One of the hottest trends today is lifestyle marketing. As an individual agent, you can use lifestyle marketing to win more listings and to close more deals, especially if your brokerage partners with you a lifestyle brand.
Lifestyle marketing (marketing designed to reach consumers based upon age, type of housing, recreational choices, etc.) is proving to be a major magnet for today’s consumers. The explosion of cable television programming devoted to lifestyles illustrates how successful this approach is in attracting clients.
Large and small brands alike are jumping on the lifestyle bandwagon. Their approaches differ but the goal is clear: build brand loyalty with the next generation of buyers and sellers.
1. Green coupled with social media savvy
Under the leadership of Sherry Chris, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has grown to 7,000 agents in just a few short years.
The real estate franchise company, which launched under parent Realogy Corp. in 2008, has been a lifestyle brand since its inception. The real estate franchise company licenses its name and draws from Better Homes and Gardens magazine publisher Meredith Corp.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate has established a blogging and social media presence, and Chris alone spends two hours each day interacting on social media. The real estate brand draws from the strong lifestyle focus of Meredith’s publications.
The real estate company’s brand positioning also places a heavy emphasis on being "green" (environmentally aware).
2. Mining lifestyle gold
In March, Century 21 Real Estate LLC, the largest real estate company in the world with 97 percent brand recognition, launched its new brand proposition for the 21st century. For Century 21, there is lifestyle "gold" in mining Gen Y business.
The brand’s rapid-fire "Smarter, Bolder, Faster" radio commercials couple high intensity with Gen Y speak: "Century 21 agents are smarter than a roomful of Einsteins. They know your city, your neighborhood, and they might even know your mom, so watch your language."
This approach replaces the old ads that showed a family on moving day packing their kids into the station wagon.
3. The GoodLife lifestyle
The GoodLife Team takes niche-based lifestyle marketing and spins it to fit into what constitutes "the good life" in Austin, Texas, specifically in the downtown area.
"Call it GoodLife. Call it la vida dolce. Call it a one-way ticket to Austin, Texas, real estate. Call it what you want — we’ll stop at nothing to help you grab it by the horns and hold on with both hands. We live, love and play in downtown Austin. No one knows it better.
Call us first for cutting-edge information on Austin condos and high-rises in downtown, central or east Austin. Let our team of motivated, accountable and tech-savvy Austin, Texas, real estate agents take you out on the town. In no time at all you’ll understand why we call it the Good Life."
4. The real estate lifestyle
Can an 80-year-old rural brokerage redefine the real estate lifestyle? United Country Real Estate (established in 1925) has a new sister company, United Real Estate, that hopes to do exactly that.
If you work in a metropolitan area, there’s a good chance that you have never heard of United Country Real Estate. United Country was established in 1925 and has always been about the rural lifestyle.
"If you’re searching for country homes, farms and ranches, recreational property or commercial real estate, if it’s country, we’re your best source for rural real estate."
The owners of United Country Real Estate have spent the last five years creating a business model that addresses the lifestyle needs of urban markets with a 21st-century approach.
They are now launching a new brand, United Real Estate, to address the needs of urban markets. In the process, they may also redefine how the real estate lifestyle looks.
- A 100 percent commission model for agents, coupled with a true full-service model.
- An affiliation fee of $65 per month, a fee for errors and omissions insurance, plus a $295 fee per transaction. For these fees, agents receive their own websites; a single-property, lifestyle-based website for each of their listings; plus a soup-to-nuts lead generation, lead conversion and lead closing system. At most firms, agents end up buying these services from third-party vendors.
- The call center generates and turns over leads when clients are ready to transact.
According to Peter Giese, president of United Real Estate, "Agents often have their best month followed by the worst month. We wanted to make an optional program available that allowed agents to receive highly qualified company leads when the agents needed more leads than they were generating on their own."
Agents have to qualify to participate in the company-generated leads program. The commission split is 60 percent to the agent and 40 percent to the brokerage. Agents can tap into the system when they hit dips in their own lead generation efforts.
Office of the future
United Real Estate is designed to be a paperless enterprise. Its offices are intended to cater to today’s on-the-go real estate agents, who often work on the road or from home rather than in a traditional office.
"The best way to describe our (office) space is: Starbucks plus American Airlines Admirals Club airport lounge plus Kinko’s/FedEx plus Hilton Conference Center."
This minimalist approach slashes overhead while still providing agents with a host of core services over and above those provided by many of their competitors.
Your role as an agent
Regardless of what your brand does in terms of lifestyle, take a lesson from the four firms described above. Developing a lifestyle approach to your business can give you a huge competitive advantage. Not only will you attract the right clients for your business, you will also increase your online rankings.
To achieve this goal, adjust your marketing materials to fit micromarkets such as a 250 patio-home golf development, downtown loft living, or a specific market segment such as relocation, bank-owned properties (REOs) or short sales.
For example, if you’re marketing a golf community where the bulk of the residents are retired, your marketing materials could include information about the course and a video interviewing the club golf pro as well as owners of other local businesses.
You could also include fun recreational activities that occur in that community. Your marketing pictures should reflect the lifestyle as well as the type of people who choose to live there.
If you’re not already on the lifestyle marketing bandwagon, there is no better time than to join the innovators and to get started now.