Even though I’m not a Realtor I hear about situations daily involving Internet marketing that have me scratching my head and asking myself, “Does that Realtor understand that they are running a business? And does he/she understand what a good business person ought to focus on in making solid, thoughtful decisions?”
For the purposes of this post, I’ll ignore the zillions of situations where no Internet marketing is done at all and focus only on those where I wonder what the people were thinking when they decided how to market on the Internet.
For me, three fundamental areas of concern emerge:
1. Products and programs should be evaluated and used based on their effectiveness in producing bottom line results – not on coolness.
- Many of the tech driven products being introduced today emphasize a certain “cool” factor. Their advertised unique selling proposition (USP) is their “coolness.”
- Oftentimes Realtors buy them on that basis – coolness – without analyzing how that product/service will contribute to their bottom line and to achieving their clients’ goals.
- Realtors should be asking some fundamental business questions to guide their decisions about what products and services to use in effectively marketing themselves and the homes they represent? Here are some:
- What should be my marketing budget – a different question than “how little can I spend?”
- What expenditures on what approaches are most likely to yield the best result (i.e. achieve the clients goals). The correct answer to that question is almost always the best investment choice.
- Who is the target audience for this home?
- What kind of message and presentation most appeals to that audience?
- Based on pricing and other factors, how long will it likely take to sell this home?
- If I think the house will be on the market for an extended amount of time, what kind of flexibility does that call for in my Internet marketing?
- How does that impact my marketing budget and my marketing approach?
- What tools and techniques are best for this property?
2. Realtors – at least the good ones – should focus on helping clients achieve their goals and on building their business – not on foisting new toys on people because they represent the latest techno wet dream. That begs the question, what is a home? To me, a home is a place to:
- Raise your children; feel safe; entertain; dream; relax; putter; create memories; build equity; and express your life style.
- For most people it’s the largest investment and the biggest asset they will own in their lifetime.
- A home, unlike a California marriage, is not something that you’re going to trade in next year if you grow tired of it or if something better comes along.
- When people search for a home they want their senses and emotions caressed and massaged, they don’t want them assaulted. They want to feel an intimate connection. They’re not looking for a rock concert rush.
3. Ultimately success is measured on sustained profitability – not on how often one can introduce the latest techie toy, or continue to use outmoded, ineffective advertising approaches. Selling real estate is about reaching people, building trust and creating sustainable relationships. It’s about being creative, timely, relevant and focused on profitable results – for clients and Realtors.
As a professional, Realtors must know more than their clients about what will work best to sell homes. Many of today’s consumers are more tech and information savvy than most Realtors. That doesn’t automatically make them better marketers.
I believe that many Realtors roll over and bow to clients’ unwise wishes simply because they don’t know enough or have the confidence to advise clients about alternatives. The attitude of, “hey, I know it’s wrong, but the client wants it and I never disagree with a client” might win a few battles but it’s a recipe for losing the war.
Most people want professional advice confidently and knowledgably offered by the people they hire. That’s why they hired you. Any given client can tell their Realtor that they want a particular Internet or print media presentation. At that point it’s the Realtor’s responsibility to diplomatically determine exactly why the client wants that approach, and, if their reasons don’t make for good marketing, to point out better approaches to reaching the market and selling the home.
I believe that if more Realtors focus on some business basics (like the 3 above) then:
- Selling real estate will look and feel more like a responsible business to more consumers;
- Realtors, in the aggregate, will be more highly respected; and
- More Realtors will increase their bottom line income.