The Best Real Estate Marketing Strategy - 5 Rules for Exponential Growth
How to Market a Real Estate Company
Knowing how to market your real estate company successfully can be the difference between success and failure in a sometimes unpredictable market. Building a presence in your local community and exposing your brand to as many people as possible can be a challenging task, but will be critical to sustaining your business. Real estate marketing is an ongoing process requiring significant time and attention, but you can increase your chances for success if you do things right.
Defining Your Company
Define your company image.How you choose to market your real estate company will have a major impact on the clients you attract, your volume of business, and how you conduct business on the whole. Ask yourself some of the questions below and try to look at your company through the eyes of potential clients.
- Who is your target audience? Are you trying to attract first-time home buyers, small business owners, growing families, or some other group?
- What are your business strengths? How can you capitalize on these? What about your weaknesses? How might you improve these?
- Where do you want your business to be in a year? Five years? Ten years? Try to see the big picture and determine whether a large investment in advertising is a practical option.
- What types of real estate are you selling? It might not make sense to go all-out on pricey advertisements if your average home sale/purchase price is 0K, for example.
Create a brand.If your company doesn't already have one, develop a logo or other visual element to go along with your visual media marketing. Your brand will be an identifying symbol by which your target market will come to recognize you.
- Make sure your brand suits your target clientele. For instance, it will be especially important to develop an elegant and tasteful logo if you are aiming to attract a wealthy or elderly subset of the population, whereas something more catchy or bold might be more appropriate for bringing in younger clients.
- If you already have a logo, consider how it might be improved and the sunk cost involved in updating it (such as the money you've already spent on print ads or billboards).
- If you are not the artistic or visual type, consider hiring a consulting artist or designer to spruce up your brand image.
- Use your brand in all real estate advertising and marketing; this includes print, television broadcast, and online ads. You want your brand to become synonymous with your company.
Choose a specialty.If you don't already have a specialty, consider selecting a category of real estate on which you'd like to focus your business. This can be anything you are qualified to do, from beachside bungalows to 50,000 square foot commercial buildings. Having a specialty can help you narrow down your marketing efforts.
- For many businesses both within and outside real estate, the key to success is finding and filling a niche. Do some research to find out whether any market subgroups are underrepresented by real estate companies in your area. If demand is high enough, you can benefit by tailoring your company to this gap in the market.
- You may find that marketing your company becomes easier once you've identified a niche. This is because even a small amount of advertisement can alert interested clientele to your existence if you are the only game in town.
- Having a niche can also help you to target your marketing efforts. For example, if you are a buyer's agent brokerage, then you might want to advertise on TV or have a first time buyers seminar.
- Keep in mind that your niche should be something you have experience and special training or education to help you be successful. You can also use your credentials in advertisements for your services.
Determine a marketing budget.Assess your company's resources and the cost of various advertising options. This will help you settle on a budget for marketing that will be enough to get your brand out there without bankrupting you. Consider also what and who you are up against to avoid being overshadowed by larger, more visible competitors.
- Be sure to take into account your target clientele and their habits. For example, don't spend K on local cable television ads if you are targeting young adults fresh out of college, as a large portion of them are not likely regularly watching cable TV. Do some research on advertising strategies suited to your target market.
- Consider consulting a financial analyst or accountant (or your company's in-house finance representative) if you are not sure how to set an appropriate marketing budget. An appropriate marketing budget is usually between 7 to 10% of your annual income. If you do not yet have an annual income because you are just starting out, then get business cards and hand them out to everyone you meet.
- Keep in mind that there are many free advertising options available to you as well, such as by using social media and posting on online listing sites such as Craigslist. Consider all of your possibilities for free advertising as you plan your approach.
- If necessary, look into business loan options to boost your advertising funds.
Marketing through Traditional Media
Take out a newspaper ad.This is one of the oldest mediums for visual marketing and can still be highly effective. Newspaper print ads are a good way to get the attention of regular readers, especially if your ad appears frequently.
- To do this, contact your local newspaper by phone or email, which is usually provided in the newspaper's advertisements section.
- Although they usually cost more, newspaper ads with pictures (or at least featuring a brand logo) will be much more likely to be noticed and remembered by readers.
- Again, consider your audience. If you want to reach young buyers, newspaper print ads might not be the way to go. In addition, newspaper ads are a shotgun approach and the majority of readers may not be potential customers.
