Every realtor follows the same patterns.
Buying magazine and newspaper ads. Hosting a weekend open house. Making sure Zillow is updated. Adding properties to listing sites and social media pages. Putting a sign in front of the property. Maybe laying out some flyers or business cards around town.
There’s nothing wrong with a realtor doing these things, don’t get me wrong.
They do them because they work and generate a profit.
The problem comes when realtors use these strategies as their crutch and depend on them to be their life blood.
Especially in a tough market or with unique properties.
They continue using these strategies… which are the exact same strategies their competition is using… but they somehow hope for or expect better results.
And while we’d all like to think that wanting or hoping for something bad enough means it will manifest itself in our lives, we all know that it logically isn’t true.
So if you’ve got a property that you’d like to sell or get rented out ASAP… even if that property’s been sitting on the market for ages, you can whip these tactics out of your back pocket and just watch closing after closing after closing start to happen.
Come up with some new ideas.
These real estate marketing strategies will help you stand out, get attention, get remembered, and more importantly… close any deal as quickly as possible.
(And better yet? Most of them work for both residential and commercial properties.)
1. Target Life Events on Facebook
We all love bragging about our life events on Facebook.
Almost as soon as they happen, we’re broadcasting them to the world.
It’s to the point that for “proof” we now say things like “Pics or it didn’t happen” or “It’s not official until it’s Facebook official.”
We joke about it, but we do mean it.
But people openly and willingly announcing their major life events on a social platform that gives advertisers access to this data is pure gold for someone a realtor working in residential real estate.
Think about it.
Because the vast majority of these major life events mean that people will need to make sure they’ve got the right space to accommodate these new life changes.
Life events like:
- Moving to a new city
- Announcing a pregnancy or a birth
And if you sign up for Facebook as an advertiser, you have access to target all of these life events within the geographic area you serve with your real estate business.
So if you specialize in inexpensive apartment rentals?
You can target a campaign towards young, single professionals under the age of 30 who’ve just moved to the city. (Probably because a job brought them there.)
If you specialize in starter-level homes for new families?
Engagements, marriages, and pregnancy announcements are going to be your thing.
And yes, you can have different ads show to the different life events: one set of ads for engagements, one set of ads for marriages, and another for pregnancy or baby announcements.
Here, WordStream shows us how to find these life events when setting up your targeting for a Facebook ad.
2. Invest in an Emotion-Invoking Copywriter
I just pulled this description for a $529k home off realtor.com:
“Location, Location, Location! North Asheville ranch! 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, hardwood floors, built-ins & private, landscaped back yard. New roof, HVAC, & electrical. Charming, slated porch off family room!”
In this particular location and neighborhood, the price is higher than average, and the pictures of the living room with old, ugly, outdated wood paneling certainly aren’t doing anything to get prospective buyers in touch with the realtor about this house.
Sure, the location is nice, but if you can get a more or less equal home for over $100k less in the same neighborhood… what gives?
If you want people to even consider this house, which is obviously going to be a pretty tough sell at that price point, you’re going to have to hook potential buyers with more than just a list of features, photos, and that description.
Since the features won’t change and that wood paneling in the living room is also probably there to stay, you’re going to have to dig really deep to find some emotionally-hooking phrases to get the attention of someone who’s clicked through. You want them to really look at the house and make sure that they remember that house over the 10 others they explored in that one online shopping session.
So what if the description read something like this instead?
“Less than a 10-minute drive from all the funkiness of downtown, this ranch-style home in North Asheville sits near the center of the Grove Park area of the city… directly in between the two major country clubs, next to some of the best up-and-coming restaurants. The quiet neighborhood is a retreat, but you’re only ever a few minutes away from the best Asheville has to offer.
The home itself has 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, and the most charming little porch that acts as an extension for the rustic, truly ranch-style family room. It’s country-meets-city in all the best ways.
The back yard that extends from the porch has been carefully landscaped to showcase some beautiful flower bushes and to accommodate all kind of fun outdoor activities: spring barbecues, summer water balloon fights, or peacefully soaking in the sun while you drink your coffee on a crisp fall morning.
