Smart marketing for the future!

The downturn the industry has endured over the past few years has been tough. However in these times the cream rises to the top and will be back thriving again when the markets settle and grow. It is time to get smart about your marketing.

Bully Boys
Bullies are out, if you are told that you must sign for 12 months to a certain amount of space in printed guides, then tell them no thanks. Your vendors are not really looking for expensive short term marketing plans, in fact if you sat down with your vendors, you will find that they want aggressive marketing online. So these long term deals with newspapers are out! Print will survive but they must adapt and the current models are just so out of touch with the current markets.

If you are advertising in newspapers, push it all to your website, big website links and even better still provide ID numbers for each listing directly back to your website. Work with your newspapers and tell them your vision. If they can’t help, move on!

Understand the difference
Understand the difference between advertising a property in a paid for newspaper and a free delivered property guide. I can tell you nearly all of the free weekly property guides/newspapers that get delivered to our apartment complex each week end up in the bin. So whatever they quote you in deliveries/readers, divide it by 10/100. Salespeople are great at quoting figures, but you now want results. Understand what works and direct your marketing dollars there. Do your research and ask the questions and if you are not happy with the answers, then move on!

Online Marketing
Get involved in some free websites, MyHome now is an option, don’t worry about premium listings, they really don’t work any better than regular listings. Look for local business websites and see if you can get your listings on there. Work on your copy, your photography and link back to your website, always!

Work your community
Look around online for community guides, popular blogs and websites and get involved, negotiate some deals and get some banner advertising running. Get your banner ads designed by one of the web banner makers, like Right Banners. You will find that it will only cost a small amount per month for advertising and a few hundred dollars for the banners. Get the message across on the banners and create something that catches the eye. Do not overdo it!

Get your staff blogging
Get them to create their own blogs, who cares what they write about! Sailing, fishing, walking, yoga it doesn’t matter, then carry your advertising on their websites, as a sponsor! If they are passionate about something, help them get set-up (you own the blog) and you will find their passion will improve your business. These will eventually be connectors to other people in your community and long term they will be so much more useful than the ridiculous amount of junk mail littering the streets and lining rubbish bins with useless information.

Be different!
Okay your website listings will pretty much be the same in content as most other sites, however you can create some differences. Thinking is easy, don’t worry about what you want, think about what is important for your vendors and visitors to your site. If you must use flash, use it for photos and tours and connectors within the site. The needs of potential tenants are different to the needs of potential buyers, if you can make your property pages full of information that a potential customer wants, like suburb guides, local business information, maps and the like, then you will create a point of difference and excite your audience.

Get local business advertising, create revenues
Your real estate site should be popular, so why wouldn’t local plumbers, builders, bricklayers, cleaners, removals etc.want to be advertising on your site, create a revenue model for yourself and make your site profitable.

Get serious about your website
Sure cousin Johnny did a great job 5 years ago, but the Internet has grown up, if you still think $1,000 will cut it, then I have a wake up call for you, the best agencies are spending big and they are spending smart. Create a site that you can build on, evolve and be proud of takes time and money. Sit down and map out your needs, talk to past vendors/tenants and buyers and find out what is important to them.

Test your current website in Safari, Firefox, IE7, Opera and Google browsers and you will soon see how much is involved in creating a standards based feature rich website. There are a number of good web developers out there that can do a great job for you, so get started now! Your website will soon be the ONLY point of difference once all marketing is done online.

One Basket = Basketcase
If you rely on one company for everything, well, you deserve to get burnt. Spread your marketing across different markets and companies! Most only really specialise in one area but nearly all of them want more of your money, so they keep whacking on features hoping you will upgrade. So think about where you spend your money and create some competition.

Other things

Dump Internet Explorer 6
If your company still uses Internet Explorer 6 for web browsing then I am sorry but you deserve to get hacked, phished and burnt. IE6 was superseded years ago and is a dangerous program. If your systems do not support the latest browsers then get your software company to wise up or dump them altogether and find a software provider who has spent at least some money on R&D in the last few years. My personal favourite is Firefox.

Broadband
Get broadband. Understand broadband. Just because Bigpond still has vans driving around with “Superfast Broadband” and offering 256k downloads speeds doesn’t mean you have broadband. Broadband now starts at 20+ megabytes downloads speeds (that’s about 90x faster than 256k), so upgrade your plans (make sure you get a massive download quota).

