As a real estate broker, you understand the importance of referrals. According to the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report, sixty-three percent of recent home sellers used a referral to purchase their next home. And as a business owner, you know that if you want to grow, you have to stay top-of-mind in the community and find new buyers and sellers who will hopefully refer you.
That’s where marketing comes in.
And when it comes to promoting a brokerage, there are standard strategies that all real estate pros fall back on: the postcard mailers and Facebook posts. But what else can you do to show your brand’s expertise? We talked to some successful agents, brokers, and Realtors who graciously shared their most distinctive, off-the-beaten-path marketing secrets that will make your business truly stand out from the crowd. Below, you’ll find their suggestions for unique real estate marketing strategies that your team can use to stay top-of-mind, prove your expertise in the neighborhood, and build trust for buyers and sellers.
We organized the experts' real estate marketing ideas into five strategic "buckets":
- Local Marketing
- Digital Marketing
- Referral Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
Without further ado, let's dive in!
Local Marketing Ideas for Realtors
Idea #1: Get involved with local organizations and charities.
Julie Williams of Texas Property Sisters shares that heavy involvement with local organizations — really becoming a part of her community — has been the key to showing the integrity of her business while staying top of mind with locals.
She provides the following tips for how to go about this:
- Sponsor a school event. Williams has sponsored the same school at the annual New Teacher Breakfast for five years, getting her name out to parents who love their school district and who might want to upgrade their home.
- Sponsor local charities. Texas Property Sisters also gets involved with local charity organizations, sponsoring golf tournaments for Meals on Wheels, and donating giveaways with their company logo to Charity Classic.
- Hold a fundraiser. This spring, Williams’ real estate company will be “guest bartending" at a local restaurant and donating all their tips to charity. Former clients are invited to come with friends, and Williams hopes that a fun night for a great cause will create a lot of positive energy for her brand.
Idea #2: Develop real relationships with clients and make connections.
Chase Michels of Baird & Warner in Downers Grove, Illinois, says it’s all about the personal connection. Your presence as a friendly fixture in your community will yield strong and enduring relationships with your clientele.
“You’ll get better ROI on time and money for the cheap/free stuff that just takes effort,” Michels says. “Because most agents don't put in that effort, you’ll stand out.”
Here are some unique strategies that have worked for him:
- Sponsor a local youth sports team. Picture your logo on the back of a Little League team’s T-shirt all season. Michels has had a number of local parents hear about him from their child’s activities.
- Network with your neighborhood. Join parenting groups on sites like Nextdoor or Facebook so you can network with people in your local community. Michels says Nextdoor has given his company great exposure.
- Host info sessions. Use your office or a local coffee shop to teach quick real estate-related 101s. Choose topics like “what to know about each elementary school in X town,” “how to choose a fixer-upper with the most potential,” or “how to stage your house for a buyer’s market.” Then, post announcements of these meetups on social media and see who shows up.
Idea #3: Host local events in your community.
These days, you might feel tempted to rely heavily on online marketing, says Frankee Chapa, director of marketing for RE/MAX North-San Antonio. But it’s when buyers and sellers get to know you personally that they’ll trust your expertise and use your services. Chapa suggests planning events in your community that tie into your services, but make them fun. And always include food!
Chapa suggests the following:
- Team up. Host a lunch in conjunction with a local mortgage or new home sales rep. Chapa’s company has a seminar room that her agents can use, but you can also host a lunch at a local restaurant or even in a new home model. Advertise on social media or, if it's for a specific group that may qualify for special loans (e.g., teachers, city employees), you can drop flyers and invitations at their places of work.
- Target specific audiences. Host “how-to” events aimed at first-time home buyers, or market to a particular niche in your community. Chapa has done events aimed at veterans because a lot of current and former service members live in San Antonio.
- Host a local neighborhood housing tour. Speak with other agents and hold an open house at the same time so potential buyers can go on a tour from one open house to the next.
