The visionaries behind The Cluetrain Manifesto prophetically summed up our current market opportunity in the first of 95 theses – “Markets are Conversations”. The people you are looking for as clients are increasingly expecting conversations with their real estate or mortgage broker. Your challenge? Learn how to make an intro. And I’ll give you the secrets, step by step…
Since markets are conversations, the good thing is that people (usually) don’t mind you joining the discussion. This gives you a huge free classroom. Take it to your advantage.
Listen to other experts, competitors and practitioners. Most importantly, listen to your customers.
What’s interesting about listening to your colleagues and competitors is that you can see how they talk to their customers and then compare their success. Nowhere is competitive intelligence easier than on the Web. If they’re marketing on the web, it’s that much easier.
Looking for the smartest and best in the field of web 2.0 real estate marketing? They are the ones who monitor their potential customers. Here are the top questions you want to know about my social web clients?
- Who are they?
- Who are they talking to?
- What are they talking about?
- What words they use?
I’ve highlighted a very important concept above, but let’s not go overboard.
Obviously, from the title – Real Estate Marketing – we’re all in the business of real estate or mortgages. Remember that your customers are not. They don’t talk to people about real estate. They don’t talk about home inspections, receiverships, sellers’ grants and mortgages, unless they’re forced to. And they don’t know what FHA and subprime and Fannie Mae are.
Search is your friend, especially blog search engines. Remember that you are looking for conversations. Conversations about houses, buying houses, refinancing houses, mortgages, mortgage brokers, mortgage scams, real estate scams (yes, look for hate conversations too). Here are some good starting points for conversations:
- Google Blog Search
- Friends stream
Back to words! It’s the number one marketing failure and a death sentence for internet real estate marketing. Words are how customers find us on the web. If you use words they don’t use, you guessed it: no conversation!
These conversations, from blogs, newsgroups and Twitter, are short and candid. Write them down and use them.
Identify a niche
You know where they are, who they’re talking to, and the funny words they use. The next agenda is finding out what they want (not what they need) – another common marketing mistake.
Their conversations will tell you this valuable information. It will reveal their pain, such as their monthly payments rising unexpectedly, a job loss, or perhaps a divorce that will force them to reconsider their current home or loan. Maybe they’re just concerned about getting a good deal on a foreclosure, short sale, or distressed home.
Once you know what they want and how they’re asking for it, it’s time to start building your mortgage marketing web 2.0 platform.
Building a Web 2.0 social platform
Web 2.0 real estate marketing is all about directly engaging your potential customers in a conversation, but you need an identity. This is what your website or blog should be. Almost every social service or application on the internet associates you with a website. If you don’t have a URL for people to find out more about you, your efforts are already wasted.
How you design and build your home base is critical to your success. Did I mention that’s your ID? This is how people will decide if they want your expert real estate advice.
I usually suggest a blog. It is simple and versatile. Plus, it’s a conversation.
Here are some suggestions on where to get a blog:
The other consideration of this platform is your name (identity), which in the web world is a domain name. Take the time to find the right name. It doesn’t have to be your business name and it probably shouldn’t be.
Here are some creative guidelines:
- Consider your list of words your customers use
- Consider the niche you have selected
- short is better
- Register only .com, .org, .net
With your social identity and home in place, it’s time to fill it with credibility.
Content in King
Web copy is the current king of internet marketing and lead generation. You must not only know how to write, but what to write. Again, go back to your list of words your customers use. Take each of them and design your website to talk about each of those keywords.
Copyblogger.com is a good resource for writing good copy for your website or blog.
Your written words are essential because they are the language of Google and other search engines. However, don’t miss the growing importance of other types of media, such as audio and video. These richer types of media help to have a more personal conversation. Consider adding podcasts, short audio messages, and videos to your social platform.
Here are some resources for developing your audio and video content:
Content builds credibility and trust, the two essential elements of any sale. Make sure your real estate marketing plan understands the impact of content on a simpler sale.
Develop relationships with amplifiers
Alright, we have a platform and a lot of valuable content. But who knows? The Internet is a big place. You, alone, shouting in an already busy conference room filled with good conversations will not get you noticed.
You need amplifiers. People who find you interesting and are willing to tell others about it. Hopefully some of them already have a large following.
This is, like the classic offline Rolodex, the role of social networks. Connecting with people who have an audience is the fastest way to get into the conversation.
Great places to build a social network of amplifiers:
These are all great tools and people love to share, but nobody likes someone taking advantage of a relationship. Be respectful and add value first. Even in small ways.
Distribution makes a kingdom
Being king is only interesting if you command a kingdom.
In the Internet world it is an audience of potential buyers who respond to your recommendations and/or you have a network of amplifiers who provide this capability.
Creating this kingdom of real estate marketing is a process of distributing your name, your value, and your content.
The most efficient way to run this distro is embedded in many of the principles I’ve already covered:
- Blogs (RSS)
- Twitter (140 character ads)
- Delicious (bookmark content)
- Digg (Content Vote)
- Stumbleupon (Content Vote)
Add to these inherent distribution channels some well-placed personal emails and you’ll become a real estate marketing mogul in no time.
Assembling the Web 2.0 Toolkit
You have the roadmap. A real estate marketing plan that should have you generating leads in no time, but what tools should you have on hand to manage your new real estate marketing empire?
Here are some of the basics:
- Google Analytics (website analysis)
- Tourbillon (Twitter client)
- Camtasia Studio (Windows) or SnapZ Pro (Mac)
The key to building your real estate marketing platform is to try, test, tweak and re-test. These tools allow you to produce and try out various approaches to your social market, which is the fastest way to success in real estate lead generation.