Chances are that at some point in your life you have, or will, search for a new home or sell your home. This article focuses on the high-level stages that a perspective home buyer or seller go through during this time, not so much the individual tasks involved.
Although more imperative, the process you take as a home buyer is no different than buying any other product from a psychological and procedural standpoint. You still go through the same phases of a sales funnel or process. Let’s take a look at each stage and how it relates to your personal real estate business and website.
People can’t do business with you unless they know about you.
Seems fairly simple right? It’s harder than it sounds, and that’s why so many agents trip at the starting line. Some spend thousands on developing a custom website but put little or no effort into marketing it. That’s like building an amusement park in the middle of the dessert with no signs to lead visitors to your front gate.
Three Quick Tips
- Prepare a monthly budget specifically for marketing your services. Be seen where your target audience is looking. If you’re selling affordable condos in the heart of the city, don’t throw your money at a Yellow Pages or newspaper ad… spend some time on writing quality content on your blog/website to increase your organic traffic from search engines and share it with your social networks. Don’t get the whole social media thing? then hire an expert and pay them to teach you or even manage your accounts.
- Spend your advertising dollars on avenues that you can measure. By running a paid Google AdWords campaign or promoting your best Facebook posts you can see stats like exposure, click-through rate and other engagement metrics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your site, you can see how many unique visitors are coming from your campaigns and stop the campaigns that aren’t converting. You can’t say the same about a bus bench ad.
- Build your network. You’re in the business of relationships, not selling real estate. Don’t sit behind your desk all day… technology can never replace face-to-face networking. If you’re going to be working from your laptop for a few hours, why not do it from a cafe in the neighborhood you’re farming? The benefits are that you’re mingling with the locals and getting a clear understanding of the neighborhood so you’re better equipped to answer questions about it when your buyers ask what it’s like living around there.
Most people won’t do business with you if they don’t like what you have to say.
People prefer to work with experts. People also like to work with other people they trust. As a real estate agent there are a few things you can do to foster both.
Three Quick Tips
- Spend a bit of time writing about the technical process of buying and selling real estate. From getting pre-approved to moving in. You can find most of this information online, but if you put it in your own words not only will you see SEO benefits but you’ll be perceived as the expert in your field.
- Write some unique content about the areas that you’re specializing in. If you’re targeting a small geographical region you should be writing about day-to-day life as a resident. What if I’m browsing your website from China and wondering what it’s like to live in Vancouver? Show me videos, give me links to community events, show me photos, just give me the highlight reel then ask me to contact you for more information. Bonus tip: write this content above an actual niche MLS search that shows active listings in the area. That way I can read all about it, see a video and then browse through actual listings in that area.
- Update your blog and stay on top of your social media profiles. If you’re spreading yourself too thin already, then don’t undertake the task of setting up 5 different social networks. Pick one and be consistent with it. The average consumer comes back time and time again to your website before they contact you. They want to make sure you’re the right fit for their needs… if they’re coming back and seeing no new updates or activity on your website or social media they get the impression that you’re a part-timer.
Most people prefer to work with people that are qualified to fit their specific needs.
If someone is looking to sell their 4 million dollar home they’re probably considering listing it with an agent that has experience in that specific type of market segment (price range, geographical area, etc.). That’s where your prior relationships might not be enough to close the deal. Some people have a life-long business relationship with their REALTOR as long as they’re consistently buying and selling in the types of homes that the agent is familiar with. Once their needs change they may be looking for a new agent. There’s a an ideal agent for every type of client.
Three Quick Tips
- Once your business is gaining traction and you’re no longer scrambling to make ends meet, it’s time to identify your ideal client. Tailor your whole approach to the specific needs of that client and you’ll be more likely to be chosen as their real estate agent over the guy/gal that is spread thin.
- Make multiple websites that focus on specific hyper-local targets. Start by branding and buying a domain name and then build out a community-style website that only deals with one area, sub-area, neighborhood, building, etc. If you’re doing traditional advertising, it’s more effective to be “everywhere” in specific neighborhood.
- Build out a referral network with agents that also focus on their own farm areas. Agents also like to work with other agents that are qualified to meet their clients individual needs.
When a client decides to list their home with you or ask your help in finding their next home; it’s your job to make sure you wow them. A negative experience can truly hurt your reputation and at the end of the day, all you have is your service to set you apart. News of a negative experience can spread like wildfire on social networks and if you’re not a part of the conversation, you could miss out on an opportunity to defend yourself.
Three Quick Tips
- Understand your clients needs. Truly take the time to sit down with your clients and review their life goals and get a deep understanding of why they’ve decided to undergo this step in their lives.
- Once you have a firm understanding of what they want, make sure you’re ruthless in delivering on your promises.
- Make it easy. Generally speaking… people don’t want to think too much, spend too much time or effort and they want to see results. They hired you for your expertise… make the experience enjoyable and easy. You’re the expert, they want your opinion not just your signature.
What’s the lifetime value of a client? How much are you willing to invest to gain that client and maintain your relationship with them? These are important questions that you must ask yourself and truly understand.
Three Quick Tips
- Change your mindset on client acquisition costs. Say that a high-end DSLR camera costs $2000. To the average consumer that’s quite a high up-front cost for a product that makes them no money in return. For a professional photographer, that same camera is an investment and the costs are recuperated within their first few paid gigs, and then its purely profit for the life of that camera. The same exact thing applies to the cost of advertising your real estate business and acquiring a new client. You can’t simply calculate your ROI based on the first commission cheque and cost of acquisition. In most cases, that same client will give you their business for the next real estate transaction they’re involved in a few years down the line. How do you account for that? Suddenly paying for marketing doesn’t seem like such a cost as much as an investment.
- Update your past clients regularly, long after the transactions are done. This will sustain a certain level of mind-share as well as show them that you’re ready when they are. You could even add them to a specific mailing list for past-clients that gives them neighborhood statistics and the latest sales numbers for similar properties. Who knows, that might be a contributing factor to get them to list their home when they otherwise weren’t considering it.
- Stay up to date with technology. Just because someone listed with you 5 years ago won’t guarantee that they’ll do it again. Technology is rapidly changing and it’s your job to adapt to it or hire the right people to make sure you’re on the ball. Sellers needs and demands also evolve over time. Bonus tip: build a connection with your sellers family over social networks, even if they’re in younger and not quite ready to purchase their first home. They won’t just list with you because their parents did 5 years ago… but if you’re proving to the next generation of home buyers/sellers that you’re on top of your game, you’ll be sure to win them over as well.
What did you think?
Let me know what you think of this article in the comments below. I’d love to hear your feedback.