Real estate marketing was brought to new heights last year, and I was so impressed with the creativity happening out there! With home inventory still very low in many markets, the battle over available listings was fierce, and I don’t see that changing in 2018. As real estate professionals, we must continue bring our “A-game” to the table if we want to win those listings.

Real estate marketing was brought to new heights last year, and I was so impressed with the creativity happening out there! With home inventory still very low in many markets, the battle over available listings was fierce, and I don’t see that changing in 2018. As real estate professionals, we must continue to bring our “A-game” to the table if we want to win those listings.

That being said, below are 10 trends in real estate marketing I see coming this year:

1. Cross-pollination business marketing

Cross-pollination business marketing is one of the smartest marketing trends to hit our industry, and it isn’t brand new. It’s the thought of reaching our target market of new and existing clientele outside of the usual marketing means.

We started this a couple years ago with our event hosting. We hosted a large open house for a golf course listing we had and invited various cross-pollinating vendors to “the party.” We had brand new luxury vehicles, wine tasting, spirit tastings (liquor permit in hand), catering and more. The idea was to invite groups from each of our spheres to this event to mix and mingle and cross-pollinate business.

The home is now sold — after being listing on market for over three years with another firm. We had a great turn out and many connections were made that day.

Practical tip for this year: Who can you incorporate into your sphere and collaborate with this year? When you do, don’t let it stop after the event — keep it going on social by @tagging everyone @who was at the @event!

2. Authentic and creative video from agents

Last year, I saw some agents get really creative with their content. Some of it was hilarious, some was thought-provoking and some was just plain weird. (Google “rapping Realtor.”)

My fellow Sotheby’s International Realty agent Seth O’Byrne in San Diego has found a way to incorporate different styles of video into his business. A quick stop at his YouTube and you’ll find Mr. and Mrs. T-Rex purchasing a home, O’Byrne in a pink bunny suit and his latest masterpiece showcases a gorgeous home in La Jolla being sold to the “youngest NBA player.”

I expect to see more of this type of video this year with agents getting creative, trying new things and marketing in sustainable ways. And who knows … maybe more agents will produce content that could go viral!

Practical tip for this year: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Find ways to showcase who you are through video. This has become very effective the last couple years and will only grow in 2018. Personally, I have had a great response to the lifestyle video I created. I use this video to send to clients before a first appointment.

3. A social media break out year for ‘secret agents’

You do you best. No one can be you. Cliche, yes. But so true. And it’s why your clients love you! This year will be the year we all do our very best to be ourselves on social media.

I saw a post from my friend and Inman Connect alum Peter Lorimer recently that simply said, “Do your own social media.” My first thought was that I didn’t know there was any other way to do it, but then I got to thinking — I wondered how many agents out there don’t do any social media marketing at all? You would be surprised how many have not utilized these free platforms.

If you are not on social media yet, this is your year! If someone else does your social media for you, this is your year to take it back. This is your year to not be a secret agent — to become socially transparent and authentically boast your brand.

Practical tip for this year: Do your own social media. Try to expand your social footprint beyond just Facebook. Write an article that you feel is relative to your point of view on your marketplace, then do a condensed version for your different social platforms. Try posting original, organic content and watch what happens as a result! Your clients want to hear from you, and what you think.

4. Touring via virtual reality (VR) this year without leaving the office

I really think we will see major advances in smartphone-compatible VR this year. We saw this last year, and we even saw that some real estate offices are creating VR rooms where clients can come in for a 3-D view of homes from around the world. While the tangibility of real estate will never go away, it is pretty wild to be able to view properties in 3-D.

Practical tip for this year: What listing are you going to win because of your VR knowledge?

5. Storytelling marketing: Agents boosting self-marketing through blogging and becoming a real estate thought leader in their marketplace

I am convinced storytelling has the strongest impact on marketing, no matter what field or profession you are in. It’s an age-old art that goes back thousands of years to our ancestors who sat around campfires listening to each other tell great tales — captivating tales of hunts, battles and who knows what else.

Our appetite for great stories has not ceased, and while technology advances, it simply changes the methods we use to communicate our message, or story.

I love that one of the biggest changes to Instagram is the incorporation of Stories, a feature that allows you to post short videos that live for 24 hours (and at the time of writing this can be highlighted to last longer on your profile) on your profile header.

