Now it’s time for the fun stuff!
The first five posts in this series were devoted to the stuff to which people pay little or no attention: business goals translated into marketing strategy, translated to communication strategy, translated to your brand idea, or the story you will tell prospects. An important aspect of this journey was money: how much you are willing to invest in the long-term growth of your business.
In today’s final post of this series, we look at how you tell your story, create a brand presence that separates you from the other agents in your market.
As we stated in the previous post and have discussed elsewhere in the RAD blog, real estate agents are not doing enough to address the importance of their website. Your site is the first point of contact someone has with your brand. In fact, by the time most buyers visit your site, they have already decided on the properties they’re interested in seeing, so they come to your site to determine if you’re the kind of agent with whom they’d like to work. In fact, even with sellers, research suggests that referrals are no longer good enough, especially for people under 50. They want to get a feel for you and your website is the first place to do this. We can (and will) devote more time and space to building a strong agent website, but for the purpose of this post, let’s walk through a few key points:
- Is your site optimized for search? While the big dogs (Zillow, etc) will dominate most search results because of their volume, you still need to be sure you have done everything correctly in terms of tags, text, etc. One thing that can help improve your search results but is rarely used is a blog. Many agents have a site with blog capabilities, but rarely if ever post content of any value (short of a listing)
- Do you offer relevant content? Don’t talk about yourself, but about things visitors would be interested in learning. If you are positioning yourself as an expert in a certain part of town, your site should emphasize and reinforce this expertise.
- Are you doing anything to convert visitors to your site? Many agents have home valuation calculators which means you won’t be unique. But how about offering a series of white papers/ebooks to reinforce your brand positioning (“Everything You Need To Know About The West Side of Town”). By sharing an email for the free download you begin to expand your database to people with whom you’ve made an initial connection.
- Are you using dynamic photography and a simple layout to make the site easy and enjoyable to navigate?
- Do you include interesting stories or features about the listings you present on your site?
- Is your site mobile friendly?
Did you know that MOST real estate agents are using a website that is more than 5 years old? If you’re going to invest in your brand, this might be the first place to consider.
Here’s the thing about social media: it’s great if you are willing to personally invest the time necessary to make it great. Facebook is free and has amazing reach, which is the good news. But if all you are doing is listing your properties, you are turning it into a sales vehicle and nobody is going to “share” a sales vehicle. Here are a few thoughts on how to maximize your social media presence:
- Be consistent; reinforce your brand on an ongoing basis
- Have fun; remember that people don’t want to be sold on social media, but entertained, informed, etc.
- Consider video. This is tricky because video can also be annoying if not done correctly. You have to decide if you have the personality and energy to make video work for you. My friend and KW agent Monica Weakly (My Agent Monica) kicks it on Facebook because she commits herself and her personality to make her Facebook posts engaging.
- Share relevant information about the economy and what’s happening in your community
- If you start to use your blog, promote your posts on Facebook. It’s a great way to get people back to your site
- If you have interesting content (i.e. a white paper about a certain neighborhood, promote it on Facebook)
- Boost your posts to expand reach in your target geography.
Nobody can argue with the power of social media. But the truth is, those getting the most out of social media’s value are the people who are investing valuable time to make it work.
Advertising is an excellent way to build awareness of your personal brand, to tell your story and differentiate you from the mass of agents who are using the same tactics to get a prospect’s attention. The challenge with paid advertising is that it will be difficult for you to make a direct connection between your investment and a lead. For a cold-call intensive industry such as real estate, brand advertising is about creating enough awareness to turn a cold call into a warm call/lead (“Yes, I’ve heard about you”). It may not be an immediate connection but can pay off big time at some point in the future.
In future posts, we will cover each of the following in more detail. But let’s take a quick look at some of your options:
- Digital advertising (banner ads): There is much debate in the advertising world as to the value of banner ads. The truth is, if your message is concise and your imagery compelling, a banner ad serves the same purpose as an outdoor billboard in building your brand. Many marketers focus on click-through-rate (CTR) as the barometer for banner success. But because of “click bots” it is difficult to measure the true value of banner CTR. You may want to consider IPing, offered exclusively by Radio and Digital. IPing targets the devices in the homes you want to reach, delivering a customized ad with a CTR that is 4-5 times greater than an average CTR.
- Outdoor (i.e. billboards, transit): If you can find a billboard in the area of town that is your focus, it is an excellent way to build massive reach of your personal brand. But the key with outdoor is to have a very simple message (7-9 words max) that people can grasp and remember in less than a few seconds. In this case, having a relevant website URL can be a benefit: EastSideHomeAgent.com.
- Radio: The name of our company suggests our affinity for local radio. Radio is a great way to build reach and awareness of your brand and can be surprisingly cost effective if used correctly. Focusing your message on a single station is one way to maximize your radio investment. Also, a DJ endorsement program can provide you with instant credibility because you are borrowing the “equity” a DJ enjoys with his or her audience. To be sure, radio is not always a viable solution, especially in larger, costly, dispersed markets such as New York, Los Angeles, and Houston.
- Pandora: Pandora offers the audio value of radio, but with geographic focus and the opportunity for direct engagement. What’s great about Pandora, you only pay for ads that are “served” to listeners (unlike radio where you pay for the potential to reach an audience). Pandora runs fewer ads per hour so your message has a chance to stand out. And, you can target Pandora ads to reach the zip codes most relevant to your business strategy.
- Local television: We should have grouped local TV with radio because they represent similar opportunities for local agents: broad reach and strong local credibility. Like radio, you can focus your money on a single station for impact. Plus, it is possible to create compelling television commercials for minimal production costs using low-cost image and music libraries. Local television is still valuable if you’re trying to reach a 50+ audience
If you’re one of the handfuls of real estate agents who have mastered the art of working the phones to turn leads into transactions, the marketing journey we’ve covered over the course of this six-part series is likely of little interest to you. Your brand is defined by your doggedness and fearlessness in working the phones, in being rejected 99 times out of 100. But if outbound calling is not your strength or your passion, then you need to figure out how to expose your brand, your story to prospective clients. You may need to take some risks to do this and, to be sure, marketing is inherently risky regardless of the size of your budget. You need to take it step by step, beginning with your business objectives and moving forward strategically. Hopefully, this series can help you build a framework for this step-by-step process. Good luck.