The good news about spring: business picks up. The bad news about spring: business picks up. While a boost in business is always helpful from an income standpoint, it can also leave you scrambling to cover your bases. In particular, you may find yourself backing off on certain marketing essentials as you rush from place to place.
That would be a mistake, however. Skimping on the essentials decreases your marketing effectiveness overall and, ultimately, can lead buyers or sellers to view you as less professional. So as your business picks up this spring, make sure you stay on top of the following marketing essentials.
Marketing Essential #1: Lead Followup
If your calendar is full of showings, listing presentations, and closings, you may feel like you don’t have time to follow up immediately with new leads. But allowing leads to sit is a terrible mistake.
According to the California Association of Realtors, roughly 50 percent of leads expect an “instant” response. Researchers at MIT further quantified this expectation: respond to a lead within 5 minutes, and you’re 21 times more likely to qualify the person than if you wait just 30 minutes to reply.
Keep in mind that it’s often enough for you to respond to the initial contact with a simple acknowledgement. Thank the buyer or seller for their inquiry, and set expectations for a more meaningful followup: “Hi, Jane! This is Fred from SellYourHome Realty. Thanks for contacting me about selling your home. Is there a good time for us to do a phone call later today?”
If the pace of your business is such that you simply can’t follow up with leads promptly, it’s time to invest in some help. Hire an assistant (virtual or otherwise), put a chatbot or other auto-responder in place, or hire a service that trains call-center agents to provide immediate followup and lead qualification.
Marketing Essential #2: Professional Photos
The historic inventory crunch and surge of Millennial buyers have brought San Francisco- style market dynamics to many cities. We constantly hear stories about homes selling in less than 24 hours with multiple bids above asking price.
In this kind of environment, it can be tempting to dismiss professional photography or other visual content as unnecessary. You might think, “The house is going to sell so quickly anyway – I’ll just whip out my phone and snap some photos so I can get it on the MLS and be done.”
Here’s the problem: in a low-inventory market, competition for listings is stiff. And even if homes are going like hotcakes in your market, you still want to get the best selling price possible. Professional photography helps on both counts. It establishes you as a professional agent who knows how to take care of clients, and it brings a higher selling price.
Marketing Essential #3: Staging
Staging is in the same category as professional photography: when the market is hot, you may think it’s unnecessary. But staging a home makes you look professional and helps the home sell for a better price. Agents who use professional staging usually report making back far more than the staging fee.
Absolutely can’t afford a stager? At least make sure the home is tidy, clean, and uncluttered for your photo shoot or any showings. Don’t leave this to chance: provide your sellers with prep tips, call them before the shoot or showing to make sure they’ve followed instructions, and get to the home ahead of any appointments to make sure everything is ready.
Marketing Essential #4: Social Media
When you’re rushing from listing presentation to showing to closing, it can be easy to forget a cornerstone of many real estate marketing plans: social media. But as social media expert Rebekah Radice points out, “Those that achieve exponential growth commit to daily activities, habits and strategies.”
Maintaining a consistent, quality social media presence is imperative if you want to maintain your reach and engagement. If you’re struggling to post quality content on a consistent basis because you’re juggling too many platforms, make the hard choice to eliminate one or more of your networks. Narrow the load to the platforms where your target audience is most engaged, and then post useful content on a regular basis.
Be aware that the definition of “regular” depends on the platform. You need to post at least once a day on Instagram or Facebook to stay visible. Twitter requires several posts per day, but you can get by with 2-3 posts per week on LinkedIn. Plan your posts for optimal times (outlined in this study from content-management app CoSchedule) to maximize the return on your activities.
Marketing Essential #5: Consistent Professionalism
Real estate is one of the industries where personal brand matters most. And your personal brand must mean something to other agents as well as to buyers and sellers. Other agents, after all, are the ones most likely to send you highly qualified referrals – not to mention that almost every transaction usually requires the cooperation of a colleague.
Unfortunately, research shows that the number-one danger facing the real estate industry is agents’ own lack of professionalism. Don’t be part of that statistic. As the market heats up and your life gets busier, make sure you maintain your personal brand and the health of your business by treating everyone with courtesy, integrity, and professionalism.