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Top 10 ways to use QR codes in your real estate marketing

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When I first started to read Agent Genius Magazine, I read a story by Lani Rosales about QR Code technology for real estate. The story, originally published in October of 2008, puzzled me as I wasn’t ready to embrace the technology, YET.

Fast forward to February 2010 and I am geeking out at PodCamp Western MA where the t-shirts sport a QR code on the front. Jaclyn Stevenson, one of the organizers of the PodCamp pioneered the idea to include the code on the shirts. Now I am ready to embrace this cool technology and my brain starts working over how I can best utilize QR codes into my real estate marketing.

Of course I went to Google to see what other agents were doing, but to my surprise there was scant information available, with Lani’s story being the best one. I sat right down and re-read the post and began to formulate my attack.

I could see that this technology was well suited for real estate, it would make my print advertising interactive and useful once again and put me out front as a REALTOR who is trying new things to help sell her listings.

Lately there has been a lot of agents adopting this into their marketing plan and a lot of talk on Twitter and Facebook about using QR Codes for real estate marketing.

Here are my Top Ten Ideas for using QR Codes in real estate:

#1- Sign riders.
I was already purchasing a sign rider for each listing with the property URL on it, so I added a QR code for the url, as well.

#2- Newspaper.
I had the local media come do a story on what QR Codes are and how I am utilizing them. This had two goals: teach the local public and get me some exposure.

#3- Video.
My boyfriend, Morriss, and I worked up a demonstration video that I can share with my potential clients to help them understand the process.

#4- Video again.
Each of my properties gets a virtual tour video. I include the QR code as a slide at the end of the video.

#5- My blog.
I have my QR Code badge displayed on the home page of my blog so that visitors can scan and go directly to a feed of all of my listings.

#6- Print advertising.
I include the QR code on my “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” postcards. I would also include it in my other print media, if I were in charge of the layout (my broker pays for the advertising). Town and Country Realtors in Leominster, MA has done a great job with incorporating QR Codes into their print advertising.

#7- Business cards.
My new order of business cards will have the QR code featured.

#8- Direct mail.
I am sending everyone in my sphere a mailing with a QR code and an invitation to try it out.

#9- Printed gift items.
I plan to include the code on any calendars, bookmarks, etc. that I may hand out.

#10- Google Map.
In the place of a feed of your listings, or perhaps in addition to the feed, you could create a Google map of your office listings, your personal listings, your open houses, etc. and use a QR Code of the map in your print promotion.

I have recently been working with Clikbrix and so far I really like what they offer. The personalized QR Code that you see at the top of this post was designed by them and I like this idea. Adding the agent’s face and some directions on how to use the code makes it more comfortable for the amateur user. Their site is easy to use and the page that is created is optimized for mobile browsers. The personalized QR code directs the user to a feed of all active listings, which makes it very versatile. There is also a lot of analytics built into their platform, making the process of tracking information much simpler.

Prior to using Clikbrix, I had created a feed of my current listings and used that to create a code for the same purpose. Clikbrix is a subscription, so you could use this idea to accomplish the same result.

I am often asked about the metrics and ROI of my QR code campaign. I think it is still too new to really measure how effective it is, but as to ROI…QR codes are free! I know that use of my QR Code marketing won’t be widespread, as of yet. I am hoping to be an ambassador for this new technology because it is cool, green and fun to use. It is another tool in my listing kit that separates me from the Triple P Realtors (put in a sign, place it on MLS and pray) and it demonstrates to my market that I am an agent that is working hard to learn to ways to help accomplish the sale of their home.

Are you using QR Codes in your real estate marketing? Doing something different that wasn’t mentioned here? Comment please!

AgentGenius.com has no affiliation with Clickbrix.

Lesley offers 21 years experience in real estate, public speaking and training. Lesley has a degree in communications and was the recipient of an international award for coordinating media in real estate. In the course of her career Lesley has presented at international real estate conferences and state REALTOR associations, hosted a real estate television program, written articles for trade magazines and created marketing and PR plans for many individuals, companies and non-profits.