- Newspaper ads may be cheap, but are not as targeted as other approaches.
Send out solicitations by mail.If you are interested in finding clients looking to sell their homes or properties, send out advertisements for your business to homeowners in neighborhoods where you have recently represented a seller. This tells potential clients looking to sell that you have already successfully handled similar deals in their area.
- In your mailer, highlight one or two specific homes sold by your clients and provide basic information about the house(s). Images are a plus!
- Have your solicitations professionally designed and printed on heavy duty card stock or photo paper to convey a professional image to potential clients.
- Don't forget to include several means by which your company may be contacted. At a minimum, this should include a phone number, email, and business address.
- Consider including a photo of yourself on the mailer next to the company contact information. This might help recipients see the ad as more personal and make them less likely to toss it away before reading it.
Advertise in public locations.These kinds of ads can appear on anything from coffee shop flyers to freeway billboards and should be visually appealing, simple, and informative. Your approach should take into account your company's marketing budget, your clientele, and your real estate niche, if applicable.
- Since many public advertisements will only be seen for a few seconds at a time by passersby, you should make your brand and contact information large and noticeable. Make sure that any pictures in the ad are colorful and not confusing to the eye as well. Also, be aware of the federal fair housing guidelines when you are planning your ads.
- Make sure you comply with any state and/or local laws and regulations regarding business advertisement, such as being required to print licensing or brokerage information on the ad itself.
- To get in touch with the proper individuals for setting up visual marketing arrangements, check online for advertising information pertaining to the exact location, agency, or business where you wish to have your ad displayed.
Make portable signs.Create signs that can be placed at intersections or neighborhood entrances while the properties currently listed with your company are on the market. This will not only help promote your brand, but also could help you make a sale! Use the following tips to help draw attention to your signage:
- First, you must include a provision for your sign in the sale contract, so that the homebuyer can approve its placement.
- Be sure to check local restrictions on the use of signs.
- Keep the design simple and easy to read by limiting it to two or three contrasting (and eye-grabbing) colors.
- Avoid using images on these signs other than your company brand so basic company information can more easily be seen in a matter of a few seconds by passing motorists.
- For calm weather days, consider tying colorful balloons or other attention-grabbing objects to your signs to increase their visibility.
- Be sure to retrieve portable signs at the end of a showing, even if you plan to put them up again the next morning. This will keep them from being stolen or vandalized overnight (and protects your investment, however small).
Create a radio or TV advertisement.These can be the most expensive types of marketing campaigns, but often reach the largest audiences. However, consider that only a very small portion of this audience may be potential clients. You will need to contact a cable or broadcasting company in your area (the specific radio or television station you are considering) to ask about your options. Consider public access TV or radio if you cannot afford private channel broadcasting costs.
- Design an ad that is memorable and that will resonate with your target audience. You can come up with a short tune ('jingle') or slogan to help accomplish this, or hire someone with experience in this area to assist you.
- Be sure to feature an informative, concise speech about your company and its services in your ad. If you are not a good speaker, find someone who is and put them in the ad instead.
- Repeat important contact information such as your web address and phone number so viewers/listeners can take note of it.
- Consider incorporating a gimmick or tasteful joke into your ad that will grab the attention of inattentive audiences, but only if this fits your brand image and target clientele.
Develop a website.Your site should be user friendly and should be set up to include an internet data exchange (IDX) or Multiple Listing Service (MLS) feed that allows prospective clients to search listings anonymously without needing to contact you. These systems allow your website to stay current and gives customers the freedom to research your listings without pressure from an agent.
- In the modern real estate market, a strong internet presence is critical to be competitive and successful. Having a poorly-designed or infrequently-updated website can cost you business and even gain you a reputation for incompetence. Avoid this pitfall by making your website a marketing priority.
- Consider hiring a web developer to design your website if you do not have website programming knowledge or experience. This can be a tricky thing to accomplish without the proper know-how. Considering the importance of having a functioning website, this is probably a worthwhile investment.
- Make certain your website implements search engine optimization (SEO). This is a means of ensuring that your website will show up high on major search engine results lists.
- Make it easy for visitors to your website to contact you. Don't bury your phone number or email address under three levels of page tabs; put this information at the top or bottom of the website's front page.
