Editor’s note: This is the last of a three-part series.
The challenge that agents face today is standing out from the competition both as agents and in terms of their listings.
What does it take to motivate buyers and sellers to say, "Gosh, that’s amazing!" about you and your marketing materials? Peter Knight of the United Kingdom-based Property Academy shared several fresh ideas from around the globe at the recent National Association of Realtors conference.
11. Make your phone jump off the hook (See Nos. 1-7 in Part 1 and Nos. 8-10 in Part 2.)
When most agents post an open house, they list their phone number, their website address, the price, the time, multiple pictures of the property, and often a video.
Knight suggests using a different approach. When you run your print ads for your open house, provide intriguing pictures, but do not provide the price or a website address. Instead, just provide the phone number. The agents who devised this approach get great results.
The key is to make sure the house has "curb appeal" in the picture, which will motivate people to pick up the phone and call. You can also provide additional motivation by noting that you will be serving refreshments.
12. Advertise in places that are not obvious
One very creative agent decided to take out an ad for his listing in the "lonely hearts" section of his local newspaper: "This house is looking for the perfect mate." The agent went on to describe what makes the house special and appealing.
A slightly different approach would be to ask, "Which of these three houses is the best match for you?" The more creative you can be where you advertise, the more likely you are to get the "Gosh, that was amazing!" response.
13. Change up your photos
A major drawback in most Realtor marketing is that they post the same listing photos on multiple websites. Knight suggests that you will get better responses if you change the photos for each major website where your listing is posted. To do this, shoot pictures from different angles and different distances.
If the house has a second story, take photos from a balcony or upper deck looking down into the backyard. Your goal is to have potential buyers view your property a second time rather than skipping over it because they remember the pictures that were displayed on another site.
14. Avoid the usual marketing "blah-blah-blah"
Most agents like to market themselves as being "knowledgeable" and as "customer service experts." Exactly what do these phrases mean? Knight suggests that you use a much more specific approach to describe how and what you are marketing.
"We give you feedback every 24 hours on the activity on your home."
"Our sellers sell their homes for 97 percent of their list price."
"We provide you with a comprehensive market profile each month."
Rather than using some vague marketing slogan, the agent in each example above specifically describes what the client will receive in concrete, measurable terms.
15. Register for market updates
If your company has a program that updates buyers on new listings, register your sellers for this tool as well. This is an easy way to keep them up to date on the new listings in your market area and to help you obtain price reductions. This can also be especially helpful as a marketing tool to convert more for-sale-by-owner homes into signed listings.
16. Use GPS functions to set up drive times
Drive times are often important for many buyers. Knight suggested using some of the new GPS apps to log this data for you. Two examples are the MotionX GPS Drive and TripCase. Both of these apps have mapping functions while also clocking how long it takes you to reach your destination.
To illustrate this point, turn on the app when you leave the office and calculate how long it takes to arrive at the various houses you are showing. When you show the last house of the day, your phone will display the various drive times between the places where you stopped.
This can be especially useful when the buyers want to know how long it will take them to drive their children to school or to where the child takes music lessons.
17. Make your listings look their best
Although based in the U.K., Vizzishots.com offers a great service that costs $4.50 to make your listing photos look great. One of the greatest challenges that agents face, especially in areas that have very little sunshine or lots of snow, is getting a great picture of your listings.
Vizzishots cleans up all the issues in your photos and creates the perfect blue skies and sharp colors that will make your listings look their best.
18. The marketing makeover
This is a great approach for a company marketing campaign. Anyone who buys or sells a house during the campaign time is entered into a drawing for a home makeover. Ideally, hire one of the top designers in your area. Furthermore, the designer may be willing to exchange his or her time for the free publicity.
Ultimately, marketing comes down to standing out from the competition. With a little creativity and the guidelines from Knight’s talk at the National Association of Realtors conference, you have plenty of ammunition to create effective marketing campaigns throughout 2012.