Realtors: Build your Digital Marketing Strategy when Times are Good

Wild and Wacky Real Estate Market

The GTA real estate market is the best it’s ever been. Endless buyers and sellers. And prices have risen 14 to 18% in York, Durham, Toronto, Mississauga.  Home sellers are getting whatever they ask. The  US real estate market is growing well too.

Is all this prosperity going to last?  Realtors need to think long term — for the next 5 to 10 years. One fact is certain — buyers are online. More and better leads will come from Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and direct visits to your website. Digital marketing represents an opportunity to lead your market and keep you in business.

Do you have a cohesive plan and a process to build more high quality leads, boost sales and maintain client  loyalty?  Don’t discount a plan, because it’s vital  in focusing your energies as an agent and creating a sustained effort for success. Plans give you confidence to take calculated risks. Part of that plan will be to enlist the dedicated help of a digital marketing expert.

Barbara Corcoran hardly needs introduction. Read her motto below:

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Do It Yourself

When you hear that a house flipper intends to rehab a house, with all the plumbing, foundation work, floors, carpentry, roofing, landscaping and electrical all by himself, what would you think? So what do you think of real estate agents who go it alone?

If do-it-yourself marketing hasn’t worked, then find an excellent digital marketer who can spend the time on your realty business and help you solve your specific challenges. That person will be a key asset to your business. Don’t hire an agency. They’re geared for a different crowd. You need a specialist.

When times are good — that’s precisely when you need to work on your real estate business so it will sustain any downturn that might happen. You’ve got a window of opportunity, not only to make your business sustainable, but to really grow it.

This infographic reveals how successful agents ramp up their use of digital marketing technology.

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US realtors optimism continues to rise. Graphic courtesy of Emerging Trends in Real Estate® United States and Canada 2015 report.

I talk a lot about fast growing businesses because faster growth generates optimism and takes advantage of profitable conditions that don’t last. And is having too many new clients a big problem for you?

What are Your Real Estate Business Pains?

Most realtors will cite:

  1. lack of reach to prospects
  2. lack of reach in finding qualified buyers
  3. lack of time to process leads
  4. inability to convince sellers to hire you or to negotiate with buyers
  5. inability to engage continuously with former clients and keep your network strong and active
  6. difficulty with efficient showing and selling process
  7. strong competition (1.3 million real estate agents in North America)
  8. no time or skill in creating website content
  9. no ability to create a digital content strategy
  10. no skills with web analytics — don’t know what’s happening

These are real pains.  The key is to get help.  And do this right now while you’ve got the cash flow and the positive energy. Try to do it in a downturn and you’ll be overwhelmed by what’s required.

A Great Real Estate Website is a Huge Asset

A great website and excellent social pages won’t marginalize your interpersonal skills and effectiveness. Your digital assets can be used to showcase and support them and build your personal brand. Video, infographic resumes, and a full time Linkedin/Twitter networking strategy are just a few tactical features you might use to support your sales effort.

As an example of a great real estate website, the Calgary Home Boys site is something to check out. It’s search functionality and backend lead management is impressive.  Digital marketing is much more than web pages however. This blog will remind you of concepts you probably have vague understanding of such as; a significant, personalized, unique value proposition, hypergrowth strategy, funnel conversion optimization, content strategy, persuasive copywriting, and creative SEO.

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Calgary Home Boys website built by Real Estate Webmasters

And their use of video is effective too:

Here’s the top 12 Assets Realtors need in an effective digital marketing strategy:

  1. a website that provides visitors with access to view MLS listings and your broker’s listings
  2. a website that showcases your own listings and impels buyers to make contact
  3. a website that is attractive and promotes your personal brand
  4. a Linkedin page that helps you network with professionals who are great prospects
  5. a Twitter page that keeps prospects well informed, up to the minute
  6. a Facebook page that lets you connect with them on a personal level
  7. consistent high quality social engagement
  8. content that is convincing of your skills and ability to generate results
  9. well conceived content strategy
  10. a blog that showcases valuable insights and perspectives — intensifying the meaning of buying and selling homes and encouraging people to progress with their lives
  11. SEO strategy that maximizes exposure on Google
  12. SEM strategy that includes email, remarketing, and PPC text ads

Overall, your digital marketing strategy is a process of building connections, communicating your significant, unique value proposition.  Start off with a Internet marketing audit to give you a plan of action. Then you can master and execute each aspect and orchestrate them for ongoing brand building and prospecting.

Hire Someone Dedicated and Capable

Can you do this all yourself and will you do it well? If you’re like most realtors, you need all your time for prospecting. People buy and sell homes and condos on emotion.  That means face to face interaction to build that emotion.  Digital marketing needs to support your everyday face to face engagements.

