Readers have been asking our perspective on specific niche businesses. We continue this series (we looked at restaurants in vacation destinations in the 1st article) with the business of residential real estate.
Low interest rates, an economy doing well, cities growing fast–it all sounds perfect for real estate. But there are only so many deals to go around, and the field is getting crowded. How do real estate agents differentiate themselves in the market today?
First, let’s look at some of the practices popular with agents.
If an article comes out talking about how well a city, say, Charlotte, North Carolina, is doing, every real estate agent posts the link to Twitter and Facebook. That’s fine, it’s a good article. But if you, as an agent, only post that article and don’t tie it to anything else of substance, you’re not really providing anything helpful to potential clients. Furthermore, how does posting the same thing as everybody else help differentiate you?
It’s the same story with listing descriptions of houses on Facebook, or anything else that almost all agents habitually do exactly the same way. These aren’t bad things to do, but to stand out, you’ll have to do more.
So here’s what real estate agents can do to differentiate themselves:
1. Create a personal blog
Create a blog based around your passion and then tie it into real estate—I’ve done something similar by using sports to write about entrepreneurialism.
If you are in real estate, I assume you have a passion for city growth. Maybe you’re interested in the cultural aspect, like restaurants and things to do around town. Maybe you like the financial side of it, like mortgage rates, the stock market, or politics. Either way, write about THAT.
You can go self-hosted, or use blog platforms, such as WordPress or Blogger (if WordPress, consider hosting with our personal host and affiliate, BlueHost). Either way, by creating interesting, unique content, you’ll build an audience. People will get to know you as a voice in your field. That translates into exposure and respect for your business. Then, when you want to list a property, there will be people paying attention.
2. Get involved with targeted messaging
Let’s say you’re showing a house in Charlotte, North Carolina. Don’t just post a description of the place online; think about who wants to buy this house and why. What kind of restaurants are nearby? What is the school district like? Now, you can blog about those topics. Reviews are fine, but go deeper–write a profile of the school principal or the owner of the local Buffalo-style pizza joint. Really explore the feel of the community. Now, you can post links to your related blog posts and a description of the house.
But you can go even deeper. When you’re researching for that article on the pizza place, ask the owner for coupons you can give to prospective buyers. Then, next time you show the house to a couple from Buffalo, NY, when you are leaving tell them about the pizza place around the corner, the one where the owners are from Buffalo and they serve great wings (these are never called Buffalo Wings by people actually from Buffalo!). Create an experience for your prospect.
3. Use social media marketing
Creating content, all by itself, isn’t going to do you any good, though—because nobody except your friends and family are going to read it, unless you advertise. You have a couple of different options for attracting readers, including social media and Search Engine Optimization. Some blog platforms include their own marketing tools as well. Which options you use is up to you, but you’ll get better results if you use the tools intelligently. Let’s look at how this works with Facebook:
A few years ago, you could get a lot of attention for a Facebook page simply by word of mouth. A few “likes” here, a “follow” or a “share” there, and you’d be exposed to hundreds or thousands of people. If some of those shares “liked” your post too, you’d go viral. That isn’t true anymore. Facebook has changed its algorithm for who gets to see which pages—it’s to steer people into using paid advertising. You can complain about that or you can play ball and get results. If paid advertising on Facebook seems expensive, go try TV, radio, or billboards and see how much bang you’ll get for your buck there. You’ll come back to Facebook.
But don’t just sponsor a post–target the right audience. Take that Buffalo pizza joint. Guess what? People from Chicago like Chicago-style pizza. New Yorkers like New York-style. And, yes, you guessed it, Buffalo people like their home-town pizza, too. And there are Buffalo natives scattered all across the country, buying houses.
So write your article about this pizza place, a real neighborhood gem, with the best pizza south of Buffalo. Quote someone who works at the restaurant, plus maybe a regular customer or two. Give away coupons. And then, when you post the link, use Facebook’s marketing tools to target the sponsored link to:
a) people from Buffalo
b) people who say they like pizza
c) people who currently live in the city you are in
d) are looking to buy a house.
See how it all comes together? Your post will be seen by those people most likely to respond to your listing.
Does this approach sound different? If you were a prospective home buyer, is this the kind of real estate agent you might like to work with?
3 Key Points:
1) Creating a blog around your passion and relate it to your real estate business.
2) Target your messages to a specific audience.
3) Social media has evolved and is a cost effective way to get your message out.
- Bisonte Pizza – Fantastic Buffalo-style pizza and the pizza place being referenced in this blog post
- Paul Scaffidi – Performance coach to help you maximize your real estate career
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