If my prediction is correct, 2013 will become the year you’ll re-embrace the basics of managing and marketing your business. You’ll spend time focusing on only the tools that help elevate and design your customer experiences online and off…from searching for homes, finding an agent, learning about your community, and making emotional decisions in their lives. Your best strategies will revolve around THEM, not around YOU.
I’m taking a bit of a leap outside of my normal tone to offer some observations I hope you’ll consider. We should always look back on 2012 to see what we’ve learned or haven’t, to set the tone for 2013. I spent the greater part of 2012 working with agents and brokers directly. Here are my observations.
Socially active, but fading in relevance?
One thing concerns me: lack of belief in having a web presence. Not just a social presence..a WEB presence. It’s a notion that too many in the real estate industry are starting to latch on to. Many of us put aside our blogs and web content to build a larger, easier, and let’s face it…a more fun, social media presence. We didn’t do the harder work online, because we wanted to be in more places. We could use status updates, tweets, and Foursquare check-ins, and pin pretty pictures, all to communicate that “I am here, I am savvy, and I’m a real estate agent”. This is not ALL bad. But, consider for a moment the possible consequences.
Your fading digital footprint
Search engines love content. What is content? Writing, video and even photos. Having a website or blog that is updated with your quality content will build your digital footprint (the trail you leave behind for people to find you most effectively) Blogs full of great information will help clients find you for YEARS to come on the web. It is the best way for clients to find you. Social media profiles and even the best engagement using these platforms, does not make you stand apart as an expert. Your expertise does. Your story told in your narrative, shared with readers in your style, your values, and even your passions…which is what makes that human connection. Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com. cannot do that for you. For all the times we’ve said…”I don’t have time to do it all”, what you publish on the web, will do the work FOR you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You have an opportunity here!
Lack of quality real estate content
“In an information-hungry world, there will always be a need for expert content. And there will always be more readers and “retweeters” than there will be creators.” Dorie Clark-Harvard Business Review. Think about that for a second. We’ve become experts at curating, or sharing the great bloggers we love. We allow the LOCAL events, photos, lifestyle, problems and solutions for buyer and sellers, to be solved by others who are doing the work. This is what your clients are finding!
Re-invest in your community, build an editorial calendar around the things buyers and sellers care about. Get back to writing, and if you haven’t started yet, start. Your clients expect you know technology, show them something they don’t know.
The Merry-Go-Round effect: A blurred brand that looks like everyone else’s
If you are relying on your Facebook page, your profile, your amount of Twitter followers or, (my goodness) your Klout score to define what an expert you are; it’s not enough. These platforms are in flux, changing algorithms, privacy settings, moving every feature to an outside app, and setting up a confusing mess of disconnected narratives. Your status updates aren’t reaching as many people as you think, and the social media bubble we create for ourselves is all too comfortable. There is no easy way to track the data, who is leaving in droves, the results of your efforts, or to forecast where you should be spending your time. Not only that…everyone else is doing it. Be different. Own your content. Or you’ll still be on the merry-go-round when everyone jumps off. Pay attention.
Mobile will own 2013
If you are still doing social, and don’t understand mobile, you are behind. (remember that merry-go-round you are on?) But, before you learn, try and adopt a new technology, it’s important to know WHY you are doing so.
- What problem does it solve for you or your clients?
- What solutions are your clients looking for?
- HOW are they looking for them?
As always, marketing goals should reflect the needs and consumers of the market and mobile it is! Mobile use is up over 128% in 18 months with more buyers and sellers searching for information on tablets, iPads and smartphones. So, what ARE mobile users seeing when they find you? I hope they find great content, not just a profile. More than that, how does it look on an iPad, an Android phone or a large screen TV?
What are some things you can do now, to make your business stand out in the mobile world or savvy information seekers?
4 ways to claim your space on the web, and make sure everyone can see it!
1. Responsive websites – Responsive websites are websites that adapt viewable content to the screen/device size that the user is using when viewing your site. (See what your site looks like here) When you think about how YOU use your devices..on the couch, in bed on the weekend, from your iPad on the airplane, this is most likely how your clients are searching. If you are a DIY website designer, there are WordPress themes that are responsive, with more and more coming available everyday. If you’re in the market and ready for a new website, ask your web designer about going responsive. Google has an excellent resource on what it means to go mobile.
2. Claim your niche: get back to blogging – Think back to what made you fall in love with the community you live in. What do you love about your neighborhood? What secret do you know that you love to tell visitors about? If you were a news reporter covering your community what would YOUR “beat” be? There are a million ways to bring your market to life, with your expertise of the local real estate market. Find the time to carve your niche, and think about the ways to digitally deliver that information to those that are searching for it. What belongs in a photo? What belongs on a video? What is it about life, home, family, and financial investments that help tell your story? Build that niche, and almost any home you sell will have a story that connects it to a buyer.
3. Mobile optimized email marketing – Email marketing is still a very powerful medium. But like your website, emails are often viewed on mobile devices. If you are using email marketing for newsletters and to keep in touch with clients, find programs that support mobile usage. Responsive is just now starting to hit the developers desks, so it’s harder to find in the standard email marketing programs. But be aware of how the content looks in email.
4. Provide the best tools to communicate with mobile clients – From signing documents, viewing PDF CMA’s, video meetings, and listing photography, the process of getting thing done is also part of the consumer experience of your service expertise. Although these aren’t part of your digital footprint, they easily can be. Customer reviews and testimonials are now part of the consumer search. Prepare the systems you use in customer service into a process that impresses your clients. Find the ones that impress you, and make them yours.
What lessons did you learn in 2012? I would love your feedback to see what challenges you face in 2013!
Need some more 2013 inspiration? Check out these posts:
4 Steps to Goal Setting in 2013-Uncover Your Best Year Yet!
Staging your Real Estate Business – De-clutter, Re-Organize, and Re-Launch in 2013!
10 Ways to Kick-off your 2013 Social Strategy