Real Estate Marketing 101: How to Set Your Business Apart from Your Competition
The real estate market across the country is booming. Home prices are climbing, and there seems to be no shortage of buyers. In fact, in many parts of the country inventory of homes for sale has lagged behind demand, which has created a competitive environment for home buyers and their real estate agents. There are also more real estate agents than ever, intent on earning part of their area’s market-share. More than ever, agents need to think creatively about real estate marketing to attract more home sellers, find engaged buyers, and stay ahead of the steep competition. An active marketing program is essential to build brand equity, improve community outreach, and build a more extensive, stronger referral network. The ultimate goal of real estate marketing is to elevate your name and your brand to attract more clients. This article takes a comprehensive look at all the elements you need as a realtor to help your agency achieve these goals.
Real Estate Marketing 101Real estate marketing is similar to promoting a business in other service-based industries. At its core, real estate marketing must communicate an agent’s competencies to a specific segment of the population, otherwise known as a target market or niche. As with any promotional strategy, a real estate marketing plan must answer the who, what, where, how, and why of their services and who their ideal audience is. The breakdown looks like this:
- Who: for real estate agents, the ‘who’ is split into two broad categories: home sellers and home buyers. To grow a strong referral network, a real estate agent must create relationships with other agents as well as local neighborhood associations. To increase their reach, word of mouth, and direct buyer inquiries, they must target a specific subset of consumers, specifically those who need real estate services.
- What: real estate agents must make clear what their core competencies are, why they’re the best at what they do, and what differentiates them from their competition.
- Where: real estate agents must make clear the breadth of their area of service. Marketing outside of this area is a waste of time, effort, and money.
- How: real estate agents must make clear how to contact them.
- Why: every real estate agent should have a clear pitch, whether in the form of a mission statement or a direct ask for action.
Who: How To Identify Your Target AudienceThe first step in any business marketing plan is to identify the target audience. At a most basic level, you need to know to whom you're selling and where to find them. In a real estate marketing plan, the two primary audiences are home sellers on the one hand and home buyers on the other. The most effective strategy to employ to identify and target these audiences is to create audience personas. Personas are broad generalizations about your ideal client. They allow you (and your marketing team) to create a detailed fact sheet of the primary attributes of your audience. Read more: How to Develop Buyer Personas That Bring in New Business A great way to get started with identifying your ideal audience is to speak with your current referral sources and clients. Ask questions such as:
- How did you identify our business the first time?
- What attracted you to our business as you conducted research?
- Did you interact with our business online? What channels did you use?
- What were the pain points in the home buying process?
- How would you rate the buying process and what could have gone better?
What: How To Build A Strong Real Estate BrandThe best brands create strong foundational narratives, establish strict brand consistency, and build a robust brand reputation. There are many tools and tactics used to make this happen. A fundamental aspect of a strong brand is the initial presentation. This includes the name, logo, and tagline of an organization. The initial presentation should appear professional (no logos drawn by your kids, nieces, or cousins), clearly communicate what you do, and attract a broad appeal.
LogosLogos are an essential visual aid for your audience. It is often the first part your brand your audience will see, and as such, it needs to draw attention. The first consideration should be whether you prefer a text-only logo or a symbol logo. A symbol logo tends to draw more attention, but they also risk appearing unprofessional depending on the quality of that symbol (i.e., it is easy to see whether or not you hired a professional graphic designer). However, a symbol logo can carry a deeper meaning for the brand, particularly when it is attached to a foundational narrative. The good news is that professional quality logos are often quite affordable. A local marketing agency, graphic designer, or freelance labor site will provide high-quality logos according to your preferences. Play with a few designs, and ask for constructive feedback from peers before publishing a logo.