If you have 256k and 5 office staff sharing this connection you are actually worse than 1 user on a 56k dial-up modem.

Note: Make sure you get a large download cap – Telecoms love charging for excess usage. I would suggest about 8 GIG per month for each staff member. I get 120 GIG at 24 Megs for $129.00 per month.

Blogs, Broadband, MyHome, Newspapers, Print

SEO For Real Estate
Listing Leads
Agentpoint Real estate

About Peter J Ricci

Peter Ricci is the Director of Agentpoint.com.au, Business2.com.au, Ginga.com.au and ZooProperty.com and has been involved in designing and developing real estate systems and websites since 1997. In July 2001 Peter founded Business2.com.au to help real estate agents better understand the power of the Internet and the real estate landscape in Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has penned over 300 articles on a variety of subjects in the real estate technology industry. Business2.com.au is now the leading real estate technology site in Australasia.

16 Responses to Smart marketing for the future!

  1. Scott Savage November 9, 2008 at 10:29 pm #

    To do your research you need a CRM program to track leads. It is difficult for a sales person to quote a price when you have their competition providing double the enquiries for half the price. Again, there is no point spending up on a fancy website if you don’t know what your customers value in it. A website is the storefront, the CRM is the store containing your valuable stock.

  2. Robert Simeon November 10, 2008 at 12:35 pm #

    I would certainly agree with future snapshot if past real estate markets are anything to go by. What many simply forget is that in the recession of the early nineties – we did not have the internet then and since then it has become a vital tool in successful property marketing.

    The savvy real estate businesses which run the advanced online platforms will be well rewarded as in recent times they invested in the future. I am amazed at the number of real estate agencies out there that don’t optimise their sites or even know what SEO stands for or what it actually does.

    It will be very interesting times indeed although I suspect that print will be cut back and act as a pointer to the online models which will see agents testing new marketing theories such as four properties per page for example.

    We are currently considering a number of options at present however we are joyed with the fact that interest rates will drop to historically lows as againts the early nineties where they sat at historical highs. What we do know is the Google search engines will power away and Adwords will play a huge roll in the mix for the agencies that struggle with SEO.

    Time to fine tune the websites and release the beast from within πŸ™‚

  3. Sal Espro November 13, 2008 at 1:51 pm #

    Hi Robert,

    What does, “will see agents testing new marketing theories such as four properties per page for example. ” mean, please?

    Rgds,
    Sal

  4. Robert Simeon November 13, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

    Sal,

    What I meant by that comment was that if the real estate markets decline many vendors will opt back to previous marketing campaigns of sharing a page with other properties to keep the costs down as against paying for an entire page which has become the recent trend.

    Cheers

  5. Greg Vincent November 14, 2008 at 3:04 pm #

    You’re spot on Robert…This is the market where you will see the innovative agents put the foot on the accelerator and create a gap over their competition that could be insurmountable.

    From what I’ve seen in my dealings with agents there are an awful lot that will have to quickly embrace technology & re-purpose their marketing to survive.

    For instance, if you haven’t been sending either weekly or fortnightly communications to your database then it could become a real uphill battle to get any real penetration with clients.

    Especially, if the client contacted the agency weeks or months ago and hasn’t received any newsletters/reports.

    If you’re doing monthly communications, you should increase the frequency, you’ll see why in a minute…

    Some agents are worried about the time taken writing content. However, in the online space – “Content is King”.

    When writing your content remember, people can get a lot of real estate information from the major portals, etc so grab your local paper & write about something that’s closer to home – about what’s happening in your area. (Remember – don’t breach copywright laws πŸ™‚ ).

    This could also save you money in newsletter subscription fees, because once again you’ll see in a moment that you will need your own content, not something that is sold to agents postcode by postcode.

    Once you’ve written your content & you’ve sent out the email, your content normally sits in a word document in your computer or sits in their inbox. At this point, you need to get the content out of the computer & put it up on the web. How so?

    Simply, create a blog & upload your newsletter content onto the blog. This way eventually you will have people finding your content organically over the web.

    If it’s localised content there is also a better chance of ranking higher on keywords that your local community may be searching on.

    Got to go, but before I do, just a quick word about re-building trust…

    There are a few ways to re-build trust with these neglected clients… There’s a few featured in a book called ‘The Speed Of Trust’ by Stephen Covey’s son.

