There is an idea of “Free” marketing, but it simply does not exist. I can think back to Econ 1101: There is no such thing as a free lunch. This is always true, but let me explain it in terms of free marketing.
Many real estate companies are focusing on Social Media Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization in their marketing plans and strategies as avenues of “Free” marketing. However, how much is this free marketing is actually free?
Many real estate brokerages do not have, or can not afford a dedicated Marketing Manager. Therefore, end up running their own social media and SEO, or delegating it to an Office Manager. The overhead of the Office Manager, office supplies/space, and time taken away from other income producing activities represent the overall cost of the free marketing. Then, we need to look at the return derived from the free marketing. If it seems like the efforts put into social media and SEO are not producing any leads, then there is no return on investment. Even worse, there may actually be a negative return on investment! We have all heard the expression that “all press is good press.” However, that is not always the case. In fact, meaningless chatter and content may actually be driving clients and prospects away.
So what is the solution?
First, the cost of time needs to be calculated, and realized. Then, the cost needs to be compared to the cost of hiring a Marketing Manager or Marketing company. After that, determine the average lifetime value of a client. Once all of the data is collected, calculate the number of clients that would need to be generated each year to offset or justify the costs. For a quick example: Suppose a Marketing Manager will work for $85,000 annually. In that year, 5 new clients are gained. Each client representing an average lifetime value of $150,000.
To sum up… Just because there are free marketing channels, does not mean there is not a cost associated. It is always best to do what Real Estate Agents recommend their clients to do, i.e. hire a professional.
If you ask the Marketing Department, every lead is a result of their efforts. Conversely, if you ask the Agents at the office, every lead just so happened to find their way to the Agent’s iPhone. So, to answer this question I will give two quick examples of lead generation situations.
- A prospective buyer sees the newest issue of <your city here> Magazine. The prospect sees the advertisement for your Real Estate Firm and calls to buy a property.
- A previous client calls an agent at your firm on their iPhone and buys a property.
In Example 1. The Marketing Department wins!
In Example 2. The Agent wins!
But wait… In Example 2, does the Agent win? In the book Never Lose Again: Become a Top Negotiator by Asking the Right Questions the first question is “How did you hear about us?” This question is of most importance to the Marketing Department. This question can answer what marketing dollars are being well spent. Additionally, a revision of this question can be asked of previous clients, “What made you call me?” Considering the client already knows about your real estate firm, what made them (a.) remember you out of all the other agents in the world, (b.) what was the call to action that prompted the client to call you?
Ha! In Example 2. Marketing wins again.
Marketing Departments not only create content to procure new buyers, but they also create “drip marketing” to stay in the forefront of the client’s mind. The moral of the story is, Marketing behind the enemy lines, creating an arsenal of marketing weapons to utilize on the company’s behalf to keep clients engaged and active. Next time a client or a prospect calls you, ask the right questions and determine where your marketing efforts are having the greatest return.
Marketing for Real Estate should not be one size fits all. Yet, many agents seem to think it is, and that the 3 P’s of Real Estate Marketing always apply to every listing:
- Put up a sign,
- Put it online, and
Here is a little secret… Real Estate Marketing is not a fixed expense for every property. If the price of the house and the real estate commission are perfectly elastic (for every increase in the price of the house there is an increase in the price of the commission), then why are marketing costs not weighted the same? I constantly see agents putting forth the same amount of effort and marketing for a $100,000 property as they do for a $1,000,000 property. The reason a commission is a percentage of the sale is for the reason that it takes more effort to sell more expensive properties. Thus, if it takes more effort, it should take more marketing effort as well. Each property is different and should have a marketing strategy created for each listing as they occur. I think it is great that one website syndicates to thousands of other websites, and there is a printed out marketing package that says that exact same thing. However, it takes more than a quick pic with an iPhone and uploading the property to the local MLS.
Before listing a property, ask the potential agent what specifically they are going to do to market your property differently than every other agent available.