There’s an old saying that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” meaning everyone profits when things are good. That’s true to a point, but tough times demonstrate the opposite: Some people just plain sell more than everyone else, in good times and bad.
Times are definitely interesting in 2020, with record-low mortgage rates making homes more affordable but record-low inventory keeping prices up. Add in the usual personal and economic uncertainties, and you’ve definitely got a challenging sales environment. Putting together an effective real estate marketing plan is a first step toward joining the ranks of resilient high performers, and here are some crucial tips to help you get there.
1. Know Who You’re Marketing To
Every marketing initiative you take should start with one simple question: Who do you want to sell homes to (or for)? You won’t hit a target you can’t see, so aside from a few general-purpose handouts your marketing materials should all be created with a specific set of buyers in mind.
Are first-time buyers your bread and butter? That’s typically millennials and Gen Z, prospects in their mid-30s and younger. Sellers looking to cash out and downsize? That’s boomers, people in their mid-50s and up. Peak earners who are ready to spend seriously? That’s largely Gen X, in their 30s through 50s.
Each of these groups has its own set of priorities and preferences, and you’ll find plenty of articles and studies out there explaining how to reach out to them successfully. Study the stats, pick your niche, and plan your campaign accordingly.
2. Market Where Your Targets Are
One immediate advantage to defining your target market is that you’ll quickly learn where your demographic lives. If you’re targeting first-time buyers, for example, you should probably be on Instagram. About 59 percent of millennials are active on Instagram, but only 14 percent of realtors. Those are pretty persuasive numbers.
If that’s not your key demographic, keep digging. If you market to older buyers Facebook may work better for you, or LinkedIn if you focus on white-collar professionals. Keep an open mind, but look for solid research from industry or academic sources as opposed to un-researched opinions of the brother-in-law variety.
3. Go to School on High Achievers
Want to know how to be a successful real estate agent? The best thing you can do is study those who are. Invest a bit of time in learning the top performers in your own market, and in similar markets in other areas, and even nationally. Now take a look at how they do what they do: Their marketing materials, their websites, their blogs, their social media presence and anything else you can find.
Study the visuals they use and their language. Look for similarities in how the top performers market themselves, and learn from them, but also look at how they differentiate themselves from their peers. Finally, ask yourself two questions:
- How can I do what they do, in my own market?
- What can I do better?
If you really want to do it right, look at high performers in other fields who also target a similar demographic. Not only are they likelier to do things realtors don’t, but they may be open to networking with you.
4. Be Creative About Getting Your Name Out
Traditional marketing favors brokers who are already successful, because the cost of conventional advertising – billboards, print ads, TV and radio – can be prohibitive for someone who hasn’t already got some serious cash flow. If you haven’t got the budget for that, you’ll need to be creative about getting your name out there.
One option is to position yourself as a resource for local media. Local news outlets across the continent are understaffed and underfunded, but they still need copy. There are two main ways to get a toehold with local journalists. One is to identify and pitch stories they can cover cheaply and easily, with you as their main interview. A second is to register with a service called Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where journalists go to find experts to interview when they’re pressed for a deadline. With a bit of research and practice, you’ll quickly learn how to frame a “pitch” they’ll respond to.
You should also consider podcasting, which requires little more than a decent microphone and something interesting to talk about. Your content should focus on the area you “farm” for leads, and talk up what makes it different, special or interesting. It shouldn’t feel “advertorial”: you’re just someone who loves the neighborhood, and wants others to love it too. There are millions of podcasts out there, but it’s unlikely more than a very few focus on your specific area. You can be more interesting than two or three other people, right?
5. Own Your Own Website
Your office undoubtedly has its own website, and your listings will go up on the MLS site as well, but there’s no substitute for owning and operating your own site. One obvious advantage is that you’ll get to keep all of your existing content if you should change companies or strike out on your own, but there are deeper benefits as well.
For example, how mobile-friendly is your office site? About half of all searches start from a mobile device now, and if your site isn’t mobile-friendly potential prospects will find one that is. With your own site you can also provide a venue for blogs, informative infographics, podcasts and useful, neighborhood-focused resources that people will actually look for and use.
There are plenty of resources out there to step you through the process of buying a domain name and creating a site. There are excellent templates available that you can simply fill with your own photos and content, to create a working and mobile-friendly site in a matter of a few days’ effort. As sales and cash flow pick up you can delegate the hands-on work to someone else, which allows you to focus on selling and creating new content.
6. Play Matchmaker for Prospects
A rising number of starter homes are being purchased by non-romantic partnerships of two or more buyers. This is an effective way to gain a toehold in home ownership, especially for young buyers with high levels of debt and relatively low equity.
Not everybody has a suitable purchasing partner already in their social circle, though, and that creates an opportunity for a savvy realtor. You can leverage your platform, whatever it may be – social media, your website, a mailing list, your Customer Relationship Management database, or whatever – to play matchmaker.
To be clear, making direct one-to-one connections is not your best bet (and could be problematic if the relationship goes sour). Instead, actively look for people who are suitable candidates, and organize regular in-person or virtual meetups where they can get acquainted and find partners with similar goals and compatible personalities. Not only does this position you to make the initial sale, you’ll ideally be able to make a future sale to each partner once they’ve built some equity.
7. Building Better-Qualified Leads
Getting better leads is a powerful way to build your business, which is why many brokers simply buy pre-qualified leads from a third party. But what if you could make any prospect a better-qualified homebuyer?
Given the tight inventory and economic uncertainties right now, few mortgages are being approved for anyone with a credit score below 700. If your business depends heavily on young and first-time buyers, closing the sale may come down to making them more appealing to lenders. That’s where ScoreMaster can have a startling impact on your sales.
In actual testing, users of the ScoreMaster app were able to increase their score by an average of 60 points (and sometimes more!) in just 20 days. That turns a shaky prospect into a valid one, and a solid prospect into an excellent one. Getting the financing you need is a difference-maker, especially in a tight market where fast action is the difference between winning and losing.
How ScoreMaster Works for Realtors
ScoreMaster addresses a simple reality: Most people don’t know how to manage their existing financial activities in a way that maximizes the benefit to their credit score. ScoreMaster simply encourages them to arrange their financial activity in ways that do that, using “gamification” – rewards and validation for doing the right things – and accountability to help keep them on track.
Providing them with ScoreMaster is a solid win for the realtor. Not only does ScoreMaster make you the person who can help them fulfill their dream of home ownership, it makes you an active collaborator in the process. Phrased another way, it puts you on “Team Us” instead of “Team Them”: a trusted insider, not just another salesperson.
Want to know more? Reach out today and find out how ScoreMaster can turbocharge your sales.
*Legal Disclaimer – ScoreMaster is a patent-pending educational feature simulating credit utilization’s effect on credit scores via payments or spending. Your results may vary and are not guaranteed.