Business may be great but there’s no denying that there’s always room to grow. With a new social media channel popping up every month and talk about new technology you should be trying, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
When it comes to marketing your real estate business, not all standard marketing techniques may apply. We spoke to top real estate agents who’ve shared the methods they’ve used to help their businesses soar.
There’s no doubt that traditional marketing techniques still work in real estate but as you’ll see in this guide, the future of marketing is changing quickly.
In this guide you will learn:
- how one agent was able to close two sales in three months from Facebook,
- that shortcuts to success aren’t what they seem,
- which social media channels you need to pay attention to and how to use them right now,
- how to get more people showing up to your auctions,
- and ways to get new leads without a big marketing budget.
Marketing tactics (old and new) are only effective when combined with the business basics that people often overlook. In this guide, top agents share the lessons they’ll never forget.
A note about growth hacking
In the traditional sense, growth hacking is the process of creating and implementing tests that run over a short period of time. It allows marketers to be agile in experimenting with new marketing strategies on any budget. However, in our research we discovered that some of the best tips to grow your real estate business are ones that should be applied long term.
This guide encompasses the ingredients you need for success in the real-estate business. It’s a mix of short-term experiments you can test plus evergreen tips every agent should put into practice regardless of their level of experience.
How long should you test your experiments?
The length of an experiment will depend on the nature of the marketing activity.
SOCIAL MEDIA MADE EASY
Simple, actionable tips you can implement to increase your social presence today.
50. Use Facebook events to drive traffic to your auctions
How Andy closed 2 deals in 3 months using Facebook
Andy Reid, Sales Manager & Auctioneer at Stockdale & Leggo and Sold By Auctions uses his business Facebook page to promote his auctions, “If I have an auction coming up, I will promote it on my business page. I’ll also create a Facebook event and invite clients to it. If you have the budget, you can boost your posts to reach more people in your area. I consistently receive inquiries from my Facebook page. Two leads from Facebook turned into a sale this year.”
49. Use social media to add value to potential clients
Many agents use their Facebook and Twitter pages to announce new listings or homes sold, but Murray Cole, Sales Agent at McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla, believes that an agent’s social media content should offer more value to potential clients, “I’m not a fan of having my face on a billboard or on a card you find in your letterbox, but I like to post tips and advice about buying and selling on social media — not just sale prices and ‘for sale’ ads. I also post things I love about my houses, styling tips from my clients and a behind-the-scenes look at what I do on a daily basis.” Real estate is a business built on trust. Use social media to build a relationship with existing and potential clients.
48. Target a new audience using paid media
If you aren’t already using Facebook’s custom targeting features, there’s never been a better time to do so. Not only can you target people in your local area, you can also set filters to target people by income, interests and purchasing behaviour. Find customers who share similar demographics and interests as your existing clients. You can do this by creating custom audiences. The ‘lookalike’ feature enables you to upload your email database to find prospects that are similar to your existing customers.
"I like to post tips and advice about buying and selling on social media — not just sales prices and for sale ads. I also post on things I love about my houses, styling tips from my clients and a behind-the-scenes look at what I do on a daily basis."
McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla
47. Start with one to two channels before you expand your online presence
There will always be an endless stream of social media channels for you to test, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter, Periscope… etc. If you spread yourself too thin, there’s a risk that you won’t make any impact at all. If you’re just tapping into social media, start with one or two channels first. If you find that one is working, you can scale your efforts. Look to other agents with a large following and see what channels are working for them.
46. Don’t forget to socialise on social media
Most brands make the mistake of using their social channels as a broadcasting platform. However, it’s important to remember that brands and businesses need to engage with their community. Simply blasting announcements and posts doesn’t facilitate two-way communication. Always respond to comments in a timely matter, and acknowledge raving fans.
45. Embrace video if you want to get ahead of your competition
Ric Serrao, Principal & Licensee of Raine & Horne Double Bay, says that word of mouth is still the best way to grow a business but the internet is changing the industry, “The internet plays such a big part for real estate agents. I do a lot of videos and different email newsletters. I keep my social media feeds interesting to attract a following.” Visit Ric’s Facebook page and you’ll find a variety of content including live auctions and videos of Ric in his local community, Bondi Beach. In the video, he spends an afternoon at his favourite café and learns how to make coffee like a barista. The video has generated 20,000 views on a page that has a following of 1,897. Video makes for engaging content and when done right, it can quickly expand your reach. Note that the quality of your content is a reflection of your business. Invest in proper equipment and editing.
