Real estate marketing will be the success or failure of your real estate career. As a real estate agent, you must embrace that you are a “walking billboard.” You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Think wisely what type of marketing you want to do and the potential return you will receive.
1. Create an Online Presence
Whether you are new to real estate or have been in the business forever, you must have a website. Technology is at our fingertips 24/7. Consumers look up everything via the web. If you don’t have a website, you almost don’t exist, and the best way to embark on building your website is to read this article on the Top Real Estate Website Builders.
That said, you don’t have to spend hours building a website on your own when you should be out selling real estate. Invest in yourself and pay the people who have the talent to make you look good. For example, a company like Placester offers real estate websites you can customize for a more productive and cost-effective way to create your digital presence.
Another way to increase your online presence is to sign up for a service like Zillow Premier Agent. While this will not replace your website, it will ensure your picture and contact information are clearly shown next to listings found in one of the largest online real estate search platforms.
2. Ask for Referrals
Working with people who know and love you is a win-win situation. After doing a transaction with a buyer or seller, they will become your biggest fans. These folks are singing your praises and sharing by word of mouth to their friends and family what a Rock Star you are. While you are in a transaction, ask if your client knows anyone who may also need to buy or sell a home. I believe that if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Networking is an amazing tool to use whether you are a new or seasoned real estate agent. We actually start networking as soon as we leave our home in the morning. When you stop at the local coffee shop, you get to know the barista serving you. Always make sure they know you are a real estate agent.
When dropping off your children at daycare or preschool, get to know the teachers and aides. You don’t need to “be in their face” about real estate. People love to talk about themselves when you ask them questions about family, occupation, recreation, and dreams. I can assure you the topic of homes will come up.
3. Host Valued Open Houses
At the start of one’s real estate career, the go-to marketing idea has always been to do open houses. Newer agents will ask seasoned agents if they can do an open house over the weekend to get potential buyers. To truly succeed at an open house, you must show the visitor the value of “coming by.”
Themed open houses, especially ones around a holiday, can be very successful in large numbers of guests. Plan unique refreshments as well as an activity that involves capturing the guests’ contact information, like a raffle and possible entertainment. Of course, please make sure to review these details with the seller.
If you aren’t sure what it takes to host a valued open house, consider checking out our step-by-step guide, which also features a free downloadable checklist.
4. Be Active on Social Media
When you are able to show the “real you” via pictures and life experiences, you will make connections with your audience. The individuals who see you on screen need to see and feel your care and concern. Facebook is an excellent resource for marketing. However, you must create a business Facebook page and not mix business and personal. The old adage “don’t mix business and pleasure” speaks volumes.
Once you have created a business Facebook page, you can profile your listings and capture potential buyers. You can also develop quite a solid relationship with these buyers before even meeting them face to face. For more about how to market yourself on platforms like Facebook, check out our article on real estate social media tips.
5. Write Personal Note Cards
Personal touch, kindness, and etiquette will get you business without directly asking for it. When was the last time someone showed you they were thinking about you? A statement like this can shift a person’s day significantly. Consider writing two personal note cards daily. This form of marketing will cover all target markets through all generations.
For example, the Golden or Silver Senior will appreciate you taking the time to personally write them a caring note. The younger generation will appreciate you taking them time to “love on them” with some kind inspiring words. In either case, the gesture is sure to leave an impression.
Pro tip: Marketing needs to be specific to the group of individuals you would like to connect with. For example, if you want more Millennial clients, you would not send them “snail mail” such as postcards or letters. Millennials are all about virtual marketing and the most up-to-date technology. On the flip side, if you want to expand your Golden or Silver Seniors, 70 years of age and older, you need to embrace a more personal, hands-on approach.
Please feel free to visit our article on how to create a real estate marketing plan, which provides you with a great “road map” to develop your marketing plan.
6. Support Local Businesses
Reciprocal relationships whereby both you and the local business can benefit is huge. On Saturdays, I profile a local business on my Facebook Live. I have profiled restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, local artisans, florists, a nursery and garden center, and other downtown businesses. The marketing opportunity is endless. A small business owner will never forget who helped them build their business. Another great opportunity for networking.
7. Co-market by Teaming Up With Other Professionals
As real estate agents, we work every day with lenders, home warranty companies, health professionals, financial advisers, and inspectors, to name a few. All of us have databases of individuals who want information. When advertising or marketing with these individuals, you can literally double and triple your exposure.
Pro tip: Always do your homework and verify that the individual you are going to partner with has a good following and reputation before agreeing to co-market, as your associations do reflect on you.
8. Offer Zoom Client Meetings
Prior to 2020 and the pandemic, I was not familiar with the application Zoom. Things quickly changed when we all found ourselves spending hours on video calls and meetings daily. I’ve since recognized that this is an awesome platform for bringing me face to face with my clients and embraced its benefits. For example, I’ve found Zoom to be an amazing tool for reviewing and explaining documents with buyers and sellers.
Offering virtual meetings like these is also a great passive marketing strategy. This is because you are not only solidifying a strong relationship with your client, your client is seeing you adapt and adjust to whatever is thrown at you while keeping them in the loop of their transaction.
