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The 5 Steps to Smart Real Estate Agent Marketing Investments [Part 2]

Travis Balinas
July 23, 2014
real estate marketing investments

Yesterday, I posted the first two steps to making smart real estate marketing investments. That post covers two reasons the most common marketing activities real estate agents invest in don’t hit the mark. They are:

  1. Targeting the wrong audiences
  2. Investing in low-ROI campaigns

Luckily, these mistakes can be fixed easily with a few changes:

  • Market to the right audiences: your existing customers and sphere of influence
  • Make sure your money is spent on a unified marketing strategy, which includes multiple touches across different channels

(For more background, also check out: The Number One Reason Real Estate Agents Make Bad Marketing Investments and the 3 Worst Marketing Investments Real Estate Agents Make.)

Here are the final three steps to making smart real estate agent marketing investments.

Step 3: Quality Content Marketing

At a recent Hear it Direct Conference, real estate agents learned that consumers do not like “drip email campaigns and form letters.” No matter what channel you’re using for your marketing efforts, if you’re not providing anything of value, then it’s not worth anyone’s time. The content you send has to be something your audience finds valuable for the effort to be worth your time and money. Your content needs to be high in value and low in commitment (don’t ask your audience to work too hard). You want your content to build credibility.

Plenty of agents use the same services, all pretty much providing the same content in a different format. Emails that show houses in a specific area for sale (done automatically based on zip code), automated direct mail pieces wishing someone a happy birthday (without the agent’s signature) or fancy emails that have links to videos talking about “this month in real estate.” All of these things have a time and place but to use these as your marketing approach to people who you know personally is brand suicide.

Remember, you’re not targeting the audience that is ready to buy or sell. You’re the agent. If/when they are ready, you’ll already be working with them. That’s the time to send them interesting real estate marketing pieces that are actually paired with their immediate needs. But what about the other 98% of your contact list who aren’t chomping at the bit for housing market trends? That’s where you’re missing the mark!

This is why content marketing is so powerful for real estate agents. It’s the glue that holds all of your email, social and web marketing efforts together. The type of content that you should craft for your audience should be engaging, entertaining and not a sales pitch.

Think about it. People don’t pick up a magazine to look at the ads; they open a magazine to look at beautiful pictures or an interesting article they read about on the cover. The same goes with email and social. Get their attention, keep it, entertain them and make them love hearing from you. Good content marketing will keep their ear and keep you top of mind so when they’re ready to buy or sell, there isn’t a question in their minds as to where they’re going. This is how we help our real estate agent clients stay in front of their customers in a good way.

And 90% of consumers find custom content useful while 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content want to build good relationships. Good content is the key to building strong relationships with your customers, which is why engaged people will remember you in the future.

Creating good content marketing is no easy task, that’s for sure. While we can help you as a real estate agent by doing the work for you, I’ve also put together two blog posts that walk you through the process as well:

  • How to Do Content Marketing for Small Businesses [Link]
  • 5 Elements of Good Real Estate Email Newsletters [Link]

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Step 4: Establish Your Online Presence

In an earlier post, I brought up some statistics about websites not being the best way to spend your marketing dollars. Let me clarify. If you’re spending lots of money on your website in the hope that it will be the number one lead driver for you, then you’ve been misguided. Websites accounted for only 4% of agents’ closed business. However, having a website is a crucial part of the overall process of getting new business.

When someone you’ve worked with in the past gives their friend your contact information, more often than not, they’re going to get online and Google your name. As Bernice Ross so eloquently put it: “They do stalk you.” When it comes time to pick an agent, most consumers will rely on a recommendation from a friend, but even with a recommendation, they will see what they can learn about you online.

For our clients, we step up their online presence with Business Profile Pages. Think of your website as a centralized hub for everything about you online. Contact information, past newsletters, links to social pages and, of course, an about you section.

Use your web presence as a component of your marketing strategy, but don’t heavily invest in it expecting it to be the primary driver of new business leads.

Step 5: Get Referral Business

The strategy behind these steps is to activate your existing database of known clients and prospects. Marketing that spans email, social and web, and also avoids annoying your contacts with unsolicited sales pitch related content, is smart. Every time you engage your clients with these subtle nudges, you’re earning yourself a little bit of customer credibility. It’s time to cash in on that.

Apply the 80/20 rule to your marketing. This rule recommends that 80% of the contact you have with your database should be fun, entertaining and non-intrusive. High-quality content gives you the opportunity to showcase and brand yourself as a helpful industry expert, rather than the agent who sells houses. With the other 20% of the time, you can activate your contacts and ask for something in return. In this case, asking for referrals is what you’re interested in doing.

Once a quarter, we run referral campaigns for our real estate agents. Following the same model above, we engage and entertain our clients’ databases for them through interesting content, and then run referral contests on their behalf. We invite people to submit their friends’ names who might be in the market for a new home and, in exchange, they are entered to win a drawing for a $500 gift card or iPad. New leads go directly to the agents, and we take care of funding the contest.

While a lot of your business will still come through word-of-mouth referrals and people sharing your contact information, it doesn’t hurt to ask for referrals from the folks who already have a relationship with you. And it never hurts to try and sweeten the deal with a contest or some other incentive.

Bringing It All Together

2014 and 2015 are filled with plenty of challenges for real estate agents and worrying about making poor marketing investments should be at the bottom of your list. What you can take away from this and yesterday’s post is this: your marketing dollars are best spent targeting people who already know you and doing so through a multi-touch marketing program that engages your audience. Having an engaged and entertained audience will grow your top-of-mind awareness and ultimately lead to increased referrals and repeat business.

So remember, when investing your money to grow your business, follow the 5 steps to making smart marketing investments:

1)   Market to the Right Audiences

2)   Multiple Touches Across Many Channels

3)   Quality Content Marketing

4)   Establish Your Online Presence

5)   Get Referral Business

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