- Partner with a local vendor. Think: wine tasting event at the local liquor store or “make your own pizza” night at the pizza parlor. Promote it to prospective home buyers as a way to learn more about your town.
Digital Marketing Ideas for Realtors
Idea #4: Make your email marketing campaign stand out.
Our clients are just like us: if you send them too many promotional emails, they quickly can become bored -- and even irritated -- by your brand. If you want them to pay attention to your emails, you’ll need to provide them with fresh and relevant content that they can’t find anywhere else.
“Don't just send the typical drip campaigns with tips on how to tidy up your house,” Chapa says. “They can go on Netflix and watch Marie Kondo if that's what they are looking for!”
Here are some of Chapa’s favorite real estate email marketing ideas:
- Share area-specific events. Promote your local expertise and overall helpfulness by becoming the reliable source of what to do each month. For example, you can put together calendars of local fairs or carnivals, share out lists of free places for kids to eat during the week, or compile information about your area’s local farmers market.
- Offer home appraisal services. To market directly to sellers, go through your database of past clients and offer a current market analysis, in case they want to sell their home in the future.
- Share wisdom about current concerns. Are schools being rezoned? Share tips on how your readers can petition to stay in their current school. New housing skyrise being built in town? Share out the date for the next town meeting on the proposal. Chapa says her San Antonio homeowners are often disputing property tax appraisals with the city, so her agents will email, call, or even text their clients to let them know they can help prepare them for their property tax appraisal dispute.
Idea #5: Yes, text them!
In this digital age, you have to expand your digital marketing strategy to texting. Many agents reach out to clients via text message, Facebook Messenger, or Snapchat. These are often short, fun conversation-starters and innovative ways to connect with your clients.
“Not only are you giving them something to remember you by, but you're also asking them to share something back with you to start communication,” Chapa says.
The texts may not even relate directly to real estate, but are simply great conversation starters. For example, you could:
- Look up what "National Day of…” takes place that month, and send your clients silly reminder messages when those days come up.
- Take a funny video with a Snapchat filter. Download the video and send it to clients via text or other messenger apps.
- Tell them about a certain event happening in town or a sale they don’t want to miss.
Referral Marketing Ideas for Realtors
Idea #6: Keep the connection strong with your past clients.
Williams says 90 percent of her business comes from referrals, so she focuses 90 percent of her marketing on past clients. This means continuing to be an asset to them even after their home is bought or sold.
Here are some things you can do to keep the connection going:
- Give holiday gifts. “Each year during the holidays, we find a unique, local gift that gets delivered to all of our clients to thank them and stay top of mind,” says Williams.
- Become a referral expert yourself. Continue to be your buyers’ helper long after they’ve moved in. Do they need a painter or handyman? Share your vendor list. Do they need help getting a reservation at the best local restaurant? Do what you can. Remaining their person to lean on will go a long way.
- Use Facebook “softly.” Use a "soft" marketing approach, honing in on local hot spots that might “wow” your clients. Williams’ team regularly posts updated homes, before and after shots, and any local real estate that might get her clients interested or excited. But they do not use the channel to share listings.
Content Marketing Ideas for Realtors
Idea #7: Create great blog content that drives clients to your site.
It’s wonderful to have a user-friendly website that showcases all the incredible services and expertise you offer. But getting your site to rank on the first page of Google is another matter entirely. Content marketing in the form of interesting, clickable blog posts aimed at your clients’ interests is what drives traffic to your site and helps improve your SEO ranking, Michels says.
Here are some blog post ideas to get your creativity flowing:
- Start a real estate “advice” column. It will live on your website, but you’d share it on social media — including LinkedIn — and in your newsletter.
- Tell customer success stories. Share real stories from real clients — with pictures and/or video. The more authentic the better.
- Write “how-to” posts. This can take the form of something like “how to prepare your home for a showing” or “how to sell your home quickly.” The more pictures you can include, the better. These topics get Googled fairly frequently, so you want to make sure your post is what pops up when potential clients search for them. On top of that, these types of posts also give you material to send prospective clients after you meet them.
