My company, Stratus Branding, frequently works with real estate agents. During an agent’s first private personal branding coaching session with me, this same question always comes up: “What is real estate marketing?”
I’m never surprised by this question because a big chunk of that first call is dedicated to explaining how to incorporate your personal brand into your real estate marketing materials. Homebuyers today want to work with a real estate agent they know and trust… not a real estate brokerage. That’s why I take my time to dive deep into the structure of marketing for real estate agents and how their personal brand needs to be present in every bit of content they publish.
When it comes to a real estate brand, an agent has plenty of marketing options to choose from. From blogs and eBooks to social media and email campaigns, the wealth of knowledge that real estate agents possess about home buying (or selling) is extremely beneficial to their clients. So why not share it?
There are over 1.4 million active real estate agents in the U.S. That’s a lot of competition. The only thing that is going to make you stand out is your personal brand. That’s why I’m providing this complete guide on real estate marketing and how to incorporate your personal brand into your content.
What Is Real Estate Marketing?
Real estate marketing is, in short, pairing your personal brand with standard marketing practices. If you’re an established real estate agent, then I’m sure you are already aware of the importance of marketing via networking, social media, and original content.
But just how important is real estate marketing?
Well, let’s start by taking a look at your competitors. Go ahead and look up a handful of real estate agents in your area.
Do they have a website? What about a social media presence?
If just one of those agents has a blog, a free eBook, or a substantial social media presence, then you have some catching up to do.
It’s 2020, which means it is time to get serious about your marketing strategies. In a world full of entrepreneurs and influencers, it is vital that you have established what your personal brand is in order for your marketing strategies to succeed. Whether you want to become the Gary V of real estate agents or you are just looking for creative ways to generate leads, your personal brand tied with your marketing content is what will give you a leg up above your competition.
Here’s what you need to consider before you start putting more time and effort into marketing:
Your Personal Brand
The reason the first thing we do at Stratus Branding is to set up a personal branding strategy session is because you can’t start marketing without having a clear image of your personal brand. Today, the internet has diluted this term so its purpose can be hard to determine.
Your personal brand is simply this: You. It defines who you are, your voice, your aesthetic, and your elevator pitch or mission statement. Every single business has established a personal brand, whether it is a solopreneur or a Fortune 500 company.
Take McDonald’s for example. Everything about their business brand has become familiar: the Golden Arches, the red and yellow colors and, of course, their affordable menu items. The only thing that McDonald’s is missing from their brand is that personal touch.
Today’s market has surpassed the days of traditional marketing through faceless brand recognition. What consumers listen to now are the people behind the brand. They want to hear the opinions and advice of everyday “influencers” or recognizable experts in a specific industry. Your personal brand is more than just simply finding a logo and creating a real estate website; it’s about establishing who you are so that you can garner client trust and grow your reputation.
If you are asking yourself whether you really need social media in order to sell or list homes, here is the cold, hard truth:
People want to know who they are working with. And without that social media presence, you are less likely to earn that like, know, and trust of potential home buyers and sellers. There are a few things to consider when it comes to social media, such as which platforms have the best ROI for real estate agents. The content you produce is also key to your personal brand and marketing strategies.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is how your website gets discovered on search engines such as Google. If someone were to Google search “real estate agent in Anytown, USA” the professionals that show up on the first page are the ones who have flawlessly harnessed the power of SEO. This marketing tactic is equal parts technical and creative, so I will go into the details of Search Engine Optimization a little further down.
Lead Generation Content
Once your brand is established and you’re set up with social media and a website, it’s time to think about your content— a.k.a your lead generation tools. These can take many forms and range from blogs to paid ads. There are a few pieces of real estate marketing content that will really set you apart from the rest. If you have regular email campaigns set up or you offer free advice in the form of eBooks, you’ll be set to receive passive leads that won’t cost you a dime.
Content For Real Estate Marketing
As I said, content is produced in many forms. There is video content, blog content, social media content, and the aforementioned “freemium” content. Back in the day, you would have considered brochures, business cards, and billboard ads to be the “content” that established your presence and gave a name to your personal brand.
While some of these old-school marketing rules still have their place in today’s society, you really want to focus on digital content if you want to surpass your competition. It’s the fastest and best practice to use if you want to establish your market expertise and have clients come to you.
Here’s the type of content that agents should have:
Right now, I can’t dig into the particulars of the back-end of SEO and how it works. But having real estate blogs isn’t news to any agent. Chances are, your broker reminds you on a regular basis to write blog content for the website.
