Marketing, as defined by Wikipedia“ is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers.Marketing is used to identify the customer, satisfy the customer and keep the customer”. The last sentence gives a clue as to where most real estate agents go wrong with their marketing – ‘identify, satisfy and keep the customer’. Does your marketing achieve those three goals?
In a presentation at the recent NAR Conference in the US, Peter Knight from the UK’s Property Academy addressed what it takes to create an outstanding marketing program for your business. He did it by presenting 40 different suggestions drawn from some of the world’s most successful marketers. Here are some of the highlights.
AVOID THE ‘NUMBER 1’ CONVERSATION
How often have you heard the claim, “You should hire me because I’m number one?” Have you ever made the claim that “I’m the top agent in this area”, or “I’m an expert in real estate?” When agents constantly make the same claims and offer essentially the same services, there’s no market differentiation.
Knight argues that expertise, professionalism, and excellent customer service should be givens. In order to differentiate your services, you must identify your personal “Separators of Value”. In fact, Knight argues that if you really want your marketing to succeed, your must be so different and unique that people say, “Gosh—that’s amazing!” – (his words not mine.)
To arrive at “Gosh—that’s amazing!”, Knight suggests that you start with the fundamentals. Agents often become caught up in the technology connected to selling the home. For example, we’re focused on the photos, the brochures, how the property appears online, where to advertise the home, and the types of printed material to use. Agents get off track when they lose sight of the fact that a home is really about the memories that are created. For example, a child’s first steps, the garden built over the years, or holidays and special events spent with family. A home is the frame in which we weave the events of our lives.
Agents get off track when they lose sight of the fact that a home is really about the memories that are created.
WHY PEOPLE MOVE
Knight cited a survey that showed that 61 percent of the moves in 2011 were for life stage reasons. To capitalise on this trend, target people who are experiencing a life stage change. This can include getting married, having children, relocating, retiring, or a host of other issues. These are times when people need the services of an agent. Remember we are people serving people.
Many agents fail to draw a distinction between comparable sales and competing properties. A comparable sale has settled. A competing property is still on the market. Why not include competing properties in your ads? Let buyers and sellers see the differences by comparing the major rooms in each of the houses, especially if you are competitively priced. This is an excellent way to help both buyers and sellers be more realistic about prices.
EVERY PROPERTY HAS A STORY
While most real estate marketing focuses on features, buyers purchase based upon the emotional benefits they believe the property offers. Instead of doing the standard description that most agents use, get the “Gosh—that’s amazing!” response by creating a resume for the home that tells as much as possible about the house. For example, who built it, who were the people who lived there, as well as the human side of the home’s story:
“We watched our son take his first steps next to the big hibiscus in the backyard. When he reached high school age, we converted an area under the house, which he called the ‘man cave.’ Now that he is married, it’s still the favorite place for his children to hang out when they come to visit.”
Invite your sellers to share their unique insights about the home as well as any special memories they may have. Ask them what attracted them to buy in the area and what they loved about living there. While this is clearly not an option for all properties, where it is appropriate, it is an extremely effective way to market.
To put this approach on steroids, don’t rely exclusively on written words. Instead, use video to capture 60-90 second clips of the seller describing what matters to them about the property and then use that in your online marketing.
A HOT MARKETING IDEA
Almost every area has a number of people who are local history buffs. It could be someone who is an antique collector or a local historian. In either case, many of these people are eager to find audiences where they can show off their knowledge. You can turn this to your advantage in several different ways.
For example, if your “In-House” Historian likes writing, you can invite the person to post on your blog. You could also have them do a column for your newsletter. If the person is not a writer, you could conduct a video interview at different times of the year.
A major drawback in most agents marketing is that they post the same listing photos on multiple websites. Try changing the photos for each major website where your listing is posted. To do this, shoot pictures from different angles and different distances. If the house has a second story, take photos from a balcony or upper deck looking down into the backyard. Your goal is to have potential buyers view your property a second time rather than skipping over it because they remember the photos that were displayed on another site.
Your goal is to have potential buyers view your property a second time rather than skipping over it because they remember the photos that were displayed on another site.
HO-HUM MARKETING STATEMENTS
Most agents like to market themselves as being “knowledgeable” and as “customer service experts”. Exactly what do these phrases mean? Knight suggests that you use a much more specific approach to describe how and what you are marketing. For example,“We give you feedback every 24 hours on the activity on your home”, “Our sellers sell their homes for 97 percent of their list price”, or “We provide you with a comprehensive market profile each month.” Rather than using some vague marketing slogan, these examples specifically describes what the client will receive in concrete, measurable terms.
Of the many challenges to face the industry in 2012, there is no doubt in my mind that this will be the year of the marketer. Strong marketing messages will be needed to cut through the clutter. Be adventurous and think outside the square.