    It’s a must read book for these current times & can help with building your technology strategies…

    PS. ‘All Aboard’ – The real estate technology boat is about to leave, and it’s a boat that many agents won’t want to miss…hurry up & get on board.

  6. Greg Vincent November 14, 2008 at 3:14 pm #

    Another quick thought – then must go. Many agents will have archives of newsletters that they have sent out. check to see if they are relevant to the market & you could even get the weekend girls to start uploading them onto the blog. You’ll then have a content filled blog in no time.

    You can also set the blog post to time it so it appears at a time & date that you pre-select. This way the weekend receptionist could upload 20 articles that will filter into the blog over the next few weeks.

    PS: They also won’t be bored to death playing solitaire on the computer either.

    Cheers Greg πŸ™‚

  7. Robert Simeon November 14, 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    Greg,

    Content is King – have you had a look at how much we carry on our website?

    Cheers

  8. Greg Vincent November 14, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Yes – when I speak with agents I often talk about your site. Your SEO for the major real estate related keywords within Mosman/Neutral Bay is great.

    I see your Virtual Realty News has been going since 2002. With content sitting on your site like that & being updated regularly, like it is… how could the competition compete with that for SEO ?

    You are so onto this SEO already Robert…The only thing I could recommend to you is to write your next few articles for VRN specifically targeting the major real estate related keywords like “Mosman Real Estate Agent” an obvious keyword that potential clients will type into Google.

    On this keyword your site already appears twice on the first page & ranks just below realestate.com.au links.

    By doing these articles your site will appear even more times on the first page of Google organically for these type of keywords .

    Currently, once you get past realestate.com.au links, there’s only 4 other agent’s ranking on that first page organically for the ‘Mosman real estate agent’ keyword.

    With your page ranking & with good SEO within your article content meta tags & title, description, etc you should be able to push these agents onto the 2nd page simply by writing 4 seperate articles SEO’d on this keyword.

    Your goal over the next few weeks/months should be to try to get your competitors pushed onto the 2nd page of search. Then they will have no choice but PPC.

    This is what I mean by technology savvy agents being able to create daylight between the number 1 agent & 2nd place.

    Agents appearing on the later pages of Google search will rarely get considered – Pages 3-4 is like the abyss of Google – where very few searchers ever go.

    I hope this helps Robert. Cheers Greg. πŸ™‚

  9. Robert Simeon November 17, 2008 at 10:20 am #

    Thanks Greg,

    Your comments have been most helpful – in this weeks edition I will use and (tag – Mosman real estate agent). As you would have noticed Peter is now running, hosting, and developing our online platform. I must admit that we are having lots of fun as we are one of the first agencies (that I am aware of) to move away from what I classify the: Ken and Barbie websites that look good and fail miserably with SEO.

    I have actually been writing our weekly newsletter since September 2000 so we have roughly 1300 pages of content and I think that so far Google are up to approximately 700 pages (so a bit still to go). I have no doubt that sometime soon that we will be numero uno on our relevant page searches as we are the only agency in our area pursuing and using these technologies relentlessly.

    It is all about a balance and when I look at our Google Analytics we have a good balance.

    Referring Sites – 40.69%

    Direct Traffic – 39.52%

    Search Engines – 19.79%

    Still much work to do and I must admit I find changing the dynamics of the website to being more of a working ute – very exciting. As I believe this is the direction that our industry is headed just that some are faster than others to implement new strategies moving forward. Although very few agencies would have nowhere near that content that we have available for our website which is why I call it a ute πŸ™‚

    I also believe that given the online dynamics required to dominate SEO agents will be forced into online newsletter platforms.

    When I first spoke about this with Peter we wanted it and he was one of the few that I found fully understood (and knew millions times more than me) about this very subject.

    We are educating ourselves, our markets and our industry for that matter. I am not saying that our online direction is 100 per cent right because only time will tell. But, I am not interested in paying for Google Adwords as our preference is to organically grow our businesses with the online applications made available for our industry to utilise.

