Have you ever watched a stranger search for a home on an iPad on an airplane?
I have. It was quite the eye-opener.
While travelling a couple months ago, I sat next to a woman, who I presumed to be on a business trip as well. Stylishly dressed, perfectly accessorized, and with an iPad case I admired, I couldn’t help but glance the two seats over as she turned on her electronic device at the first signal.
She got down to business. Within seconds she had Google search, Trulia, Zillow, Craigslist, and HotPads opened on Safari, and with a notepad nearby she would view properties, scribble notes, save screen shots of homes, narrow results to different price ranges and neighborhoods. She was on a mission and doing her homework! Had I been a real estate agent this would have been the perfect opportunity for me to start a casual conversation. Afterall, she was searching my area, in neighborhoods I knew, and if I couldn’t help her, I certainly knew who could. Of course…I stayed undercover and left her alone.
But I started to think about how many opportunities like these are missed in our online connections. Are we watching, paying attention, and finding ways to connect? Could we find ways to save perfect strangers from their exhaustive, impersonal home searches, by offering up some casual online conversation while giving them what they need to make a decision. I think so.
In an era of finding short cuts via social media, casting our fishing lines as far as we can reach, where are we directing our customers? To an awkward profile on a real estate search portal? To five different cheaply built websites? And God forbid..your last brokerages office website from two years ago? We can do better. Because you ARE better than what represents you online. Here are a few ways to make it happen, and the good thing is, it doesn’t cost you anything!.
Personify your Brand. It’s all about you…sort of.
1. Get real! Know who you are.
You are your company. But first, you are an individual, a human. So are your customers. If you sit down and review your mission, vision, and values you reveal the real you. You’ll have clarity about what you are passionate about, and you can find a variety of ways to brand your business around the things you care most about. Goals and strategies have a focus and purpose. Second-guessing yourself becomes a thing of the past, and your expertise shines. You go with your gut, you stick to your guns, and you do what’s good for your business and more importantly, your customers.
2. Know who your clients are.
They are out there. Start thinking about them. They are your audience, your brand advocates, the ones who share what you know. The more specific you are with your audience and the content you provide, the better equipped you’ll be to design your website, know where to spend time on social media, know what apps to get, and you’ll know what marketing resonates with your perfect client.
3. Listen, then speak their language.
Real estate industry news, market stats, mortgage rates and other industry speak can be overwhelming to someone who doesn’t live it everyday. Don’t let that be your way of speaking to your audience. Speak the language they use, and break it down in ways they can understand. Use your voice.
- Do you know what they want?
- What questions do they need answered?
- Where are they looking for answers?
- Are they really getting their answers from your Facebook page?
- Can you organize information in a way that helps them through their buying or selling cycle?
- Do they prefer video and photos, or downloadable PDF reports?
- What type of customer do you work best with?
4. Be your own e-journalist.
Having the mind-set of a journalist keeps your content marketing fun! Find fresh ways to make a point, dig up a story, and put your take on what is going on in your community..not just your business. When you aren’t busy, get out from behind your computer and tell your customers what is going on in your neck of the woods. Mix that with great LOCAL real estate information to create value and trust even before your customer has picked up the phone. Just looking at photos of listings and homes isn’t enough.
5. Be easy to find! Create your hub, concierge center, information booth, or community central.
Build and invest in, the ONE place where clients should be directed to find you. ONE! All of the content you place there should feed the other places you can be found. That should be your website/blog. Period. Secondary to that, should be your social media outlets. Your social media efforts should not be the driving force of your online marketing…it should just reveal it. Let your online hub be the lighthouse that beckons and directs your customers to you. Even if they find you on Facebook or Twitter, let them be WOWED when they hit your website. Tell them what you are planning on adding to your site, what news is coming up in the community, give them reasons to come back. Don’t try to reach everyone in the world. Start within, and build out. This builds your digital footprint.
6. Never give up an opportunity to engage directly.
Now, it’s more refreshing than ever to have direct meaningful connection. Some call it “high-touch, not high tech”. From hand-written notes, coffee meetings, and neighborhood tours, sometimes the smallest encounters can make the difference. Don’t give up those opportunities.
I would have struck up a conversation with the woman on the plane. I think I would have asked her more questions about her home-shopping experience to see what she thought of it all.