As I work with agents and brokers regularly, I’m happy to say that many of you do a lot of things right when it comes to marketing. As a whole, I think the industry has taken some pretty big strides recently in improving marketing strategies, even amongst the deluge of new technologies and techniques that can sometimes seem completely overwhelming. It can be a daunting task to educate yourself on everything from adaptive website technology to lead generation tactics, apps, video, content marketing, and the list goes on. Heck, the acronyms alone can be enough to boggle someone’s brain: SEO, PPC, CRM, SEM, CPC, ROI, CTA, CMA…you get the point. But amongst all these seemingly complex topics, sometimes the simplest of errors can undermine all the positive steps you’ve taken in this new marketing world.
Let’s take a look at three common marketing mistakes agents make, and how to fix them.
1. Appalling auto-responders. E-mail auto-responders, when used correctly, can be a great way to make an immediate touch with new contacts and leads. But so often, instead of a positive marketing impression, I see brand damage being done by an awful message.
- What’s wrong: If your auto-responder says something like “Thanks for contacting me! I’ll reply to your message within 48 hours!” Make no mistake: You are losing business. Especially in today’s instant gratification, rapid communication world. Your auto responder tells me that you’ll get back with me sometime in the next two days, but I want to look at houses _now. _I’ll find another agent quickly and could be putting an offer on a house before you’ve even responded to my inquiry.
- How to fix it: If you’re going to use an auto responder, assure leads that you’ll be in touch with them in minutes, not hours, and make sure you follow through. You can also include a link to some helpful content on your website – for example, “Click here to see my home-buying checklist.” Your goal with this first touch should be to offer value and inspire trust. You also want to set a reminder for yourself to update it frequently. I just got one the other day that said “Have a Happy New Year!” at the end of it. Thanks…it’s June.
2. Throwback head shots. Ever heard of TBT? It’s a popular social media hashtag that stands for “Throwback Thursday” where people post pictures from their past. Unfortunately, it’s pretty common for agents to use a throwback headshot in all their marketing for years…and years…and years.
- What’s wrong: It might seem insignificant and humorous at first, but you have to think about the implications. Do clients see your headshot on your website, then wonder who in the world you are when they meet you in person? Let me put it this way…would you show a buyer 10 year old photos of a house they’re interested in? Plus, using an ancient photo of yourself can make your marketing materials look dated. Max Kalehoff, Senior VP of Marketing at SocialCode, says this, “Outdated headshots-ones that don’t resemble what you really look like today-cast a dinge on your persona in a public setting. On one hand, if your headshot sports an old hairdo or aging suit, you’ll appear dated. On the other hand, if your photo is from your glorious years of youth, it will portray you as clinging to the past.”
- How to fix it: It’s not hard to find a local photographer to take a nice professional headshot for pretty cheap. And don’t worry about that gray hair that’s crept in since your last photo, that’s just a sign of experience and wisdom! So ditch that ’88 glamour shot. You and your clients will be happy you did.
3. Dead social media accounts and blogs. Over the past few years, you’ve heard countless times just how important it is to have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a blog, a Google+ account, and the list goes on. While these can (and probably should) be part of your overall marketing strategy, they can actually be a detriment when they go neglected for long periods of time. Think of it as deferred maintenance – take the advice you’d give a seller, and don’t let it work against you.
- What’s wrong: Every day, I see agent blogs and social media accounts that are the equivalent of the rickety old abandoned house at the end of the street. Years without updates, no interaction, or maybe even a few spammy comments left by sketchy cyber-hooligans. This is not what social media success is made of. Potential clients that come across your blog, last updated 3 years ago, wonder if you’ll also neglect actively marketing their home if they list with you.
- How to fix it: You’re busy, and that’s a good thing. But the “I’m too busy” excuse is becoming more and more unacceptable with all the tools available for automation. Here are a few quick tips to help you overcome the “no time” cop-out.
- Check out HootSuite – This dashboard tool allows you to add multiple social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.) so you can manage them all in one spot. You can post to all of them at once if you want, plus you can schedule posts. You could take 30 minutes and schedule a Twitter/Facebook post for each day of the upcoming week, and be done with it. It’s a huge time-saver, and even offers tons of cool advanced features like analytics, reports, etc. (we like that kind of thing around here). There are free and paid versions, and you can use it on your computer or mobile device. Here’s an outstanding article from Mashable: The Beginner’s Guide to HootSuite.
- Share immediately from Feedly – Feedly is an awesome app that could most simply be described as a news aggregator. Easily add your favorite outlets such as Inman News, HousingWire, New York Times, Mashable, etc. and you’ll see them categorized by “Real Estate” “Business” “Tech” and so on. Sharing to social media accounts is as easy as opening the app, seeing an interesting article, and tapping to share it to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and many more.
- Don’t over-think it – The thought of writing a blog post can sometimes seem like an overwhelmingly difficult task. But usually, that’s a result of feeling like it needs to be some long, glorious, ultra-insightful work of art, and that’s just not the case. Instead of being intimidated by staring at that blank screen, wondering what you should write about, just open your e-mail inbox. Scroll through some client e-mails and pick out a question you’ve been asked recently. There’s your blog post topic. Simply answer a question! Plus, what could be more useful to potential clients? You write the blog post once, and now you can point unlimited people to it, not to mention, it may show up in search results when people Google the question. Your blog should be a helpful part of your overall SEO efforts, but that’s not happening if you aren’t updating it with useful content regularly.
Hopefully these ideas have inspired you to turn these three potential downfalls into strengths that stand out from your competitors.