As a real estate agent, one of your key responsibilities (some say your primary responsibility) is marketing your listings. Not every agent has a large marketing budget, however, and not every listing justifies a major marketing spend. So while the real estate marketing tools of an effective program may be the same regardless of budget, how you implement them is not.
Here are some tips for how to save or how to splurge, depending on your budget overall or for a particular listing.
Visual marketing should be at the top of your spending priority list, for several reasons:
- You can use this real estate marketing tool to feed the other components of your marketing program and make them more effective
- Producing quality visual content requires a specialized skillset that most agents simply don’t have
- Producing quality visual content is time-consuming, especially if you’re not a professional; you’ll get a better return on your time if you spend it selling real estate.
If you need to save, spend your budget on basic professional photography. This is the minimum buyers and sellers expect from you, but it will still make a measurable difference in your marketing success. Also, photography is the type of visual content accepted by the largest number of listing platforms.
If you can afford to splurge, add video, 3D, and/or drone to your listing marketing. These types of content are more expensive, but they drastically increase the appeal of your listing. Still have money left over? Consider hiring someone to produce custom videos, such as an agent bio or community profiles.
Email remains the marketing tool with the highest conversion rate, regardless of industry. You can send standard emails from a program such as Outlook or Gmail, but you’ll get a much higher ROI if you use an email platform designed for marketing. Plus, email marketing software provides metrics that can help you evaluate what works and what doesn’t.
If you need to save, look first for marketing email functionality in any platforms you already use. Many CRMs, for instance, include a marketing email module. Or you can try a free service such as MailChimp, which has a basic feature set for building and managing campaigns and metrics.
If you can afford to splurge, sign up for cost-based email software such as Emma or an all-in-one platform like Boomtown!. These platforms are feature-rich, allowing you to build email campaigns that are more elegant or complex. They also provide more detailed metrics for managing performance.
Social media is a platform where you can spend as much or as little as your heart desires. It’s also one of the most popular real estate marketing tools out there, due to its affordability and reach.
If you need to save, sign up and use the standard posting features (including high-engagement options such as live video) for free. Browse resources such as Social Media Examiner, Katie Lance’s blog, or Placester’s Academy for tips on how to maximize engagement.
If you can afford to splurge, take advantage of social media advertising. Facebook, in particular, has incredibly effective advertising options. But just about every network, from Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn, also offers paid posting. Run campaigns for specific listings or for your personal brand as an agent, and consider paying a designer or copywriter to help you with creative (the content of your ad) and messaging.
Digital advertising is general online advertising, distinct from the “native” advertising that is an integrated part of social media platforms. Many digital advertising services include retargeting, the semi-creepy but highly effective tactic that tags users and serves up your ad to them as they travel around the Internet. Regardless of cost, make sure any digital advertising platform you use provides a clear breakdown of results.
If you need to save, consider an affordable platform such as Adwerx or Chalk Digital. Both allow you to set up various types of campaigns – such as sphere ads or open-house promotions – and monitor your results as the campaign progresses.
If you can afford to splurge, Google AdWords is the granddaddy of digital advertising platforms. AdWords is keyword-based, meaning that you pick Google search phrases you want to sponsor, and your listings or website show up at the top of page one for those search results. Phrases get more expensive as more people compete to sponsor them.
Portal advertising – paying to have your information show up next to listings on Realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia – is an option than can be highly affordable or terribly expensive, depending on the situation. Territories are usually ZIP-code or listing-based, and cost usually depends on factors such as number of agents in the area and how hot that market is.
These are all save/splurge scenarios related to your ongoing budget. But what if you get a one-time windfall and want to spend it on something big? Maybe you just earned the biggest commission check of your career, or you won a large cash award for top-notch performance. Investing some of that money back into your business is a smart move. Here are a few ideas for one-time splurges to give your marketing program a major shot of adrenaline:
- Hire a quality web design firm to completely rebuild your website
- Use a respected agency, such as 1000Watt, to rebrand your business or run a major, integrated marketing campaign
- Pay a reputable agency to supercharge your SEO
- Host a significant event (childcare included), such as a catered dinner with entertainment, to attract high-end buyers or sellers
- Send all your past clients a memorable, meaningful gift – such as tickets to a pro sporting or major cultural event – to stay top of mind for referrals