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Today, Paradise Social officially rolled out a WordPress website for one of its clients who specializes in selling luxury real estate here in Costa Rica (CRLuxHomes.com). It has been an interesting project from the get-go and we’re very pleased with how it has turned out thus far. As with just about every other profession out there, social media has made an indelible impact on the way real estate agents, brokers and brokerages have had to (or need to) do business in the age of social and mobile.
Word-of-mouth referrals and brand advocacy are as important as ever. And digital media are the tools for amplifying them. Many old-school real estate professionals still rely on rolodex. That’s important. But there’s a new breed coming up on their heels that will eventually overtake them with new clientele and make them obsolete through the use of digital media that amplifies their authority, expertise, experience, personality, brand and skills.
So I thought I would share some tips on how real estate professionals can rise above the noise in a notoriously noisy and cut-throat industry.
- Think About Branding Yourself: My client is a REMAX agent in a very prestigious local brokerage. But he wanted to set himself apart as and expert in luxury real estate in a geographical area that is concentrated and extremely competitive. To do this we created his brand logo, branded website and branded his social channels in order to build brand identity for him and his business. It is important that the brand be consistent across all digital media so that no matter how people find you in a search (search engine, Facebook, G+ or LinkedIn search) you appear consistent and recognizable. That means profile image and brand logo consistency throughout. To make his brand more personal – a reflection of himself – we made his signature part of his logo.
- Think About Affiliating Yourself with an Established Brand: My client is relatively new in town compared to some of the old-school guys. As stated above, he is a REMAX agent. We decided at the outset to affiliate his unique brand with the established, esteemed and reputable REMAX brand to send a message to prospective clients at a glance that he is “the real deal”. In Costa Rica, the real estate profession is not regulated – quite literally, anyone can claim to be a real estate agent! Thus my client could piggy back his new brand reputation upon the reputation of an established brand while still maintaining his individuality and not being associated with the ubiquitous opportunists out there.
- Put a Face on your Brand: One of the benefits – or fallouts, depending on which side of the fence you’re on – that has resulted in the age of social and mobile is that it is more important now more than ever to be a real person out there – especially if you’re providing professional services on a very personal level. That includes doctors, lawyers, personal trainers, photographers, tour operators, babysitters – and real estate professionals. It’s great to have a logo. But who’s behind it? Inquiring minds want to know. Because it’s you they will be talking to and about.
- Make it Beautiful: You’re a real estate agent or broker selling property. It might be condos, homes, farms or commercial properties. In the digital age of social and mobile, it is extremely important that you pay attention to the images you put out through digital media (listings, cover photos, head shots, etc.). If you’re not good at photography, hire someone who is good at photography to take pictures. Your iPhone won’t always cut it. Get quality images for use with digital media. You owe this to your clients, prospective buyers and to yourself. If it’s not pretty, they’ll go somewhere where it is pretty.
- Be Mobile-Friendly: Your website needs to be mobile-friendly – PERIOD. According to a survey by statista.com, 73.4% of the US population used their smart phone to access the internet in 2013. By 2017, 90% of smart phone owners around the world will access information about your business on the internet via a mobile device. If they can’t see your website on a smart phone, they will search for someone else whose site they can see. Also, Google has taken a strong stance on mobile SEO, announcing there will be demotions if your site is not mobile-friendly or is misconfigured when it comes to being mobile-friendly. (For more information on all of this, please see my post 6 Reasons Why Your Website Needs to Be Mobile-Friendly).
- Be Relevant in Location-based Search: Following up on item 4., mobile device users are increasingly using location-based search to find businesses that are near them. It’s very important to get your business on Google! Google My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they’re using.
- Use 3rd Party Real Estate Marketing Services: Many real estate agents won’t ‘fess up to the fact that they’re really not crazy about sharing their listings with other agents or brokers – they’d rather get all of the commission than have to share it. If you’re one of those, get ready to fail. Some of the pie is ALWAYS better than none. Not to mention the disservice you’re delivering to your listing clients by reducing sales potential. For the rest of you there are 3rd party marketing services like Point2.com and Point2agent.com. These types of services will allow you to build your own agent and property pages that will allow you to perform “handshakes” with other Point2 agent.com agents allowing you to share their listings with their permission on your Point2agent.com page – kind of like they’re your own – and vice versa. You can then link to your Point2agent.com site from your primary website. The system avoids Google SEO penalties by only indexing the listing agent’s listing, not the duplicate “handshake” listing(s). The more handshakes the more listings the more potential for sales. Learn how to shake hands, make more money and make happier clients.
- Blog: If you’re not blogging, you’re missing out on one of the best internal SEO tools on your tool belt. Make your posts informative. Don’t post novels – “TL;DR” (Internet acronym for “Too Long; Didn’t Read.”). Be funny. Include links to useful websites. Post beautiful pictures and videos. But most importantly, BE REAL. Put yourself out there. Let people know why you’re special and what differentiates you from the rest of the pack. Tell stories. Engage people.
Like I stated above, word-of-mouth referrals are the best type of marketing you can possibly have. Amplify them with rich images on your mobile/tablet-friendly website and via your social and digital marketing channels. Get smart about branding yourself while working with other brokers and agents to boost your sales and reputation.