Editor’s Note: The Playbook is a new RISMedia weekly segment centering on what brokers and agents are doing to ensure they not only survive but thrive in these challenging times. Industry professionals explain the strategies they’re employing and unique ideas they’ve formulated. Tune in every Thursday for another addition to the series.
If people don’t know about your business, they won’t come to you. That’s exactly what’s been on Dan Burgio’s mind. Burgio is a sales vice president with William Raveis’ West Hartford, Connecticut office. To help his team keep up during recent market challenges, Burgio has been making sure they stay motivated. The best way to do that? Staying in contact with their customer base, he says.
“What we’re doing is asking our teams to stay in front of their SOI, their sphere of influence, by using creative marketing materials,” Burgio said. “We do a lot of video content—educational videos online, videos for our customers and clients, live videos, in-the-field videos, which people really like to see.”
What type of marketing should you be creating, and which platforms should you run them on? Here’s what some professionals who’ve attracted a following and business with their digital marketing had to say.
Where to market
The obvious way to market your business digitally is with a social media presence, both by maintaining accounts and running ads on those platforms.
Lauren Matera is a Coldwell Banker Realty agent based in Annapolis, Maryland. Under the username @itsthatrealestatechick, she’s also built up a following on TikTok and Instagram. Matera believes that social media is the future of digital marketing, saying:
“You can reach millions and millions of people for free. And it’s authentic and it’s present and it’s up to date… can update followers and the population at large in minutes.”
Randy Baruh, a broker with the Corcoran Group who specializes in the New York City luxury market, is in the same boat. With 320,000 followers and 4.7 million likes on TikTok, he’s a certified influencer. His videos range from more straightforward ones about his listings to comedy bits, mostly jokes about the day-to-day proceedings (and frustrations) of selling real estate. This following has bled over into his Instagram and YouTube pages.
You can also combine digital and print advertising. When Burgio and his team send out mailers, they include their website:
“When we go under contract, we send out one-page mailers, nothing fancy, that says something like, ‘The Market’s Hot, Now’s The Time To Sell,’ and we’ll list what we’ve done. We have a creative-marketing plan, we have high-definition photos and media days, we had over-asking-price offers, and we keep it really simple with a QR code that links them right to our website, and that has been super effective.”
What to promote
Digital marketing requires consistent output. Before you can do that, you need to have something that people will want to see. Scott Johnson, a broker with The Residential Group (a William Raveis affiliate located in Boston, Massachusetts), found that in his day-to-day routine.
“We do a lot of new construction marketing, so a lot of my day is going to property under construction—that gives us social media opportunities because we’re going to something that’s being created.”
New construction piques the imagination; when buyers see images or videos of an unfinished home, they’ll be able to enjoy picturing what the finished version will look like, he says.
Baruh is also sure to not just advertise his listings, but surrounding features too.
“Usually the content that people bring up to me most are my neighborhood videos where I’m highlighting my favorite pizza place, you know, some great businesses in West Village or Brooklyn.”
If buyers like the neighborhood that a listing is in, they’ll be more likely to close the sale. Think of advertising the neighborhood as part of your overall sales pitch.
How to act on camera
You can’t go wrong with video marketing; no one will be interested in a house until they get a glimpse at it. At the same time, putting yourself on camera allows for a personal touch, which results in a truly memorable buying experience.
For Baruh’s money, agents are too often self-conscious on camera and they should leave that self-doubt behind to flourish in video marketing: “When I’m talking into a camera about a property I’m representing or a neighborhood I’m representing, it’s really no different than if I’m doing it in person.”
As the age-old advice goes, be yourself. “People want to see reality, people want to see authenticity from their brokers, from their salespeople, from everybody. That’s what people enjoy the most—when they have a window inside someone and they’re being real,” said Baruh.
Fun and authenticity
Baru and Matera agree; social media marketing is a great way to peel back the curtain on what being an agent means.
“It’s very much a way to connect with people in a meaningful way,” said Baruh. “ see how this is really a 24/7 job and they get to see me taking my kids to school then going to a showing, that’s been a wonderful way to kind of share what we do.”
Matera feels that the same sense of authenticity should drive not just how agents market themselves, but where.
“I think they have to be aware of the platforms and like using them and know what the trends are and what people are doing and talking about on them…my strengths I think are my personality, my humor, and that ends up being communicated best through short-form video content.”
To get your message out, use platforms that you know and enjoy. If nothing else, it’ll make the experience easier for yourself.
Johnson encourages his agents to make their market knowledge a consumer-facing asset: “Everyone likes to talk about real estate, so I encourage my agents to stay hyper informed on the sales activities, stay current on interest rates and programs that are available for buyers, and just be that trusted authority in your market.”
Don’t save that knowledge for only face-to-face conversations; Baruh certainly hasn’t. “I hired an amazing social media strategist…she analyzed what we’re doing well, what we need to do more of, and what we don’t need to do as much of and one thing that was lacking was business and educational content. So we made an effort to more educational content where I can…share my knowledge of the market, different trends, and let people know specifically what my knowledge is in real estate.”
Other agents/brokers use their knowledge for regular newsletters. Baruh and his team maintain the Baruh Bulletin, a monthly newsletter available for digital subscriptions. Newsletters can be easily created with platforms such as Substack and when you write one, it’ll be about something you know and love.
Targeting the right leads
Despite the wider reach that digital marketing net your business, you can also shoot for a smaller audience with a targeted approach. Johnson said that his team is embracing a targeted approach for all varieties of clients:
“If you want to target investment property owners who have mortgages that are coming due, that data’s available…if I want to prospect builders who are building, I can search building permits, get that information to prospect. The targeted prospecting takes more time than just, ‘I’m going to send a postcard mailer to the 200 addresses around this location,’ but it does end up being more fruitful just by nature of it being targeted.”
- Digital marketing allows you to be more direct and targeted in reaching leads.
- You have to have something worth marketing, be it knowledge, authenticity, humor or really attractive listings.
- You’re not just selling a listing, you’re selling yourself, your services and the neighborhood.
- Your marketing should strike a balance between professional and personable–as should you.
- Experiment to find out what works for you, and then prioritize it.