The market has shifted and left many agents feeling a little lost, strained, and realizing that they may in fact be poorly trained for longer marketing campaigns. It’s time to get serious about content creation, true costs and how to make sure that you don’t lose more of your audience as you change gears.
Your agents are likely looking to you for advice, direction, and more effective ways to communicate how the market is changing to their audience.
Before you sit down and plan out your next agenda for your next team meet-up, you will need to focus on three areas to make sure your team knows what to say, how to say it and what their new mission is to finish out the year.
What’s the message, and who is it for?
There are two messages that the marketing team needs to focus on.
Who we are, what we love and how we are doing business.
What is going on, educational points and local sales data.
The tone of your content will need a steady supply of guidance from you and your leadership. Send your marketing team current data and quotes from articles you like along with personal, authentic quotes from you to use in your market messaging.
If you have not defined your audiences before, now is the time to do it. Each piece of content should have an assigned audience. Examples of categories would be branding, sales, education, customer service, recruiting and community.
Quality over quantity: Invest in high-quality content that increases engagement
Photos and videos often perform over graphics with consumers. We all love a good graphic or meme, but consumers want to see you, not stock photography or pie charts.
Your marketing team is going to be better tasked with helping you edit one video, write copy for one great photo and boost it with advertising once a week, than they are posting low engagement, algorithm flagging graphics that with your face on them seven days a week.
If you want your content to have the best shot, make sure it is optimized from the beginning of the creation process and boosted so that your entire audience (and hopefully more) can make sure it sees the light of day.
You and your team may be tempted to cut corners, but it can look unprofessional and can cause further harm to an unengaged audience, or worse yet turn off potential new clients that are shopping around. Going cheap on your marketing presence is not a good look in any market, but it’s a signal something is wrong in a down market.
Examples of cutting corners with content
- Tasking your assistant to make quick, low-engagement content when it is not their specialty
- Using stock photos that are not only obviously stock, but also not diversity-friendly
- Using only free content
- Quickly writing listing descriptions that are riddled with spelling errors, using all caps and that include potential fair housing violations; these do not reflect your listing or your business in the best light
- Failing to advertise or announce an open house in advance
- Not taking the time to listen to your marketing team about improvements
- Not reviewing analytics or understanding website traffic
- Mistaking leads and referrals as the only metric for effective engagement
- Having broken links on ads you build yourself
- Comparing your current budget and content plan to an agent or team that has a budget 3X yours and asking your marketing team to create similar results
- Giving a higher priority to junk food or vanity content than to content that can engage the audience
- Suddenly jamming all social networks with too many low-value messages, which can be confusing and annoying
Longer days on market mean that your listing will need stronger resources and collateral to sell, not DIY content. You may need to work out a smaller package with your professional photographer, but don’t be tempted to go into the listing with your smartphone and DIY it. Consumers and your competition will know.
If you cut staff and put more marketing tasks on untrained agents on your team, this can backfire. If brand consistency, monitoring and content creation are important to your business, you need someone with a dedicated focus on it.
Even independent contractors need guidance and assistance using brand kits and marketing collateral. If you cut corners and cut staff the “weight of the work” will be shifted elsewhere.
Business building tip
Put your energy and attention into one solid marketing message a week if you are short on time, cash and energy. Building content takes time and practice. Make sure it is the best quality you can provide for your brand and your customers. The key here is to understand the lifecycle of content.
Content is created, and then it is posted to perform. If all of your investment is in the lead-up and not the follow-through, the content cycle will always be broken.
Someone has to be paying attention to ads, Google Alerts, customer reviews, engagement and commenting on your marketing. Hackers, spammers, trolls, and just bored commenters can wreck a very expensive marketing effort with a few keystrokes.
Make sure to either monitor the ads yourself or have clear boundaries about how and when another individual is monitoring your content. Babysitting ads is serious business and if you don’t want to burn out your already overburdened assistant make sure you have a flexible plan in place.
Business building tip
Housing ads are very sensitive and often face rejections. Use a pro to help you build ads and make sure your broker takes a look at any advertising before you put a budget behind it.
Make sure you are using fewer graphics, less text and avoid using any copyrighted music. If you need affordable pre-built ads, Homesnap and Back At You Media are my two favorite budget-friendly and Realtor-specific tools that have consistent and measurable results.
What the heck is going on out there?
Over the past few weeks I have seen an increase in advertising with negative comments from consumers because the message is not authentic, includes toxic positivity, or is simply not “reading the room” for the financial hardships many are facing.
Don’t use canned content unless you know the message is aligned with the current market conditions.
For example, one person was running a canned ad about low rates with no context. As you can imagine the comments were out of control, and the ad had been running for days unmonitored. One person went as far as to find the agent’s personal profile and copy and paste a swimwear photo of them in the comments!
Fast facts and changes
- Currently, reach on Facebook and Instagram without a small ad budget is about 5 percent.
- If you cannot monitor, do not boost. (This could save your reputation, which is priceless.)
- Create a template for your branding and stick with it for a season.
- Invest in high-quality content creators to get the most ROI for your budget possible. Low-quality content is burning a hole in your time/budget balance right now.
- Aim to make as few revisions as possible on content that has a short shelf life.
- If something has a short shelf life, and it performs poorly, don’t be afraid to take it down.
- Story content will build reach better than timeline and grid content.
- Lean into building content about the areas you work in and away from asking for referrals.
- No gloom and doom, but don’t sugarcoat it either. Consumers want to hear real local data from you that is transparent and sincere.
- Budget-saving content and tips can be helpful and engaging when you are light on listings and closings.
- Support other small businesses in your community by connecting with and creating content.
- If you are creating content yourself, remember less is more when it comes to graphics and videos. Adopt a minimalist approach to keep things clean.
- In graphic design, the more elements you have in play the more room there is for errors and visual clutter.
- Ask your sales team what types of content would be helpful to them.
You will need to be there more for your marketing team. You need to get involved if you want your marketing to be personal.
Focus more on the audience and the information they need to find what they are looking for or meet their own goals. Remember your digital online presence is often the first place where consumers can build a meaningful connection with you.
Potential clients want to get to know you, and they also need to see examples of how you are going to professionally sell their home, not just how you find different ways to call attention to yourself. Downmarket marketing is humble, has a little less ego, and really dials into showing that you love working in real estate.
Rachael Hite sold real estate in Virginia and West Virginia for seven years with a specialization in short sales and foreclosures. She has been an office manager, an agent, mortgage marketing consultant and continuing education trainer for agents since 2012. She currently specializes in private business development and digital marketing services for top producing agents and businesses in the housing industry.