Balancing your need to self-promote with the needs of consumers
Why is it that so many agents have this need to smear their greatness on everything they touch? Everything, from community involvement to their websites and blogs is, to them, a marketing opportunity.
Why don’t they get what a turnoff this is?
Sure, there are opportunities that are ideal for self-promotion but there are equally as many opportunities to consider the consumer and how you can share your expertise without a huge self-patting of the back.
The truth is, consumers are weary of having to sift through advertising and marketing junk to get to the valuable information they’re craving.
First, you have to “get it”
I once had a potential client ask me to write a press release that “highlights our location in the prestigious” design district in his city.
I found that a rather odd request. Sure, it’s been awhile since I sold real estate but I don’t recall any clients choosing me because of where my office was located and who decorated it.
So, I did my research.
The company’s website is gorgeous, with yummy photos of the city on the home page. The text, however, floored me. The entire homepage of this residential real estate brokerage’s website was all about their “showcase office, which was “conceptualized by one of the best interior designers in the nation.”
Not one word about what they can do for the real estate consumer
Sure, this is an extreme “some agents just don’t get it” example. But, the truth is, nobody cares about your office. Nobody cares who furnished it. In fact, some of today’s most successful agents work from home, many in their jammies.
Someone searching for real estate in your city cares about listings, finding the right agent, neighborhood information and tips on the process.
Stop pitch-slapping potential clients
I wish I could take credit for the “pitch-slapping” reference, but it goes to business development strategist Liz Wendling.
She goes on to talk about the tired, useless tactics too may sales people employ today – salespeople who “pitch-slap prospects into securing an appointment,” and who jump right into selling without wasting “a moment attempting to build rapport or connect.”
That’s what agents do when they wrongfully assume that their designations provide credibility or promote expertise (they don’t), that bragging about your sales or dollar volume impresses potential clients (it doesn’t) and that merely telling them how great you are is sufficient.
Millennials – the holy grail of today’s real estate professional – are especially hard to engage if you overtly self-promote
This is a group of consumers who don’t want to be marketed to. “They can spot an ad from a mile away and will do everything they can to avoid it,” warns Drew Allen, co-owner and creative director of Peppershock Media.
The key to attracting and retaining clients, he insists, is “an easy to navigate, minimal fluff [emphasis is mine] website that gives a ton of information right up front.”
Show, don’t tell
You are in a service business, you aren’t a celebrity. So, describe your service — what do you do that is different?
Show your website visitors, show your direct mail recipient, show your newsletter list that, despite there being a multitude of other agents in your town, you are the one they should choose.
Testimonials are ideal
I often wonder why real estate agents call them “testimonials” when it’s a word that consumers don’t use. They use “reviews.”
Not only do reviews allow a satisfied client to toot your horn for you, they help instill trust and build your credibility. Social proof is a far more effective tool than self-promotion.
Just slapping testimonials up on your website is fine in the short term, but believe it or not, there are “best practices” in place for using them:
- Consider using a mix of video and text reviews.
- Put at least one above the fold on your site.
- Include client photos with each one (and place the photo above the review).
- Consider adding the best testimonial you’ve received under your email signature.
- Use them in all of your listing and marketing materials.
- Consider using case studies in your testimonial mix. These expanded reviews tell the story of a client with a problem that you were able to solve.
- Ask your client to tell his or her Facebook and Twitter friends about you.
Two notes of caution
1. Don’t offer incentives for reviews unless you also disclose that you’ve done so. The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on the illegal practice of what they call “misrepresenting online reviews.”
2. Yelp frowns on soliciting reviews on their site. In fact, their Business Owner Guidelines warns “Don’t ask for reviews and don’t offer to pay for them either.”
One of the most challenging tasks the real estate professional faces is distinguishing him or herself from the rest of the pack. Even if you’re doing everything right, it’s all but impossible to innovate your service.
Innovating your marketing, however, is within your control. Dump the self-promotion and embrace social proof instead.
Owner & Operator,
The Elite Group
Largest Home Inspection Company in North America
Best Selling Author “Secrets Of Top Producing Real Estate Agents: And How To Duplicate Their Success.”