TaglineThe tagline should be short, to the point, and make clear what you do as an organization. Here are a few examples of what a tagline for a real estate agent might look like:
- Providing Outstanding Real Estate Service to Our Community
- Excellence in Home Sales
- Committed to Excellence in Real Estate
Foundational NarrativesHuman beings love stories, and the most effective brands are those with the most compelling narratives. When you think of Apple, for example, you think of Steve Jobs and his rocky climb to fame and fortune. Similarly, when you think of amazon.com, you think of Jeff Bezos and his brilliant idea to sell books on a nascent internet. Or, when you think of Virgin, you think of Richard Branson and his keen eye for business opportunities across multiple sectors. If you don’t have a long operating history, fret not. You can build a good narrative around simple questions like “who are you?” and “what makes you the best person to help me find or sell a home?” In real estate, these narratives often center around how an agent entered the industry and, generally, espouse certain core beliefs that were present at the outset of the agent’s career. Creating a compelling story for your agency will take some creativity and requires the input of others. Don't shy away from collaborating with colleagues for their contributions and feedback on what makes your agency stand out. Try to explore key elements of its history jump out at you when considering key aspects of the real estate sales process, such as trust, experience, reliability, and knowledge of the local area.
Brand ConsistencyOne of the most critical components of a healthy brand is to establish brand consistency. Nothing will dissuade home sellers and buyers more than to see a brand change repeatedly, whether they are changes in the foundational narrative, logo, tagline, even colors. Therefore, it is essential to create a brand guidelines document. A brand guidelines document establishes the rules surrounding the use of your brand. With strict brand guidelines, your brand does not risk falling into a rut of inconsistency in the event there is turnover in your marketing department.
Establish Your Real Estate Agency As An AuthorityThe best real estate marketing plans focus on establishing the brand as an authority in your area. This means producing and curating content that demonstrates your organization’s acumen in specific subjects, especially the business of buying and selling in your locale or region. This approach must align with the traits of your target audience. If you want to display your knowledge and expertise on particular styles of homes to attract more affluent home sellers to your network, focus on those subjects. The goal is to provide educational materials that give value to your audience and paint your real estate agency as an authority and perhaps even a thought-leader in the industry. As your audience views you more and more as an expert in your subject, this will also start to build your brand reputation.
Protect Your Brand ReputationProtecting your brand reputation is an internal affair. It requires real estate agents to continually monitor several key indicators that may affect your brand, including administrative competence and efficiency, client satisfaction, and employee satisfaction. Although these matters often fall outside of a marketing manager’s remit, it's in the best interests of the department to build a foundation of positive brand reviews and positive word-of-mouth. Nothing will hurt those efforts more than a poor brand reputation or criticism from inside the company. Read more: The Key to Unlocking a Better Brand Reputation Online How to Build Brand Reputation with Credentials and a Custom Number [search-tag]
Where: How To Define Your ReachIt is essential to define where you intend to reach your audience. The general trend in marketing is shifting toward local, including in search engines such as Google and Bing. This is a huge help to local businesses, such as real estate agencies, with physical locations in the areas they serve. To cast the most extensive net for your real estate marketing brand, seek out a few tools to help your organization identify to search engines as a local business and reach a full breadth of potential clients. The following are a few tools that will list your real estate agency on every local directory site on your behalf:
How: How To Drive More Calls To Your AgencyA phone call lead is 10x likelier to convert into a client than any other type of lead. Yes, an aptly named domain, such as www.myrealestate.com, will also help home buyers and sellers find your agency, but real estate marketing takes more than that. A set of well-aligned marketing assets taken together are what make certain realtor brands stand out. Study after study has shown that consumer recall is highest with branded phone numbers. Phone numbers like 1-866-NEW-HOME or 1-800-MOVE-NOW, if utilized correctly, will significantly increase your marketing response rates (i.e., how many people respond to your marketing). When added to a logo, a tagline, on collateral, vehicles, clothing, yard signs, or even shared merely through word of mouth, 1-866-NEW-HOME would serve as a useful branding and marketing tool to help home buyers and sellers remember your brand and reach out to you when they want to buy or sell a home.
