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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.