Here is a little to do list for 2008 for real estate agents. Just some things to think about.
Resist Fee Increases
Yes they will all be at it again. Telling you how much they have improved, how much benefit they are to your company, oh and how much you mean to them. The truth is they just know you will have no choice but to pay and they have to increase profits. So if they create another category such as Super Platinum tell em you have better things to spend your money on. If a customer is looking for a house in Brisbane they are not going to look at the first page, they will look through all of the listings. Another thing is that users are becoming so much more sophisticated with their browsing. Of course the portals know you are in deep rivalry with your competitor across the road and if they can sign them they know you are a monty to pay.
Get your website up to standard
If your website is not standards based you will pay a high price in 2008 with Internet Explorer 8 arriving and also Firefox 3.0, which both support web standards. If you want to know if your website is already standards based go here.
Spruce up your website
Get your website up to the latest standards, make sure you have RSS Feeds, Google Mapping, Photo Galleries, Video and Podcasts and also make sure you have a blog to to inform your potential vendors. Dump any resemblance of a splash page, get rid of any frames and while you are at it, get it out of your skull that users want pretty flash movies – yes I know, you want it, it makes you feel special, but it is bad for users and worse again for search engines.
Make sure each of your listings has their own unique page, this is because a raft of international websites are coming our way and they only carry a small amount of data and then link to your website (yes that’s giving you benefits)
Get onto FREE Websites
I know most of these portals suck and you don’t get many enquiries but the more people that join these sites the more popular they become, so make sure you have a feed engine with your supplier and get your listings on some of those free portals and more importantly classifieds websites (which are already popular). Most of the feed companies will not export to these sites unless there is pressure from you.
Yes they serve a purpose but only to promote your brand, they simply do not sell real estate any more. So engineer your newspaper advertising around getting more vendors to your website. I am not saying dump newspaper advertising, but get clever and talk to your local rep about what more they can do for you and your vendors.
Go for a simple text only Yellow Pages advertisement, yes you need to be here, but it is not used by anyone to find a property and very few people (if any) use it to find an agent. They may be bringing out a heap more types of guides but seriously, hardly anyone bothers with it any more. Before anyone from Yellow gets upset, I am talking about real estate. Yellow is over for agents, so spend that money promoting something else.
Be hard on your local reps from portals and newspapers, they are good about spreading guff about how great their offering is, but challenge them always, it will save you money and perhaps give you a better position! Most of these reps do not understand the Internet, so get to know your biggest medium, check out Wikipedia (not perfect) on issues such as the start of the Internet and how it works, RSS feeds, xml, and real estate portals.
Your marketing dollars are spent in a number of ways. Each of them should be designed around promoting your brand awareness. Whether it be give away advertising for local communities/charities or full colour spreads in newspapers. Also talk to real estate portals about better positioning your brand.
Any other ideas folks?