Don’t Go Into Hibernation – Spring 2017 is Coming Now…
You might ask why out of 500 visits to your website, only 1 visitor might actually contact you about a listing. That low conversion rate is very typical and it’s the obsession of the latest trend in digital marketing – harvesting the few web visitors you have, rather than building on what you have.
Instead, a strategy of growing your online prospects and presenting an irresistable brand image is the way to really jump start your leads and sales. The bar is raised. There’s a lot of noise out there. You need to establish a new image that isn’t eroded by wealthy competitors.
That’s the biggest Realtor problem: a poor value proposition. And let’s say I drive 100,000 visitors to your website via Google and social media and you still don’t convert those leads? It’s up to you to present a value proposition or brand image that makes them want to work only with you.
This post is about demystifing Realtor branding. It’s not about fancy business cards with smiling faces of clients. Its really about knowing your target market and presenting a laser clear value proposition that communicates the key benefits these people must have.
So why is it that these visitors don’t want to hire you right away? Has your content and introduction made them feel you are the only one for them? That’s exactly what a well branded website should do. And you do that by customizing your visuals and content so that it speaks to your best prospects.
Increased Competition and Rising Expectations
Buyers and sellers expect more today. A nice picture and a collection of featured listings they’re not interested in doesn’t work well enough, and you probably know that.
An example I like to use is a former client of mine, Calgary Home Boys. This website is amazing in its visual cleanliness and user friendliness. It lets visitors get right to searching and the visuals are amazing. This is a dream site to work on. It may set you back $30k. Otherwise, you can have me build one in WordPress for much less and have a RETS IDX feed to boot.
The one issue however is that the visitor doesn’t receive a strong branded message before they start searching. You want them to start their search with you in mind, not just to peruse the database. The point isn’t to be a library of homes to search. In this case the visitor does get the message they will can work with one realtor from a great team – The Calgary Home Boys.
As you look at their page, what feeling do you get about the home buying or selling experience? What are the benefits you visualize right away? That’s the thing with branding, it’s a picture that’s drawn fast. The challenge is that you have to know who your visitor is and what specific benefits or experience they want.
Read the 18 Benefits buyers and sellers want below for the general drivers of contact.
Another part of the branding and inquiry process is whether the page presents a “missing piece” of information the visitor needs. If all their questions are answered, complete satisfaction, then they have no compelling reason to contact you.
If they’re going to take that bait, which most won’t, you need a strong branding message that tells them it’s definitely worth it to contact you. Buying a house or condo without you is just plain crazy.
What’s the Essence of a Powerful Realtor Brand?
It’s in the promise of an enjoyable experience, and how closely you fit in with the image they have of why they’re selling and about their dreams. Out of all the hundreds of Realtors they can choose, they want a person who fits into their life experience.
- proof of experience
- proven expertise via your website
- personal relevance to their life dream and goals
Your brand is your unique value proposition. Your UVP is the thing they receive when they see your site, you, and read your copy. The headings, photos, stats, and promise of value you present tells them quickly whether you’re on the same wave length and will deliver what they want.
The biggest failing of Realtors (and mortgage agents, lawyers and other professionals) is a lack of a relevant unique personalized value proposition. And even those who try to promote one, lack the differentiation, personalization, and relevance to the visitors. That’s why they leave. Someone else is more relevant, even though you’re better.
That’s why you might leave my site without hiring me. It’s because my value proposition doesn’t seem strong enough, and I’m not personally relevant to what and who you think should be doing real estate marketing. You may expect those with a fancy website and the right buzzwords to be credible. And you may not believe website content and SEO are relevant to being a successful Realtor. Afterall, you can simply advertise for quick leads.
But then you’re back at it this spring without a sustainable strategy for growing your circle of prospects.
Visitors from Facebook and Google are fairly qualified visitors because they’re searching real estate and housing related topics. They’re thinking about buying or selling but no one has presented compelling reasons to act on their impulse.
It’s not an easy challenge to find the right content mix and strategy to entice them. But how many sales could result if you did?
After I saw the inadvertent thrashing of Realtor’s brand image as a whole, I thought we should look at the issue of how and why realtors are chosen today – so you can connect emotionally with your prospects like a magnet.
Realtors: Run from Cliches
The CREA TV ads attempted to reassure home buyers that they weren’t buying a former grow op house or moving next to “kinky” neighbours. Yet, they didn’t appease buyers let alone sellers who, strangely, weren’t even represented in the TV ads I saw.