Doing it yourself, or hiring a real estate web design or SEO company is not going to bring the results you need over the next 5 years.  Automated marketing approaches won’t work. You need someone dedicated to your business, to understand and develop new business for you using a comprehensive digital marketing strategy.

It won’t hurt to have me look at your situation and give you ideas on how you can make the most of digital marketing.

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Realtor.com and Realtor.org

The National Realtors Association Websites

Realtor.com the official website of the National Association of REALTORS  which operates in the US. NAR as it’s known owns the copyright on the acronym REALTOR® and MLS® which stands for the association’s multiple listing service.

realtorcomlogosNAR as an association has 1 million members practicing across all states.  NAR considers itself a facility for professional development, research and exchange of information among its members.  It offers guidelines and training for realtors, and news about the state of real estate in all states and nationally. NAR offers member’s help in realtor marketing, home listing guidelines, and info on home prices and affordability in all states.

According to Wikimedia, Realtor.com has a relationship with 900+ multiple listing services (MLSs) and displays more than 3 million for-sale listings in its own database. These listings represent more than 97% of all MLS-listed homes for sale.

Realtor.com was purchased for almost $1 Billion by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. in 2014.  The company owns move.com, and Top Producer – a leading marketing and lead generation system for real estate professionals, along with tigerleads.com an realtor lead generation company.

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One of the Top Visited Real Estate Websites

Ranked as the 100th most visited site by Americans, realtor.com has traffic above million per day and is an important source of realtor leads. Keyword Spy suggests the company pays over $31,000 daily on Google Adwords ads and that it bids on more than 111,000 unique keyword phrases. 

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Amazingly, Zillow.com has much more daily traffic as the graphics below reveal:

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Consumers use the realtor.com site to search for homes and realtors use it to read news updates, learn sales and marketing tips, and read about home design and research statistics.

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Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Phoenix, New York, Boston, Seattle, Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, and Charlotte all have their own local MLS associations and they feed their homes for sale listings into the NAR database. This is why many homebuyers go to realtor.com to search. Toronto and Vancouver are governed by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) at realtor.ca.

Although the association is well known realty site, it is still dependent on Google for a good portion of its traffic. This means brand strength and ranking power for SEO is an important asset for NAR and realtor.com.

The fact that home buyers search for homes for sale or condos for sale on Google, is a big reason for creating unique content and optimizing that content for high rankings. If your current realtor marketing plan is not leveraging the power of organic search lead generation, then you’re leaving money on the table, and underlying your long term sustainability in real estate sales. Check out my realtor marketing packages and discover a level of service you’ll be impressed with.

Relying on word of mouth networking today is really old school and providing diminishing returns. Other modern realtors will reach your old contacts and impress them with their value proposition. Your contacts and former customers are not a sure thing for future sales.

Infographics: Your UVP is the Number One Determinant of Your Business Success

Your Customers Should Understand Your Unique Value

What one business statement makes everything you’re doing make perfect sense? It’s your UVP.

Creating this statement can be a fun and illuminating experience, if you’re passionate about your business. I hope you are.

eyechartuvpMost businesses fail or succeed due to this one factor: their unique value proposition.  This statement of who you are and what you offer makes choosing your company a no-brainer for your customer.  It helps you differentiate your product/service/company as the only one your customer should consider. You’ll build loyalty, sales, and an unbeatable brand — in any industry when you do it right.

Creating an accurate, perfectly descriptive UVP takes time so have fun with it, open your mind, and get ready to see the core essence of whatever it is you’re doing. I want to discuss the basics of your business UVP and hopefully you’ll provide your feedback on how you did it and what’s important. I’d like to hear from you.

Seek Perfect Clarity – You Won’t Regret It

ClarityIf your UVP is not crystal clear in your mind (or in your marketing communications), your prospects/visitors/customers will be confused too. Or, they won’t be compelled to do business with you because you didn’t hit the bullseye with them.

All of your business activities, marketing strategy, staffing choices, and goals, actually sit on top of your unique value proposition. Everything points back to your UVP. From a strategist’s point of view, it’s important stuff. Without it, you don’t really have a strategy. You’d have a bunch of tactics (which is how it really is with many marketing departments).

When you’re confused here, you waste more time and money , lose sales and customers, and even generate the wrong clients/customers.

It’s All About Marketing, and Marketing’s all About the Value Proposition

If you can only give your customers one thing, make sure it’s your UVP. No one cares that your product’s hard drive is bigger, processor faster, and that you have 1000’s of apps. Product improvement isn’t the key. Your current unique value — and this goes beyond features and benefits, to include the customer experience and personalization. We’ll get into the exercises in my next post.

