Do you volunteer at animal shelters or rescue organizations? Do you take your dog for regular walks or out for a run when you exercise? Is your dog pictured on any of your marketing materials? If so, make sure that you know the do’s and don’ts of “doggy marketing.”
A couple of years ago I received an eight-page glossy color brochure from an Austin, Texas, real estate agent. It had multiple pictures of her enjoying the local lifestyle, sitting in her perfect living room, dining out with her husband, and, of course, one of her walking her dog. This particular piece was the most egregious example of “me-me-me” real estate marketing that I had ever seen. It’s hard to believe that she actually thought this narcissistic marketing piece would cause someone to hire her.
Doggy no-no No. 1
If you have a picture of yourself and/or your dog on the home page of your website, get rid of it now. When today’s Web visitors see that your website appears to be about you rather than them, they immediately surf elsewhere. The appropriate place to include your photo is on the “about” page of your site, not the home page.
Doggy no-no No. 2
This is a corollary of no-no No. 1. Take you and/or your dog’s picture off your marketing materials as well. Again, today’s consumer is focused on “What’s in it for me?” Moreover, using a picture of your pet to market real estate is visually confusing to the consumer: Are you selling dog-sitting services, grooming, vet services, or real estate?
Doggy do No. 1
Linda Hall, one of Century 21’s top “tech” agents, is a dog lover. While Linda doesn’t have a picture of her and her dog on her website, she has figured out a clever way to incorporate this love into her marketing. Her free e-book, “14 Costly Mistakes Home Sellers Make and How to Avoid Them,” has a picture of a golden retriever holding a first-aid kit. This works because the picture is in alignment with what matters to the seller: being rescued from making costly mistakes.
Doggy do No. 2
The Williamson County Association of Realtors in Texas named Elaine Byrne its 2011 Realtor of the year. Byrne’s business card includes her contact information, designations, and that she serves on the Texas Association of Realtors’ Professionals Standards Committee. Her passion, however, is also spelled out at the top of the card: “Committed to Animal Welfare, Rescue and Rehabilitation.”
The law of attraction says, “Like attracts like.” If you hate animals, Byrne is the wrong agent for you. On the other hand, if you are having a pet-related issue in your transaction, Byrne has earned the reputation of being someone who can help you work through the issue. For example, if your buyers own a Rottweiler, they probably won’t be able to obtain a homeowners insurance policy. If you cannot obtain home insurance, the lender will not fund the loan.
Byrne’s solution is to ask the buyers whether they own a purebred dog. If the dog is not a purebred, it is a “mixed breed” or “mutt.” You can obtain insurance if you own a mixed breed. One caveat, however: Always advise buyers to be truthful about the types of animals they own.
Doggy do No. 3
Imraan Ali is a Keller Williams agent who has become “the mayor of his neighborhood.” His strategy is to chat with neighbors or other people walking their dogs. The dog makes it easier for people to feel comfortable talking to him.
Taking your dog to a pet-friendly hangout is a great way to meet other people. Rather than dashing out with your coffee, sit down and enjoy it with your dog at your side. Wear a name badge or cap with your company’s name on it. A friendly dog makes you more approachable and people can immediately see that you are in real estate. Be prepared to answer the question, “How’s the market?” as well as “What’s your dog’s name?”
One agent took this approach a step further: She actually put one of her company’s t-shirts on the dog. Her t-shirt-clad dog helps her to regularly generate leads in her farm area.
Doggy do No. 4
Volunteering has always been a great way to meet potential clients. If you are passionate about animals, meeting other people who share your passion creates the foundation for doing future business.
Doggy do No. 5
Meetup.com is a site where you can locate or post face-to-face get-togethers (meetups). My favorite example of a Meetup group is the Austin Chinatics. They have more than 1,000 members. In case you’re wondering what this group is, it’s the local Austin chapter of Chihuahua enthusiasts.
Meetup.com has both small and large dog group meetups in virtually every location in the U.S. Again, finding other owners who are as passionate as you are about your dog is a great way to begin a friendship that can lead to future business.
So here’s the bottom line: If you’re going to do “doggy marketing,” always remember that your clients and their needs must be your primary focus, not you and your dog.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, “Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success.” Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named “new and notable” by iTunes, at www.RealEstateCoachRadio.com.