With competition in the agency world fiercer than ever, Estate Agents are using their imaginations to devise innovative ways to get instructions and complete sales. Online marketing is a key part of any competitive marketing strategy for all agencies. But with a number of newer entrants now pursuing an online-only business model, using social media, property portals and web presence, are other marketing methods less effective than they used to be?
Apparently not. It seems that buyers are simply adding online marketing channels to their traditional methods of searching for property. So, it’s important to combine both online and offline marketing to maximise chances of a sale. Let’s look at some ways of doing this.
How to combine offline and online
Some people read the local newspaper, some don’t. Some people who spend their time on their mobile phone looking at social media also love browsing the Estate Agents’ windows in town, when they’re shopping. When it comes to pursuing sales, it’s a case of casting the net as wide as possible, because of the diverse ways in which people now obtain information.
It’s important not to stereotype people either – affluent older buyers downsizing from a detached house to a bungalow are very likely to have an iPad – they love showing pictures of the grandchildren and are avid Facebookers. Young, urban professionals will also use social media, but may be on LinkedIn, Instagram or Tumblr more than Facebook. So tailored marketing can have many pitfalls, whereas a broad brush can pay dividends.
“Location, location” has become “photo, photo”
The photograph is the common thread across all online and offline marketing. The grainy photo in the local paper has to look interesting enough to drive potential buyers to the agent’s website or to a property portal, for a better look. Effective online photography can then move them onto the next stage, the viewing. At this point, they’ll also be looking for house price information and both buyers and sellers will pore over any infographics that you can provide showing houses you’ve sold in the area and what price they sold for (Nethouseprices.com provides these).
This also gets the classic dinner party or pub “word of mouth” going, as people comment on the latest prices in the area. Nothing, on or offline, beats word of mouth.
Google Streetview allows people to take a look at a property’s immediate environment before booking a viewing. Estate Agents are following this trend by providing virtual viewings. Guided tours and walkthroughs of the property can give people a better idea of what the property is really like. This will filter out some buyers who have unrealistic expectations as to the size of the house, but potential buyers who still want to see the property may be better prospects.
So it’s clear that offline and online are going to need to work together for some time yet, to maximise your chance of securing a sale for your client.