Quick! Name the number one marketing preference among real estate agents. If you guessed anything having to do with past client follow-up, give yourself an attaboy, or girl. We all know that warm calls are the easiest to make, so, naturally, following up with former clients to ensure a steady stream of referrals is preferred over other marketing tactics.
On the cusp of 2013, we got to thinking about what methods real estate agents, in a recovering housing market, will use to drum up business. Will they go after the typical cheap and easy marketing tactics, or will they be bold and step away from the pack? Stick with the old and tired or adopt the new and unique?
If a well-known real estate website is to be believed, the universe of real estate agents is populated with tight-fisted cheapskates who think “the cheaper the better” when it comes to marketing. Even though open houses really aren’t good lead generators – when compared to other methods – they came out near the top of this company’s list after interviewing 500 agents.
Online lead generation services and e-mail campaigns ranked up there as well. Notice, if you will, one of these preferences is perfect for the cheapskate agent: It’s free.
If you agree that one must spend money to make money, then you will also agree that this adage is never more important than it is when it comes to marketing your business. With the new year right around the corner, let’s take a look at some marketing methods that we expect will be gaining ground with real estate professionals in 2013.
Yes, we know that video has been around for a while. We’ve seen the cheesy “meet the agent” videos and the nothing-more-than-slide-shows-set-to-music videos. Creative use of video, however, is a concept that is just starting to take off as more and more agents begin to feel comfortable stepping away from the herd.
Agents incorporate video marketing in several ways:
Agent Branding Videos
No offense, but too many real estate agents’ branding videos are about as compelling as the “About Me” page on their websites. Like all marketing strategies, some get it, some don’t.
Los Angeles real estate professional Spencer Krull is a man who gets it. Krull decided that the best way to stand out from the masses of other agents was through the use of humor, in particular, a series of self-effacing funny videos.
While a video series, when done well, compels visitors to return to your site to find out what whacky thing you’ve put together lately, the stand-alone video can be just as effective at branding yourself. Manhattan Beach, California agent Greg Geilman’s “meet the agent” video is a perfect example of how just one video can set you apart from everyone else.
In fact, his innovative video techniques led Geilman to be named RealEstate.com’s Real Estate Pro of the Week in June, 2012. He explains that, aside from his “meet-the-agent” video, he hosts additional videos on his website. These feature not only his listings, but testimonials from former clients as well. All these videos combined help the viewer get to know Geilman in a non-threatening, non-salesy manner.
Notice, too, that both agents understand the importance of high production value in their videos. Like every element in your marketing campaign, whether you are branding your sense of humor or your down-to-basics method of doing business, videos should be polished to perfection.
Marketing in real estate is a two-pronged endeavor: marketing your business and marketing your client’s listings.
The listing video has evolved over the past few years to where, in some cases, it rivals some of Madison Avenue’s most clever offerings.
Take for example, Beverly Hills agent Eric Lavey’s presentation for a listing he took in the Hollywood Hills. In a video that is very much Wall Street meets Hollywood, Lavey’s production sells the lifestyle to sell the home.
Which is not to belittle video’s role in replacing the virtual tour to market a property, as Malibu estate owner Dee Anna Staats found out when she commissioned a unique video to highlight the $35 million home’s features.
While the aforementioned videos are amazing – maybe even expected for the luxury agent’s listings – a lot of agents don’t have a huge marketing budget. Agent Dennis Hearing finds that he can get the job done with just a handheld video camera.
We believe that 2013 is going to bring out the videographer in agents all across the country, and foresee a rush to pull from websites less-than-professional video content. At least that’s our hope.
We hear what you’re saying: “Wait a minute, you guys. Aren’t videos considered content?” They sure are, but to talk exclusively about videos at the expense of text is to do a disservice to the overall marketing plan.
Most of the agents we spoke with like the idea of content marketing – mainly because it doesn’t bust their marketing budget and even the most resource-challenged agent can use it.
What, exactly, is content marketing? According to Content Marketing Institute Founder, Joe Pulizzi, content marketing is “a marketing process to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating content in order to change or enhance a consumer behavior.”
In other words, consistently adding content to your website that is relevant to your clients is good for your business. Think of it as selling without being salesy – selling by educating.
“Relevant” is the key word here. Dale Carnegie, in “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” tells a story about how much he loves strawberries and cream. When he goes fishing, however, he doesn’t bait the hook with strawberries because, although he prefers the snack, he knows the fish want worms or crickets. To get what he wanted (the fish) he took the time to find out what the fish wanted and gave it to them.
Carnegie also reminded us that “All things being equal, people do business with people they know, like and trust.” Content marketing, if done properly, helps build relationships, which, in turn, helps prospective clients get to know you, like you and trust you.
Tip: Tools to make content marketing easier are all over the place. For starters, we like this Editorial Calendar Plugin for WordPress.
Mobile computing is on fire right now, and we don’t see the flames being doused anytime during 2013. It’s important to assess your website’s ability to support mobile access and make the necessary changes if it doesn’t. For starters, check out how your website looks on a mobile device at TestMySiteNow.com.
If your site passed the test, congratulations – you just saved some money and a whole lot of time.
If it didn’t, you may want to consider bringing it up to date. One of the least expensive ways of doing this is by transitioning to a responsive website theme, which supports all devices. While there aren’t as many responsive WordPress themes available as others, new ones are being created every day as the demand increases.
Tip: Dustin Betonio recently compiled a list of the “60+ Best Responsive WordPress Themes” at TripWired for you to get an idea of what’s out there right now.
Why do we think it’s an important marketing tool for the real estate professional? Check this out: Twenty-four percent of consumers who conduct “local” searches are highly tech-savvy users who own multiple mobile devices. This group accounts for 50 percent of all local searches, according to an immr Local Search Study, conducted in October of this year.
The study also finds that searches from mobile devices and tablets are increasing toward PC levels. We’ll look into this further when we discuss Location Based Marketing in our next batch of Real Estate Marketing Tactics for 2013. In the meantime, feel free to let us know about your expectations for hot marketing trends in 2013.