? Download our Personal Brand Workbook here to take a fresh look at your personal brand and potentially, adjust your brand strategy.

START – Using locally distributed advertising to reach LOCAL buyers. Winning the Google Search over large listing sites is probably a futile effort. However you have a distinct advantage over them. You are IN the local market. Use tools like interactive print and direct mail to generate direct response on the streets of your market – in the places where your potential customer live, work, shop and play. Interrupt their day with your advertising message with an immediate lead generation call to action.

  • Text this code to see more photos, prices, and information.
  • Go to my website to shop all the homes in the market.
  • Call, text, or email me for a list of all the homes in the area that match your dreams to your next home.
  • Email me for an analysis of recent sales in the area.
  • Call me to find out about my marketing campaign for your home.

A direct call to action placed in front of those with the ability and likelihood to do business with you will create more business for you.

Have more questions on how to freshen up your spring marketing plan? Contact your local Real Estate Book representative or go to Store.RealEstateBook.com to learn more.

*NewPoint Media Group Research on Home Buyers and Sellers (May 2013)

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The Three Most Common Fears That Hold Us Back

By Rebecca Chandler

Since October 18, 2010, I have kept an article from USA Today by Henry G. Brinton on my desk – because of a quote in it. I’ve read and re-read the quote and paraphrased it to others.

“. . . we can agree on things that we ought to fear,” says Thomas Hibbs, Professor of Ethics and Culture at Baylor University. The result is that “the pursuit of happiness gets transformed into the pursuit of freedom from unhappiness.”

I reference this often to check in with myself. Am I acting in ways that pursue happiness and success or are my actions simply diverting unhappiness and failure? Now, obviously, we all want to avoid unhappiness and failure, but at the same time, we don’t want to live in fear.

We can relate this to any aspect of our lives, but from a business perspective, this means looking at our everyday decisions as either pushing for success or averting failure. These are not the same thing. For example, here are three common fears that keep us avoiding failure instead of seeking success.

  1. Fear of change.

It’s easier to do the same things everyone else is doing or the same things we’ve always done. In an example taken from the book, “Blue Ocean Strategies,” by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne, Cirque du Soleil created a completely new “circus” from the Ringling Brothers variety. They took risks that set them apart from their competitors and created something so entirely new, they were no longer in the same category as their previous competitors. Food for thought – In what ways are you standing out from the crowd? For example, are you servicing your clients in a way that others don’t or can’t? If so, take this uniqueness and spread the word through an aggressive marketing campaign – so that consumers see you differently than others – and you stand out.

  1. Fear of learning.

Today’s world moves at break neck speed and the amount of information that streams at us constantly can be so completely overwhelming that we may feel ill-prepared to make decisions or have conversations because we feel we don’t have a full grasp of the available information. That feeling can make us avoid learning new things because new things change into more new things and the stress of keeping up with all these new things – gives us a headache. Let’s face it. It’s highly unlikely that we could become experts on everything. However, that’s no reason to abandon our natural curiosity. In business, this means examining new trends, technologies, or practices without the fear of having to fully master every nuance. The good news is that you can hire experts to help you with the detailed execution. You just need to understand enough to determine strategy and measure impact.

  1. Fear of confrontation.

I’m not suggesting that we become argumentative or overtly aggressive, but saying the things others want to hear versus saying what you really think is sometimes so much easier. A productive dialogue involves listening, considering, and communicating in a collaborative way and can result in better conclusions. But – speaking your mind sometimes results in risk of rejection or ridicule, so we remain silent or agreeable in order to avoid that uncomfortable feeling. Some of us could wallpaper our offices in rejected or bad ideas, but none of our good ideas will ever get implemented if we are afraid to communicate them. Like the lottery, we will not win every time, but we can’t win if we don’t play. In your business dealings, are you being honest with buyers, sellers, colleagues, and vendors in a productive way? Are you forming opinions before you’ve listened fully and considered what they have to say? You may even have a totally new outcome to an old conversation because now you’ve conquered the fear of saying what you really think and allowed others to respond.

One of my favorite movies is an Australian film, “Strictly Ballroom,” an early work of Baz Lurhmann, director of “The Great Gatsby,” and “Moulin Rouge!” The plot revolves around a ballroom dance competition in which the main characters dare to introduce “new steps,” to the competition – to great opposition. The main characters press on – inspired by an elder’s advice that “a life lived in fear is a life half-lived.” I won’t spoil the ending for you (because you really should watch this movie), but I think the quote has one of the most important lessons we can learn – that overcoming the fear of unhappiness and failure opens more doors to more happiness and more success.

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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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