44. Get more organic reach with live streams
In addition to pre-recorded videos, live streams attract more organic views. You can record a live stream of your team releasing a new listing or styling a home for an auction. Create content that helps potential customers understand your values and your approach to work. You’re much likely to attract prospects with similar values.
43. Be the local source for all community events
Real estate is a micro business. Use your social network to position yourself as the local source for all community events. Andy Reid from Stockdale & Leggo and Sold By Auctions volunteers to help promote community events, “This positions you as the local expert and builds trust amongst prospective customers in your area.”
DIGITAL MARKETING TIPS & TRICKS
Small steps can create big impact. Use these tried and tested methods to attract more clients.
42. Create backlinks to your website
Peggy Willcox, Principal and Lead Sales Agent of Mooney Real Estate, suggests building backlinks to your website from reputable sources, “It is vital to ensure that what you do helps with your SEO.” Backlinks from credible sources signify your authority in the industry to Google. You can create backlinks to your website by offering guest posts or sending through a few story ideas to digital publications in your area. SEO professionals often refer to this method as link building, which you can read about on Backlinko.
41. Use content to answer your customers’ questions online
Content may be time consuming to create but when done right, it’s a long-term strategy that can help you increase organic traffic to your website and generate new leads. Go beyond posting new listings and homes sold on your website. Create content your potential clients are looking for. What are questions they often ask? Make a list and answer them in your content. For example, you may want to create content that features some key spots in your neighbourhood, links to schools, pet-friendly places…etc. Creating relevant content that adds value to your customers not only helps nurture your relationships with clients, it also helps you increase your visibility in Google searches.
40. Take your auction online
The success of an auction depends on several physical factors. From poor weather, special events (i.e. sport finals) to bad timing, these factors can be costly for real estate agents and homeowners. New start-ups like Finalcall are predicted to revolutionise the way homes are bought and sold. If you’re hosting your online auction for the first time, communicate with prospects to ensure they understand how the process works. Have clear step-by-step instructions or a link to a video in an email they can reference.
39. Use the right hashtags on Instagram
Instagram is a great visual tool that can help market your properties, but if no one can find your images, your efforts may be wasted. Use local hashtags people are using in your local area. For example, if your business is based in the Sutherland Shire you may want to include relevant hashtags that locals are already using i.e. #sutherlandshirerealestate, #sutherlandshirebusiness.
“If people do not know who you are, you will be pounding the pavement forever. Make the leads come to you by creating marketing campaigns that stand out from the crowd”
Mooney Real Estate
38. Ensure you’re easy to find. Be available.
It may sound simple but this is something people often overlook. Ensure your contact details i.e. phone number, address and email are accessible in every sales and marketing channel. Make it easy for a potential client to message you. Practice exceptional customer service — respond to social media inquiries in a timely matter.
37. Spend money to make money
As paid social media marketing may still be new to some agencies, there is often hesitation to invest in the unknown. Peggy Willcox of Mooney Real Estate says you need to invest to get a return, “Spend the money on marketing (even if cash flow is tight), make brand awareness as a priority and the business will follow. As cliché as it sounds, you need to spend money to make money in this industry and you must work smarter not harder. If people do not know who you are, you will be pounding the pavement forever. Make the leads come to you by creating marketing campaigns that stand out from the crowd.”
36. Create 10x content
The term 10x content is a buzzword in the industry that describes content that is 10 times better than what is available. If you’re shooting a video featuring a new listing, go above and beyond shooting the home. Include local cafes and parks nearby to sell the lifestyle beyond the walls of the home.
35. Build your email list
Turn your website visitors into potential leads. Install a popup to appear when someone visits your site to prompt them to sign up for updates. With an email list, you can market to your customers at any time without paying for advertising costs. If you’re using an email provider like Mailchimp, Mailmunch is a great free tool you can use to create popup windows.
Note: Ensure that the collection and the use of contact details comply with privacy laws.
TRADITIONAL MARKETING WITH A SPIN
A new take on traditional marketing techniques you’ve been using.
34. Don’t rely on 2D images. Look to Google 360 + 3D Models
A picture can tell 1000 words but there’s nothing like 3D to bring a home to life. Where real estate agents are accustomed to physically drawing people out to auctions, there is an increasing amount of agents catering to overseas buyers through 3D walk-throughs and live streams. 3D models can provide a realistic dollhouse model anyone can ‘walk through’.
33. Network strategically
Real estate is a business based on relationships. Instead of tackling it with a blanket approach, you may want to hone your focus on other local businesses. Andy Reid from Stockdale & Leggo and Sold by Auctions believes in creating long-term relationships with businesses that have synergy, “I always look to connect with the local accountant or electrician to establish a relationship. In doing so, I add value to my customers because I can refer them to someone I trust and the same accountant or electrician may send leads my way if their clients ask for a referral. Local networking events aren’t hard to find, look to meet ups that attract small and local businesses. There is one in almost every town.”