- Consider including a lead capture system on your website along with a backend database. This will allow you to develop a drip campaign and/or send out general information.
Use social networking.Much like having a good website, social media is becoming an essential element of business marketing in the 21st century. While the importance of having a social media presence may vary depending upon your target market, there is no denying that the quickest way to spread information about your business is through social media.
Draw attention to your company using online tools.There are a host of online mediums that can add visibility and legitimacy to your company's image. A few examples are listed below:
Generating Business through Word of Mouth
Build networks.The key to gaining a sizable client base is getting the word out to as many people as possible about your business. To do this, ask everyone you know to spread the word about your business to their personal contacts whenever possible.
- Form mutually-beneficial relationships with other Realtors. While you shouldn't expect your competitors to direct their own potential clients to you, it could be very useful to have a contact who specializes in a different kind of real estate sales or lives in another city. This way, she can send clients your way without losing any business herself, and you can do the same for her.
- Make sure to update your address and other contact information on Google so people can easily find you. This will also allow people to use GPS navigation to get to your office and identify your office as one of the ones that may be close to them.
- Realtors may be willing to work with you on transactions because all parties will benefit. Real estate commissions are often shared by the listing broker, the broker representing the seller, and the broker representing the buyer.
- Politely ask friends and family members to tell their own friends, families, and coworkers about your business. Having people who know you well vouch for you and your company can go a long way toward gaining new clients.
- Ask past clients to tell everyone they know about their experience working with you (especially if the transaction went smoothly). Most people are happy to refer their friends and families to businesses with which they have had positive experiences.
Keep in touch with past clients.Even if your clients had a great experience with you, their tendency to bring up your company when talking with their friends and families will fade with time. Maintain fairly regular correspondence with old clients so they will continue to spread the word about your company.
- Ask your clients to fill out a short questionnaire with their birthday, contact information, and mail preferences. Keep this information and reference it often so you can send out appropriate correspondence whenever you can (without overdoing it).
- Send past clients "just sold" email flyers, monthly company newsletters, and holiday/birthday greeting cards. To avoid becoming an annoyance, be sure to get clients' permission to do this first! This is important because you may want to include their names in a variety of different places, such as on listing presentations, other types of print advertising or emails, or regular mail. Have each client sign a permission form that includes their testimonial and that clearly lists the places where their names may appear.
- Provide past clients with something of value. For example, you could offer them a yearly free valuation of their property and include a report on the neighborhood trends.
Offer referral incentives.By having a structured incentive program in place, you can encourage previous clients to send potential clients your way. Be sure to mention the incentive(s) to your clients during the home-buying/selling process and include a pamphlet about it along with the other paperwork they receive at the close of the transaction.
- Only offer incentives for referrals that result in a successful sale and communicate this clearly to your clients.
- You may want to create a structured incentive program that rewards successful referrals according to the sales price of the resulting transaction. For instance, you could offer in Home Depot gift cards for every ,000 of the home sale that resulted from a referral.
Send a thank you to those who send clients your way.For each serious potential client you receive through a referral, send a small gift and personalized letter to the person who made the referral (whether or not it results in a successful sale). This will always be appreciated and will improve the chance that a referrer will continue to spread the word about your business.
- Thank-you gifts for referrals do not need to be expensive or fancy -- A restaurant gift certificate, picture frame, or potted plant will do the trick. It's the gesture that counts!
- Hand-write your letter for a personalized feel. Many people find written letters to be more sincere and personal, so opt for this instead of a typed and printed (or emailed) version.
- Marketing your company is an investment that will only pay off if you are smart about it. If you feel like you are in over your head in terms of marketing responsibilities, speak to a consultant or advertising specialist.
- Keep in mind that once you start marketing yourself, you may end up becoming a target for people in the marketing industry. They may try to contact you and promise you instant success if you hire them. However, keep in mind that there are no guarantees. Do your research before you hire anyone.
- Think of marketing as an ongoing and ever-changing responsibility. Learn what works and what doesn't and tailor your strategy accordingly.
- Not all publicity is good publicity. Recognize that if you open your business up to anonymous public critique (such as on social media or on Yelp.com), you might receive the occasional bad review. If you do get a bad review, then respond to it in a polite, helpful manner. This will help to show that you are a positive person who is willing to look into complaints and improve the situation.
Video: Designing a High-Impact Real Estate Marketing Plan
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