Plus, with hard wood floors, and a new roof, new electrical, and a new HVAC system, you’ll be set in not having to worry about repairs for a long, long time.”
You see how that makes a difference, don’t you?
Suddenly the reader goes from ticking things off a somewhat existent list in their brains to see if the house is a fit for their family… to actually imagining and getting emotionally attached to the idea of their family in THAT particular space.
Suddenly, they’re way more interested and you start getting more and more calls for showings.
Coming up with this kind of description may not be your cup of tea, but hiring a copywriter that specializes in emotion-invoking phrasing like this (especially for a property you think will be a harder sell) will pay for itself way more quickly than you’d imagine.
Pssst…. I know I gave a residential example here, but this works equally well for commercial listings. Business people are NOT just cold-blooded creatures in suits. They’re humans and have emotions too.
3. Retarget Web Viewers with Property Images & Emotional Ad Copy
Alright, so someone looked at your website page for a specific property but didn’t fill out your form to get in touch with you?
No problem. Not all is lost.
When people are shopping for a new home or a new office space, it’s really common that they check the market for all different kinds of options before they start getting in touch with realtors about a showing.
It’s a normal behavior that you can capitalize on to make sure your listings get sold or rented out quickly…. via retargeting.
I’ll keep the technical explanation of how this works really brief:
If you have a listing you want to sell or rent fast, you can rig that listing with what’s called a retargeting pixel.
This pixel gets attached to visitors who spend time on that page checking out the listing.
When the people who’ve seen that listing are browsing the web—reading other websites or scrolling through their Facebook feed, for example—they’ll see ads for the property they’ve already checked out because they’ve been pixeled.
And beyond the visual recognition and reminder of what the property actually looks like, you can use this retargeting to evoke the same emotions you evoked with your description copy on your listing’s page.
In a case study done by Think With Google, one luxury watch company saw a 1300% ROI with their remarketing strategies within just six months.
If this sounds like an interesting strategy you’d like to try, but you’ve got no idea where to start, here’s some links to check out:
Disclaimer: You only have the power to pixel people on websites you own. But it’s still a really, really effective strategy.
4. Take Prospects Out on the Town
If you’ve got a prospect for a commercial or residential listing who’s interested in the property itself but isn’t 100% sold on the location, take them out on the town.
Find out the sort of activities they like and the kind of local amenities that are important to them, and take them around to sit in and experience some cool places within reasonable distance of the property.
For example, if a company is looking for a new office space but wants to make sure there’s a good selection of bars with happy hours for their employees to enjoy after work, take them out to a couple different bars close to the office space during happy hour.
Or if a home buyer wants to make sure she’s close to a variety of freelancer-friendly coffee shops and coworking spaces, buy her a couple of passes to the coworking spaces or give her a gift card or two to some of the best coffee shops for freelancers next to the home she’s considering.
Actually getting a buyer’s’ feet wet in the neighborhood of a property they’re considering helps them imagine their life beyond their living space, which for most buyers, is equally important to the time they’ll spend indoors.
Actual, first-hand experience builds up a knowledge base within your prospect’s mind that can never be replaced by simply telling them about things and showing them pictures
“Someone telling you about how something tastes, in effect, giving you a vocabulary for describing tastes, is not of great value,” said Roger C. Schank in a 1995 technical report called What We Learn When We Learn By Doing for Northwestern University’s Institute for the Learning Sciences.
“The experiences that build up a knowledge base cannot be obtained vicariously,” he went on. “One must have experiences, not hear about them. The reasons for this are simple. Hearing about them means that the teller has crystallized his own experiences, shortened them, summarized them, and in effect has taken from them the material of indexing, the stuff from which we can build our own index. One cannot index on someone else’s experience largely because that experience, as transmitted, will omit many of the details that are the fodder for indexing.”
5. Hold an SMS Campaign With Your “For Sale” or “For Lease” Signs
Putting a “For Sale” or “For Lease” sign is probably already one of your first to-do items any time you get a new property in your portfolio.
