While real estate brokers and trainers, marketing gurus, and motivational speakers all have been vocal creating their versions of marketing for real estate agents, one voice has been missing from this discussion – the voice of a consumer. Are you still using hard-sell outdated techniques in your dealings with clients and then surprised that you don’t get any referrals?
Do you tend to be pushy, intrusive, and annoying at times with your client follow-up? Then findings of Hear It Direct conference that took an in-depth look into what consumers love and hate about their real estate agent’s strategy could open your eyes and make you drop some of your real estate advertising ideas.
It is not a secret that the whole real estate industry is becoming more and more driven by the wants of Consumer, so it is always a good idea to get down from your marketing ‘ivory tower’ and listen what ordinary buyers and sellers, who went through the process of real estate transactions, really want, value, and hate.
We are all there for a long haul!
You have to realize that an average buyer and seller starts looking for a new home or thinking about selling 12-18 months before the actual transaction happens. So, if you are calling them every week, pushing to buy or sell, your efforts would be futile. It is the last thing your potential clients want.
During this time your best tactic should be to serve as a knowledgeable educator and an expert ready to answer any question whenever it arises. Real estate newsletters with relevant information about the whole process, explaining financial options, loan application process, various mortgage programs, facts about local neighborhoods, schools and amenities can be your best choice of real estate marketing tools.
You should be aware that your clients are scared of that new financial burden and need time to weigh-in all their options and educate themselves. The panels of consumers time and time again expressed that they are simply scared and hate to be “pushed and rushed” and that the real estate agents who don’t have enough tact and patience drive reluctant buyers away: “Taking on all that debt is a big decision.
It feels like you are being shackled.” – “Our real estate agent got impatient with us and didn’t realize that we were scared about making our final decision.” Which agent wins in this slow race? The one that is patient, understanding and takes time to learn what clients really want and is never pushy.
Don’t be a stalker!
A lot of agents, following the advice of real estate marketing experts, try to obtain real estate buyer leads by collecting clients’ information through the website before they allow prospects to search for homes or view listings. Overwhelmingly, consumers consider this a violation of privacy and will quickly leave your site and go somewhere else where they can browse information in a ‘stealth’ mode. On the other hand, consumers will provide an email address in exchange for a free report or local business coupon thus trading information for something of value. As an agent following up on leads, you should be very careful about how you proceed.
If you send an interesting email real estate newsletter once in a while (let’s say every other week or monthly) clients would tolerate your marketing efforts. If you decide to bombard them with daily emails saturated with standard pushy “calls-to-action” or phone calls, they’ll quickly move you to a ‘stalker’ category and would prefer not to deal with you at all.
It is interesting that from real estate marketing point of view, you, as an agent, are doing your job of diligently following up on the leads. But from consumer’s receiving end of this pushy marketing plan, it looks completely the opposite and will not bear your expected results. Ironically, many consumers confessed that before they chose a real estate agent, they would do their homework and ‘stalk’ you online.
They may visit your open house, read your blog, subscribe to your real estate marketing newsletter, check your featured listings and even email you to see how quickly you respond. Driven by human fear to choose the wrong house, the wrong agent, the wrong neighborhood, they want to know about you and real estate as much as possible before making a move.
Real Estate Listing Leads. The picture is worth … thousands of dollars.
Many homeowners emphasized that they would like to learn as much as possible about the house before they pick up the phone to call the agent for an appointment: lots of pictures, a virtual tour, interior and exterior shots, map with aerial and street view, photos of local parks, pools and amenities, neighborhood information, school reports, etc. The new buzz word is ‘Transparent Marketing’ meaning that people can verify your information through other trusted public sources. So when you are linking your listing address with Google street view to show the neighborhood, Zillow so clients can check Zestimate for all homes for sale, Trulia for a bird-eye view, you are providing resources for verifying and support your information. Clients appreciate this and will trust you more. If you are advertising a listing through real estate farming postcards or newsletters and don’t have space for all the information, don’t forget to provide a QR code that quickly takes your tech-savvy clients to a webpage with listing’s details. As one panelist put it, “If there is no picture, I’m gone!” Quality photos can mean deal or no deal and cost you thousands of dollars wasted for ineffective printed marketing materials and missed sales.
Why don’t you like me?
Facebook real estate marketing is still hot and many agents are trying to ‘push’ their clients to ‘like’ them and follow them on this and other popular social media sites. Consumers view it differently as for many Facebook is an escape from work and a quiet time to relax and catch up on the latest news from friends. They overwhelmingly don’t want to be bombarded with sales’ pitches and be friends with agents they barely know. Majority of consumers don’t pay attention to Facebook ads and paid ads on Google and never click on them.
Let’s be honest—you can’t ignore charity and helping others when designing your real estate marketing plan. It won’t resonate with your recycling, green energy conscious, running marathons to cure diseases – clients. If you advertise giving a portion of your commissions to a certain charity or cause this may attract a whole new group of potential buyers and sellers. You can even go further and donate to a charity of your clients’ choice that can start a strong word-of-mouth campaign and make buyers feel even better about their new house.
The biggest shock …
When panelists were asked how they found their real estate agent, not a single one of them mentioned that they’ve found them online. The majority found their agents through referrals from friends and family! So much for all technology and advertising online! The irony is that you have to follow everything mentioned above to earn that referral. If you are not sending real estate marketing postcards to your past clients and social sphere, not reminding them that you are local expert through your real estate newsletter and other real estate promotional products, they won’t remember your name when asked for the referral.
To summarize, what is the logical conclusion from all these findings? You should sit down for an exit interview with each of your clients and ask their honest opinion of what they liked and disliked while working with you. This should help you tremendously to shape your selection of real estate advertising ideas so it is tailored to the needs of your most important critics – your clients.