The thing is, blogs take time to write— especially if you want to write them well. Piling on this “SEO” thing puts more pressure on you to churn out this type of content. This is (understandably) why most realtors bypass this strategic piece of content.
However, if you can find a team that can not only write blog content that showcases your expert knowledge but also implement SEO into the copy, then you will have a reliable marketing content that sets you a tier above the rest (by the way, we offer this at Stratus Branding!). Consistent blogs give your eager readers need-to-know information in your industry— thus establishing you as their go-to professional for their home-buying needs.
eBooks and Other “Freemiums”
A freemium is a bit of content that you offer to your prospective clients for free. An eBook is a common freemium that agents use in order to produce leads. A “Home-Buyers Guide” would be the perfect resource to attach to your website, blog, and social media posts in order to get the emails rolling in. At the same time, it works to establish your personal brand because you’ll have an entire book to showcase your voice and personal insight.
You can use this and other freemiums (downloadable checklists, guides to local restaurants, etc) to entice readers to leave their email in your sign-up form. Once they’re in, you can start sending email campaigns to your warm leads until you can get them on the phone to talk about their real estate needs.
As I said, social media is a must if you’re looking to upgrade your real estate marketing tactics for 2020. Social media is a merciless playground where real estate agents are competing for that premium status.
Some professionals may associate social media with a younger crowd, but that’s not inherently true. 29.7% of Facebook and Instagram users are 25 to 34. These demographics can and should be your target audience for your marketing tactics as the average age of homebuyers in the U.S. is 32 years old.
When it comes to social media, there is a game you have to play. It’s not just posting selfies and taking quick videos of your listings. In fact, there are a few things that you should absolutely refrain from posting.
Social Media and Your Personal Brand
The best way you can showcase yourself as an agent who knows their market and is reliable and trustworthy is to get social on digital platforms.
However, before you start posting photos of your kids and Tuesday night dinner, let me explain what’s acceptable to post as a personal brand and what will actually hurt you in the long run.
What To Include On Social Media
Professional Photos: You can never go wrong with a professional photoshoot! I’m sure this is one of the first bits of marketing that you invested in, but make sure your photos are up-to-date!
Market Information: Original graphs, photos, blogs, and text about the current state of the real estate market is a great way to grow your following. For some, home buying and selling is a huge risk, so consumers are looking to work with someone who is constantly aware of the current housing climate.
Local Spots: Social media isn’t, of course, all work and no play. There’s nothing wrong with sharing personal photos here and there— especially if it’s in regard to what’s going on around town. By staying in-the-know on community events and happenings, your followers will start to tune in more frequently to your content, which helps establish you as the local real estate expert.
What NOT To Include On Social Media
Too Many Selfies: Selfies can work in some niches, but in the real estate market where you are trusted as a professional, these should be kept to a minimum. Too many off-the-cuff posts might send the wrong message.
Personal Information: It’s important to be open and personable with your social media followers because, honestly, that’s what the social media game is all about. Sharing too much of your personal life, however, will lead your audience to tap that “unfollow” button more frequently. Be candid with your audience… but maybe hold back on telling them all about your child’s 8th birthday party.
Bad-Quality Photos: Like it or not, social media is all about the aesthetic (especially on Instagram). People want to follow accounts who not only provide educational and entertaining content, but also produce bright and engaging images. You want your content to grasp their attention while scrolling through the mix.
Social Media Options:
- Facebook: good for local networking and sharing content (blogs, eBooks, etc)
- Instagram: great for showcasing homes and your personal brand
- Twitter: can be used to show expertise and share (Retweet) like-minded opinions
- LinkedIn: online networking where you can connect with individuals who are interested in homes in your particular niche (i.e. luxury homes)
Professional Memberships and Networking for Real Estate Agents
As I said, not all traditional marketing strategies are a lost cause.
More than just producing branded, informative, and consistent content, an active agent should be involved in their local community. Simply taking the time to familiarize yourself with new restaurants or hot spots will put you in the position of being the local expert. So if LA home shoppers are looking for a two-bedroom, two-bath near a string of good restaurants, you’re the agent that can help them find everything that they are looking for.
Being involved in the community also gives you opportunities to meet new people. You may never know who you might meet while you’re out and about. What if the next person you strike up a conversation with at the Saturday Farmer’s Market is looking to list their million-dollar property? Once they see your established personal brand and marketing content, they won’t need to shop around for another agent.
Of course, joining the local chamber of commerce or BNI (Business Network International) is an authentic way to generate word-of-mouth about your services as a real estate agent, all while growing connections with prominent members of your area. Despite the modern realm of digital marketing, resident networking still works wonders to substantiate your personal brand.