And that sign probably already has ways for people to get in touch with you about it or to learn more about it… It probably lists your website, your phone number, and maybe even your email address.
But you can take that typical “For Sale” sign to the next level by using it as a lead-gathering magnet for an SMS campaign.
You’ve seen those things that say “Text ‘Coupon’ to 800-555-1234 to save 10%,” haven’t you?
If you live in any remotely civilized area in 2016, the answer is yes. You’ve seen them.
And these things are effective.
More effective than apps, even.
Because not everyone in the US has a smartphone, but almost everyone does have a mobile phone with SMS capabilities.
And on average, 90% of all SMS messages are read within 3 minutes of being received. I couldn’t find data on how long it takes to check app notifications, but if my behavior is any indicator, it’s a little longer.
With that said, creating a mobile app is still a viable way to promote your real estate business.
PLUS, not only do they prompt people to get in touch with you in a relatively non-committal way, it also gives you their phone number so you can, get this, actively reach out to them.
And I don’t mean scaring them away by calling them the instant you see that they’ve texted you for more info.
Because that’s just creepy.
Instead, I mean feeding them information about the property over a series of days, and then making a call or sending a message to see if they’d like to arrange a viewing.
For example, if you’re selling an office space in a popular downtown area, you could put your sign in front of the office building that says something like “For photos of the property, text ‘Pics’ to 555-1234.”
Then, as promised, you respond to their text message with a few photos of the property and information on the property’s specs.
Over the course of a few days, send them more pictures (different ones, of course) along with interesting pieces of information about the property itself and the neighborhood it’s in.
This is a non-invasive way of selling, each text has the opportunity to opt out if they think the property isn’t for them, but it’s also highly personal because it’s information delivered to their phone… one of the only devices in life equally as important as their house keys.
The backend of how this all works is a little too complicated to get into in this blog post, but to be honest, you probably won’t even have to worry about that.
There’s lots of softwares that can help you get this done easily, including:
Or ZDNet has a DIY approach combining Google Voice and Gmail.
6. Video Footage of the Space
Recording high-quality video footage of a space works really well with remote home buyers who want to set up viewings before they get to town, or with renters of higher-end vacation properties.
Video (with a professional camera crew, not your smart phone and a selfie stick) showcases the space in a way even the best pictures simply can’t.
It shows you (or someone else who’s really great in front of the camera) moving through the space, fitting into the space, and enjoying it.
It shows how things work together practically and helps people imagine themselves living out their lives (whether it’s their personal life, their work life, or their vacation) in that exact space.
It gets them emotionally attached to it pace and piques their interest to get in touch with you about coming to see it or booking it.
One of my favorite examples of this was when Eat Pray Love author Elizabeth Gilbert decided to sell her home.
She hired a videographer to follow her around and outside of her house while she talked about all the wonderful and enchanting aspects of it.
In the video, she’s happy, she’s open, she’s fun, and she’s relatable. And she clearly loves the house, which shows.
And while you watch the video, even if you live nowhere near New England or that kind of price range is out of your budget, you can totally imagine yourself living there, can’t you?
7. AirBNB for Buying Prospects
Before we buy a car, we test drive it.
Before we buy a new pair of shoes, we try them on our feet & walk up and down the retail aisle.
But before we buy a property, often the only “trying” we do is spending 30 minutes walking around the inside and outside of a house, forcing ourselves to quickly imagine what our life would be like there.
We never actually try a new space on for size until we’ve actually sunk a mortgage worth hundreds of thousands of dollars into it.
Which thinking about it, seems a little crazy, doesn’t it?
So why not let your buying prospects try out the new space and “live” there for a few days and nights?
Of course, this is something you’d have to clear with the current owners, but if they’re ready to have their property sold yesterday, this can be a great approach to get them on board with.
The idea is you list the space on AirBNB and let a buyer—or the buyer’s family—“rent” the space on the platform for a nominal fee.