At Inman Connect San Francisco 2017, Kindra Hall delivered a fantastic message on the power of storytelling, and just how effective it could be.

Practical tip for this year: Once a week, try to create an Instagram post with a story attached to it. Watch the comments roll in! Also, this year, become a storytelling master. A must-read on storytelling is Talk Like Ted by one of my favorite authors and speakers, Carmine Gallo.

6. Get your content out there quickly this year

This is the year agents will really take hold of the content they curate and find ways to get it out there for all to see. After you have created and spent tons of time perfecting your marketing piece, get it out there! Don’t hide it or sit on it. Shelf-life is short!

Practical tip for this year: Content starts with your blog. But don’t just post it on your blog and be done! Push your blog content out on local media sources such as community newsletters, HOA Facebook pages or the Nextdoor app, and become the local thought leader in real estate in 2018.

Don’t call me a prophet, but I am predicting you will reach a greater audience by doing this.

7. Blue sky and green grass

These two things make an exterior photo complete for me, and they add appeal despite how nice the front of the home looks. That being said, there are still a number of agents posting photos of homes without these eye-pleasing must-haves for listing photos.

Let’s make this year the year we step up our listing photo game, hire photographers to take professional images of our clients’ homes and make sure we always have that grass green and the sky blue!

Practical tip for this year: If your photographer does not post-process your photos and do a few minor touch-ups (you may want to find another photographer), there are a number of sites that will quickly process the photos. My favorite one is BoxBrownie. BoxBrownie will touch up any image as well as add the green grass and blue sky. They are also really good for showing lot lines on vacant land photos or completing aerial imagery touch-ups, as well virtual staging, providing 3-D renderings and more.

8. Become a media darling this year with quality content

This is the year for original quality content. Re-packaged, stale content is not going to turn the tide. Media sources are salivating for quality content. Sources such as your local newspaper, vendors you work with, magazines — you name it, they want it.

Not sure where to begin? No problem. I want to tell you it is easier than you think — it all starts with taking action and then putting pen to paper. For example, find a stat that no one reports on (such as the number of homes that sold in 2017 below market value versus above market value, or the average age of the homebuyer in your marketplace, etc.), write a story about that and share it with your newspaper.

Or write about a homebuying experience. An easy one is to attend an event and write about it as if you are a reporter, even gathering a few quotes and snapping a few pics with your iPhone.

Practical tip for this year: You’d be surprised by the amount of content that you come across just living your life, being active in your community and paying attention to the media, especially the real estate reporters in your city.

9. Write an “advertorial”

You may be wondering what in the world an advertorial is. An advertorial is a way of writing your own advertisement into a publication. For example, a great advertorial piece could be about a new development you’re selling in your city. Your piece would speak to the project being built, but you should also add some key stats about the market, gather quotes from local businesses impacted by the project and more.

Just think 70 percent good content mixed with about 30 percent promotion of your product.

Practical tip this year: While in a transaction, stay good at keeping in touch with your clients — texting them, emailing them, calling them multiple times throughout the transaction.

10. Agents moving digital marketing spends into Facebook targeted ads this year

We can’t ignore Facebook’s move into the targeted ad space. While still hardly a Zillow competitor, it is something I think this year agents will watch closely, and rightfully so.

First reported last year on Inman.com, there was a partnership between the two tech giants that would align Facebook data to target consumers with real estate ads from Zillow.

As you know, us agents can advertise directly to Facebook and Instagram users who have already searched for properties on a brokerages website. How this will all shake out for agents is yet to unfold, but we know Inman is watching it, and so are many agents. I see this year we will witness agents routing more and more dollars into Facebook ads for branding to try it out.

Practical tip for this year: Facebook has made it very easy to spend money with their ads. Make sure you research your target market and the geographic area you want to advertise to.

I hope these thoughts about this year provided clarity on things you should incorporate into your business, as well as some things to watch for. One thing is for sure — this year will be another year of home prices rising for most major markets across the U.S. and unprecedented growth here locally in my city of Seattle.

I am excited to see what happens this year in our industry.

Brian Hopper is a managing broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty in the Greater Seattle Area. Connect with him on Instagram or Twitter.

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