Marketing: the good, the bad and the ugly

Marketing seems to be the buzz word nowadays. How to market this and that. Brand your product . . . Selling a home is no different–you are trying to put a product (a home) in the best light to appeal to a target audience (a buyer). The official definition of marketing is: “Means to make a communication about a product or service a purpose of which is to encourage recipients of the communication to purchase or use the product or service.” Sounds simple, doesn’t it? From my days in advertising, I lived by the rules of marketing. As a Realtor, you need to know about marketing as you are selling a product. But you also need to remember: you are marketing yourself. How else do you get clients?

Here are some basic rules to follow:

It’s a simple concept: if you close sales faster, you’ll ramp up your revenues, and then you won’t be spending as much time doing marketing or making sales calls. Turning a lead into a sale is the critical purpose of marketing. Real estate is no different than any other industry; basic marketing rules apply to everyone. Here are some of the most important basic rules of marketing:

• STAY IN TOUCH
First, be sure you are staying in touch with prospective clients on a frequent, consistent basis. This means following up with potential buyers and their agents, “What did your client think of my seller’s house? What did they like? Didn’t like? Do you have any other feedback that may help?” It also means keeping my seller abreast of what is happening in their home. I also keep them updated on the showings and the feedback.

• STAY AHEAD OF YOUR COMPETITION
The market is saturated with homes for sale. How do we make your home stand out from the other? What can we do to help you home catch the eye of a potential buyer? I wish the answer were an easy one, but the truth is, there is no cookie-cutter solution. Each home and each buyer is different. I would take a different approach on a home in a rural area than I would in the city. Not that one approach is better than the other, but the audience is different. A comprehensive marketing plan presented at the beginning is always useful. I tell my client exactly what my marketing plans are for the time that the house is listed: what ads I’ll run, what direct mail I’ll send and how their home will be presented on the MLS and on the Realty 3 website.

And what about you? How do you win the listing? You stand out from the crowd and you show that potential client how you can plan to service them and why your method is superior to someone else’s. How can you guarantee that you will sell their home and get them a fair price? How do you present yourself? Are you dressed well? Is your car neat and clean? Do you come across as a professional? It is a nice way to advertise to have your name and phone number on your car. But once is enough. Not on every door. Is your photo on your marketing materials up to date, or is it the same photo you had taken ten years ago? Your audience is going to see you in person, so why are you trying to fool them on your business card? Get a new photo.

• FOLLOW UP
Again, the follow up is crucial. How do I know that a potential buyer really liked my seller’s house, but didn’t like the resilient flooring in the kitchen, unless I follow up with a phone call? After calling the buyer’s agent to get feedback and she told me that was a big negative, I immediately called my client. They agreed to replace the flooring and I was able to call the buyer’s agent back and tell them this. That changed the whole deal!

• DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP!
If you can afford it, hire someone to do your marketing and design for you. If you plan on doing any direct mail or an ad for the paper, please let a qualified graphic designer do it for you. You can find reasonable rates by calling around and asking what they would charge. Or if you want a personal website, don’t let your nephew do it. Hire it done. That is your image and how people will think of you. Nobody can sell you better than YOU. Just a reminder: you are a Realtor, NOT a designer. You DO NOT need a full page image of yourself. You DO NOT need some cheesy tag-line. Project the image your want others to see.

Case in point: FSBO are not an agent’s favorite thing. “Why would someone, untrained, think they could sell their own house? That is what I am trained to do! I have attended a lot of classes and have years of experience. Why don’t they understand that and let a trained professional sell their house?”

Graphic designers say the same thing about Realtors: “Why would someone, untrained, think they can design their own ad (logo, website, direct mail)? That is what I am trained to do! I have attended a lot of classes and have years of experience. Why don’t they understand that and let a trianed professional design their materials?

• SOME BAD SOME GOOD AND SOME UGLY:
An ad that is taken up by more of your photo than your contact info: BAD
A photo of you on your business card/in an ad that is more than two years old. You don’t want a client to ask “Are you the same person who is on your card?” (see above): BAD
Having an ad with a typo. (See above about hiring a designer) An ad that says “Let me sell your hoem!” isn’t going to win clients. Typos: BAD
Do not design your own website. Home-done website: BAD and UGLY
Keep your car neat and clean. You don’t want to throw the McDonald’s bag into the back seat right before your client gets into your car: BAD
Do not put your name, number, and photo on every spare inch of your car. Be tasteful, not gaudy. Car as a billboard: BAD and UGLY
Study a good marketing plan (you can find them online or in books): GOOD
Following a marketing plan: GOOD
Create an image for yourself and carry that through all of your materials: GOOD

Marketing isn’t hard, but it is a matter of being consistent. If you find it scary, take some classes and learn about marketing. It is the way to push yourself to the front of the pack!

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