In its simplest terms, a value proposition is a positioning statement that explains what benefit you provide and how you do it uniquely well. It describes your target buyer, the problem you solve, and why you’re distinctly better than the alternatives – Michael Skok in Forbes.com post.

Children, mothers, fathers, employees, athletes, musicians, entertainers, and everyone else have unique value propositions. If we fail to provide some compelling value to others, they’ll disregard us. Therefore, having a clear, powerful and productive UVP has survival value – and actually is a key to happiness.

It’s Not Enough to Be the Most Valuable – You Must Communicate it

Why do some of the best products and companies disappear? Because they didn’t get their message across laser accurate, or they presented their amazing value proposition to the wrong target audience. And not knowing your UVP means you don’t even know what compelling value you have to offer that’s better than your competitor’s.  That’s why customers leave and go somewhere else, and why they click away from your site online.

Your UVP – Positioning You as the Most Compelling and Relevant

Your brand image and your UVP are intimately intertwined. While brand image is about the message being conveyed to whom, the UVP is more about the value of what you’re bringing. Some might argue that they’re exactly the same, but the customer doesn’t really see the whole value that is being created in the background. The UVP goes deeper into your company and its personnel and how much value can be generated.

Your UVP is how you do business and even who you do business with – your customers. It’s expressed in all your activities.

Selling Luxury Real Estate to the Wealthy

A good way to learn UVP strategy is through a case: My former client Dream Homes Magazine is the premier real estate magazine for the wealthy and prestigious. Its print publications showcase incredibly beautiful homes in California such as San Diego and all over the world. The pictures show rooms, landscaping, and vistas that can make you cry. The magazine is exceptionally well designed.

DHM caters to what everyone dreams of, but only a few will ever enjoy. And that exclusivity is a key part of their value proposition to targeted wealthy buyers.

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The magazine’s photos and copywriting are excellent. Do they really hit the mark with the wealthy?  If wealthy buyers do dream of elevated lifestyles, does the material convey the relevant lifestyle benefits perfectly?  There’s plenty of questions to be asked to your customers and to yourself when you’re developing a UVP statement.

There’s no replacing the power of high resolution pictures in a big glossy magazine that presents itself almost as a coffee table book. You can’t get the same experience via a laptop or smartphone display. Technology has diminished a key part of their value proposition — an easy to read print piece that’s a conversation starter. Without that, upscale real estate agents may not be willing to buy ad space in their magazine.

dreamyhome
This is not the usual real estate market. These are million dollar exclusive properties and buyers have very different values and preferences.

Many real estate agents are testing waters with their own websites and online presentation. But you can’t hold a website in your hands like you can a print magazine. The print magazine is still a key part of  DHM’s UVP (they have digital versions on the website).

There are Many Customers to Serve

Dream Homes Magazine has 2 audiences: wealthy home buyers and real estate agents/brokerages. Other audiences are advertisers of home related products. Now, online, there’s a 3rd audience. These are thousands of social media and web users who might spread the word about Dream Homes Magazine if they had a compelling reason to do so.

And that’s critical. To be successful, you must get other people to promote you – to pass on your unique value proposition.

Dream Homes Magazine’s UVP: [my version]  DHM is the largest and most compelling source of luxury real estate listings and opportunities, and the premier, prestigious print real estate publication with the widest geographic distribution. Being listed in DHM is the only way to be seen, admired, and respected as a top luxury home seller, since buyers buy image.

Unfortunately, other competing luxury home magazines crowd the market with hi-res glossy photos and slick copywriting, and with good distribution.  Competitors could position themselves to offer more homes of a particular type, price, location, and amenities.  But specialization is very costly in print.

What DHM could do is grow their presence online via social media – to generate conversations that make the home shopping experience more pleasurable.  Social media is all about conversations, transparency, trust, and delivering value. Digital conversations tend to isolate themselves to online, but they can also point to real world events, activities, and lifestyles. This is where a business can really differentiate itself and add value to customers.

More, improved pictures, slicker copywriting, better layout, and better distribution won’t do the trick.

This is the same problem millions of businesses are facing: how to do digital, print, and customer experience marketing simultaneously.

Their new UVP: [my version] DHM is the premier shopping centerpoint for the luxury homes most in demand by discriminating buyers.  We offer unique photographic perspectives, distinctly styled copywriting, and showcasing of luxury home agents to present a powerful, compelling image to buyers, and we engage them in conversations that make their home shopping an intensely enjoyable experience. We bring our agents into buyer’s lives to help them discover their dream lifestyle.