Another way to show your clients or potential buyers you value their safety is to offer a virtual tour of property. A service known as Asteroom is an easy-to-use tool that can help you create interactive floor plans and a 3D tour of a property, using only your cell phone, that can be shared online.
9. Conduct Client Appreciation Events
Connect with your clients on an annual basis to thank them for kindly utilizing you for buying or selling their home or referring you to friends and family. This will strengthen your “top-of-mind presence” and help to ensure you are always the first real estate agent that your client thinks of.
For example, I have been doing a Music in the Park Picnic for 20 years as a client appreciation event, and my clients know to look for an invitation each summer to attend. I’m able to offer this by piggybacking on a city event that is free while providing my clients a picnic dinner supplied by a local sandwich shop that offers me a discount.
However, in addition to clients, all of my vendors, such as lenders, inspectors, title officers, and home warranty reps, are invited. Once again, a mutual and beneficial reciprocal relationship for all parties. I also make sure to give my client a takeaway that has my contact information. Since this is an open event, you have an opportunity to be seen by other prospective clients.
10. Become a Sponsoring Partner
The local community that we work in has been very generous to us as real estate agents, and we must be just as gracious and generous back to our community. There are so many community groups you can support through donations or volunteering your time to assist with a project. You can also share your promotional items. You need to continue to brand yourself and promote name recognition. Please always keep in mind that humility and being subtle will bring you more business than being “up in everyone’s face.”
11. Advertise at Your Place of Worship
Many places of worship have a newsletter in which you can place a business card advertisement for a nominal fee. Times have changed; in the past, only members of that particular house of worship would be invited to participate in these bulletins. With the current economic challenges, they are more open to have local businesses support them.
12. Produce a Monthly Newsletter
Old Republic Home Protection and First American Home Warranty have great tools for agents, at no cost, that can be used to produce a personalized, monthly newsletter. You can also go to your State Association of Realtors website to produce a newsletter with current market data and helpful housing tips. In California, for example, the California Association of Realtors (CAR) has “One Cool Thing” that realtors can use to update their clients at no cost.
13. Partner With Your Local Grocery Store
Advertising on a shopping cart or on the back of a receipt can also allow you an opportunity to brand yourself with your local community. Marketing companies also can personalize the separation bar at the checkout stands to have your picture and contact information.
14. Become an Active Neighbor
Whether it is your own personal neighborhood or a possible farming area, planning a neighborhood event can be extremely successful. When you live in a particular neighborhood as a real estate agent, you already have the impression of being the “area expert.” Block parties, yard and garage sales, or forming a neighborhood watch is a great way to market your services.
People in the community also love to work with agents who have the finger on the pulse of the “goings on” in town. A great resource is Parkbench, which provides agents with a website and delivers content about local events, deals, and news directly to subscribers, helping agents to connect with businesses and become the expert in their community. You can visit their website to learn more.
15. Volunteer During the Holidays
An amazing opportunity to market and network at the same time is to be involved with local holiday events. So many organizations are looking for volunteers to physically assist with events, as well as monetary donations to underwrite the event.
At our local shelter, I have had the pleasure of doing the birthday parties for over 18 years for every child who enters the shelter. Our birthday angels make sure that the birthday child receives a cake, an outfit, shoes, a toy, and goody bags. Every Thanksgiving, I have the opportunity to donate water bottles and candy bags with my contact information to 600 senior citizens who attend an annual Thanksgiving dinner. Remember to always volunteer with an open heart with no return expected. The reward will come.
16. Launch a YouTube Channel
If you are comfortable in front of a camera and bring information of worth, creating a YouTube channel can be great for building your professional reputation as well as for marketing your listings. As you know, many successful influencers got their notoriety through followers watching them on YouTube. However, there is a learning curve and you will need to use other social media to build followers.
17. Write a Blog
Many of our clients are seeking information regarding the buying and selling process. As a real estate agent, we are perceived to be an expert in our field. It is important if you are going to market yourself through a blog “that you know your stuff.” You need to commit 100% to this media. You need to pick a topic, breakdown the elements of that topic, and make sure to give enough information to satisfy the reader.
Writing a blog is not a one-time event, and it will take effort to appear on the first page of search results unless you are willing to pay to advertise on Google. To do this effectively, you must demonstrate consistency—possibly blogging weekly. If you don’t demonstrate this commitment, you will lose potential readers.
18. Reward People Who Refer Clients to You
When the National Association of Realtors (NAR) ran a survey and asked, “What do you want most in your Realtor,” the response was care and concern. Our family, friends, and past clients should always “feel the love” when referring a potential buyer or seller to us. Whenever someone shares that they have mentioned my name for a future home sale, I immediately write a personalized card with a scratch-off lottery ticket ($1.00 investment), thanking them for thinking of me. I write in my card that I am hopeful that they are as lucky with their winnings as I am lucky to have them refer me.
To truly be successful in real estate, you must consider having automated systems that are working behind the scenes while you are conducting real estate business. One option to consider is featuring testimonials on your website like you can do with Placester’s tool called “RealSatisfied.” This tool is also worth mentioning as it offers a suite of automated systems that brings the real estate agent and consumer together.
