Earlier this month, HouseLens made our annual pilgrimage to Inman Connect San Francisco. Here’s a recap from marketing director Kathryn Royster. (This post originally appeared on the Inman website.)
At every Inman Connect, I learn something. In fact, I learn a lot: about where the real estate industry is and where it’s going, about what matters to smart agents and brokers, about how to be better at what I do. And there are always moments where a speaker or panelist says something that just hits me between the eyes – an idea, principle or practice that immediately grabs me with its clarity and obvious application. Focused on real estate marketing (my role in the industry), following are my top “gotcha” insights from this year’s Inman Connect San Francisco.
“The attention-getting stuff is no good if you get to the real estate part and suck at it.” –Scott Stratten, UnMarketing
Keynote speaker Scott Stratten has built a highly successful consulting and speaking business around the idea of “unmarketing”: ditching obnoxious, ineffective and coercive tactics in favor of competence, service and genuine engagement. This, Stratten revealed, is how his own “unrealtor” won Stratten’s loyalty. “He was immediately there and immediately killer,” Stratten said. In other words, his agent wasn’t just a good real estate marketer. He understood the fundamentals of real estate – prompt followup, technical skill, how to write an offer – and executed with substance.
“On a fundamental level, we need to modernize the value proposition we present.” –Joseph Rand, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate
Consultant Valerie Garcia led one of the conference’s smartest panels in analyzing causes and possible solutions of our industry’s record inventory shortage. Broker Joseph Rand, always a champion of professionalism and higher standards, recommended that agents weather the storm by bringing value both to prospective clients and to their own businesses. His recommendation on the marketing front? Get savvy with predictive analytics and other data-driven technologies to make sure your real estate marketing is targeting the right people at the right time.
If your marketing isn’t getting results, turn it off.
Video is one of the most affordable real estate marketing tools available.
-Lindsay Listanski, Coldwell Banker
I camped out in Thursday’s Marketing Intensive track, where social media guru Lindsay Listanski led off the afternoon with a simple proposition that so many of us fail to follow: if what you’re doing isn’t working, stop. Many of today’s marketing tools, such as Facebook ads, show results daily or even in real time. So the next time you kick off a campaign, monitor the results closely. You should see results within 24-48 hours. If not, switch gears.
Listanski’s second gem was the news that high-cost marketing video is a myth. You may have to pay a bit more for it in absolute terms, but the investment averages out to a measly 1-5 cents (yes, cents) per view. At those rates, you can’t afford not to use video to grow your real estate business.
SEO is a long game. –Bob Stewart, ActiveRain
Bob Stewart took the stage at the Marketing Intensive to talk about SEO and the importance of choosing a niche. His pearl of wisdom: different real estate marketing options have different payoff horizons, so mix your methods accordingly. SEO is a long game. Even if you’re following best practices, it can take weeks or months to see any change in your search ranking. And you have to keep at it, year after year, constantly adjusting to fit changing algorithms. Well-executed digital ads, however, can pay off in just days and are easy to change on the fly. Combine both to maximize your marketing impact.
“Reverse-engineer the search process.” –Alex Wang, Sereno Group
Before Alex Wang’s session on social proof, I could have defined the term for you – it’s the tendency of humans to mimic other people’s actions and attitudes – but didn’t understand much beyond that. Wang had a number of useful tips for attracting positive social proof (e.g., glowing online reviews) for your business. One was to google the search terms for which you want to rank, see which social-proof sites appear (e.g., Yelp) and make sure you’re listed on them. The other trick that caught my attention: see who’s ranking for your preferred terms and copy their social-proof strategy. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
“Don’t confuse a home’s story with the details.” –Katie Lance, Katie Lance Consulting
When you’re marketing a listing, it can be very easy to fall back on the details: the home’s size, price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and hallmark features such as a pool or custom cabinets. That, according to Katie Lance, is a dire mistake. Instead, she says, remember that home buying is a very emotional process. And the way you connect with buyers’ emotions is by showing “what it feels like to walk in the door.” Don’t do away with the details altogether, but keep them short and sweet and instead focus your real estate marketing on what makes the house a home.
The digital ad is just the start.
Piggyback off big companies’ ad spend.
-Andrew Fogliato, Just Sell Homes Inc.
Andrew Fogliato’s session on paid advertising was packed full of usable ideas. Most importantly, he had the wisdom to point out that digital advertising isn’t just about the ad. In fact, the ad is just the most visible piece of a successful campaign – the tip of the iceberg, if you will. The rest of the campaign consists of hidden elements that rise to the surface at various stages: a mobile- and conversion-friendly landing page, a signup incentive and automated followup emails.
Fogliato also offered one of the digital advertising tips I’ve ever heard: when targeting ads, piggyback off the cachet and awareness spending of big brands. If you have a listing near a dog park and want to market it to pet owners, for example, don’t just target to “people who like dogs.” As Fogliato put it, “That’s going to get you everyone who’s ever liked a puppy video.” Instead, target people who’ve liked Petsmart’s Facebook page. Sly, maybe, but sly like a fox.
“Understand that buyers and sellers have experiences outside the industry, and those experiences set expectations.” –Charlie Young, Coldwell Banker
Whenever possible, I stay at Inman Connect through Friday morning, and speakers like Charlie Young are the reason. It’s easy to think of buyers and sellers as simply that, but Young’s comment was a wake-up call to remember that clients have an identity and a life outside the home-buying and –selling process. They’re parents, husbands, wives, doctors, janitors, hikers, swimmers….the list could go on forever. To market to and serve them effectively, you’ve got to understand what makes them tick in their day-to-day lives and how those experiences affect the way they want to interact with you and the selling or buying process.