Editor’s note: The Rookie Realtor last month took the online plunge and set up a Web site to attract more prospects. However, the newbie’s site has attracted only one customer since then. Some colleagues offered advice on what the Rookie might do to get more clicks.

Dear Rookie:

I’m sorry but the Rookie’s story about creating a Web site then waiting for visitors had me laughing out loud. It’s the most common issue with agents: “Get a pretty/cool/full-featured site and they will come!”

Beep! Wrong answer!

The Internet is a communications medium, not a marketplace. Building a Web site is not like opening a store in the mall. Building a Web site is like creating an ad or a brochure. Unless you put the ad in a newspaper or the brochure in people’s hands, you’ve wasted your money.

The Web should rightly be considered an advertising medium. This means every dollar you spend should be measured against return on investment, and also by how much consumer traffic and consumer leads you receive.

This is why Web sites are rapidly being commoditized. Some companies are now offering Web sites to agents for free. Why not? A computer can pump out a Web site in a nanosecond. The smart agents are focusing less on Web sites and more on Internet advertising and marketing.

When we first put Web sites online in 1996, agents told us, “Cool site, but how does it generate any business for me?” We turned our business model around. Advertising and marketing our clients, their listings and their sites comes first, not last.

I recommend you check into Number Expert. We focus on generating traffic and leads for our clients. Through our exclusive branding, and our advertising and distribution partners, we get you, your listings and your Web site tremendous exposure across the Web. The proof is in the pudding: Our average client gets 8-12 quality leads per week, and a 1,300 percent return on investment. No kidding.

Lawrence Schoeffler
COO
Number1Expert.com

Dear Rookie:

I’m still trying to figure out why putting your Web address on your letterhead and business cards would drive new prospects to your Web site, as your letterhead and business cards go to people whom you’ve already contacted.

Including a URL on business correspondence is standard practice in industries where a superficial contact drives people to the Web site for deeper information or exposure to more services. But anyone getting your business card already knows you’re a Realtor.

Steps you need to try to include:

1. Get yourself on more search engines. Submit your site to Open Directory in the correct locality where your office is located. Open Directory provides data used by many major search engines, including Google.

Do not submit for your county, region or state, no matter what your area of coverage is: ODP’s rule is to list Realtors by their office location and submitting to the wrong category just slows down your inclusion.

2. Make sure your URL is included in your business card listing on your local MLS’s online service, if such exists. Here in San Francisco, the online MLS has a search-for-Realtor feature.

3. Do likewise if you have a regional Realtors’ association.

4. Now go see what publicity you can get from your local Chamber of Commerce. You’re not a member? For shame!

5. And the Visitor’s Bureau. You want to be linked from any major regional site that is likely to act as a portal for people who are researching neighborhoods in your area. This may mean having to pay for banner advertising on, say, your local newspaper’s Web site. (The cheapness of a Web site as publicity is totally exaggerated. The things suck up money like a vacuum cleaner sucks lint.)

Wende Feller
Adjunct Professor
Graduate School of Business
St. Mary’s College
Moraga, Calif.

***

Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.

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