32. Know your audience
Peggy Willcox of Mooney Real Estate says knowing your audience is the best investment you can make, “Firstly, we know who our ideal clients are! I think most agents don’t know who their ideal client is. Rather they will literally try to target all homeowners in their area. Our ideal clients are 30-40-year-old females with children at school. We direct all of our marketing campaigns towards this target market, i.e. we are currently running a ‘schools matter’ campaign where parents nominate and vote for their schools to win $15,000.” Once you hone in on your target audience, you’ll see a much better return from your marketing budget.
31. Target your market by property
Not everyone in your database will be a suitable buyer. As Ric Serrao from Raine & Horne Double Bay says, “I like to do business with all walks of life, I don’t have ‘ideal’ clients as such but I do target market for certain buyers on social media and my database.” Take to the 80/20 rule; invest 80% of your marketing efforts to the 20% of prospects who are likely to buy the property.
30. Think outside the square when it comes to traditional advertising
If you’re not seeing any return on traditional advertising, it may be time to take a different approach. Peggy Willcox of Mooney Real Estate has had much better luck with advertising via strategic partnerships, “We have found traditional advertising to be quite ineffective and extremely costly. Instead, we’ve created our own advertising and have collaborated with the community to distribute our marketing material. Whether it is through referrals and word of mouth, we create a desire for organisations to advertise for us. Our ‘schools matter’ campaign has seen local schools promoting our business in exchange for funding. Just think outside the box, don’t be afraid to be different, be proud to be different!”
29. Don’t underestimate the power of PR
For Peggy Willcox of Mooney Real Estate, PR was the best marketing investment she’s made. Her business was mentioned on news.com.au and Weekend Sunrise “purely because we went out of our way to help someone going through a hard time.”, says Peggy. Her phone has not stopped since.
Get in touch with the TV producers in your area and offer to buy them lunch or a coffee. Reach out to them to build a relationship. Ask about story angles they tend to cover and present them with ideas that may align with the content they are searching for.
28. Know that local sponsorships aren’t always about money
Most people hear sponsorship and think it’ll cost them thousands of dollars, but a sponsorship could simply mean an exchange of services or time. Andy Reid from Stockdale & Leggo and Sold by Auctions regularly volunteers his services as MC at community games and festivals: “I went to MC a game the other day and got two listings from it.”
27. Get reviews on RateMyAgent
Word of mouth and online reviews build trust and customer confidence. With each transaction you make, you should be asking your clients to leave you a review on your Facebook page and on sites like ratemyagent.com.au.
GET MORE CLIENTS
Consistency is key but so are other basics we often neglect.
26. Create raving fans
In realestatebusiness.com.au, industry leader John McGrath says, “Create raving fans not satisfied customers. Give everyone you meet the best service experience of their life and you will create an army of people who will send you referrals for life.”
25. Make it easy for clients to make a decision
Offer clients added value by helping them do their research. Provide them with all the information they may need to make a decision to work with you. Justin Ferguson, Principal of Ferguson Property, believes in investing in the right tools, “In order to grow, we believe in keeping up to speed with cutting-edge technology and using these marketing techniques as an extension of the arm. At the end of the day, we need to be speaking with people as much as possible in as many ways possible.”
“RP Data Professional allows me to stay front of mind with my customers, especially when it comes to purchases. CoreLogic RP Data is part of my appointment, my procedure. I give customers a demo before they leave. It’s another value add that we can offer; another reason for customers to talk to me.”
Aussie, Taigum QLD
24. Review your sales presentation
Does your sales/listing presentation address your customers’ questions? When it comes to getting more customers, John McGrath suggests looking at what you’re working with, “Redesign your presentation. When I ask salespeople to rank their sales presentation from 0 to 10 (10 being world best) they usually score themselves a 6 or 7. Anything less than 9.5 is unacceptable. Redesign yourself for greatness.”
23. Use social media to get to know your potential clients
You can uncover a lot about a person just from viewing their social media profiles. Agents we spoke to often use LinkedIn and Facebook to gather information on a potential client. Look to their social media profiles to understand any common interests you may have, it is a great way to build rapport.
22. Don’t just focus on the sellers — remember the buyers
Where most agents pour their focus into building relationships with sellers, John McGrath points out that they may be missing opportunities amongst buyers. In a YouTube interview he shares why choosing to build relationships with buyers gave him a competitive edge, “Buyers are generally neglected. So, I thought I would focus on buyers because 1) they talk to sellers 2) they eventually became sellers. I would create an attraction energy and raving fans. By focusing on product knowledge and giving buyers an exceptional experience…eventually buyers would tell sellers about me…etc.”
