Is your marketing more focused on how great you are as a real estate agent than what you can do for your clients? Sabri Suby explains how to re-align your pitch to lure customers with value rather than drive them by urgency or fear.
For as long as I can remember, real estate agents have used selfish marketing where the focus is placed on the agent over the vendor. This selfish stance is then amplified by pushy sales tactics that assumes today’s customer is the same as those depicted in the early-nineties film, Glengarry Glen Ross.
When we first started working with real estate clients we soon recognised this selfish approach to marketing themselves was an industry-wide problem. However, we quickly proved that moving away from this inwardly focused marketing was a highly effective strategy for landing big business.
This involved recalibrating the focus from the agent and their achievements—’I am this’, ‘I did that’—to what the agent could do to support the vendor: ‘here’s how I can help you do this’, ‘here’s a helpful guide that I know will interest you’. By sharing knowledge relevant to clients and potential clients, you create value that matters to the customer.
It’s time to stop telling your audience you’re the best (your competitors are saying the same thing). Instead, show them you’re the best: offer real value and see what happens.
Value that matters
We now live in a world where there’s plenty of information literally at our fingertips, but people seek wisdom, not just information, and pushy sales tactics stand out like a sore thumb, immediately putting your target off-side. Your offer should revolve around the concept of ‘value that matters’: accurate information that is relevant and contextual, timely and accessible.
Answering the question ‘what is in it for them?’ should be central to creating value through education. Clients have very specific questions they want answered, so research your market and be laser-sharp with your message to them by focusing on your niche and understanding what they want to know.
For example, having deep knowledge about suburbs gives you a competitive advantage when marketing the area, which is something property owners are desperate for amongst the reams of selfish information they are being fed.
Creating value through education
Have you kicked off a campaign where the call-to-action was ‘contact us for a free property appraisal’? This type of front-footed assertive action might work for those who are ready to sell, however, it’s an almost guaranteed cue to retreat for those who aren’t quite at the point of making the decision to sell. In addition to having a salesperson come into their personal space, they know all too well the risk that this agent will then consider it a free pass to hound them until they submit to sell.
A softer approach, where you meet the needs of the prospect from early on in the sales journey, will help you nurture the lead more effectively. A direct and simple way to encourage potential clients into buying mode is to meet their initial need for information.
Interesting and beneficial content—from a free report or cheat sheet, to webinars, seminars and/or videos—will exhibit value to customers and can coax them from questioning whether they need your services to being ready to talk to an agent.
Ask yourself, ‘what does a potential seller want to know?’. As a real estate expert, your experience means you’ll already have some of the answers. Brainstorm common questions: ‘What is my property worth?’ ‘Do I need to renovate before selling?’ ‘Is my pool an asset or a disadvantage?’
If you’re trying to court property owners, create an ebook on “5 things to know before you sell your house” that vendors can download in exchange for their contact details to give you a warm lead.
Specific targeting is very effective: for example, if your agency specialises in selling inner north Melbourne properties, a piece of direct mail about, ‘How much are homes selling for in Carlton? Download the 2018 price guide’, or even a printed version, gives potential clients a no-strings-attached way to satisfy their curiosity and for you to start the value exchange. Even if they aren’t ready to sell yet, it acts as collateral worth keeping until they do—and when they do, you’ll be top of mind.
As a result of this helpful guide, you will bag some motivated leads. Nurture these with more targeted, more valuable ammunition such as details about how much houses are selling per square metre, per number of bedrooms, and an indication of what to expect if it has a yard, a second bathroom, or a garage etc. This provides a checklist of features people might need to consider and positions you as an expert, knowledgeable contender with deep insight in the area.
Client acquisition in real estate is a long game in which vendors conduct significant research into agents rather than making impulse decisions based on pushy marketing. After all, in most cases this is one of the biggest deals they’ll make with their personal assets, and it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.
Spreading the word
Now that we’ve got your value offer right, you need to use multiple channels to market this value. You will already know that relying on just one channel for leads puts your business at risk. If your single channel fails, for example, your competitors aggressively ramp up their advertising in real estate lift-outs or they obliterate your search ranking online, then your business will suffer.
A multi-channel approach in your marketing plan will ensure consistent business. It’s easiest to start with one channel, which might be SEO (search engine optimisation), that you establish to convert consistently and profitably. Once that’s firing and you have measurable results, you can add others like Google AdWords, Facebook Adverts, Instagram ads, YouTube, LinkedIn, PR and so on.
The double-barrelled combination of understanding value and taking a multi-channel approach is extremely powerful. Your success is proportionate to the value you contribute to your market, a key thing to remember when you engage your competition. Whoever wins that battle is whoever provides the most value.