You are interviewing Miami Beach REALTORS and have no idea who to hire because they all have something that impresses you, good track record, good communication skills, good client testimonials, good Internet presence.....so how can you make up your mind?
The key is to be able to identify how they market themselves as opposed to how they market properties. At first this may seem like easy task, but once you start thinking about it you realize that most REALTORS spend more money branding themselves that promoting their properties.
Not that there's anything wrong with that, it's only wrong when they want to sell you their branding efforts as property marketing. In addition to identifying the type of marketing an agent does, it's good to know where marketing efforts need to be more aggressive and where buyers will ultimately find your home.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just published a 2010 profile of home buyers and sellers which includes this graph that details where buyers found the home they purchased from 2001 through 2010. Interestingly enough, in 2010, 75% of buyers bound their home with the help of another REALTOR or on-line! (and the Internet is half of that number). Which just means that yard signs, open houses, newspaper and magazine ads and brochures are a minuscule part of the equation! Seriously?? But those property brochures are so pretty!! And what have we been telling you? The brochures are part of an agent's branding efforts, it gets them more listings....not necessarily sell homes.
Brand Marketing vs. Product Marketing
A good REALTOR will use both types of marketing not only to attract more clients but to ultimately sell real estate. Furthermore, Brand and Product will often be combined because in real estate, you really can't separate one from the other. A good example of this will be direct mailers with "just listed" information - the property will be shown and described and the agent brand will be emphasized - but do you see these in the list above? Yet one overly used home selling pitch is that "neighbors will tell friends and family about the home, which is the best type of word-of-mouth marketing" << can you say "MEANINGLESS SCRIPT"? Tracey Drake from Suite101.com gives us a great analogy to differentiate the two:
- Ford telling consumers that "Quality is Job 1" – this is Brand Marketing
- Selling that consumer a Ford Mustang – this is Product Marketing
So what am I telling you here? In a customer service driven society, how can we not know when we are buying something for the brand, not necessarily the quality? How can we not realize that the pretty magazine ad will not sell our home? or the ingenious TV ad or the catchy yard sign? So sit down with your Miami Beach Realtor and ask how they are using The Internet to reach the end buyer, what will they do differently to make your home stand out from the thousands of properties on the web and how is their business relationship with other Realtors since ultimately it will be their competition who will bring your home's buyer. For additional marketing insights, read Seth Godin's What do you know? - a great list that manages to separate egos from achievers with some of my favorite points:
- Anticipated, personal and relevant advertising always does better than unsolicited junk.
- You can’t fool all the people, not even most of the time. And people, once unfooled, talk about the experience.
- Traditional ways of interrupting consumers (TV ads, trade show booths, junk mail) are losing their cost-effectiveness. At the same time, new ways of spreading ideas (blogs, permission-based RSS information, consumer fan clubs) are quickly proving how well they work.
- Good marketers tell a story.
- Living and breathing an authentic story is the best way to survive in an conversation-rich world.
- In the googleworld, the best in the world wins more often, and wins more.
*originally published Feb 12, 2011