Here’s what Subtej Nijjar, a partner at Union Creative said about their CREA TV ads:
“The goal is to get Canadians and homebuyers to understand some of the pitfalls that are unknown to us in buying and selling a home and some of the skills real-estate agents bring to the table.”
What Union Creative did was make realtors a commodity by making benefits so seem shallow, and by using endearing terms like “bring to the table.” So heart warming!
They’ve made it harder for you to differentiate yourself as a relevant individual who brings special emotional rewards — that’s the only way you can differentiate yourself. If you’re a clone of all the other realtors, you’re not much better than the cliche image NAR or CREA are building up.
Buyers (and Homesellers, the most prized customer) don’t care about possible ‘grow ops.’ They assume those details are taken care of. They expect the realtor to find the right buyer fast, negotiate the best price, and at least take away the pain of the transaction.
Buyers and sellers don’t want features. They want emotional benefits. A realtor who understands these emotional benefits won’t have to haggle with commission or even prove skills and experience. They’re hitting close to what they want on a real level.
People buy and sell on emotion. Changing homes is more about lifestyle, quality of living, and optimism about what’s ahead. As Kevin Ward of YesMasters suggests — take care of the heart.
18 Benefits for You to Synthesize into One
Other than feeling good about what they’re doing, there’s a collection of benefits buyers/sellers are looking for. Each benefit is an opportunity to distinguish yourself apart from the noname competition. And please keep in mind the names RE/MAX or Century 21 isn’t what makes people feel good — it’s everything you do to enhance what they’re doing with their lives.
If prospects aren’t choosing you, it’s not because of your gender, skin colour, age, ethnicity, pedigree or physical attractiveness. It’s because they don’t believe you share the same values nor appreciate the amazing life change they visualize. They may feel you’re ruining their experience. Although they want these 18 benefits below, overall they want to be happy and feel that you’re capable of supporting that happiness, even briefly.
Here’s 18 Benefits Buyers/Sellers want from a Realtor
Use each of these benefits in your secret sauce to let them know who will make them happiest and most satisfied:
- Confidence that a specific realtor will generate the best results
- Is likable and makes the buyer/seller feel better about the buying/selling experience and what they’re doing with their lives — creating friendship, trust and meaning
- Listens to buyers to understand what they want
- They want someone who has the same values and can make the whole experience positive and feel good (not the same as likability, e.g., your mom is very likable, but you wouldn’t want her arranging or catering your stag party)
- Will sell your house faster
- Is ethical, honest, and abides by the law
- Has a strong internet marketing and local marketing capability
- Saves you frustration and anxiety by finding qualified, ready to buy homebuyers
- Saves you the agony of arranging showings and talking to buyers
- Sets the right selling price
- More objective and experienced about how to sell your home helping you avoid a selling strategy that could put in financial danger
- Understands the local market and does an accurate estimate of the property
- Gives you confidence during an emotional, possibly insecure time in your life
- Knows what needs to be improved to raise the property value
- Negotiates effectively with buyers
- Helps you avoid a situation where you are holding 2 mortgages
- Knows what’s been selling in your neighbourhood
- Has the resources of a brokerage to offer to you
That’s a lot of items you can use in your web and social media content strategy to build your unique, relevant, helpful, supportive image. When you are completely unique, you have no competition.
Even after you’ve achieved some online reach and sales success, you may be held back by the fact that you aren’t unique, relevant and memorable. You look like all the other faces in the local realtor sales flyer. Are you above the crowd when you’re on the same page with 40 other realtor faces? Sure, that’s good branding for Remax, Sothebys, Century21, Royal Lepage, Sutton Group, and all the others.
The key for you might be to never appear undifferentiated online or in print or TV. From your business cards to your Facebook page, be unique and relevant to your specific target.
Set Yourself Apart with Positive Emotion-Building Content
To set yourself apart, you can write your online content in a way that separates you as a better, more capable, honest, ethical, valuable realtor who solves your buyers/sellers needs in the exact way they want.
Please don’t let your brokerage, CREA or NAR cheapen or commoditize your realtor brand image. Listen to what Kevin Ward of YesMasters.com says about being unique and connecting with client’s hearts:
I hope you’ve enjoyed this alternate view of the big brand experience and have the wisdom to begin that venture into significance and reverence to your clients.