Editor’s note: This is the last of a five-part series.

During the last decade, marketing strategies have undergone a quantum shift as the real estate industry has been forced to move from print, phone and face-to-face marketing to using the Web. Ironically, in 2011, "face to face" and print are making a comeback.

The next generation of real estate marketing

During the 1990s, personal marketing brochures were all the rage. While Web 1.0 was about broadcasting your message using the traditional advertising model, Web 2.0 called for something entirely different.

A 2002 article titled "Marketing and Branding You" looked at how agents could compete online against major national competitors without spending huge sums of money. The approach suggested then still works today.

To achieve the best possible outcome from your marketing efforts, you must niche your business to a specific market area. This concept comes from "Marketing Warfare," a book written by Al Ries and Jack Trout. In that book the authors outline what they call "guerilla marketing." The notion is that big firms cannot and will not compete for small segments of the market. Consequently, the opportunity for agents is to carve out a specific market niche and to become the leading expert in that area.

Furthermore, because consumers are constantly bombarded with names of places, products and a host of items, it’s very difficult for consumers to remember the name of a Realtor that they met and liked. What people do remember is a function. For example, if you specialize in selling lakefront properties in Austin, Texas, branding your business with "AustinLakeFrontProperties.com" will produce much better results than branding with "YourNameProperties.com."

During 2009 and 2010, niche marketing shifted to "hyperlocal marketing." Hyperlocal marketing required agents to shift from being an expert about the property to marketing the property using the lifestyle.

Inbound vs. outbound marketing

A 2009 article titled "The Next Generation of Real Estate Marketing" outlined a new marketing strategy that Hubspot.com called "inbound marketing." This type of marketing employs Web 2.0 strategies such as blogging and using social media sites to connect with people in your database. The goal of inbound marketing is to create raving fans that will happily promote you and your services to their friends and followers through their social networks.

In contrast, "outbound marketing" best describes the old print and Web 1.0 marketing strategies. It relies on the traditional advertising model of broadcasting your message.

Micromarketing is hot for 2012 and is resurrecting the old-fashioned approach of farming with a 21st-century twist. Today your marketing must not only be targeted to a specific geographical area, it must also be crafted to increase SEO (search engine optimization), address lifestyle issues, as well as working with Facebook and the other social media sites.

Agents who are having the best luck with this approach have integrated their print marketing efforts with their online marketing efforts. To illustrate this point, they use their print marketing to drive consumers to their website or their blog. Many have chosen to create a Facebook business page devoted to a specific micromarket such as a single high-rise building or a lifestyle such as retirement living.

Expanding this concept even further, single-property websites that first began showing up in 2005 are now evolving into Facebook fan pages for each of the agent’s listings. In each instance, agents who employ these approaches are using a micromarketing approach based upon inbound marketing concepts.

‘Face to face’ makes a comeback

With the advent of texting, we now have two generations who have virtually no training in how to use the telephone or how to negotiate face to face.

In 2004 when I wrote "Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters," television advertising meant buying time on local or cable television. Brad Inman led the way in the real estate industry with the creation of TurnHere.com that produced high-quality professional videos for upscale properties and agents. This approach still relied on the traditional advertising model of "getting the information out there."

In 2005, the television advertising model was turned topsy-turvy with the launch of YouTube. Rather than relying on over-the-air or cable broadcasting, YouTube allowed users to post their videos online. Funny videos often went viral with hundreds of thousands of views.

With the advent of Skype, agents are now being required to use their face-to-face skills once again. While the Gen X and Gen Y agents grew up with texting, the next generation is having face-to-face video conversations with their grandparents online.

What will it be like in 2021?

The core skills in the real estate business, building connection, being an effective negotiator, and being able to keep pace with innovation, will be just as important in 2021 as they are today. Without a doubt, new technologies will change the business in ways we can’t even imagine now — it should be a wild ride.

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