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Real estate agents are minding the housing market trends, showing houses on weekends, balancing their personal lives and trying to grow their production. If only there were some form of actionable easy take away marketing strategy they can deploy. When it comes to market domination, the brand is only one component that factors into a favorable public perception. Real estate agents need to break away from the brand-defining space and create a platform that blends in their corporate brand with their personal brand.
There's a true dichotomy within the digital world as it pertains to real estate agents—they either practically live on their mobile devices or they’re hoping that the virtual world is a fad that will soon disappear. Unfortunately, the fact remains that 90 percent of prospective homebuyers begin their search online, so when it comes to making your impression upon the audience you’re seeking to attract, you must embrace the digital world.
Online home search engine titans such as MLS, Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com have invested in non-traditional means of marketing to serve buyers and sellers (even FSBOs). You may have noticed that they use radio, TV, online ads and content marketing, such as blogs, informational feeds, and current events to attract more viewers to their respective Web sites. Social media plays a huge part in their reach to direct their audience to their end goal, which is their Web site. Social media giant Facebook offers a service called Page Engage to assist real estate agents in posting their listings directly on their personal page. Taking advantage of these services or even replicating this model and scaling it down to a compact size to align with your goals will yield a decent return. I am not saying to ignore your corporate brand. In fact, use it to your benefit. Many brokers offer a turn-key marketing solution that agents can easily tap into to create an online presence. However, this is not where the outreach effort should end.
Remember, regularity with which we complete a marketing idea is what makes it successful. That being said, use online software to its fullest potential to assist you in your consistency exercises, such as scheduling e-mail drip campaigns to your past and current clients, business networking, referral programs and create a personal style or signature that represents only you. Being more authentic and human gives you a personal edge that is rarely seen, yet very much appreciated. You can accomplish this online on your Web site and via social media, but mostly in your personal interactions. This is where you will find the most successful form of engagement.
Millennials are naturally drawn to this form of behavioral consistency. Millennials are typically tech savvy, intentional and decisive and are cynical about brands, but not about people with ideas. Creativity is at the heart of this demographic. They are now 25 percent of our total population. A quarter of them are parents and six million have household incomes above $100,000. So, if you are looking to grow your business, learn the triggers of the Millennial market, but don’t ignore the Generation X or Baby Boomer segments. Gen Xer’s laid the political, intellectual, social, creative and personal ground upon which the Millennials of today walk, talk and text.
The challenges go beyond one's lack of digital intelligence. It's all about how you communicate with potential buyers and sellers. Keeping pace with consumers' changing media habits without feeling that ache of mobile inadequacy because you're still having difficulty posting a message on Facebook is still very much a common thread for many. It's important to see social tools as a way of exposing who and what one really is. Consumers crave relationships where businesses view them as individuals—and respond in a transparent manner. Giving the client an authentic experience that only you can deliver is truly inspiring. Don’t just present something for them to "buy," but rather, if you can have them "buy into" something, it is your ticket to referral business. Why is this easier said than done? Because real connections need to be firmly anchored in your everyday business approach.
Rule of thumb when using this medium for business purposes: Social media is about visuals. Visuals are shortcuts to the brain. You need to attract your audience in an immediate, compelling and relevant way. Photos are easy to share among your followers, and remember to use content that is engaging. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pintrest can get "noisy" and even fast-paced at times with cyber-chatter, so post things that are meaningful to your audience not the recipe of the day. Change your headers, refresh content and moreover, post when it matters. Social media creates a personality of sorts, so choose carefully when posting.
Where should you start? First, chunk down your marketing process into small tasks, but first learn to adapt to your audience and create a marketing strategy that aligns with your overall goals. Stay the course and don’t be afraid to try something new. Transforming your digital outlook will give you a competitive edge, but I am from the school of thought that providing superior customer service and true value will outweigh any online or social media presence.
This article originally appeared in the August 2015 edition of National Mortgage Professional Magazine.