Murray Cole from McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla agrees, “If you look after your current clients, whether they are buyers or sellers, they will refer business to you and eventually become repeat clients too. It’s self-explanatory to look after your vendors, but if you are attentive to your buyer’s needs, i.e. finding alternate homes for them that may suit their buying criteria, helping them make that purchase, and giving them advice such as auction tactics, they will develop a trust in you that will benefit both of you at some point.”
21. Use open inspections to your advantage
John McGrath talks about going to all the open inspections he knew about at the beginning of his career, “Be in the community to meet potential buyers and sellers. You get back the energy you give. Open inspections were great because people go to inspections to get a feel for the market and agents to work with. I went from nothing to getting a couple of calls a week, a day…”
20. Ask strategic questions during open houses
Offer a world-class experience for your open houses. According to real estate trainer Tom Panos, open houses generate a lot of buyers but also a lot of prospective vendors. He notes that million-dollar agents ask strategic questions in their follow-up call, “Top agents follow up with a phone call, talk about the property and finish with the question: are you buying or selling at this time? Most of the people coming through are either first-second-third-time buyers, would you like us to give you an idea of how much your property is worth?” Doing so opens a dialogue to generate more listings.
19. Don’t just copy and paste
When you’re promoting your listings on Facebook or your website, don’t just copy the text from sites like Realestate.com.au. Write original copy to reflect your view of the property. Also, if you intend to boost social posts, try casting the net a little wider to attract investors who may not live in the area. Andy Reid from Stockdale & Leggo and Sold by Auctions says he’s had clients come from other suburbs to his local auctions because they saw a post on Facebook, “It’s much more cost effective than traditional advertising.”
OLDIES BUT GOODIES
Marketing strategies may come and go, but good business practice is evergreen.
18. Read between the lines
There are times where people will say one thing and mean another. Take the time and care to listen to your clients’ needs. Ric Serrao of Raine & Horne Double Bay says, “Most of the time we all have this perception in our heads of what we expect or what we want for them but it’s not about us, it’s about the client, sometimes things are said or not said. Read between the lines.”
17. Know that success does not come overnight
Murray Cole from McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla says: “Be prepared to put the hours in initially for little short-term reward. Get to know your service area better than anybody else. Go through as many homes as possible to get an understanding on market price. When talking to the public, be open, transparent and be yourself. Be active around your listings and help out your colleagues as much as you can with stock they may have. Service buyers as much as you can. They will get to know you and word will spread.”
Murray wasn’t the only agent to share this insight with us. In fact, most of the agents we interviewed shared the same sentiment. While there are hacks to help you grow your business, long-term success is something you build through time and experience.
16. Never stop learning
Regardless of your experience, there is always a lesson to learn. As one of the top agents in Australia, Ric Serrao from Raine & Horne Double Bay advocates continued learning, “Listen to YouTube or podcasts on agents that inspire you, it doesn’t matter if you have one-year experience or 30 years, you must keep growing and learning and changing, or you will fall behind.”
15. Don’t go at it alone
You’re only as strong as your team. Murray Cole from McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla says, “Build a team around you who have different strengths. To provide service for your clients, you will need help or you will be spread too thinly when you get busy. Spend the majority of your time talking with buyers and sellers, and delegate the rest to your team. It also helps to have an understanding family because you will be working on weekends and may need to work long hours until late in the evening when everyone else has finished work.” Maurice Maroon, Principal of Belle Property South Hurstville, agrees “Make sure you surround yourself with a great team and that all other team members share the same vision for success. Your path to success can be much shorter with the right army working together than a lone soldier.”
14. Drop the ego
As Ric Serrao of Raine & Horne Double Bay says, “Please drop the ego, that is not going to help you. There are definitely no ‘short cuts’ unfortunately. Listen, absorb and repeat certain tasks that work over and over. The key to success in real estate is repetition and being approachable. Don’t make judgements. Be open. Use your network to get the word out. Use your family and friends to spread the word. It’s not going to happen overnight so get that out of your head.”
13. Don’t overlook the value of great customer service
Murray Cole from McGrath Estate Agents Cronulla says customer service should never be overlooked, “Repeat business and referrals are the best clients to work with due to a continuing relationship and a platform of trust that already exists. Some people think they have to keep things from their agent due to the perceptions of the industry, but what they don’t realise is that the agent is on their team. It’s harder for us to do our job for them if they withhold information. Once there is trust in a relationship, the job is much easier and rewarding. Being honest and open to buyers that come through your open homes and promptly replying to phone or email inquires leads to quality connections with people in the market. It usually ends up in great business relationships moving forward.”