Of course, the complexity of such a business is well beyond us, however the principles of discovering a UVP and building out your business upon it are the same.  Be true to your core and you can be more confident it will work.

How To Get Started with Your New UVP

Discovering your UVP begins with good questions:

  1. Who are you and what is it you want to offer the market?
  2. Who is your target market precisely?
  3. What does your target market want?
  4. Specifically, why is your product/service the most relevant?
  5. What are our most important features and benefits?
  6. What is it that makes you and your company uniquely differentiated?
  7. What questions should you ask your customers when you interview them?
  8. How can you present yourself so that you can’t be imitated?
  9. Which marketing tools will best help you communicate your UVP?
  10. What needs to change from where you are now to where you need to be?
  11. What are you doing right now that’s really wrong?

There’s a lot of questions to ask, and you’re likely aware that asking the right questions is a key to success.

Also part of your business/personal UVP are issues such as being fascinating and compelling, choosing the right customers,  developing your imagination, protecting your freedom, and identifying the skills your business needs to possess.

Good luck discovering your true UVP and applying it successfully.

 

Here’s a few more resources that might help:

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Here’s a general description via an inforgraphic from Quick Sprout’s Neil Patel.

 

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Infographic Courtesy of Quick Sprout 

Brave New World for Real Estate and Mortgage Agents

I’m heading to a seminar/meeting tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe held by a personal branding guru. Should be fun and a great learning experience.

Personal branding is big now.  But doing it well is far from easy. How we present ourselves online and in person plays a key role in how we’re positioned for success. Our persona or self-image can be shaped. And it must be shaped for us to be the “solution” others are looking for.

This story below shows how personas and personal branding are affecting the professional services field. Many of these professionals won’t like what’s coming but the progressive will love what is an exciting new experience.  If they want to excel, they must put themselves out there in new, uncomfortable, and bold ways.  Privacy will soon be a thing of the past.

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Your Circle of Friends just got a whole lot bigger

In a world of very complex relationships, transactions, and lifestyles, we need to think about how we’re positioned for our work and personal realms.  To pretend success happens in chance, face to face meetings in your neighbourhood is naive.  To pretend that doing what everyone else is doing online is sufficient, is also foolhardy. Real estate and mortgage agents are discovering that their persona, digital relationships and the emotional experience they give others is critical to growing their business.




Take a look at how a model exposes herself and her life and how she uses excitement as her branding tool to shape her digital brand. See this professional artist and how her brand/personality is fused into her product. They’re on Facebook big time but FB’s not enough for the power personal brander. The next big thing in social marketing is coming.

Easy Money for Realty/Mortgage Agents?

We all have an image of real estate and mortgage agents enjoying the good life.  They’ve got all those amazing rewards for “top producer.”  And houses are so expensive, how could they not be rolling in dough? Things aren’t always what they seem.

topproducerThe real stats show most agents don’t make much money at all. The top agents however do earn plenty. They’ve built their empire and they leverage the personal attraction and interpersonal networks of other agents, which magnifies their own power to sell.

However, top producers are very aware of their own unique value proposition. It seems no one works on their UVP until they feel the power begin. Millionaires think about UVPs — money gives them that power. When success happens, a compulsion to control it and focus it appears. It’s like not learning to drive until you own a car. Suddenly, the car’s power to transform your life sinks in and you want to enrich it.

A lot of professionals are kicking the tires, and sitting in the driver’s seat of this new personal branding vehicle (social media), wondering if they’re ready to head to the track and make the fans stand on their feet.

The Digital Realm Could Change You Too

What’s happening to real estate and mortgage agents now is what’s happening to us all. You can forget about privacy. The selfie, the blog, the tweet, the swarm location indicator all point to a world devoid of anonymity. You’ll be collaborating with customers more, they will know you, and you’ll enjoy it.

One day, you’ll need to leverage the power of the social web to be successful. It’s best to take a look at what these professionals are going through and apply it to your professional life too.

So let’s take a look right now at what makes some real estate and mortgage agents successful, and why others linger in anonymity far from the spotlight.  In the quest to be visible on the web and the social web, mortgage, realty, and investment agents and brokers will have to work miracles to create an online experience that grabs visitors and turns them into lasting loyal clients.  Even when they are seen and heard, the audience is jaded, rushed and barely interested.

Engagement is the holy grail online now for marketers. It wasn’t just content like blog posts and news, it was more a complete lifestyle experience that visitors wanted. Those who master this are the ones who would win the grail.

