Take a Critical Look
When was the last time you have taken a critical look at your marketing plan? Not in terms of completeness or variety or creativity but rather in terms of effectiveness. And not effectiveness in terms of whether the house sold or not, but whether the sale took place because of your marketing or by dint of having buyers’ agents with access to the MLS.
Have you ever really done so? If not, and if you’re spending any amount of money at all on your marketing, then why not? Are you afraid to learn the true return on your investment? Or do you fear what answers might come with such transparency? Might you learn that little of what you promise to do has any impact on whether your listing sells? What do you do then?
Starting With a Disclaimer
All real estate is local. What might work in your market might not work in every market. Any of the observations here are based on what can be seen in the Phoenix real estate market and may not apply to what happens in your backyard.
Examining the Selling Process
Take a look at your sales statistics or even that for your market. In what percentage of your (or your real estate market’s) sales was a second agent involved? Put another way, how often did the sale of your listing come as a result of another agent bringing a buyer to the property?
Again, it may vary by market but my guess is the bulk of the sales involved a second agent. And so the question becomes, what marketing attracted that agent and/or that agent’s buyer to the house?
1) The MLS. This essentially is a given. As David Knox often has said of getting listings, you don’t need to be good, you just need to be there. Being in the MLS, you’re there.
2) Photography. The photos may be a little less important to an agent sending listings directly to a buyer, but they’re absolutely essential for buyers looking online either through an IDX feed or some sort of listing portal established by their agent.
Incidentally, photography also can be what chases a buyer away. And this isn’t about the quality of the photos but is based in what Bill Lublin rightly described last week as a buyers’ tendency to search for homes to eliminate as much or more as the homes that they really want. But that’s another post for another day.
3) Pricing. Pricing as marketing? Absolutely! It’s the banner headline for everything else that you do. Pricing actually is the most important marketing step an agent takes – working with his or her seller to put a competitive price on a property. All of the marketing genius in the world will not make up for a list price that’s above market value without justification.
Property Marketing or Seller Appeasement?
When I’m working with a buyer, those are the factors that are going to decide whether we walk in the front door of the house. What we find once we walk in the door, at least from a marketing perspective, is all but irrelevant. If the floor plan doesn’t work, or there isn’t enough room for the credenza or the home backs onto the interstate, everything else a listing agent has done means nothing:
1) Color flyers. If I’m standing there, my client already has a copy of the listing sheet and doesn’t need the glossy property flyer to tell them a fraction of the information that I’ve provided. Besides, there’s a decent chance the buyer has brought their own camera and doesn’t need your pictures on the flyer at this point.
2) Property books. This mostly pertains to the books provided by your local title company, but really can apply to almost type of publication waiting inside the house. There’s little information in these books that a buyers’ agent can’t readily provide – comps, schools, utilities. Never have I had a buyer see one of these books on the counter and exclaim, “Thank God this was here! All my questions are answered! I’ll take it!”
3) CDs, magnets, candy bars. All of these sound really great at a listing presentation but have nothing to do with actually selling a house. What you’re seeing is agent branding disguised as attempted marketing.
There are agents who will argue these and other marketing techniques will help “differentiate” you from the rest. And I don’t necessarily disagree. But I will ask, does that differentiation alter the sales process for the house or only further your own self promotion? In the grand scheme of things, maybe that answer doesn’t matter in the slightest. But in terms of bringing transparency to the process, it makes all the difference in the world.
And finally …
The best example of something that looks like marketing but really falls into seller appeasement and agent branding is the open house. Many agents who routinely sit open house will tell you the odds are against finding a buyer with a couple of directional signs, some balloons and some cookies. Which will cause those of us who don’t sit open house to wonder why the open houses are held at all.
Think back to your first days in the business. What was the advice given to you by your broker? Most likely, it involved sitting open houses for other agents in the office. Why? So you could pick up some buyers and start building a client base. We’ve even seen articles here on Agent Genius that say as much.
Being the listing agent doesn’t change that dynamic. At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits of an open house is not selling the house being held open but the opportunity to pick up new clients. As my former broker used to say, if open houses worked then the seller wouldn’t need me. Put the sign in the yard and wait for someone to walk in with a contract.
Put aside the defense of this aspect of your marketing plan and ask yourself the honest question: is the house being held open to sell the house or to appease the sellers by making it look like you’re working hard?
If the answer is the latter, even in part, then here’s the follow up (and this applies to any of the above aspects of your marketing that serve more to appease sellers than sell the home) … in this age of supposed real estate transparency, what is the more prudent path? Appeasement or education of what really causes a home to sell.
You know that answer. I know you do.
This article was originally published November 17, 2008.
Simple way to send text, email appointment reminders to clients
(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.
As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.
We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.
That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.
According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”
They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.
This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.
Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.
With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.
Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.
Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.
10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing
(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.
When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.
So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.
- Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
- Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
- Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
- Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
- Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
- Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
- Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
- Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
- Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
- Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.
7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]
(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.
The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:
No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!
Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:
1. Sponsor Local Events
One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.
Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.
2. Let Your Colors Fly
Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.
Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.
3. Social Media
If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.
So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.
4. Host a Giveaway
Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.
Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:
- Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
- These posts should specify the terms, for example:
– In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
– Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
– You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
- Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile
Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!
5. Referral Discounts
Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.
6. Create or Update Your Blog
If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.
You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.
Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.
7. Update Your Google My Business Profile
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.
To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.
When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.
Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.
Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!
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