- Try a “House of the Day” post. “We find a unique home that's for sale — doesn't have to be our listing and usually isn't,” Michels says. “All that’s required is great photos, and we write a small bio about the home and share it on our website and social media. People seem to engage and enjoy the posts, while we stay in front of clients without having to constantly ‘sell’ them.”
Social Media Marketing Ideas for Realtors
Idea #8: Take advantage of everything YouTube has to offer.
Almost everyone uses Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote their business. But when it comes to real estate social media marketing, most pros don't realize that Youtube could end up being their most lucrative channel.
“YouTube is important because it ranks very high on Google searches, so your videos will be easy to find when searching your name or the property address,” Michels says.
Here’s how Michels prepares and shares videos:
- Create a dynamic YouTube video. The video should showcase homes for sale or upcoming open houses.
- Post the video on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook’s algorithm ensures that the more people click, the more users see the video.
- Promote the video to a particular audience. Use Facebook’s advertising feature to target a certain demographic. Then, use Facebook advertising to give the video a boost to a demographic based on age, location, and household income.
Idea #9: Create an unique social media campaign that draws clients in.
Chapa recommends a “30 Days of ___ Challenge” social media campaign. It’s a great way to get clients hooked on what you’re doing and keep them consistently checking in with your social media channels or sharing their own pictures. (Remember: their engagement keeps you in their feed.)
Ideas for 30-day challenges you can do include:
- Flower boxes. Post pictures of your favorite front-of-house floral arrangements in your region. This challenge is great for springtime or the holidays!
- Unique doors. Give your followers fun curb appeal ideas by showing them gorgeous front doors. Whether they’re uniquely old or add a pop of color to the exterior, doors are a great way to make a statement.
- Favorite local restaurants. Promote your area as a foodie hotspot while also giving your local followers some new ideas for a great place to eat. Use your 30-day restaurant challenge to post pictures of dishes or just the exterior of the restaurants you love.
- Each town. If you cover numerous towns, you can use 30 days to focus on each one.
- Stop at a park and take a photo.
- Visit your favorite restaurant and review a dish.
- Head to the best antique shop and take a tour of all the amazing treasures.
- Reach out to a local business, such as an independently owned pizza shop, and ask the owner if you can ask them a few questions about why their business is so great, live on video.
Idea #10: Become an Instagram maven.
A picture is worth 1,000 words, especially in the real estate business. Instagram is an amazing way to showcase your business, as well as make future clients excited about relocating to your area. For 30-somethings and younger, if you’re not on Instagram, you’re barely relevant: 59 percent of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram and 33 percent of users between ages of 30 and 49 are on Instagram. But again, this isn’t to sell property; it’s to get home-shoppers to think aspirationally and think of you as the source of that kind of content.
Jennifer Okhovat, a real estate agent with Compass in Los Angeles, goes above and beyond on her Instagram page.
“I use it to not only promote my business, but also to inform my followers (mostly friends and family) about neighborhood goings-on, hot listings on the market, free tips about buying/selling, and market reports for the Los Angeles area,” she says. “Most people don't know the value of their own properties, especially if they inherited them or just haven't looked into selling for a while. The market reports I post on my Instagram surprise a lot of sellers and get them to think about buying/selling.”
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There has definitely been a shift in the market for LA homes in the past few months. We are seeing properties sit on the market for longer, and less bidding wars than we were at this time last year. Though it's too soon to begin calling this a buyer's market, there is a lot more inventory available. In part, I think this has to do with prop 10, and landlords trying to get out of SFRs and condos while they can. If you're considering selling or want to have a simple discussion about what the current trend is in your neighborhood, call me or send me an e-mail at email@example.com
For many real estate agents, social media marketing is where it’s at. But don’t forget about all the other ways to reach your clients. The best marketing strategy for real estate agents is definitely a multifaceted one — but most of all, it’s one that connects you in meaningful ways to your clients and showcases your highly qualified, one-of-a-kind expertise.