Digital real estate marketing: What’s your ‘big idea’?

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Something I like to focus on when coming up with marketing game plans for real estate agents both seasoned and new alike is digital strategy. Often I broach the subject only to be met with an anxious client; from the outside, the digital landscape seems a resource that requires an entirely new education, which scares off agents whose days already seem too multifaceted to achieve the type of productivity they desire. When this happens, I reassure them with a basic tenet of marketing:

“Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.”

This observation from advertising maven David Ogilvy presents an idea that’s become more important as advertising has become more engrained in our daily lives. The quote, which precedes the rise of the Internet, is especially relevant to this form of media — a place where a thousand messages can vie for your attention at once without a single one commanding it. But the premise still dictates the success of any marketing effort, digital or not.

The problem for agents looking to shift their advertising resources online becomes a question of where to begin the process. Does the process begin by hiring an SEO specialist to move your name up the search rankings of targeted keywords? Some have spent thousands of dollars for an enhanced profile targeting their market ZIP code on prominent listing sites. Others allocate resources towards a new Google Adwords or Facebook ad budget. The myriad channels that agents have at their disposal is enough to lose focus on their goals for online marketing, which can lead to overspending, mismanagement or a sense of constant distraction.

This happens when agents haven’t devised an online strategy, but simply fall into one when a convincing salesperson comes calling. There are a plethora of marketing companies looking for a slice of the brokerage pie — they will convince you to invest in their Web marketing enterprise without mentioning the necessity of creativity or differentiation. They’ll describe the tools you’ll have at your disposal, or the number of visitors you have the potential to reach, but they won’t acknowledge the driving engine behind the traffic — the big idea.

A big idea will earn itself the publicity you desire without extra cost through social sharing and blogging. The more engaging your content is to your demographic, the more visibility you earn through word of mouth (the online word of mouth, of increased effectiveness). This concept, called earned media, is the revitalization of creativity as the chief instrument of marketing strategy.

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This is not to say that you should ignore the salespeople calling with new products, the latest developments in syndication technology or your search engine rankings for your preferred keywords. But ground your efforts in a big idea, and you’ll see the results pay dividends on each front.

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