Marketing that repulses the intended audience is much worse than marketing with no redeeming qualities, writes Laura Viñalet. Your marketing should be strategic, purposeful and professional. Here are seven major marketing turnoffs that you should avoid.

In March’s Marketing and Branding Month, we’ll go deep on agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow, Realtor.com and more. Top CMOs of leading firms drop by to share their newest tactics, too. And to top off this theme month, Inman is debuting a brand new set of awards for branding and marketing leaders in the industry called Marketing All-Stars.

As a real estate professional looking to stay ahead of the competition, solid marketing tactics are your lifeblood. In contrast, bad marketing is, at best, a mild client repellant. 

As if I had planned it, I received an abysmal postcard mid-writing this article from a local real estate agent. With over six fonts used, a missing hierarchy of text sizes, capital letters used throughout, mixed messaging, and an array of random colors used, I immediately thought this postcard single-handedly proved the need for this article.

Marketing that repulses the intended audience is much worse than marketing with no redeeming qualities. Although you should engage in marketing, it should be strategic, purposeful and professional. Here are seven major marketing turnoffs that you should avoid.

Turn-off 1: Listings that lack quality photos or 3D virtual tours

Yes, you heard me, 3D virtual tours. What once was a luxury is now a must-have. Buyers don’t have the time to waste, and that’s perfect because neither do you. A 3D tour allows potential buyers to virtually explore a property without needing an in-person showing. The old adage stands true: Time is money.

There is no need to physically tour every property once the technology effectively qualifies the buyer. Give access to buyers by providing as much visual information as possible, including high-quality photography, 3D virtual tours, floorplans, and even a cellphone-recorded tour posted by you on YouTube

Nothing has buyers passing on a potential home faster than bad images. In the previous market, homes sold before being photographed, but that excuse won’t fly today. Don’t rely on only a few photos or unprofessional pics shot on your phone.

Ensure your phone rings by giving buyers quality photos, a 3D tour, a recorded walkthrough, and even a floor plan when possible. After all, a good picture is worth a thousand words.

Turn-off 2: A poorly written listing description that lacks details

Suppose you are like most agents; then sitting down to write a listing description is the equivalent of writing a two-page, single-spaced report on the sleeping patterns of the green-tortoise beetle. Instead of staring at a blank screen, you make the mistake of writing a few sentences in capital letters using an overabundance of exclamation marks.

After all, getting the home in the MLS as fast as possible will produce better results, right? Wrong. Homebuyers don’t want to waste time visiting a home they aren’t at least 80 percent sure will work for them. An illustrative home description helps buyers fill the gaps in the visuals provided.

A compelling and informative home listing description can heavily influence a buyer’s decision to tour a property, driving demand that ultimately results in a faster sale for a higher dollar amount. A good listing description tells a story, highlights unique features, and includes a call to action.

Turn-off 3: Always selling, never being authentic

Real estate agents must understand that always being in selling mode can be a turn-off for homebuyers and sellers. In today’s world, where authenticity rules the day, real estate agents who are not will appear insincere and pushy. Agents should build relationships with their audience by providing valuable, original content that offers value and solves problems.

By taking a more organic approach, you can establish yourself as a trusted expert and gain the trust of potential clients. Once this trust has been established, targeted selling can be much more effective, leading to higher commissions and more successful transactions. Discussing your latest birding escapades will attract more leads than shouting about your new listing. 

Turn off 4: Ignoring online reviews

Nothing says I don’t care, like ignoring positive and negative reviews. Positive reviews can enhance a real estate agent’s credibility and trustworthiness, especially when answered. Show clients that care enough to leave a positive review about how nice it was to work with them and thank them sincerely for their words. This shows you are listening, thankful and available.

Online reviews can significantly impact your reputation and, ultimately, your business as they are increasingly becoming an influential factor in the decision-making processes for potential clients (notably, millennials and Gen-Z). Potential clients will likely move on if they stumble upon that unanswered negative review, not worth the risk.

Agents who answer a negative review within 24 hours of receiving it demonstrate that they are available and ready to help customers, even those who aren’t satisfied. Potential clients want to know that you will be readily available to help them; show them by always responding to reviews

Turn-off 5: Using social media as a billboard 

Besides sending me an abysmal postcard that nearly caused my eyes to bleed, one of the worst marketing offenses is using social media like an interstate billboard. Real estate agents often use social media to showcase their properties and services.

Here is the big secret: It doesn’t work.

First, social media is supposed to make it easier to engage with people, not shamelessly advertise. Social media users want to avoid being inundated with advertisements and promotional content, particularly if they may not actively seek real estate services when they encounter these posts.

No matter the platform, you will be penalized for this; their job is to ensure all users are delighted by the content they see, otherwise, they’ll get bored with the platform. If they get any sign that you are pushing out spammy posts, they’ll take your posts out of circulation, and you’ll be left shouting alone. 

Instead of turning off your prospects, engage with them. Social media users are more likely to engage with informative, entertaining or emotionally compelling content. Therefore, focus on creating valuable and engaging content that can capture your prospect’s attention and provide them with helpful information rather than simply promoting listings. Don’t be afraid to share personal stories, but just keep it professional. 

Turn-off 6: Cold calling over TikTok

Real estate agents are extremely busy. I sympathize. I do. However, if you tell me you’ve got time to make two-hours worth of cold calls, you have time for TikTok. Did you know that TikTok has become a popular platform for real estate agents to showcase their properties? Compared to cold calling, TikTok reigns supreme.

Agents using TikTok can create engaging video content that is easily shareable and can use it to showcase a property’s unique features and even a virtual tour to help buyers get a better understanding. TikTok’s solid algorithm enables you to reach a much larger audience than you can on the phone.

The algorithm is designed to promote relevant and engaging content, making it much easier for agents to reach potential buyers interested in properties. TikTok isn’t only valid for buyers in the market but also for sellers, which provides insights to sellers and builds credibility before they decide to list their homes. 

Agents should leverage the phone. But time is a scarce resource, and if TikTok is going to generate more leads and your target audience is there, save time on cold calls. If your audience is older, cold calls might rule the day.

Turn-off 7: Unprofessional marketing materials 

Here is one that necessitates no explanation. A poorly designed postcard, email, listing brochure or any marketing material is the equivalent of wearing shorts and flip-flops to a black-tie event. Any marketing you produce reflects your brand; a poorly designed flyer, brochure or website will give the impression that you need to be more serious about your job. It will reflect badly on the agent’s expertise, professionalism and commitment level. 

The only message unprofessional marketing pieces send is: “Stay away.” If you use amateur-looking materials to promote a home, expect lower offers and fewer people through the door. Because I’m on a role with proverbs, let’s throw in you get what you pay for. 

Professional marketing materials effectively communicate your message, increase the property’s value and generate considerable interest among your prospects. 

Show your potential clients you are committed, and as a bonus, outshine your competition. 

Bad marketing can repel potential clients. I’ve outlined the top seven turn-offs that are a problem for real estate professionals. As an agent, be careful that your marketing always works for you and not against you. By avoiding these blunders, you can establish yourself as a trusted expert, build relationships with potential clients, and drive demand.

Laura Viñalet is the CEO of Keenability, a marketing agency specializing in lifestyle marketing that targets the affluent buyer. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

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