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.
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