Marketing 101 for real estate agents

When was the last time you had a conversation about marketing a property? Yesterday? The day before? Last week?

And when did you last have a conversation about marketing your business? When did you last review your business marketing strategy? Do you have a business marketing strategy?

In real estate, so often we focus on property marketing and forget to focus on marketing our business brand and service so we can build awareness, increase leads and win market share.

As the market changes, it’s not unusual for business marketing budgets to be the first on the chopping block as real estate agencies work to reduce costs.

But  a period of downturn is actually the most important time to take a more strategic approach to marketing, so you don’t end up losing more business than you should, and you do end up setting your business on a path to growth when the market improves.

Optimising your return on investment starts with getting your foundations right, and from there, building intelligent campaigns that can be refined over time.

Here are a few of our favourite insights for a strong business marketing foundation:

  1. Start with a well-researched business marketing strategy

Would you build a house without first laying a foundation? Would you start laying bricks before you have developed a plan or a blueprint? Would you install doorways that literally lead to nowhere?

No?

Well, if you are marketing your business without first developing a well-researched strategy, that is exactly what you are doing!

A marketing strategy defines where your business is now in terms of its presence, reputation, awareness and success; where you want it to go; and how you plan to get there.

It rests on a number of essential elements, such as:

  • competitive comparison to other similar businesses
  • understanding your own strengths, weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats
  • defining target consumer profiles and personas
  • reviewing the market and current benchmarks
  • and setting clear objectives against which activity can be measured and examined for success.

Without this essential blueprint, we see agencies investing big dollars with little return on investment. We see social media campaigns that point to poorly set up websites. We read company messaging that is inconsistent and confusing. We note blog articles that have been copied and pasted verbatim from site to site.

Ultimately, we end up talking to agency owners who are throwing their hands in the air and dismissing the value of marketing as they cut budgets and damage their opportunity  for future brand growth.

Creating a strategy doesn’t have to be incredibly difficult or time-consuming, but it will be the difference between throwing money at something and hoping it sticks, and effectively building a brand that will stand the test of time.

  1. Invest in your website and content

Do you have a shop front for your agency? Is it neat? Appealing? Clean? Professional?

If you were to do a mailbox drop, would you ever invite people to visit you at a shop front that wasn’t any of these things, but rather, disorganised, difficult-to-find and dated?

When you are sending out emails, running social media campaigns or even handing out business cards, your website is the digital shop front you are inviting people to visit. So invest in it!

At an absolute minimum, your site should be responsive, that is, built for all devices.

Google tells us well over 50% of searches now take place on mobile, so if the door to your digital shop front is closed to mobile users, or too difficult to push open, you are losing countless leads.

Beyond a responsive, intuitive design, your site should do two things:

Firstly, it should promote the properties you have on the market.

Secondly, it should promote what your business and your people stand for — and this means regularly updating it with new value-add content (like blogs) that helps emphasise your personalities and how approachable you are, as well as exemplifying your expertise and knowledge. Content also gives you more opportunity to rank higher in relevant search results.

  1. Be smart when you’re being social

Social media is the darling of real estate marketing right now, with agents spending hours posting to Insta, Facebook and other platforms.

And though recent industry and tech conferences have named socials the potential successor of real estate portals in the future, agents need to keep their finger on the pulse when it comes to major changes affecting this space right now, or risk wasting a lot of time.

While Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcements about a move towards groups and privacy may have huge implications for agents relying on news feeds, changes already in play are affecting your return on investment today!

As an example, Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm has changed a lot over recent years. Notably, posts from business pages are now only organically (for free) shown to around 1% of the business’s followers.

More engaging content can help increase that reach, but if you’re not prepared to pay to play, don’t expect great results.

The bottom line is, social platforms are changing, so we need to a) be more strategic about how we use them  b)be prepared to pay to play and c) most importantly, we need to stop focusing so heavily (or only) on socials and spend equal time and effort on other marketing channels.

  1. Email that is helpful, not annoying

Most agencies send email newsletters, which is a great way to stay connected with clients past, present and future.

Your database is one of your biggest assets when it comes to marketing… but only if you use it well. If you don’t, you could be damaging your brand.

Regular email campaigns like your weekly update on available properties can be very useful, but only for buyers. For sellers, they can be annoying.

This point has been emphasised many times before, but we’ll say it again — segment your lists! Make sure you divide your lists into groups of like-contacts.

Separating buyers and sellers and sending them different messaging and value-adds is a good start, but segmenting further, and using free tools to personalise campaigns more, and automation to create a communication journey, is even better!

  1. Increase engagement using video

Using video to build brand (and market property) has started to catch on, but many real estate agents are still a little reluctant to jump in front of the camera.

Cisco predicts more than 3 trillion minutes of video will be watched online each month by 2021 (TechCrunch), and this prediction rings true if you consider 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every single minute!

Video enables you to engage with your audience in a unique way and really bring your brand story to life. In addition to providing a platform from which you can share your knowledge, exemplifying your expertise, it can also present you as sincere, personable and approachable.

Producing video does not require any more equipment than most of us have in our pocket every day. Your phone camera is usually more than sufficient to get the right shots (especially with the help of a good stabiliser), in the right light, and simple apps can help you cut, edit and bring together compelling communication.

Marketing in real estate: the bottom line…

Just like building a house, business marketing requires careful planning and a solid foundation before we start getting creative with different channels and campaigns we balance on that foundation.

Skipping the crucial planning stage can result in poor return on investment; muddied brands with no clarity; confusing contradictory messaging;  unplanned positioning and low or no return on investment. But get the foundations right, and watch your business grow!

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Amanda McDonald is a marketing consultant with se engage, Sale Ezy’s marketing services team. She is passionate about all things marketing, and loves an opportunity to help businesses develop strategies that lead to improved return on investment.

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