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25 Comments

25 Comments

  1. Daniel Bates

    September 26, 2010 at 10:52 am

    Great article Lesley – After hearing people talk about them for years, it’s nice to finally see a practical example of how an agent uses them. I’m in a rural retirement area in the South which all adds up to mean that we’re about 5 years behind on technology. I don’t own a smart phone and would guess that less than 25% of my customers/clients do as well, but know that we’ll get there eventually. All that being said, I’m going to be trying this new technology out on the rental homes that I manage with a “check-in station” flyer on the entrance so that new renters can check-in via google places or facebook and be more prone to share the fun they’re having on their vacation (coupled with a way for people to contact me to have the same great fun) and leave a review. I’ll let you all know how it works out. Even if it’s only used by 25% of vacationers, it should increase facebook marketing results quickly.
    I watched your video on #3 and a suggestion would be that you include more information about how this benefits the seller and potential buyer and discuss what type of information is on the website that you send them to. I’ve found that the “wow factor” with technology impresses few and is fleeting unless you can prove it’s value.

    • LesleyLambert

      September 26, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      Thanks for stopping by and for the constructive feedback…good luck with your ideas!

  2. Linda Aaron

    September 26, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Lesley,

    Thank you for the post and reference to Lani’s original post. I am creating content for a workshop for our brokers and was researching QR codes this past week to include a section about why they need to be using the QR codes. Your post is timely and the link will be included in my class.

    Thanks,
    LA

    • LesleyLambert

      September 26, 2010 at 9:44 pm

      So glad it is pertinent for you right now!

    • Ben K

      September 27, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      @Linda
      In addition to QR codes, MSFT has something similar — MS Tag. Essentially the same thing but have better customization options, however, it does require a MS tag reader app.

      @Lesley
      Excellent piece. I’ve started to use QR codes and MS Tags, but in small doses. The list you provided was great…I’m taking away some good utilization ideas. Thanks!

  3. Gina Kay Landis

    September 26, 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Lesley, this is fabulous! Just started talking to people about using this and you’ve added a couple of ideas to my marketing arsenal. On my landing page of my company-provided web site, I have the QR codes that link to the virtual tour which also has a link to Google Maps so people can easily find the house, as well as links to set showings, and other link goodies.

    This will be the *way* of the future, and frankly the post office should be happy, because now there’s a great reason to do direct mail. I wonder too if the newspapers will insert a code into an open house ad… there are sooo many possibilities! Thanks for your article!

    @ginakayRE

    • LesleyLambert

      September 26, 2010 at 9:46 pm

      Gina, I am so glad to hear how you are implementing QR codes in real estate.

  4. Terence Richardson

    September 26, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I’ve been considering implementing this kind of technology in my business and I think you make a very easy case for doing it. Thanks for a great article.

  5. Fred Romano

    September 26, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    OK so… Nice self promotional post with all those lovely links back to your sites. But the point is the average Bill Buyer or Sally Seller won’t care, understand, or give 2 hoots about QR Codes. To most folks it just looks like some strange logo or symbol, and means nothing. I would never waste my time using one – Unless I was a Realtor in Japan.

    I do applaud you for being so aggressive using it in your marketing. Hopefully it will pay off for you, other wise you will have wasted a lot of money and time on the expensive Clikbrix monthly fee and manually creating and updating your property listings. That seems like a lot of unnecessary extra work unless you have an assistant take care of it.

    – Cheers

    • LesleyLambert

      September 26, 2010 at 9:47 pm

      To each his own Fred.

    • Tassia Bezdeka

      September 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Fred- Lest ye forget about the next generation of homebuyers!

      If a Realtor isn’t up to snuff with technology, he or she certainly won’t be the Realtor for me, or countless others in my age group.

      You might not see a reason to jump on it now, but (IMHO) it will only help you in the future to at least be familiar with the changes for when this does become the de facto standard of information gathering.

  6. Erik Goldhar

    September 27, 2010 at 12:26 am

    Thank you very much for the post Lesley!
    To your point, the QR Code is not only to be used on For Sale signage. We recommend that our Realtors use their Code on all marketing touch points including business cards, sales sheets, direct mail fliers, fridge magnets and more.

