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.
The URL Jackpot; what exactly does that mean? In January I was asked to help name a new commercial real estate firm. Of course, one of the first things I thought of was to have the keywords in the title. The second was the availability of the URL and the availability of the same name on social media networks. Why would I worry about that? Good question, I’m glad you asked. Even if the company didn’t want to start out from day one on social media networks, it is always a good plan to go ahead and secure the name on all the networks before someone else does. If another user has the same name on any of the networks it can be challenging or even costly to obtain the name. Additionally, it may be that an entirely different name has to be used on one, some, or all of the social sites. This can cause some confusion among the world wide web.
Here is what happened to me: I was out with my friend Joni and we decided to post a photo to Instagram. The photo was so great that I wanted to share it that night with all of my Facebook and Twitter friends (which can be done right from the Instagram app). I tagged Joni in the photo on Instagram, and syndicated the photo to the other two networks. About an hour later I received a reply on the photo from an 11 year old boy on Twitter claiming to not be in the photo with me. What had happened was… Joni had one username on Instagram and a different username on Twitter. So when I syndicated the photo it ended up that a little boy on Twitter had the same username that Joni had on Instagram. Wow! Talk about a slip up.
So, how does one avoid this situation? Fortunately, there is a website that can check the URL desired among the majority of popular social media networks: http://www.NameCheck.com. This is an amazing tool, and I actually just used it last week. My dad is starting a new construction company and asked me about a website. The first thing I did was plug in the URL he wanted in to Name Check. He was in luck! Not only was the URL available, but all of the social sites were as well.
Moral: Don’t learn a lesson the hard way like I did. Keep little boys out of late night drunken photos, and check for URL continuity.