19. Give Out Promotional Items
Invest wisely in branding your business, choosing items of value. When purchasing promotional items, make sure they don’t end up in the garbage. Doing your homework and price comparison can take some time, but it can result in saving money. My go-to items for marketing are personalized pens, letter openers, and reusable bags. Also when donating water to events, I always make sure to print water bottle labels with my contact information.
20. Get Involved at Local Schools
As a “walking billboard,” the best return on your marketing is physically being seen wearing your company’s logo. You want those around you to keep you “top of mind,” and to be thought of first if they need a real estate agent. Whether you are volunteering in a classroom, a sports event, or an academic event, show up wearing a company polo. Most of us are visual learners and will remember a logo. The proof in logo recognition is evident in brands like Nike and McDonald’s.
21. Make Marketing Personal
I am all about “keeping it real.” Many of our clients have become our biggest fans and love hearing about the personal side of our world. We tend to only write a personal family letter during the holidays and enclose them in our holiday cards. I write a personal family letter each year during May. I include an updated family picture so my clients can follow the adventures and growth through the years.
22. Offer First-time Homebuyers Workshop
By tapping into your professional network, which may include attorneys, accountants, and financial advisers, you can sponsor a workshop for first-time homebuyers. This event, if planned correctly, can be profitable in capturing new clients at a reasonable cost. Many of these workshops can be held at a community center or a place of worship at a nominal fee.
23. Teach a Rent vs Buy Workshop
The title companies that we use for our transaction during an escrow can be a great resource of information. Consider teaching a Rent vs Buy Seminar. Many individuals who rent do not realize that they have the potential to buy a home. It is your mission to show these renters that they are helping their landlord build financial wealth through homeownership instead of themselves. These workshops can be sponsored and underwritten by one of your preferred lenders to limit your costs. Your lender will also recognize the opportunity to be able to help the renter to become a homeowner.
24. Send Postcards
When marketing to our database and potential clients, we literally get about 10 seconds of their attention to look at what we sent prior to it going into the garbage. Even though this is an unfortunate fact, statistically we need to reach out to our clients multiple times a year in different ways. Mailing 4¼x5½-inch postcards several times a year that include household tips, fall or spring time changes, and fun holiday facts can make an impact within the 10 second you have to be remembered for future business.
Your brokerage may provide you with a number of postcards. However, if you are looking for a source to produce your own, ProspectsPLUS may be a resource to consider. In addition to offering more than 100 real estate-specific card designs, ProspectsPLUS also offers templates you can use to create brochures or other flyers. You can visit their website to see their designs for yourself.
25. Develop an Agent-to-Agent Referral Network
As agents, when we recognize that we can leverage friendly competition between real estate agents to our benefit, we open another marketing opportunity for business. LinkedIn is the largest agent-to-agent platform to get referrals. For example, when our sellers move out of state, that shouldn’t mean that is the end of our income opportunity from that client. We stay in touch with that seller and remind them that we are a great referral source for all of their real estate needs nationwide. With LinkedIn, we build relationships with agents nationally, thereby allowing us referral income opportunities.
26. Sponsor a Coat & Blanket Drive
Make your office the drop-off point for donations during the holidays for new or gently used coats and blankets. Remember, the community has been very good to you—you must be very good to your community. This “feel good” event will allow you to lead with an open and giving heart. Every good deed will be rewarded when it is done without an expected reward.
27. Place Door Hangers in the Neighborhood
As a newer agent, there are marketing materials that can be obtained for free from home warranty companies and local lenders. Door hangers are a perfect item to market your brand and share a real estate tip. The investment will be your time, and the return could be to become that neighborhood’s real estate expert.
28. Get Involved in Your Local Chamber of Commerce
Networking with local business owners outside the profession of real estate can be very lucrative. Showing up at Chamber mixers and red ribbon-cutting ceremonies for new business can solidify professional connections. There is some truth to the adage, “It’s 90% personality and 10% of what you know.” You first need a potential referral source to like and trust you before they refer business to you. Of course, at some time through the “getting to know you process,” you need to prove you know what you are talking about.
29. Create a Client Birthday Club
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.” To celebrate your client’s birthday and their family members’ birthdays, send them an ice cream cone coupon. I assume you think this will be an exorbitant expense. Actually, it is extremely affordable with great results in future referrals.
Partner up with a local ice cream company. You can create ice cream coupons with your contact information and the following information, “This coupon celebrates you with a free ice cream on your birthday. Coupon to be redeemed only at XYZ Ice Cream Store.”
The cool thing about this marketing campaign is that you only pay for coupons redeemed. My arrangement with the local ice cream shop is to visit every quarter to pick up the birthday coupons used and settle up my bill. However, you might also find vendors who are willing to provide you with digital coupons that can be featured in email marketing campaigns instead.
Poorly thought-out marketing could be costly. No matter what marketing strategy you choose to use, do not expect a quick return. “Slow and steady wins the race.” You should also make sure to develop a budget before starting any marketing plan. With some creativity and research, marketing yourself can be very reasonable and cost-effective.