By Rebecca Chandler
Is your marketing program on auto-pilot? Have you settled for "good enough?" Consumer, media, and marketing trends all change over time and it's easy to fall behind and lose traction. When you look at your current program, are you taking these 5 marketing truths into consideration?
1 – What the consumer wants, they go get. Today's consumers are accustomed to self-service. We do our banking online, check ourselves out at the grocery store, look up directions on our phones, etc. If you are still operating under the assumption that the consumer needs you to find out information about the market, the neighborhood, homes for sale, or homes sold, that's just not the case anymore. The information is abundantly available. Your value no longer lies in providing information. Your value lies in interpreting and applying the information. Make sure your marketing highlights the things you do really well – helping to choose the best neighborhood for a specific lifestyle, helping negotiate the best price, helping to navigate through the paperwork and details of a real estate transaction.
- Offer a downloadable checklist of home wants and needs and offer to help find a specific dream home.
- Write a "quick tip" for buying and selling in your market and use it in your offline advertising with a call to action to read more on your website.
- Post local real estate news on your social media, website, in ads in local magazines and newspapers. You want to be seen as an expert.
2 – Marketing your brand is not all about you. Many agents cling to the old way of marketing their brand in ads that feature themselves, their achievements, their awards, (and their 20-year old headshot). Today's consumer expects their interaction with you to be about them, not you. Why else would they pay commission on what is most likely, their largest purchase? Take a hint from celebrities with strong personal and positive brands. Oprah Winfrey's brand is all about helping others overcome obstacles and achieve their dreams. Barbara Corcoran's brand is all helping you apply her knowledge of real estate and business. The judges on talent reality shows like The Voice or American Idol are known for helping up and coming artists reach their full potential. Show how you can help make real estate dreams come true.
- Feature a recent buyer or seller and their "success story." Make it about them, not a testimonial about you.
- Stay positive. Real estate transactions may be tricky, but you make the experience less stressful. Make sure your ads, your social media posts, show that you make it easy, not that you rescue consumers from the real estate "pitfalls." Eek.
- Promote your home marketing program to potential sellers. What will you do to sell my house? (Other than stick a sign in the yard and post it online. They can do those things without you.)
3 – Standing out online may start by standing out offline. Your website is probably a big part of your marketing strategy, but don't discount offline, particularly print. Recent marketing trends are depicting resurgence in print. JC Penney decided to begin publishing their catalog again to drive online sales. Ikea's comedic ad on their "bookbook" shows the benefits of catalog browsing while mocking Apple's ad campaigns and driving more store visits and online purchases for the international retail giant. Even Apple invested heavily in print advertising showing the newest iPhone's "actual size."
Why should you invest in print? Because SEM battles for the most searched real estate terms are nearly impossible to win. Large listing aggregators have poured millions into securing the top positions in search through SEM (paid Search Engine Marketing). And while you certainly wouldn't want to abandon best SEO practices (free Search Engine Optimization) for your website, it's best to look for online traffic from other sources as well. The truth about offline advertising is that it results in direct traffic to your site when someone actually types in your url and branded searches. Or - if they can remember your name or your company name, they'll just search for you and find you – and you're almost sure to show up in search results.
4 – The phone screen is the primary browsing screen. Mobile marketing is no longer optional. In a 2014 study conducted by Braun Research for Bank of America, respondents ranked their mobile phone more important to their daily life than their laptop, television, microwave or coffee. The National Association of REALTORS® 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers indicated that half of home buyers searched for a home on a mobile device. And there are literally hundreds of studies that point to the continuing reliance on mobile technology in our daily lives. Research aside, it just makes sense in real estate – inherently a location-based and mobile activity. Buyers are actually driving around looking at homes. Now, they are also searching on their phones, mapping properties, downloading directions, texting codes to see more photos and information, texting their agent, and even signing offers via mobile applications.
How can you take advantage?
- Mobilize your website. It must display legibly and be easy to navigate on mobile. Additionally, you should be able to "click to call" you. After all, your potential client has their phone in hand.
- Integrate IDX and location based search on your site. If the consumer can search all homes around them from your site, there's no need for them to ever leave.
- Use text code lead generation tools. Standing in front of your listing, the buyer texts a code to see more photos, information and pricing. At the same time, you get their phone number. Is there any lead hotter than that?
- Incorporate your mobile marketing into your listing presentation – and win more listings.
5 – Marketing is still an investment on which you should expect a return. There are many, many ways to market your brand, your listings, and your business, but not all have a substantial return on effort or monetary investment. For example, Instagram is an up and coming social network that may be the best way to market your listings . . . in 2016. Truth is, that while its popularity is not in question, the predominantly younger user base not likely to search for a home there, much less buy a home. As it gains an older user base, it may be more effective to marketing your business. Chances are, investing your time in Facebook will still reap a better return on effort in 2015, because you've already connected with your sphere of influence and they continue to interact with you there.
In terms of a monetary investment, look for measurable options. Track everything not just activity, but actual sales. The high volume of leads you may buy from a reseller may look like a good deal, but not if few end in a closed transaction. Similarly, a high cost on a lead that converts to business more often would be a better investment.
Working with a partner who offers a full real estate marketing program (like The Real Estate Book) also means that you can write one check for all your marketing needs – print, web, mobile, and more – get the tools you need to measure, keep current with marketing trends -- and probably pay less than if you purchased all the various marketing tools a la carte.
Want to learn more? Contact your local Real Estate Book representative.
Want to read more? Check out these articles –
J.C. Penney Resurrects Its Catalog (Wall Street Journal)
Trends in Consumer Mobility (Braun Research for Bank of America)
10 Consumer Trends and Implications for Marketing Practice in 2015 (Huffington Post)