In the beginning, there was only offline marketing. When the Internet first burst on the scene, real estate professionals tried to ignore it. Then they decided it was a necessary evil to have a website, and we could tell by the look and performance of the sites. Things began to heat up, and the reality of real business and commission generation through real estate websites became a mantra.
Then social media began to heat up and became a huge influence on how people interact, share information and, most importantly, refer business. Any real estate professional, and there are many, who has been around for much of this evolution, can’t be blamed for major frustration in how to adapt their marketing and budget to get the most out of traditional offline and developing online systems. Must we cut our offline marketing to grow our online business generation?
Rule #1: They Aren't Mutually Exclusive
Almost all of the tried-and-true traditional offline marketing methods and venues still work. It is true that many of them are more expensive for their consumer reach than some new online marketing methods. However, why think of them as two very different approaches with no common goals? There are still people who read newspapers, check out homes magazines and hold onto business cards.
Plan Step #1: Consider This a Workflow Solution
We do know that the vast majority of today’s real estate buyers and sellers will end up online to get details of properties for sale or learn about their market area if they want to list for sale. They get much more in the way of images and even video than they will ever get in the other media.
So, we want to help those who become acquainted with us through a billboard, business card or in print media to transition to our online presence. There we’ll put into play our lead generation strategies to get their contact information and hopefully move them to the closing table.
Rule #2: Keep Doing What Works
Keep handing out those business cards, advertising in homes magazines and any other offline marketing approaches that do deliver business. Because there are cost effective, sometimes even free, ways to generate business from your online marketing, start thinking about moving offline suspects to online prospects.
Plan Step #2: Deal with the Budget
By “deal with,” we mean put your mental effort into an audit of how much you spend in offline marketing and how you may be able to cut some of that expense or make it more efficient. The important thing is to start out on this process with at least the knowledge of what you can afford to do in combining these two marketing approaches for business.
Rule #3: Think "Online Presence, Not Just Website
A real estate website alone isn’t nearly as effective as a website tied to social site profiles and business pages. Before you jump into specific actions outlined here, you need to be sure that you have a full online presence, not just a website and a personal Facebook account.
Plan Step #3: Get Your Social Right
These are simple steps, and they’re all free:
- Build a Facebook business page for your real estate activities. Mixing them into your personal profile isn’t nearly as effective, and can even lose you friends. Later you can also do Facebook ads.
- Have a Twitter account dedicated to your business.
- Do the same for LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest if you want to use them.
All of these have detailed step-by-step processes in their help section to set them up on the sites, and you’ll be ready to take advantage of them in your offline marketing to online lead generation activities.
Rule #4 Feed the Roots to Get the Tree
Think of your offline marketing, all of the ways you do it, as the roots of a Web presence tree. If you want the tree to grow and be healthy, and especially bear fruit, build a healthy root system.
Plan Step #4: Make the Connections
Sit down and do a chart of your offline marketing strategies. Next to each of them, write down who the most interested people out there would be, the target demographic. Sometimes it will be anyone interested in real estate, but many times a certain offline marketing strategy will have more seller than buyer interest, etc. Then connect that targeted person/consumer to something or somewhere on your website that they can find more of the same information they want.
Strategy Tip: Be prepared to create some pages or change the URLs for existing pages to make the following process simpler for the targeted consumer. Example: A classified ad to entice distressed sellers would have the target site URL in it, something like YourSite.com/sellfast/. Remember that they’ll be typing it in. Either use “redirects” or create new pages with these short and simple URLs for destinations. Use this strategy for all of these media.
- Newspaper Marketing: Many of us are no longer doing much in the papers, but some are still generating leads in the classified section because it’s relatively inexpensive and effective if done consistently.
- Action: Check back to the type of leads you’ve gotten. Have they been mostly sellers, buyers, investors? What do they ask when they call? This should show you what you need to do to send them to the right place on your website to see your expertise and take some action that will get their contact information.
- Website: If they’re mostly sellers, are they responding to an ad to help them sell quickly at a good price? If so, either send them to a website page exclusive to that topic or create one to send them to.
- Business Cards: Cards have gotten less expensive, many times under ten bucks for 250 cards. Consider having two or three versions. One you will be handing to buyers, another for sellers, etc. Now instead of your home page, the URL on the card should be simple and short, but take them right to a page of interest.
- An example for buyers would be handing them a card when you meet them with the URL of your IDX search page. You tell them that they can search all of the listings in the area at the link on the card, and that’s where you send them, perhaps to YourDomain.com/all-listings/.
- For sellers, maybe it’s a page with a form to tell you about their home for a free preliminary CMA to value their home in the current market.
- Direct Mail: Mostly we’re talking about farming areas or neighborhoods, and often with postcards. Whatever you’re mailing, you’re normally seeking listings in that area. By keeping your name in front of them with regular mailings, you hope to get the call when they’re ready to list. However, consider making the free CMA valuation offer in a mailing and direct them to the form to fill it out. Another mailer may talk about closing costs for sellers and you can offer them a link to a page explaining them and use a call-to-action to get a HUD statement copy (all personal info redacted of course).
- Homes Magazines: This can be any color marketing in print. They’re looking at it because they like the photos of homes or properties, so make the offer of much more and a link to the actual listing page on your site. Use the address for the URL to make it simple. Also tell them that they’ll find ## photos and/or video of the property at that page.
But, What About the Social Sites?
They’re in the plan, but one approach fits all of the media. You’re really seldom going to direct offline prospects to a social site or even your business page. That’s because you have much more detail and better calls-to-action on your website.
The strategy for these social sites is to take every blog post you write on your site and every page you create and send an excerpt out to your social site presences. This links them back to the website and the calls-to-action that get you the business.
Example: Your page that speaks to seller closing costs. Send out a social post to all of the sites that may be titled something like “Don’t be surprised by high costs at the closing table!” Then add something like: Get an explanation of seller closing costs, including an example real closing statement. Be prepared not just for closing, but also for a proper listing price to cover your costs.
There you have it. Run up your sales stats by feeding your website tree with your offline marketing roots.