Follow the leaders...

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Homes & Land of Bucks & Montgomery, PA

Everyone is looking for the easy way to success and web-based companies are playing on your desire to find the answer around a tough market. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the internet is the panacea. While I wholeheartedly agree that the internet has become increasingly important in a Realtor’s marketing mix, the internet alone is not going to ultimately lead to success. Nothing, of course, will take the place of personal interaction: a solid handshake, a smile, your tone of confidence, and constant communication and follow-up. Website syndication, blogs, RSS feeds, and social networks are all going to play a part in your overall strategy, but placing all of your efforts and dollars online to reach the growing number of internet consumers will not only take up more of your valuable time but will strain your annual budget faster than you may think.

Don't lose sight of your ultimate goals…exposing your homes to as wide an audience as possible and convincing the consumer to choose you as their Realtor. You can either spend all of your time in front of a computer (uploading information, writing blogs and responding to a mulitude of social contacts) and save yourself some money, or you can find a company who offers an integrated approach to marketing to get print, online and direct mail altogether in one package (such as Homes & Land Magazine) and spend more of your time doing what you do best…sell homes.

But if you’re looking for that consumer who has yet to choose an agent, the internet is not going to be where they begin their search. Looking for a Realtor is different than looking for a home. Your success in becoming their ‘Realtor of choice’ will come from your branding and name recognition efforts. Why do I know this? Because there are so many other businesses who continue to prove this concept over and over again.

If someone mentions the word Afflac…what do you think of?…how about Geico? If you were to think of a brand of soup, who would come to mind first? The reason is because these companies have already spent millions of dollars in research to learn two basic concepts which are vital to their success: “connecting” with their target audience and cultivating a strong brand/name recognition in consumers’ minds. This is basic for all businesses…so why would anyone think that the real estate industry would be any different?

You don’t need to have the advertising budget of major corporations or try to reach national recognition, you only need to be known in your local market. This is where targeted local real estate magazines shine, especially those who offer multi-media services such as Homes & Land.

Web-based companies and real estate brokers are quick to point out that most agents are found by word-of-mouth recommendations. What they DON’T tell you (and perhaps don’t fully understand) is HOW word-of-mouth knowledge originates...through branding and name recognition, like the Afflac and Geigo examples earlier. And how is name recognition reinforced? Through personal contact, print ads, television, radio, billboards, and if your budget is large enough to continually be in the top eight links in an internet search…then online can be added to the list.

The more people see your name, your logo, your tag line, or whatever you use to market yourself, the more familiar you become and the quicker your name comes to mind when “word-of-mouth” information is requested. Just remember, this is not an overnight or one-time process. Consistency is the key. Just as Campbell has insured their name comes up first in the minds of shoppers making a decision in the soup aisle, you want your name to come up first whenever someone thinks of real estate. Print exposure is an important element of achieving this.

Still not convinced?

How many catalogues do you receive in your mail every week? Familiar names such as Orvis, JC Penny, Sears, L.L. Bean, and Victoria Secrets, just to name a few. Why are they still printing magazines and not placing all of their money on the internet? Because they know from years of experience and a great deal of research that in integrated approach is most effective, that print advertising is an integral part of their marketing…and that people still enjoy browsing through a printed magazine.

Go online and Google the words ‘internet magazines”. There are over 5 million links! If the internet were the key, then why would there be so many printed magazines about the internet? Isn’t that counter-intuitive to this entire internet push? NO…and here’s why: while many general print publications are dying out, those who cater to a niche or micro-niche market still thrive. Real estate for the most part is local, which is why real estate magazines….QUALITY real estate magazines,  which provide integrated marketing using print, online, digital formats, through targeted direct mail, and are accessible by smart phone…will survive, and even grow.

Those who focus their efforts online only are will find themselves spending ALL of their time in front of a computer with a rapidly depleting budget and disappointing results. So the next time you are approached by a web-based company to stop all your print ads and spend your money online…don’t be fooled. Print ads, such as your business cards, flyers, brochures, and magazine ads will help brand you and drive more consumers to your website. Branding is still vital to being recognized and getting new business. Let your branding work for you...follow the leaders.



Here are some recommendations:

1. Look at other industries and follow their lead. Branding and name recognition are vital to your success. Greater recognition will result in more of the market share.

2. Specialize in some aspect of your industry. It not only simplifies your life, but allows you to speak directly to a targeted audience. Trying to speak to everyone dilutes your message and becomes ineffective. This is a fundamental business mistake made throughout the real estate industry time & time again.

3. Choose your “brand” wisely. This is a step most widely ignored and underutilized in the real estate industry. Consult an advertising company for ideas.

4. Don’t place all your eggs in one basket. Create an integrated marketing mix to reach the greatest number of consumers. Over 70% of today’s consumers are multi-channel shoppers…and this number is growing. This includes print, radio, television, online, digital format, and even smartphones.

5. Make efficient use of your time. Look at businesses who offer a multitude of services to maximize your marketing across different channels. Homes & Land, for example, provides their advertisers with a powerful personal website, virtual tours, website syndication, a national relocation service, provides local pickup distribution for consumers, direct mails their magazine, provides the consumer with a digital magazine, and makes you and your listings smartphone accessible. While the cost may seem high, it is far less than what you would pay for each individual service on your own, in both money and time.

6. Most important, be clear ,be consistent and keep your advertising uncluttered. According to a study by 3M Company and Guerilla Marketing, todays’s consumer sees, on average, 3,000 ads every day, they ignore 8 of 9, it takes 4 times to make an impact, and 27 times to sink in. Be patient, it will pay off in the long run. Branding and name recognition does not happen overnight.

7. Use print advertising to point the consumer to your website and give them a reason to go there. Your goal is to have them type in your URL directly rather then rely on them finding you in an internet search.

8. Consumers want information. The more photos and information you can provide on your website without making them jump through hoops in an effort to capture their personal information, the better your chances are that they will see you as a valuable source and return to your website. Statistics show that consumers most value multiple photos, map features, number of bedrooms and baths, price, and neighborhood & school information.

9. Join the social network: Active Rain, Facebook, Linkedin, etc etc. there are a growing number of social networks out there. Find the ones used most by your industry and focus on special areas or just the real estate community to better target your efforts. You can quickly become a valuable resource while rapidly creating a huge network of contacts.

10. Stay in touch, but don’t be pushy. Statistics are showing that most online shoppers today are just at the very beginning stages of buying or selling a home. Keep them on your list to stay in touch or offer them a monthly newsletter as a reminder that you can be a valuable resource for them when they ARE ready.

One last suggestion: just as hiring a real estate professional is highly recommend to market and sell a home, it is highly recommended that Realtors consider using an advertising professional to help brand and market their business.

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Topic:
Real Estate Market Trends
Location:
Pennsylvania Bucks County
Tags:
real estate
internet
advertising
branding
name recognition

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Rainer
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Jim Sedgwick

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