In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: perfecting your content strategy.
I love talking with real estate agents throughout the year in person, on the phone, online and on social media. As we head into a new year and a new spring market I thought this would be a great time to look at three of my most frequently asked questions from the last year — and they’re all to do with real estate content.
What is the biggest mistake/most cliche phrase listing agents use when writing property descriptions?
While we frequently think of clichés as a negative, some clichés work well in listing descriptions. Studies show that “beautiful,” the ubiquitous “stainless/granite” combo, and “upgraded/updated” elements — although certainly clichés at this point — are effective selling points, often resulting in fewer days on market and above average selling prices.
The problem, then, isn’t so much the overused phrases as the failure to effectively convey the home’s best features early in the description. Most poorly written property descriptions deal in generalities or offer information about the community rather than the property in question. While a neighborhood or school district may certainly be a big selling point, it probably shouldn’t be the first or most important element mentioned in a property description. Why?
When you start out a description with “Located in Blah-Blah neighborhood,” you convey the idea that there is something wrong with the property itself, and that only its proximity to something else — a park, shopping district or school — is a positive. While you may certainly include that proximity in the first sentence, start out with something about the property itself. For example:
- Charming bungalow with gourmet kitchen, conveniently located within walking distance of Blah-Blah Elementary School
- Spacious home with sophisticated style located near all of the amenities of Blah-Blah entertainment district
- Contemporary condo with Blah-Blah Park views
The exception? Waterfront, oceanfront, lake views and other elements should come at the beginning of the description so that potential buyers know the listing is not just near the water, but actually on the water. This type of element might also apply in some markets to city skyline views, mountain views and other prominent, value-added features.
Why isn’t anyone reading my blog?
Frequently, the answer to this is simple: Because they don’t know about it. Great blog content without a distribution plan means that you are talking into a vacuum. It takes some time for search engine optimization (SEO) to build and bring your blog post higher in search engine rankings. Effective distribution ensures that people are seeing your posts while they are still fresh.
There are a variety of ways to ensure your posts are being viewed. Try some or all of the following:
- Social media: Tweet or share a link to your blog post, along with a short description to pique followers’ interest and an attractive graphic element. Don’t limit yourself to sharing only on the day your post drops — schedule the link for sharing once a week or once a month, depending on how much content you have and how frequently you post.
- Email blast: Do you send an email to your sphere each week or month? Be sure to include a link to your latest blog post or remind readers of older blog posts that are still relevant. For example, an evergreen post on tax implications of homebuying would be great for a March or April email update.
- Online Q&A forums: Check online forums like Quora for questions related to your post topic, or create an account and design posts that answer questions posed to you. I receive questions every day from Quora readers looking for advice in the marketing, writing and real estate categories that I belong to. Link to a relevant blog post in your answer and add a new group of readers to your SOI.
Why does my social media marketing not translate into clients?
This is the other side of the previous question, since the answer here is related to the content you provide through your social media channels. If, like most agents, you are sharing links from HGTV or Zillow, or are using canned content from a subscription service, you won’t see the kind of conversion you are hoping for from your social media efforts.
When you are creating your own original core content — blog posts, videos, podcasts — with your branding and your unique perspective, you make your social media work for you and your brand. You show your expertise and insight to potential clients. Zillow and HGTV have marketing departments and a huge social media following — they don’t need you to send them more page views.