Are you still relying on old-fashioned "outbound marketing" techniques? If so, it’s time to make the shift to the hottest new way to reach today’s Web 2.0 consumers: "inbound marketing."

Outbound Marketing
For years, the real estate industry has relied on the old "hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em" model of marketing. You know the drill. Door knock, cold call, mail to your geographical farm, advertise in print publications, and plaster your face on billboards. When you do get a lead, be prepared with the right scripts that tell them how good you are.

Are you still relying on old-fashioned "outbound marketing" techniques? If so, it’s time to make the shift to the hottest new way to reach today’s Web 2.0 consumers: "inbound marketing."

Outbound Marketing
For years, the real estate industry has relied on the old "hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em" model of marketing. You know the drill. Door knock, cold call, mail to your geographical farm, advertise in print publications, and plaster your face on billboards. When you do get a lead, be prepared with the right scripts that tell them how good you are. And of course, don’t forget all those powerful closing scripts and dialogues. You can’t afford to be unprepared when it’s time to close the deal.

Another term for "hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em" is "outbound marketing." Outbound marketing is all about finding customers by advertising. A major challenge with outbound marketing is how long it takes to work. For example, if you send out a monthly mailer to a geographical farm, it normally takes 12 to 24 months before that geographical farm starts to generate leads. It takes approximately 12 "impressions" from print marketing before the person receiving your marketing communication will remember your name and/or product. In addition, because these approaches are general in nature, they lack the effectiveness of a highly targeted campaign.

Technology has further eroded the effectiveness of outbound marketing. Consumers now have a wide variety of tools to block your marketing messages. For example, you can cold call, provided the person is not on the do-not-call list. Of course, even if someone answers the phone, virtually all consumers view telemarketing calls as an intrusion. Furthermore, many members of Gen X and Gen Y won’t answer their phone. As one Gen Y put it, "Talk on the phone? That’s way too confrontational!" If you want to reach Gen X or Gen Y, send a text message. The challenge is you need a cell phone number to do it.

Some agents have turned to radio and television ads to reach their client based. These can work, but like other outbound marketing strategies, they take time, money and numerous repetitions to generate a stream of steady leads. Moreover, consumers can now easily screen out television commercials simply by pushing the fast-forward key.

Outbound marketing is not just limited to traditional marketing. Banner advertising on Web sites is another example of outbound marketing. Most Web visitors ignore the banner ads and scan headlines for their search topic.

Many agents rely on e-mail for their outbound marketing efforts. The challenge with mass e-mails is that spam filters block most of these. Others use "drip" e-mail campaigns that target individual users who opt in. In many cases, once the user "opts in," they can’t "opt out."

The bottom line is that outbound marketing is usually expensive, unwelcomed and labor intensive. …CONTINUED

Inbound Marketing
The opposite of outbound or interruption marketing is "inbound marketing." Marketing strategist David Meerman Scott says that in outbound marketing, advertisers "buy their way in" via paid advertisements. To use inbound marketing, Scott recommends that marketers "publish their way in" with blogs and other types of valuable content.

Inbound marketing utilizes Web 2.0 tools such as blogging, being active on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as SEO strategies that help you obtain better organic search placement (as opposed to paid search).

Inbound and outbound marketing also differ based upon cost. The only cost for using Twitter or Facebook is your time. Rather than using marketing messages to reach as many people as possible, inbound marketing is about having the right consumers find you. When they locate you, they have already "self-identified" that they want your content. To illustrate this point, if you go to the Zappos.com Web site, you have already identified yourself as being someone who is interested in purchasing shoes. The result is a much higher conversion rate. For example, HubSpot reports that their inbound marketing customers, as opposed to outbound marketers, have a higher return on investment (ROI) and reduce their cost per lead by 61 percent.

Inbound marketing is based solely on the laws of attraction. Another way of saying this is "give-to-get" marketing. You provide great service and/or great content, and others will spread the word about your services for you. This is also known as "word of mouth" or "viral marketing." This is the best kind of marketing that money can’t buy — it’s based on the value you provide to the consumer, not on how much money you spend. When they like you, they will tell others about you.

This is where the power of the Web 2.0 comes into play. Before the Web, when we liked a service, we would tell our friends. It could take weeks or months before the news of your excellent service would reach a large group of people. Today, with sites such as Yelp, AngiesList.com, and other sites that report both good and bad service, the word spreads instantaneously across the Web. By using inbound marketing strategies, you attract higher-quality leads, spend less money, and have more satisfied customers.

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com and find her on Twitter: @bross.

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