"How can I differentiate myself from competitors?" That's one of the key questions always top of mind with real estate agents today. And it's one they should ask themselves regularly.
One key way in which they can set themselves apart? Show off their marketing chops.
Many premier real estate professionals have mastered the art and science of marketing to their niche audiences in just about every major market across the country.
Thus, it only makes sense for Realtors to consider what they can do better with their respective promotional strategies to stand out from the noise and get hired by home sellers and/or buyers.
With that in mind, here are seven key areas to focus on with your real estate marketing efforts in 2021— areas that can help you distinguish your business from other real estate agents & brokers nearby.
1) Video Marketing
Aerial drone tours to highlight the neighborhood and specific homes for sale. Agent walk-throughs that offer an in-depth tour of their listings. Community spotlights that showcase everything that your market has to offer.
There are myriad types of videos agents such as yourself can (and should) produce to separate yourself from the (Realtor) pack and show you're a digitally-savvy real estate pro.
The good news? You don't need to be Steven Spielberg to craft stellar, high-resolution videos that give you an edge over the competition in your area.
Your smartphone, a tripod, some editing chops, and lighting and audio gear are really all any agent needs today to get going with a real estate video marketing strategy.
And once you master traditional real estate video production, you can level up to drones — something more than two-thirds of Realtors have yet to adopt in their real estate marketing programs to date, according to a 2019 National Association of Realtors report. Whether that means investing in a drone that specializes in helping real estate pros capture awe-inspiring footage or working with an agency or freelancer who specializes in drone shoots is up to you (i.e., based on your budget and comfort level shooting on your own).
Just know the ROI of drone video — not just in terms of views, but also the amount of net-new leads generated for your listings — can be substantial with a well-executed approach.
2) Video Messaging
Personalization is another big trend in real estate agents' marketing strategies today. Whereas the aforementioned videos are meant to be viewed and enjoyed by a general audience, individualized videos are also a lucrative avenue for agents who want to go the extra mile for their clients and drum up interest in their properties.
For instance, many leading sell-side agents today shoot scripted and/or off-the-cuff videos — often from their phones or through an in-home or office studio of sorts — to speak directly to current and prospective clients. For existing clients, these agents can provide quick, daily updates regarding their progress regarding open houses, private tours, and generating new leads. For leads, they can pitch themselves and offer free consultations.
The opportunities for personalized videos are practically endless. The point is people crave one-to-one communications and recommendations from the brands from which they buy (e.g., recommendations from retailers). What better way to differentiate yourself from other agents than by putting a highly personal touch on your communications approach with existing and potential clients?
3) 3D Virtual Property Tours
Multimedia is multifaceted today. That means you don't need to (and shouldn't) solely rely on listing and drone videos to be the foundation of your real estate marketing efforts in 2021. There are other opportunities for you to show off your properties in unique and compelling ways.
An increasingly popular method for promoting homes is the 3D listing tour. A 2020 Matterport study found 55% of home buyers said they would consider purchasing a property they hadn't even seen in person if a high-quality 3D tour of said property was available. That stat alone shows the power of virtual property tours to generate engagement.
Given we're still living amid a global pandemic in which it's often difficult (or impossible) for aspiring home buyers to check out listings of interest in person, these virtual tours become all the more important to their property search. But even during "normal" housing market conditions, leveraging 3D technology is a true competitive differentiator that can help you garner more interest in your homes for sale.
4) Virtual Open Houses
Now, there's a subset of online/3D property tours that's worth investing time, money, and resources in as well: the virtual open house and Q&A session with "attendees."
Just as B2B brands conduct live webinars to promote their products, B2C professionals — including Realtors — can benefit from live, real-time interactions with leads. Redfin reported requests for virtual home tours accounted for 30% of all listing viewings in March 2020 — a figure that almost assuredly rose (and markedly) as the year went on.
Again, COVID-19 has drastically altered how agents like you are able to sell today. That means making yourself available to prospective buyers digitally (think Instagram or Facebook Live) is your best bet for answering all their pressing questions and providing further color and insight on what makes your listings so special. Of course, you'll need to put some promotional energy into ensuring you get as many folks to join your virtual open houses (e.g., hitting up your lead list via email, sharing registration links via social media, etc.). But assuming you get the word out to the right people and provide detailed information during the online tours, you can not only pique attendees' interest but also generate some strong word-of-mouth buzz for the unique sales approach.
5) Facebook and Instagram Stories
A 2019 Realtors Property Resource report discovered 65% of Realtors noted they planned to "commit more time to social and digital media" in 2020. In fact, 62% said they allocated more of their budget for social media marketing during the year. That's great to see.
But success with social media promotion for your real estate business shouldn't depend entirely on paid ads on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks. Rather, you need a robust organic presence as well. And that means taking advantage of the latest and greatest features offered on social media — notably, their "story" functionality. Stories have become ubiquitous across just about every major social channel today.
But they're nonetheless a viral feature of social media — and one that tends to grab and maintain users' attention more than the average "feed" post. Research from Chicago Agent Magazine reported 65% of home buyers are influenced by their friends' social shares about their property purchases posted to Facebook or Instagram.
6) Influencer Marketing
When you hear the term "influencer marketing," chances are the first thing you think of is one of the Kardashians plugging a makeup line or TikTok "star" pitching a video game. But influencer marketing is also an excellent way for real estate professionals to effectively market themselves and build up some awareness of their personal brand.
Now, you're not an enterprise organization. Thus, you don't have an endless budget to work with. But that's okay: You can still leverage the power of micro-influencers in your market. For instance, if you know of a popular interior designer who has a large following online (i.e., lots of Twitter and Instagram followers and/or YouTube subscribers) and is considered a thought leader, that's potentially an influencer partner who could aid your efforts to promote your business. The caveat with this approach is it can cost a pretty penny to get an influencer — even a micro one — to put their promotional weight behind you.
Spending on influencers across industries was projected to reach $8 billion total, per Influencer Marketing Hub. By backing your brand, they, in essence, are taking a risk with their own brand.
So, that leads to the question: What's the best way to prove your real estate company is a risk worth taking? Continue to build brand awareness by developing a comprehensive and informative online presence and work on your own reputation management. Then, when you want to pitch yourself to influencers, you can say, "Here's what I've done, and here's how I think you can help." A far better way to convince a prominent person to support your real estate business — and potentially bolster your bottom line.
7) Charity and Community Events
Last but most certainly not least, there are charitable endeavors and community events. We don't need to tell you just how difficult 2020 was for many people. And, obviously, partaking in any form of charity and lending a helping hand is something worth doing. That said, there is an opportunity for real estate professionals such as yourself to offer assistance to their local communities (and even ones abroad) to garner name recognition.
For instance, Texas's recent winter storm that left thousands of residents without power and food proved to be a phenomenal way for Realtors to give back to those in need.
Simply by doing the right thing and aiding individuals whose lives have been negatively impacted is an easy way to show — not tell — the world you truly care. And while your primary objective with these efforts isn't to sell more homes or sign more clients, it's undoubtedly an opportunity to gain more name recognition.