    I prefer to use the catch phrase – catch us if you can πŸ™‚

  10. Angelina Shamrock November 18, 2008 at 3:51 am #

    Check out Flash Gallery Homes for a truly effective and super affordable way to make all listings look more attractive online while appealing to buyers with the trouble-free 2.0 technology they expect: attractive, fun and fast, with full screen view of home photos. I’m the Broker and real estate photographer who helped developed it so its been designed specifically by and for agents to enable them to upload their own photos to create tool-rich, aesthetically pleasing presentations so they can look like tech-savvy marketing pros! Create a free Gallery just for joining. Embed your Galleries into your own websites. This is the future, so be the leader now!

    Thanks to everyone who is helping to improve this industry for all of us working in it.

    Cheers!
    Angelina Shamrock, Broker
    Founder & Co-creator
    angie@flashgalleryhomes.com
    http://www.flashgalleryhomes.com
    http://activerain.com/flashgalleryhomes
    http://flashgalleryhomes.wordpress.com

  11. Greg Vincent November 18, 2008 at 11:09 am #

    I look forward to reading it Robert…

    Once you get these articles going on these keywords we should probably look at some ways that you may be able to make your site rank higher than REA on these keywords…I’m sure you’d enjoy that…I know how much you love REA. πŸ™‚

  12. Robert Simeon November 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm #

    Greg – I will try and get a SEO Gold Star πŸ™‚

  13. Glenn Batten November 18, 2008 at 4:47 pm #

    Robert,

    There are quite a few RE websites that don’t follow the cookie cutter approach of the groups or major website design companies. Finding the gems out there can be tough because of the sheer number of templated ones around.

    The easiest way I find to is to get a hold of Hitwise’s Top 200 list. Delete all the portals and real estate groups and associated sites for Real Estate and extract all the individual agent sites and anybody who remains is going to have a good site, at least traffic wise. A crappy site with traffic will easily out perform a glamour site without traffic.

    SEO can give you huge traffic. Over the past month it has delivered us around 46% of total traffic. (see http://nfn.smugmug.com/photos/419524767_aoRfy-X3.jpg)

    I love the new site you and Peter have put together.. Very nice and fitting of your market place. I agree with Greg, your best asset is your newsletter. It is obviously a huge driving force in your office.

    Cheers

    Glenn

  14. Robert Simeon November 18, 2008 at 5:29 pm #

    Thanks Glenn,

    Mate in all fairness Peter and his very talented team deserves all the credit for the creation and design. It is way out of left field and munching vigorously on a diet of Google being the special diet we have it on. Still a fair bit to go with minor critiquing where I must admit a really enjoyable experience from start and all the way through the entire process.

    I will have a look a Hitwise Top 200.

    Cheers

  15. Glenn Batten November 19, 2008 at 2:44 pm #

    Robert…

    I am not missing Peter’s work at all but somebody has to start with an original scope for the site, approve the concept and most of all pay for it.. Custom sites are never cheap which is why far too many opt for a templated site that provides very little result. In fact many people don’t realise just how little their templated sites generate in traffic against a good customised site with good SEO. If you have the skills in house they are an investment in time and if you dont have the skills they are an investment in $$$.

    The best asset you have is all your newsletters. If you take advantage of them properly, and it sounds as though you are, then that will bring your some quality traffic. The most under-appreciated thing often overlooked by many agents is SEO… They cant see it so they dont value it. By all accounts your investment in SEO will pay off in more transactions soon enough.

    My suggestion to use the Hitwise top 200 as a way of finding other good sites is for inspiration. As an example from your site I love the way you are declaring what sales were generated from your newsletter both buyers and sellers. I had seen that number on your website before but never took much notice in it however now I understand the concept. I think you explain it better now, or maybe my brain was working slower when I looked at it in the past πŸ™‚

    Either way, I will take that inspiration away and hopefully do something similar ourselves.

    Cheers

  16. Robert Simeon November 19, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    Glenn,

    The beauty of B2 is that we are all here to help (well most anyway) in some shape or form. I must admit that only after reading the commentaries here did I begin to grasp exactly how important SEO is to our business. Thanks to all who have contributed.

    The internet sales – is one of our main points of difference and I can tell you it is worth its weight in gold! Currently we have 1,300 approx tagged pages on the website and we have set a target in the short term to get it up to 2,000.

    Peter, has presented me with the perfect strategy (I will tell you over the phone) πŸ™‚

    Also, our staff love the Agentpoint system – it is so easy to work where the staff were able to apply it without one single lesson. Now that tells you something I would suggest that all agencies have a good look at it.

    Cheers

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