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Mod Girl Marketing • Why Real Estate Agent Branding Matters In 2013

The Never Ending Challenge for Professionals

It was about 6 years ago when I saw the first real sign that things were changing in online real estate.  I was heavily into creating content for my real estate agent clients. During one stretch, we landed nearly 700 visitors per day from Google, but out of that only a few leads trickled through.

The recession hit like a tidal wave, but the changes would just keep on cascading as new technology was introduced. Agents were stressed by so many business/technology changes, they couldn’t keep up. To not convert was stressful.

Whatever it is website visitors wanted, they weren’t finding it on my client’s website. His lack of accessible listings appeared to be the issue, because buyers just wanted to see homes. Get lots of listings and things would be good. But even after we got the Remax mls home listings hooked up and visitors could see plenty of homes for sale, the leads weren’t happening.  What could it be?

There were changes in the industry.  Homeowners could list their own homes on the MLS for $99. It is tough.

Cut rate real estate brokers were running some shady deals with 1% commissions. This was presenting challenges for traditional real estate agents who wanted 6% commission on their sales transactions. Competition was creating razor-thin margins and agents couldn’t see how they’d survive in this new digital networked world.

What is it Buyers/Seller Wanted?

At this point, I wondered if our incoming Google traffic was well-qualified. The keyword phrases looked good and were very relevant. These were as good as any realtor would get.  And my other realty-related clients were having similar issues. And it wasn’t easy to dominate Google search listings in the real estate sector. It was competitive and with video, mobile, and the demise of SEO, it seemed impossible to know factors would increase leads and generate sales.

Next, I looked at the agent’s UVP (unique value proposition) but other agents didn’t have a lot going for them either. Most had the bland content of pretty pictures, good service guarantee, and satisfied customer testimonials on a templated website that did nothing for them. Nothing that really makes a buyer lean toward their laptop anyway.

The UVP was a key, but so was how it was presented. Just like it is for comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Carrey , the delivery is everything.

What allowed some agents to dominate sales was:

  1. Huge marketing budgets
  2. Extensive advertising
  3. Strong neighbourhood presence
  4. Polished, attractive websites
  5. Huge numbers of home listings, well indexed in Google
  6. Leveraging other agents as employees of their own
  7. Strategic personal branding

Today, even these attributes aren’t enough. In the social era, real estate and mortgage agents need to present a compelling personal presence that many aren’t at ease with. The unique value proposition includes a personal presence that is highly relevant to the home seller or buyer. And remember, home sellers and buyers have completely different needs and wants.

Unfortunately, for me and my client, I didn’t possess the branding expertise he absolutely needed. But then again, for the last 6 years, most professionals have struggled  with the complexity (and costs) of personal branding.

You Must Get Personally Involved – Because Everyone Else Is

Most agents and brokers don’t want to get that personally exposed and involved. That takes courage and strategy. Many just try to present themselves as physically attractive,  and happily married with kids (in other words well-adjusted, focused, and responsible).   Increasingly, that isn’t enough to build big success.

And prospects/customers will give you a couple of seconds, or minutes, depending on how good the website or facebook page is at keeping  them engaged in the material.

I’m not going to get into specific content strategy.  Suffice to say that as so much about you can be presented online, people expect to see and know lots. People care who they hire as an agent . If the agent’s persona isn’t fused and clear, it creates unease and off they go in search of another agent.

Social media exists to help people connect in a personal engaging way.  Many married agents are finding it difficult for their spouses since their agent spouse is “out there” in a space where they need to be as attractive as possible. That can create  issues particularly when the spouse is pulled into the social sphere. If they believe in what they’re they may be okay.

Personalized for Relevancy

So the challenge for many is how to present a persona (self-image) and personalized unique value proposition that impinges on their privacy and comfort.  Whatever image they present will likely impact their personal relationships too, since friends, family, and others see their online presence as completely real and sincere.

In fact, they are trying to be more sociable, visible, and expressive to specific groups of people, than they may feel comfortable with.

The road to success for personal services professionals is personal.  Yes, I just said it. They must promote their personalized unique value proposition. Most agents don’t even know what a unique value proposition is let alone how take it to the next level of more intimate personalization. They assume they have nothing to offer that’s any better than the other 400 agents in their office, or the 25,000 in their market area.

I’ve discovered one significant attribute of super successful professionals. It’s the icing on the cake yet it’s yet it’s the ingredient most desired and respected. It’s the real focus of top notch personal branding.

So, as an agent who wants to excel, you’ll likely need a personal branding guru to help you understand the image you’re projecting now, and the image you need to project in future. Don’t be afraid to do it all, but it’s a big job so going it alone might be a little risky. Your business deserves better.

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Pinned by Eric Johnson

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