12. Give to get
When it comes to getting new leads, look to your long-term vision. As Andy Reid from Stockdale & Leggo and Sold by Auctions says, “The idea of give to get is very important. Many agents are very short sighted. Agents will have coffee and if there isn’t a lead — the contact is dead. Give yourself 12 months to build trust. People don’t buy from brands, people buy from people.”
11. Everyone is an ideal client
You may have a clear idea of what your perfect customer looks like but it’s important to keep an open mind when you’re meeting prospects as anyone can be an ideal client. According to Maurice Maroon, Principal of Belle Property Hurstville, “The best way to attract ideal clients is through building new relationships, maintaining existing relationships, building a great office culture and getting involved in the community.”
10. Success is in your mindset and attitude
Justin Ferguson of Ferguson Property says that success is all in your attitude, “My number one tip is to maintain an attitude where you are prepared to do whatever it takes to grow your business and succeed in real estate. In other words, everyone is usually prepared to go to a certain level for contentment, but in real estate there’s only 10-15% of people who are prepared to go above and beyond in terms of effort, energy.”
9. Surround yourself with success
American entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn is most famous for the idea that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. If you’re looking to be the top 10% in your industry, Justin Ferguson of Ferguson Property notes that you need to surround yourself with people with shared goals,“You need good people around you and it’s important to invest in the right people for the business. It’s a very simple business, it’s not complicated but you need to be tough to really succeed.”
8. Get a mentor
Real estate is a long game and while there are no clear shortcuts to success, Justin Ferguson of Ferguson Property recommends finding a trainer or mentor, “I would suggest new real estate agents to align themselves with very good trainers, to be well educated on what works and what doesn’t”. Maurice Maroon from Belle Property Hurstville also advocates investing in training, “Training is imperative.”
Note: Real estate coach Tom Panos hosts training sessions and a boot camp called the Million Dollar Agent.
7. Find a formula that works and stick to it
It may sound basic but processes and systems will help run your day-to-day business so you can focus on prospecting and sales, “You need a solid system in place, be prepared to be structured and follow a proven formula that works best for you,” says Justin Ferguson of Ferguson Property. Whether it’s a CRM system or simple Excel spreadsheets, ensure you have systems and processes that you and your team can follow.
6. Practice the rule of 3
Implement the rule of three. Andy Reid of Stockdale & Leggo and Sold by Auctions recommends having three touch points with a customer. His prospecting plan includes a flyer drop followed by a phone call and a door knock. This creates more chances of connecting.
5. Set your vision and ensure you communicate it to your team
One of the most important things you can do is have a clear vision and focused goals. You also want to ensure your team is working towards the same goals. As Andrew Bell said in an interview with Tom Panos, “An office culture and vision is reflective of its principals. We believe in the vision. We are true to it, we constantly talk about it. We then enrol our team in it. We are driving the vision.”
4. Don’t invent the wheel if something works
Whether print media is a dying industry continues to be a debate. Instead of listening to what others say, put it to the test. Andrew Bell, top agent for Ray White, says that print media works. In a YouTube interview he talks about how people still engage with print listings, “I see them looking at listings on the weekend in cafes. I don’t really see them checking listings on their phone.” Identify what marketing methods work for your business and implement with consistency. Maurice Maroon from Belle Property Hurstville says, “There are no short cuts. Consistency and hard work is the only way. Be true to your numbers and track your progress…”
3. Do the little things that your competitors may not be doing
Customers want to feel acknowledged and there’s nothing like a small gesture to help them feel appreciated. Ric Serrao of Raine & Horne Double Bay suggests sending your clients a personal card on their birthday. It is inexpensive to implement, it maintains your relationship with them and, most importantly, it keeps you and your agency at top of mind.
2. Learn everything you can about body language
Did you know that over 80% of communication is non-verbal? In an industry where people skills are paramount to success, expressing good body language and being able to read other people’s body language is critical to success. Look to sites like Highbrow, the site offer short courses on body language for free.
1. Don’t establish yourself in the office
Some agents feel guilty about being out of the office all the time, but Ric Serrao of Raine & Horne Double Bay says that the best agents are always out working on prospects. As Tom Panos says in an interview with Ric Serrao, “Hanging out in the office and pretending to be busy is not as effective as establishing yourself in the market. Ric doesn’t feel guilty about not being in the office, he feels guilty about not doing dollar productive activity.”
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