Why: How To Create A Clear Marketing PitchThe key to an effective marketing pitch is to identify the needs of your clients. What do they need? What is their pain point? The first step toward recognizing a need is to interview people who fall within your audience parameters. Home sellers of million-dollar homes, for example, may express that they only want qualified buyers to view the house. Home buyers will have a set budget and family needs (number of rooms, etc.). With a clear pain point to address, you can start to craft your pitch. A good, engaging pitch can be split into three separate parts. They are:
- The hook: hook your audience by exposing their pain point. The best hooks are questions whose answers are the pain point you are trying to expose. Example: has your family outgrown your home?
- The pitch: Once your audience has acknowledged their pain point by answering your question, you must then give your solution. Example: We have the home upgrade for you.
- Call to action: Make sure you create a clear path to action to drive calls or website visits. Example: Call 866-NEW-HOME to learn more.
Strategies To Reach Your Target Audience
SEO For Real Estate AgenciesSEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. What it boils down to is preparing your website in such a manner that search engines, such as Google and Bing, index your site and serve your information as a search result to people who are using the search engine. Their goal is to fulfill consumer intent, meaning they match content with what they think the searcher intended to find. For most business owners SEO takes a lot of time, including a lot of it wasted on trial and error. This is one of the reasons that third-party SEO agencies and search marketing firms are so successful these days. That being said, if you’re feeling up to doing it yourself, here is a quick checklist to help you send out some of the right signals to search engines for your website.
- Set up your business on Google My Business and Bing Places. Be sure to add all of your locations.
- Set up your Google Search Console and claim your website to view analytics. Search Console allows you to see search traffic, impressions, crawl errors, etc.
- Optimize your web pages by reworking your content to match particular keywords. Some companies specialize in helping you do this, including Yoast SEO and MOZ.
- Produce and share fresh content on a regular basis.
- Hire in-house experts or outsource SEO link-building and off-page SEO.
- Ensure your business directory listings are in place on major sites like Yelp, YP, and others.
- Build a foundation of positive reviews on sites like Google and Facebook.
Local Real Estate MarketingSEO is hugely competitive, meaning some real estate agencies may not see the value in competing for rankings on search engines. This is especially true if it requires an investment of thousands of dollars a month to do it correctly (with no guaranteed results). For most real estate marketing plans, the primary strategy is to employ more established advertising methods. Local marketing out in the real-world can be just as effective as appearing in a search listing, with the added advantage that you can use all of your branding ideas and assets to make your agency stand out. Read more: Local Marketing Ideas You Might Not Have Considered As the article above suggests, there are potentially hundreds of ways to get the word out about your services on a local level. This includes mailers, collateral, car decals, among others. Sponsoring charities, rallies, and educational workshops are also fantastic methods of reaching a wider audience with your message. The key is to be sure to promote education and community outreach through every channel employed.
Social Media AdvertisingSocial media advertising can target specific populations with frightening detail. One of the most effective forms of real estate marketing in the modern environment is to make use of Facebook advertising. You can target audiences by area, age, gender, employment, interests and, in some cases, specific demographics such as income level, home ownership, among others. Facebook ads are also cheap compared to other advertising outlets. Especially for local ads, Facebook is the platform that will stretch your real estate marketing dollar the furthest with the highest returns. There are several other social media platforms you can use to expand your reach and share what your agency can do. Make sure you experiment with them but only spend the bulk of your marketing efforts on those that show a clear return on investment. Read more: Pick the Perfect Social Media Platforms for Your Business This article provides the overall approach and brand assets you can use to get your real estate marketing up and running. Depending on your area and personal approach, you'll find some tactics more effective than others. Take advantage of the deeper reading and in-depth articles we've provided in the Read More entries above to hone your skills, fine-tune your agency's marketing, and build a real estate brand that stands out from the competition in your area!
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