    Keep in mind that QR Code technology is an extremely “Green” form of marketing due to the fact that it could help Realtors reduce their printing. This is yet another marketing tool and differentiator using QR gives to our Realtor clients.

    Thank you for the post and good luck with all of your efforts.

    Sincerely,
    Erik Goldhar
    Partner, Clikbrix.com

    • LesleyLambert

      September 27, 2010 at 10:52 pm

      I keep forgetting to point out the “Green” aspects, thank you for pointing that out!

  7. Alex Dsouza

    September 27, 2010 at 8:29 am

    Hi Lesley Lambert
    First off, I thank you for sharing with us great tips on usage of QR codes in real estate marketing. I especially like the last point on Google Map. I never ever thought of it. Thanks, I’ll use QR Code of the map in print promotion and see how things progress.

  8. Jacksonville Real Estate Agent

    September 27, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    I think QR codes are cutting edge and maybe even bleeding edge, but I’m sticking with “Text for Info” for now. This alone is cutting edge considering most adults have just started using text as a viable form of communication within the last 2 years. Now 3 in 4 adults are using text on a regular basis!

  9. georgeoneill

    September 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    We put QR codes onto every For Sale sign. We are tracking this via Analytics, and while uptake is modest in our market (Toronto, Canada), we are seeing a good number of visitors. Remember, it is also important to make the targeted webpage mobile-friendly!

  10. Josh Galvan

    September 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I think agents from all over should always look at their market and see if they are using these kinds of tools. Or if their market has the capability to use them (smart phone usage for qr readers). Many times with new tech tools there is this “we gotta have this and it will change our business” mentality just because it’s “new”, but then they find out it was a waste of time because their market doesn’t pick it up or use it.

    So simple point: Make sure it matches your market demographic or else you are climbing up the wrong hill.

  11. Jason Improta - Calabasas Homes for Sale

    September 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    This is great. I saw an ad in a magazine the other day (not real estate related) and decided I wanted to look into how to use it in my business. Thanks!!

  12. Nick Nymark

    September 28, 2010 at 1:11 am

    Very Cool, I brought this up to my broker about a month or so ago and might be starting to use it in the near future. I agree with web enabled cell phones becoming more wide spread. I think it’s going to be somewhat like GPS units. When they first came out they were really cool, and still are neat but as time goes on they keep coming out with better and better ones and are have made them much cheaper than they used to be and because of it more people are buying them.

  13. Chad Peevy

    October 6, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I just designed my first listing sign and property flyer with a QR Code printed on them. A few things I like about QR Codes:

    1) They allow me to scan something that I can later check out on my own time.

    2) Organic characteristic of the technology – ever had to re-print listing flyers because of a price change? Now an agent can put a QR code directing the consumer to a property website where they can find the price. Directing the consumer to the website for the price as opposed to printing it on the flyer allows you to change the price without re-printing flyers.

    3) It demonstrates that the agent is tech-savvy. Even if you aren’t that tech savvy – QR Codes are EASY to pull off and gives the impression that you’re on your tech game (and you should be if you expect to survive in real estate).

    More thoughts on my blog: agentstandingout.com/blog/?p=237

  14. Neil Ferree

    November 11, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Each of these 10 uses for QR codes are spot on. I like how Chris @TechSavvyAgent out it, in that he referred to QR codes as disposable marketing collateral. Anytime I see Google enter a space, I pay attention. They recently launched Goo.gl that both shortens a URL and generates a QR code on the fly and rudimentary analytic data is also part of their offering. Still, I find the Bit.ly platform to be more user friendly, better tracking w/ referral sites and sources and the ability to customize the shortened URL and QR code with “vanity” moniker. Not sure yet if Microsoft’s color QR code will catch on, but obviously this new tech widget will enable agents to provide Gen Y and us old dogs instant access to the info we seek on demand.

  15. Andrew Mooers

    November 21, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    Less trees killed peddling properties. Cool. Have found other colleagues implementing QR codes but not because they embrace the application. Just don’t want to be left behind and it has become the buzz word, thing to do. Herd wearing the “R” strikes again.

