“Make your marketing so useful, people would pay for it.” – Jay Baer , author of Youtility
On its face, that may seem like a ridiculous statement. Who would pay for marketing materials? Well, if we’re talking about the self-serving billboards, newspaper ads, postcards, and web banners we’ve all been bombarded with for most of our lives, it is a ridiculous statement. Most of that “stuff” is one-sided noise, designed to make someone take an action that directly and primarily benefits the company that created it. Nobody’s going to pay for that.
But the statement itself isn’t ridiculous. Marketing can be valuable to your customers. But it’s up to you to make it that way. There is one single marketing strategy you can begin practicing today that will change the way your customers perceive your marketing and you, as a real estate agent. The strategy can be boiled down to one statement…
Focus on What the Customer Wants, Instead of What You Want.
Traditionally, if you wanted a customer to purchase a home from your client, you would advertise that specific home in the newspaper. You might target postcards featuring the listing to the demographic you are trying to reach. And you’d probably fill your Facebook page with information about the home and the open house you have scheduled next Saturday. You want someone to buy that house. So naturally, you focus your attention on selling that house. And maybe that works for you sometimes. But focusing your marketing efforts exclusively on the product you’re trying to sell is a short-sighted strategy that takes a lot of energy and money. It ultimately doesn’t do anything to build your brand as the sharp and helpful real estate professional you are. It’s all about you and what you want right now. But what about the customer?
What’s in It for Me?
People who are thinking about buying or selling a home typically have a lot of questions. As a licensed real estate professional, you are uniquely positioned to answer those questions from a perspective of expertise. In fact, you could probably give them answers to questions they haven’t even thought of yet. Your knowledge is the kind of thing potential clients value, and the kind of thing they really need. There are a million different ways you could share that knowledge with them, from social media and blogging to live information sessions and webinars. You could even try to partner with your local newspaper to answer these questions in a weekly column. It would be a much better use of the money you’re spending on newspaper ads.
The “how” of your marketing is important, but it isn’t nearly as important as the “who,” “what,” and “why.” If you dedicate yourself to becoming a resource for real estate buyers and sellers, you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them that has nothing to do with buying and selling. It has everything to do with you providing valuable support to them when they need it. And when that person is in a position to buy or sell a home, who do you think they’re going to call?
A Customer Focus Allows You to Take Control of Your Lead Generation
Lead generation is something many real estate professionals struggle with. First of all, it’s difficult getting people to give you their contact information and grant you permission to market to them. So, you probably take a sign-in sheet to all of your open houses . You probably add every potential lead you speak with to a database. The other difficult part about lead generation is that you have no idea how qualified your leads are, or specifically what they’re interested in. So, you probably market to all of them with the exact same message.
Focusing your marketing on the customer you serve will allow you to better qualify your leads, and communicate to them with a message they’re more willing to hear. For instance, what if you conducted a free Q&A session on things to consider when shopping for your first home? You would simply field questions on the process of purchasing a home and help them become more comfortable with the big step they’re about to take. You could follow up that event with a series of emails that provide additional tips to consider when purchasing a first home. It’s a targeted message, it provides value to the customer, and it keeps you top of mind when they’re ready to begin the buying process.
Make Your Marketing Budget Work for You
You don’t have an unlimited marketing budget. Why not spend at least some of it saying something people actually want to hear? As consumers today, we are bombarded by messages to buy. It’s all around us, but we’ve naturally been trained to ignore it. This is your opportunity to build a long-term marketing strategy that breaks through the clutter, fills your lead pipeline, and keeps your business running for years to come. Compared to all of the other activities you’re probably already investing in, this is a low-cost alternative that relies primarily on your willingness and ability to demonstrate your expertise. Helping people, even when there’s not an immediate financial reward for you, will ultimately be to your benefit.
Traditional real estate marketing tactics will likely always be a part of your mix. It’s important to make sure people are aware of the listings you have at any given time. But if you focus the bulk of your marketing efforts on meeting the needs of your clients, you’ll have a more attentive audience when you solicit new clients and market the homes you’re trying to sell.