Winning campaign gives power to the people

Images of agents driving fancy cars and pumping iron at the gym are out. Instead, Harcourts Solutions’ award-winning brand marketing campaign preferred to give the power to the people who matter most – their community

There aren’t too many people more equipped to sing the praises of Keperra than Glen Milliner. A former Queensland cabinet minister, Glenand his wife Kay raised their three children in the family-friendly suburb nine kilometres north-west of the Brisbane CBD. In a 68-second Why Buy Here video for Harcourts Solutions, the couple face the camera to explain the amazing sporting and community facilities the place they love and call home has to offer.

Instead of solely featuring the real estate agent spruiking the suburb they sell in, Harcourts Solutions decided to give the power to the people in a marketing campaign that has won them the 2018 AREA award for the Brand Marketing Campaign of the Year.

Marketing with a difference
Harcourts Solutions Director of Growth and Marketing Bridget Gabites says the decision to take a fresh approach to real estate marketing was simple.

“A lot of research went into this campaign, and one of the things we did was questionnaires in the community about what they saw value in.

“The message was simple – make a video that is useful, not a video that strokes our ego.”

The digital video campaign was rolled out across 2018, with five key components, including the Why Buy Here videos, Agent Profile clips and Community Snapshots videos where agents interview business owners and community groups.

They also produced Solutions Sessions videos to answer questions buyers, vendors, landlords and tenants ask, as well as Martin’s Minute, where the Harcourts Solutions Managing Director, Martin Millard, gives business and leadership advice.

“Yes, at the end of the day we had a business goal set against our marketing campaign; but the way we wanted to achieve it was to connect with people on a more personal and community-based level,” Bridget says.

“We feel that is the way real estate is going and we want to create real relationships based on real things.

“As real estate agents we get paid for a specific transaction at a specific time, but we want to be in people’s lives for the next 10, 15 and 20 years.

“We want to be their agent before they even know they need one.

“We are part of the community, and we want to be telling people about where the newest shops are and where the best cafes are.

“We see ourselves as community advocates rather than just going out and doing listing presentations to get business.”

Find your why
Bridget says the Why Buy Here videos had something to offer every member of the community, including vendors.

“Of course we want to tell buyers with children what schools to go to or the quickest way to commute to work,” she says.

“But it goes deeper than that as we want sellers to know they are dealing with someone who really knows and loves the area.

“They want to work with someone who knows the real nitty-gritty about the community and how to use that to get a better price.”

It’s also refreshing to note there are no flashy cars in the Agent Profile videos. Bridget says that’s the opposite of what their research showed people wanted.

“We were told no European cars and no shots of agents doing personal training or boxing,” she says with a wry laugh.

“The message was simple – make a video that is useful, not a video that strokes our ego.”

A personal touch
Instead, the videos showcase the agent in an interview style, talking about who they are outside of real estate and what makes them tick.

It’s simple, yet effective, with some of the clips watched through to the end up to 66 per cent of the time. In an online world where Ad Age shows 33 per cent of viewers stop watching after 30 seconds, that’s no mean feat.

“We wanted to present what makes our agents different, what they do that is unique to them,” Bridget says.

“We wanted to make sure that by the time someone watched that video they knew the agent on a personal level.”

One of the most successful agent profile videos is that of Scott Rumble, with 66.9 per cent of viewers watching his clip until the end. In it, Scott opens up about his family and how before real estate he had a career in the military, but that didn’t define him until he had children of his own.

The videos ran on Facebook from the agents’ business pages and the Harcourts Solutions corporate page along with YouTube and the group’s website.

By the numbers
Bridget says the success of the campaign was not judged solely on the number of views but on the number of comments, shares, likes and page likes.

Website traffic almost doubled from an average 28-day usage of 2,218 views to 4,214 views per 28 days and as high as 6,000 users in 28 days during campaign periods.

On the Harcourts Solutions Facebook page, the number of page likes increased by 24 per cent, while daily reach rose from between 100 and 400 per day to average more than 1,000 per day, with a high of almost 3,000 daily.

The number of likes each post received also rose from two or three to interaction (clicks, likes, comments and shares) of between 2 per cent and 8 per cent. This has been replicated on agent pages as well.

“We’re going to continue to release great information month in and month out,” Bridget says.

“This is not about doing one post and thinking people will remember us. We need to continue to bui

ld real friendships and real relationships.”

Bridget says the Solutions Sessions continue to prove popular.

“They are a real value add,” she says. “We answer the questions people are too scared to ask, and we cover a wide variety of topics that suit people who are selling, buying and renting.

“We feature our agents, property management department and business owners. The videos are not fancy, they’re not expensive, but they are genuine.

“For example, Natalie South, our business development manager, has offered three tips on how to increase the weekly rent of your investment property.”

The man behind it all
In addition to Martin’s Minute, the group also created a 10-minute video about the man behind Harcourts Solutions.

While Martin prefers to stay out of the spotlight, public consultation revealed potential clients wanted to know more about the business and the principal himself.

“It tells his entire story from his bankruptcy to his heart attack and recovery and how Harcourts Solutions came about,” Bridget says.

“We had a team event at a cinema to watch a movie, and before that we played Martin’s video.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.” Bridget says winning the AREA award was a welcome reward for taking what she terms “a dive in the dark”.

“Then we started getting feedback that the market was responding well to it,” she says.

“So to then receive such positive feedback from the industry was a standout. “It encourages us to stay on that path and have confidence.

“It’s also good to be able to market the award to our clients and say ‘we can do great property marketing as well’.”

This year Harcourts Solutions will also work on its Google presence, but Bridget says she can’t give away any further trade secrets just yet.

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.