  16. Building Material Suppliers

    May 16, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Thanks for letting a few secrets out to us all. Not everybody wants to help and give decent tips.

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Social Media

Red flags to help you spot a bad social media professional

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Social Media is a growing field with everyone and their moms trying to become social media managers. Here are a few experts’ tips on seeing and avoiding the red flags of social media professionals.

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Social media professionals, listen up

If you’re thinking about hiring a social media professional – or are one yourself – take some tips from the experts.

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We asked a number of entrepreneurs specializing in marketing and social media how they separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to social media managers, and they gave us some hints about how to spot whose social media game is all bark and no bite.

You can tell a lot from their socials

According to our experts, the first thing you should do if you’re hiring a social media professional is to check out their personal and/or professional social media pages.

Candidates with underwhelming, non-existent, out-of-date, or just plain bad social media pages should obviously get the chop.

“If they have no professional social presence themselves, that’s a big red flag,” says Chelle Honiker, executive director at the Texas Freelance Association. Another entrepreneur, Paul O’Brien of Media Tech Ventures, explains that “the only way to excel is to practice…. If you excel, why would you not be doing so on behalf of your personal brand?”

In other words, if someone can’t make their own social media appealing, how can they be expected to do so for a client?

Other taboos

These pros especially hated seeing outdated icons, infrequent posts, and automatic posts. Worse than outdated social media pages were bad social media pages. Marc Nathan of Miller Egan Molter & Nelson provided a laundry list of negative characteristics that he uses to rule out candidates, including “snarky,” “complaining, unprofessional” “too personal” “inauthentic,” and “argumentative.”

Besides eliminating candidates with poor social media presence, several of these pros also really hated gimmicky job titles such as “guru,” “whiz,” “ninja,” “superhero,” or “magician.”

They were especially turned off by candidates who called themselves “experts” without any proof of their success.

Jeff Fryer of ARM dislikes pros who call themselves experts because, he says “The top leaders in this field will be the first to tell you that they’re always learning– I know I am!” Steer clear of candidates who talk themselves up with ridiculous titles and who can’t provide solid evidence of their expertise.

How do you prove it?

According to our experts, some of them don’t even try. To candidates who say “’Social media can’t be measured,’” Fryer answer “yes it can[. L]earn how to be a marketer.” Beth Carpenter, CEO of Violet Hour Social Marketing, complains that many candidates “Can’t talk about ROI (return on investment),” arguing that a good social media pro should be able to show “how social contributes to overall business success.” Good social media pros should show their value in both quantitative and qualitative terms.

While our experts wanted to see numerical evidence of social media success, they were also unimpressed with “vanity metrics” such as numbers of followers.

Many poo-pooed the use of followers alone as an indicator of success, with Tinu Abayomi-Paul of Leveraged Promotion joking that “a trained monkey or spambot” can gather 1,000 followers.

Claims of expertise or success should also be backed up by references and experience in relevant fields.

Several entrepreneurs said that they had come across social media managers without “any experience in critical fields: marketing, advertising, strategic planning and/or writing,” to quote Nancy Schirm of Austin Visuals. She explains that it’s not enough to know how to “handle the technology.” Real social media experts must cultivate “instinct borne from actual experience in persuasive communication.”

Freshen up

So, if you’re an aspiring social media manager, go clean up those pages, get some references, and figure out solid metrics for demonstrating your success.

And if you’re hiring a social media manager, watch out for these red flags to cull your candidate pool.

#RedFlag

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Social Media

Instagram re-posting can get your company into deep trouble

(SOCIAL MEDIA) This blowup over a shared Instagram pic is why many companies are doing their due diligence to not land in hot water.

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Can’t ignore it

The perfect Instagram shot is social media gold.

For a business, this is especially true if that shot demonstrates a product or service of theirs. Many of us walk around with the attitude of “Eh, it’s out there” and don’t give serious consideration to the sharing or tagging of our pictures by celebrities or businesses (heck, I think it’s rather flattering).

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Sharing is caring?

