Hear it Direct conference: Brand matters to consumers, but not necessarily the agent or brokerage brand

Real estate marketing ideas that today's buyers and sellers really value

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. See Part 1. Want to hear directly from consumers and walk away with fresh insights to improve your business? Hear it Direct will host a live consumer panel at Real Estate Connect San Francisco, which takes place July 16-18 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

The recent Hear it Direct (HID) conference in Austin, Texas, was packed with powerful strategies based upon direct consumer feedback. Whether you want to be more effective at marketing or pricing properties, these ideas represent some of the best ways to grow your real estate business.

In Austin, HID co-creator Sue Adler shared a number of the highlights from previous consumer panels that she has conducted. Here are more best practices based upon what really matters to today’s buyers and sellers.

Stop dripping and sending us useless stuff

Adler argues that the more tech-savvy agents become, the more they may be alienating their clients. The reason is that they are relying on technology to build connection rather than personal contact.

To illustrate this point, the HID panels repeatedly said how much they disliked drip email campaigns and form letters. Agents who engage in these types of campaigns are “lazy.”

Furthermore, these consumers ignore the Google and Facebook ads and go directly to the organic results.

[Take] high-quality photos of local luxury properties during the summertime. 'We had the best-looking MLS photos -- everyone else’s listings were covered with snow.' "

Other consumers recommended that you dump the Just Sold cards, stop sending them calendars, and instead, be seen helping at community-based events. Today’s consumer wants personal connection, not automated, impersonal contact.

Brand does matter

Consumers expect beautiful signs, great photos, and that their listings will be placed in as many places as possible on the Web. As one seller put it, “Advertising everywhere that you syndicate your listings is like a hotel advertising it has clean sheets.”

For consumers, brand does matter, but it’s not necessarily the agent or the brokerage brand. Instead, consumers want you to create a “brand” for them. Help them obtain that local knowledge about commute times, about the various extracurricular activities for the kids after school, or who has the best fruit at the local farmers market. In other words, help them with what they cannot discover online.

They do stalk you

Consumers constantly search for reviews. In fact, most said they had visited agent review sites. Nevertheless, when it becomes time to select an agent, most would rely primarily on a recommendation from a friend. Even so, they will still Google you to see what else they can learn about you online.

As Adler summed up: “They trust reviews and check for complaints.”

To take advantage of this behavior, make sure that you have as many testimonials for your services as possible. You will achieve a higher ranking on Google if these are videos rather than just text.

Dear House Hunter

One of Adler’s best recommendations was to create a love letter from the sellers addressed to “Dear House Hunter.” In this letter, the sellers share their own story about the house, the area and the lifestyle. Again, it will be even more effective if it’s on video.

Stay top of mind

A major challenge that agents face is how to stay top of mind. Adler shared an experience she had when she was considering buying a home in Boulder, Colorado.