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What’s Worth Knowing?

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Teach Me Something

There has been a lot of reference to how much can be learned if practitioners were to read industry blogs. However recently I’ve noticed that the RE.net has put more emphases on who’s blog is bigger…oops, I mean better. There is seemingly more in-fighting than valuable information in recent days. Therefore, I want to take a reprieve from that pattern.

As I’ve stated before, there are two books I think should be required reading for all practitioners. The first is the Swanepoel Report and the second is the NAR profile of Buyers and Sellers. I want to take a few points from those resources to get you thinking.

Why Such Concern?

Swanepoel’s Report said that “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

I have no idea why the industry fears such things. I don’t want information about the buying process, hidden from me as a consumer, why would we expect that the consumer wouldn’t want as much information as they could get? The consumer who has a good handle on the process, should be that much easier to work with. Having the knowledge doesn’t mean that they no longer have a need for an agent. To the contrary; the information is so overwhelming, they need to have someone to aggregate it for them. The fact that movie previews reveal the entire movie, doesn’t stop people from going to the theater to watch the entire movie.

Show Me The Numbers!

NAR’s 2007 report shows that when consumers (reported 87% use the internet in their search – I think that’s low) search the internet for real estate information, they found the following useful:

84% Photos (at least 6) – Yet the average number of listing photos are 2

82% Detailed Listing Information

60% Virtual Tours / Real Estate Shows / Videos

39% Maps of the area surrounding the property

37% Neighborhood Information

26% Agent Information

I think it’s easy to extract from this information exactly how an Agent should setup their webpages. I think it’s also easy to see why Blogs are such a powerful tool, currently. Most blogs that I visit have very basic information about the agent or author; they are generally full of real estate information. The blog writers talk about the area, how to search for homes, and why certain types of agency practices or benefits. Knowing what the consumer is looking for, should help decide what to write about.

What Is the Consumer Looking For?

Knowing what the consumer found useful is actually the second step, knowing what they started off looking for is also important.

95% were looking for Properties For Sale

21% were looking for Area Information

4% were looking for an agent

4% were looking for a particular Firm or Franchise

It’s interesting that almost all the static webpages I find, are page after page about the agent’s resume, yet only 4% of consumers are looking for such information. It’s an unfortunate truth that most consumes feel most agents are basically the same. We know that’s not true, but finding a clever way to correct that impression is a challenge for many.

Be Unique!

Statistics are only a guideline. They aren’t always reality, but it’s the best indication of what consumers maybe thinking. Each agent should take this information and work it into their own plan. It’s important to do what works well for you. A lot of practitioners are successful with their blogs, because they have created them and maintain them in a unique manner. That’s what’s working today, tomorrow there will be some new technique that some visionaries will create and adapt.

Whereas it’s good to know information, such as who consumers find you, it’s more important to know where the source is for that information. I’ve provided this information from the NAR Profile of Buyer’s and Sellers 2007. There is a considerable more that could help your business by reading such resources.

While you’re trying to explain to your sellers why you put so much effort into internet marketing, and so little in print media; it’s good to have these exact numbers and resources. This can help save you time and money with informed consumers who will trust a report more than your word.

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is TheAgentTrainer.com.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. Chris Griffith

    May 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    ….and I read this in between adding listings to a point2 site to syndicate, craigslist and my blog, while watching Private Ryan.

    Excellent advise. Give the consumer what he’s looking for. That’s not that difficult, after all. Right?

  2. Scott P. Rogers

    May 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    >> “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

    Hopefully the “concern” just means that it’s “on their mind” — and it’s an indication that Brokers will put the majority of their focus on continuing to be able to offer great information, analysis and insight to these smarter and more informed consumers. How’s that for looking at the half empty glass as half full?

    >> 95% were looking for Properties For Sale

    I believe it! And measurement of consumers’ online behavior supports it. My brokerage’s web site (www.cbfunkhouser.com) sees between 90%-95% of the traffic on the site within the property search areas.

    Matthew — it would be great if you periodically provided some insight and commentary from the buyers & sellers report — it has some great information that I don’t go back to look at often enough!

  3. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    May 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    You have made some good points. I believe you too. You have to have info and yet have your own style. Most of my cleints now come from my site so something must be working. its a lot of work to blog and maintain an updated site and that is why you do not have the competition that you would think.

  4. Barry Cunningham

    May 11, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Maybe my message gets diluted by angry comments but as I mentioned to you about RE Trends..it’s an amzing book and has so much data you are correct..it should be mandatory reading.

  5. Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor

    May 11, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Great advice! Working on posting a great deal more information about the area and our listings!

    Susan Hilton – Realtor & Sales Trainer for Century 21 Beal, Inc. #1 in Real Estate in Bryan and College Station Home Sales – Bryan College Station Real Estate & Community Blog

  6. Mack in Atlanta

    May 12, 2008 at 7:01 am

    You make a very important point that agents should quit designing their sites around me, me, me and start providing unique relevant information that addresses the site visitor’s needs.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    May 12, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    Barry, I want to say that it seems that I was able to make the same point you did, without the angry comments to get our readers to the same conclusion. I know I’ve failed in the past, but I am trying to work on delivery…

  8. ines

    May 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    The informed consumer is our best client – finding that “perfect formula” for what works in your blog and to provide information that is useful to your audience is not easy, but it’s extremely powerful once you achieve it.

  9. Jacinda

    May 12, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I’d have to say the numbers by NAR are off. How are pics more useful than a virtual tour? Pics can be taken at certain angles to manipulate the room/area, which is great for sellers, but bad for people looking for something because they can show up, realize it’s really different, and be mad that they wasted their time. It’s tough to manipulate a virtual tour like that.

    I also think floor plans should definitely be up there. They’re incredibly useful when it comes to more limited spaces like condos and townhouses.

  10. Scott P. Rogers

    May 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Jacinda — I have to agree with the survey respondents that indicated that photos were the most useful. Multiple photos can be much more helpful than a virtual tour — though, I use both for marketing my listings. If an agent is going to manipulate the photo angles, they’ll manipulate the virtual tour too. And I DEFINITELY agree the floor plans should be included — even on single family homes, they are VERY helpful!

  11. Mike Taylor

    May 13, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I love it when other agents don’t get it and design a site around how great they are. That means buyers will come to my site and find listings and hopefully stay.

    The bar has been raised on what consumers expect out of a real estate website nowadays and your site doesn’t provide them what they want immediately you stand no chance.

  12. Ken Smith

    May 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    The top item on the list should be accurate information.

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Business Marketing

Video is necessary for your marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!

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video content

As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.

Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.

The promotional angle

One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.

First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.

Audience matters

What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.

Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.

It’s all about strategy

However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.

Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.

It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.

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Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

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Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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