Entrepreneurs and small business owners should embrace that the best advertising is free: real people sharing real successes that cost no money to produce. I certainly understand and support any business who wants to use smart social media skills to make money and expand the customer base.

That being said, there are some times you need to really consider the use of your photos, and certainly a lot of businesses are giving thought to asking users about them.

This post captures a bad experience with a company who shared a photographer’s image and didn’t particularly care for that photographer’s response.

tl;dr: Max makes a most excellent case (Instagram’s terms of service would demand that you are responsible for paying the royalties of any image you post, after all).

Take action

A majority of companies are asking before using media for a few reasons because it’s not just the polite thing to do, it’s the legal thing to do. Whether or not you’re a professional photographer or a creative professional, you own the content of that post to Instagram, with some small concessions to Instagram itself.

Now, you need to exercise that right, but copyright privileges are not an exclusive power of the MPAA or any major media company.

You have some leniency as well. You may choose to let one company use your media and charge another; it’s within your rights to decide how you want that media to be shared. If someone is using content on Instagram and not crediting you, or using an image without your permission,report it.

This is another consideration if the production of photos or videos is part of your job. Making money off of content that you don’t own without permission is illegal, and small time photographers or image creators should be vigilant about ensuring their content is providing for them, not just someone else. The law is on your side, and for some additional information about registering your copyright for artists, here you go.

A lot of businesses are doing a great job using social media posts from customers, and that’s a trend that no matter how big or small, the businesses will and should continue.

Don’t be lame

Key rules here: respect and follow the wishes of the person who created that media. Whether it’s about money, or even something more intangible, businesses should respect social media convention and talk to their customers about how they want to use their media, how that person feels about that media being used, and of course, always crediting the original creator (unless you sell them the image in a contract).

Following the law, social media terms of service, and online decency is a trend everyone should be on.

#sharesmart

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Social Media

Don’t let your Instagram vanish without a trace – have a backup plan

(SOCIAL MEDIA) In a weird glitch, multiple Instagram accounts vanished out of thin air. Don’t be stuck up the InstaVanish creek without a paddle… or at least a backup in place.

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Poof, gone

Can you imagine being locked out of your own Instagram account for no rhyme or reason? Well, dozens of people just found out, and they are PISSED.

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Thankfully, we’ve got a solution to make sure you don’t lose out if it happens to you.

First, some context

According to coverage from Consumerist, “Several Instagram users began complaining about the disabled or deleted accounts on Twitter today [July 6], noting that they received no warning or explanation for why their accounts were no longer active. The affected accounts appear to cover a wide range of users, from business owners, to fan and personal accounts.”

Via Twitter, Instagram did acknowledge a known bug causing the issue and said, “we’re working to resolve this as quickly as possible.”

However, the response came hours after complaints began, possibly because the issue allegedly affected a very small number of user accounts.

Furthermore, while Instagram gave instructions to users on how to reconfirm their identities and recover their account, they aren’t guaranteed to work.

So, bearing all that in mind, we here at American Genius recommend backing up your entire account in order to preserve your content.

Use what they give you

If you still have access to your account, you can utilize Instagram’s recently-launched Archive function. This lets you take photos off public view without removing them from your account; only you will be able to see them.

However, this does you no good if you’re already locked out, nor does it save posts that are publically available.

For that reason, we recommend a third-party backup option for your profile content.

A’int no party like a third party

You have a few different options. Our favorite one utilizes IFTT (If This, Then That). Using this automation tool, you can write a conditional function that says if you post a new photo to Instagram, it will automatically be sent to a cloud drive, such as Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox.

Along with the benefit of multiple storage options, we love this solution because you can set it and forget it.

That being said, it is not a complete solution; IFTT will ONLY backup up new photos, instead of old ones. To backup your entire collection of old memories, Instaport seems to be a crowd favorite.

Instaport is a free service that lets you download a backup of your entire account.

Once you download this backup, you could upload it to your preferred cloud storage provider, then set IFTTT to send future backups into that same folder.

Better safe than sorry

Using these tips, you can avoid being a total victim of an Instagram screw-up. Hopefully, this recent one will resolve shortly.

#InstaVanish

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