They come in, unpack a small bag in a bedroom, watch TV, drink coffee on the porch, leave to go to work, come home from work, go on a sunset walk around the neighborhood, and get a real feel of how enchanted their life could be in that space.
Not only does it drive home the point that the space is desirable, functional and worth the asking price, but it also taps into the buyer’s emotion via the physical experience of actually experiencing daily life there.
The underlying psychology here goes back to the quote from Roger C. Schank in section #4 about taking your potential buyers out on the town.
It builds up their own personal knowledge base of the place instead of relying on what they hear you (the realtor) and the current owners say.
And by giving them a first-hand experience that’s way more “real” than just a walk-through, it creates more of an emotional attachment to the property you’re trying to sell than any other property they’d be considering with their purchase.
8. Host a Biz-Friendly Event in the Space
If you’re selling or renting a commercial property, though, letting a business “rent” the space for a set number of days doesn’t make any sense… it wouldn’t even be worth it for the buyer who’d have to invest loads of time moving office equipment back & forth.
Instead, you can take a spin on the open house idea and host an actual event in the space that caters to the kind of businesses who’d be ideal for the space, or people whom you know could refer the right businesses to you.
For example, if you have a small property that’d be ideal for a small, boutique agency of 5-10 people, host a free networking luncheon in the space with a basic buffet.
Send invitations out to local owners of growing small agencies and to the coaches, accountants, and consultants that work with these agencies to come, network with each other, and check out the space.
Make sure to mention during the event that you’ve sponsored it, what you do as a real estate professional to help these types of businesses, that the space you’re standing in is available, and what kind of perks come with the space and its location.
9. Sell the Neighborhood, Not the Property
Just like in idea #4, we’re focusing more on the neighborhood the property is in than the property itself.
As you approach a property with the prospective buyer, make sure you spend plenty of time pointing out all the perks of the neighborhood that lead up to the actual property’s location that you know they’ll be interested in.
If you know they’re foodies, point out all the boutique restaurants and what they’re known for.
If you know they like a good nightlife, point out the bars and clubs.
If art is important to them, point out the music venues, art studios, and nearby galleries.
By doing this, they’re already imagining themselves living life in and enjoying the neighborhood of the property before they even see the property in person.
And particularly if the property is a little less stellar or really isn’t anything “special”, they’ll be able to overlook more of its misgivings than you’d imagine if they’re already so emotionally attached to the neighborhood.
To be clear, this isn’t about tricking buyers into a space they’ll be unhappy with or that won’t work for them… but is more about giving them something that’s perfectly functional and gives them the lifestyle they’re after.
10. Referral Incentive Strategy
And, finally, here we are talking about referrals.
You may already have a referral strategy in place, and if so, you’ve seen how powerful incentives can be for getting leads of the right buyers and renters for your property.
But if you haven’t started a referral strategy, start making a list of people you trust to send you quality referrals. (You know, people who you know won’t waste your time with ill-fitting referrals just for the chance of getting some sort of monetary kickback.)
If you don’t have anyone in your network—or you only have one or two and you want more—you can build out your list intentionally over time.
Think of the kinds of job roles and positions that come in touch with your target market on a regular basis.
For example, if you focus on selling starter homes in your city, you could list out marriage counselors, financial advisors, and mortgage bankers.
Once these people are in your list, start reaching out to them to find ways to get to know them, and if, after a while, you feel like they’d be a good person in your referral network, you could offer them your referral incentives.
In this post on Duct Tape Marketing, Jonathan Fields talks about how he incentivizes new customers while they’re still in the honeymoon phase of a product or service and increased his incoming referrals by 300%
Doing One Thing ‘Outside of the Box’ is Often More Than Enough
Turning a property around—whether you’re responsible to rent it or sell it—can be tough, especially when you’re in a buyer’s market.
But just because the cards are technically stacked against you doesn’t mean selling or renting a property as soon as possible has to be difficult.
Often adapting just one or two of these tactics into your property selling strategy will make a huge difference in how quickly you’re able to get offers and close deals.
What are some of your favorite ideas?