When I visit any city, I pay close attention to the local real estate marketing — the TV spots, radio ads, billboards, you name it. I usually look forward to hearing the diverse messages from different agents, team leaders and brokers. But on a recent trip to Denver, I couldn’t help but notice how everything sounded the same.
“The market has never been hotter!”
“No one sells more houses in [city] than [agent]!”
“If we can’t sell your home, we’ll buy it!”
Every ad in every medium said virtually the same thing, over and over again, in the exact same way. Denver isn’t alone. From coast to coast, I’ve noticed that so much real estate marketing is blending into white noise.
How did we get here?
The sameness in real estate advertising is actually a symptom of a bigger problem: commoditization. As third-party companies monopolize leads, technology levels the playing field, and consumers find themselves in the driver’s seat, agents are feeling the squeeze.
How do you provide real and lasting value instead of being seen as a generic middleman? How do you provide the convenience that consumers expect in ordering everything from lunch to a new car and having it delivered instantly to their door? How do you cut through a cluttered marketing climate to reach a chronically technology-distracted audience?
More and more, real estate professionals are turning to the same gimmicks — especially during the long seller’s market we’ve seen during the pandemic. These tactics might move the needle in the short term, but they’re temporary.
To build a platform for the future, your marketing needs to follow three simple principles.
1. Be more relational, less transactional
Current real estate marketing is hyper-focused on transactions and treats residential real estate as a pure numbers game. That works on some consumers, but it plays right into the hands of the “commodity” narrative.
If you want to be sound like everyone else and be seen as providing only short-term value, talk about lower commissions or splitting profits on sales over-asking. If you want to stand out, speak to the relationship with each consumer and their community, and say something bigger.
I’ve found that real success comes when you reach both transactional and relational customers in the same ad.
Our bus and train wraps reach transactional customers with our “Guaranteed Offer” message. But they also reach relational customers who see a bright red wrap with a larger-than-life arms-out image of a guy in a blue shirt and think, “If this guy is so invested in his own marketing, he probably knows how to market my home.”
Those customers tend to stay with you and recommend you to other people.
2. Make deposits, not withdrawals
The shift in messaging at the beginning of the pandemic in the spring of 2020 will go down in history as a case study in “deposits versus withdrawals.”
So many businesses — real estate and beyond — shifted to asking for business. They made withdrawals. The businesses that cut through found creative ways to give back. Even in the toughest times, they made deposits.
Take the owners of a company in the Twin Cities called Purpose Driven Restaurants. When faced with restaurant closures, they saw an opportunity to help. They started a nonprofit called Give Hope and donated more than 2 million pounds of food, from groceries piled on tables in front of their restaurants to meals they delivered.
In an industry with infamously thin margins, they also routinely give 3 percent of their profits to charity. I wasn’t surprised to see that they’re now opening even more restaurants.
3. Take a ‘feel, felt, found’ approach
This is a classic sales technique that works when it stems from a genuine sense of empathy. I can’t count how many times Kris Lindahl Real Estate sent emails over the past year that followed the pattern of saying, “We’ve noticed that a lot of you feel a certain way. We totally understand, and we often feel that way, too. But what we’ve found is that there’s a different way to look at things. And when you do, great opportunities open up.”
At some point, we all need to toot our own horns. KLRE has done our fair share of that. We talk about rankings, growth and other accolades because it helps establish credibility and trust.
But what we’ve found is that seeing the world from the perspective of our customers cuts through other messaging and opens up great opportunities. (See what I did there?)
Bottom line: Sameness presents an opportunity
People often talk about the famous Apple “1984” Super Bowl ad, and for good reason. It’s one of the most successful TV commercials of all time, and it only ran once.
Why did it work so well? Because it followed the three principles above. It went against the grain of the commoditized PC world. It said, “Our computers don’t control you; they help you express yourself.” And it was a relational message that made a deposit and felt empathetic.
If you can do the same, then you won’t sound like everyone else. And you’ll win the marketing battle.
Kris Lindahl is the founder of Kris Lindahl Real Estate and MarketingTeam.com, the No. 1 team-owned independent real estate brokerage in Minnesota and Wisconsin and No. 12 nationwide.