Valerie Garcia, senior producer at branding agency 1000watt, shared her tips for creating a marketing plan that connects with consumers and guides them through market crises.

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Over the past year, the pandemic has thrust real estate professionals and consumers into a new normal that includes virtual home tours, increasingly digital transaction pipelines and record home price growth. When things seem to be changing every day, it can be hard to create marketing that speaks to consumers’ questions, concerns and dreams.

For agents who are struggling to adjust their marketing, 1000watt Senior Producer Valerie Garcia said they must start by focusing on one important thing: moving forward.

Valerie Garcia

“People talk about getting back to basics, but I’m gonna let you in on a secret — we never actually really ever go back,” she said in her May Connect Now session. “We’re just going to move forward into the next normal, and then we’re going to move forward into the next crisis. We always have to be moving forward.”

Here are Garcia’s 11 tips to creating marketing that connects during a crisis.

Change the goal of your message from selling to helping

Garcia said traditional marketing focuses on why a consumer should spend their hard-earned money with you. However, during a crisis, she said consumers don’t necessarily want to know why they should hire you — they want to know why they should trust you.

“Traditional marketing says, ‘Look at me, look at me, hire me and give me your attention,'” Garcia said. “But when we have crisis and chaos, and people are unsure, they’re confused, and they have a lot of questions, marketing has to shift from ‘look at me’ to ‘here is why you can trust me.'”

Be more human

In the attempt to be more trustworthy, Garcia said some agents can come off impersonal or robotic with their marketing by using jargon or statistics that buyers and sellers don’t understand. Instead, she said, agents should create messaging that’s friendly and easy to understand.

“Instead of being more human, [agents] tend to shift more towards business speak. They choose neutral ground, they keep their message really sterile,” Garcia explained. “The reality is, the marketing that really works best steering change is more human.”

“We saw a lot of this early last year where even airlines were reaching out and saying, ‘Hey, here’s a virtual hug,'” she added. “Really good marketing and messaging during change is personal, real, compelling and brings together a community.”

Give consumers something to subscribe to

Garcia said consumers love businesses that are dependable and consistent, and one of the best ways to show that is through providing email and social media content that consumers can count on.

“Last year, subscription growth was up an average of 60 percent,” she said. “People were signing up for things at a huge rate because they wanted regular updates.”

“Are you giving your audience regular email newsletters that they can subscribe to without algorithms and ads that they have to get through?” she added. “Just regular good stuff, such as weekly videos about the market or community news — something fun, something good.”

Focus on the message, not where to share it

Over the past decade, there’s been an explosion in social media platforms, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to TikTok and the newest digital darling, Clubhouse. Although it’s tempting to have a presence everywhere, Garcia advised agents to be more concerned about their messaging more than where to share it.

“I always tell people don’t stress about the medium until you sort out the message,” she said. “The ‘where’ is secondary until you figure out what are you saying to people and why is it important to them.”

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s Twitter or TikTok,” she added. “What matters is what you have to say and if it solves the problems that your audience has.”

Be action-oriented

In times of crisis and change, Garcia said it’s tempting to stay in the background until things get better. However, she said the best thing to do is act.

“Opportunity is where everyone else is complaining,” she said. “So many people just wait and see and say, ‘I’m just gonna sit back and see how this plays out,’ but that’s the opposite of what you should be doing.”

Garcia said taking action includes determining what your competition isn’t doing and filling that void for buyers and sellers. “There is always opportunity when everyone else is complaining and there’s always a problem that you can solve and a message that is going to hit the mark,” she explained.

Focus on your niche

Garcia said the most successful agents during a crisis have learned how to be invaluable to their current sphere.

“People tend to spread their net really wide and they try to market to everyone,” she said. “‘I’m going to talk to everybody, I’m going to dump everybody in my database, I’m just going to yell louder, and talk to more people,’ but the reality is, is that you’re actually going to be more effective and more successful if you narrow the circle.”

“I promise that you will actually be more successful if you can really narrow that focus, and be 100 percent irreplaceable and irresistible option to a specific group,” she added.

Stay a step ahead of your consumers

Garcia said agents must think of themselves as a sherpa guiding their buyers and sellers up a mountain. “The guide didn’t walk behind me and didn’t walk beside me,” she said of a past climbing trip. “He walked ahead and said, ‘Step here and step here.'”

To stay ahead, Garcia said agents must answer the questions consumers don’t know they should ask. “You must identify the question they’re not asking,” she said. “That is super valuable.”

Personalize your marketing with data

Garcia said data is the greatest tool in personalizing your marketing approach. “Data is always important, but in times of change, data becomes 1000 times more important,” she said.

Don’t assume, ask questions

Although it’s nerve-wracking to ask your sphere for evaluations of your work, Garcia said it’s the single best way to start conversations and create solutions that your buyers and sellers need.

“Ask your audience questions like, ‘Where am I succeeding? How could I do better? How can I help you? What do you need? What don’t you know?'” she said. “The reality is that asking questions is the very best way to start conversations.”

Ditch automation for genuine connections

Garcia said a lot of realtors have come to rely on an automated marketing process; however, the best thing they can do right now is turn off the automated social media and email campaigns and make real connections.

“What we need to be is more human and less automated and most importantly, we’ve got to focus on the customers we already have,” she said. “Rather than going out trying to automate the process of generating leads, you’ve got to learn to love the ones you’re with.”

“Most of your transactions are always going to come from people that already know, like, and trust you,” she added.

Be concise and be relevant

On average, agents only have 2.7 seconds to capture buyers’ and sellers’ attention. Instead of wasting that time with memes or controversial messaging, Garcia said agents need to focus on being bold.

“I want to encourage you in your marketing in times of change and crisis and chaos, to be bold,” she said. “But what this doesn’t mean is getting on a soapbox for 2.7 seconds and being mean and insensitive.”

“Being bold doesn’t mean controversial either,” she added. “For those of you that have been taught to poke the bear, and to get attention and to use clickbait, that is not good marketing.”

For Garcia, being bold is about delivering memorable and relevant messaging that helps consumers and answers their most pressing questions.

“[When you do this], people are going to remember you, they are going to talk about you, they are going to keep calling you and your content is consistently going to be relevant,” she concluded. “Your marketing messaging is going to work.”

Email Marian McPherson

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