It isn’t easy running a real estate agency, especially a successful one. Over the past years, I have worked with a variety of different real estate principals, agents and agencies across Australia and New Zealand.
Following, I share how my team and I helped two sets of real estate agency principals overcome different challenges in their marketplace. Not only did we help them have a more impactful digital presence, but we helped these real estate agencies increase their rankings in their area.
Case Study #1
Independent Brand, McConnell Bourn
Matt and Sam, are husband and wife as well as joint-owners of an established real estate agency, McConnell Bourn. Together with a third family member, Suzanne McConnell, all three have successfully grown their local real estate brand, which spans more than 20 years, has 50 staff and 4 offices on Sydney’s north shore.
Whether the market is in an upswing or a downturn, Matt, Sam and Suzanne never falter in staying focused on continually improving their business. Engaging the services of Hoole.co they recognised it was time to get to grips with digital marketing.
Through a set of strategic workshops, where we used various statistical reports (both internal and external) to research who was selling and renting homes in their region, we identified that Matt and Sam themselves were a good representation of the clients they serve.
Sydney’s north shore is home to a large number of empty nesters and downsizers, many of whom are looking to offload the shackles of family life, as their kids head off to university. They then seek lock and leave residences that allow more flexible lifestyles. Unlike their own parents, today’s younger Baby Boomers are keen to free up equity from their homes sooner, to enjoy life to the max while they’re in good health – to spend more time with friends, entertaining and travelling.
The McConnell Bourn challenge
Brand and marketing strategies for an independent real estate agency require more focus from their managing principals than a franchise agency, because franchise principals have the strategic thinking undertaken, largely, by their networks’ corporate office.
Matt and Sam have built an exceptional brand that’s sophisticated, marries perfectly with their upmarket clientele and remains consistent across all mediums. When we were first engaged to assist with digital marketing, most of McConnell Bourn’s brand focus had been on more traditional and physical marketing activities, such as office fitouts, printed newsletters and sponsorships of a local wine festival and youth football teams.
In complete contrast, they had a very low-key online presence and used online advertising intermittently. Increasing their online visibility became a core focus for McConnell Bourn when they relocated an office to a more strategically positioned suburb. Digital and social media marketing give them a more cost effective way to get the McConnell Bourn name seen, more frequently, by local homeowners.
The Hoole strategy
With any marketing strategy, it’s important to research the age of residents within your suburb or community to identify which generation is moving out and which is moving in.
With Baby Boomers now aged 55 to 75, architects and developers have seized the opportunity to infill large residential blocks across Sydney with palatial apartments and townhouses aimed at owner-occupiers. These new homes become the stepping stone for sellers wanting to stay local rather than opt for a sea or tree change.
Our demographic research is the starting point from which we devise a content creation plan and ghostwrite articles, emails and social posts that peak the interest of various high-value personas, in this case for McConnell Bourn.
Our topics include information on multigenerational living, downsizing and extracting more value from your home through renovations and landscaping. We also acknowledged that Sydney’s north shore is fast becoming a popular area for Chinese and Indian buyers due to the predominance of high-quality private and state schools.
Aligning the content marketing with a tailored social media advertising plan, McConnell Bourn is seen by the vast majority of residents, multiple times, with different messages each month. It’s important to remember that the days of organic reach are long gone, so unless you have a paid social media and Google advertising strategy, your messages just won’t be seen.
In addition to increasing the visibility of the McConnell Bourn brand we further enhanced the reputations of selling principal, Matt Bourn, and property investment manager, Katharine Ettenhofer, through a series of professional videos. This educational content showcases their expertise and helps keep their faces (and voices) present in the social feeds and most importantly synonymous with property, especially in new areas.
Case Study #2
Franchise Office, Belle Property Parramatta
One extremely interesting family engaged our help to switch franchise brands. After a 15 year stint with LJ Hooker, co-owners (and cousins) Ben, Chris and Nathan Sahyoun migrated their successful Parramatta real estate agency (which their fathers began decades prior) to the Belle Property franchise network.
When the Sahyouns came to us, they had a clear brief which was to ensure they retained the good will and notoriety that they had fostered as an LJ Hooker agency. They’d chosen to rebadge their business under the Belle Property banner because Belle’s brand is synonymous with and better caters to premium and middle markets in select lifestyle locations.
Parramatta, once a neglected region of Sydney’s western suburbs, is now a hub for property and commercial development, retail, fashion and eateries, government support services and education. Nearby Westmead, once known only for the children’s hospital, has become a world-renowned medical research precinct that offers high-quality work opportunities.
With an upmarket perception in the minds of home sellers and landlords alike, Belle Property’s popularity is further enhanced by its close association with ‘homes to love’ magazine Belle which showcases luxury and cutting-edge home design.
The Sahyouns’ challenges
Parramatta is a highly competitive region for real estate agents and agencies, with some selling principals leveraging their heritage and connections with Chinese investors to amass listings and uphold prime position at the top of the agent leaderboards. Although the Sahyoun business is predominantly property management and property investor-focused, the Belle Property Parramatta team wanted to increase their rankings for their sales team.
Led by sales director, Chris Sahyoun, and talented marketing creative, Ben Sahyoun, it was clearly articulated from day one that they wanted to establish a strong office brand presence as well as personal brand identities for key individuals in the business. As they had physically moved office locations at the same time as the rebrand, a secondary goal was ensuring they stayed highly visible across the Parramatta region and dispelled any talk that their LJ Hooker office had ‘closed down’.
Wanting to realign their real estate business with high-quality marketing in line with the Belle Property brand, the joy for us is that, right from the start, they chose to commit wholeheartedly to a sophisticated and comprehensive digital marketing strategy.
Ben in particular realised that as there weren’t other Belle offices in or around Parramatta, the only existing recognition of the brand would likely be Belle magazine. It was therefore important, from the get-go, to use digital channels (as the best performing and most cost effective advertising platforms) from which to launch the Belle Property brand in Parramatta.
The Hoole strategy
With the input of Ben Sahyoun on repositioning, we built web pages with a personalised URL that allow the team to publish marketing content alongside their agency informational pages on the Belle Property corporate website at parramatta.belleproperty.com.
Ensuring their business was visible (especially on Google and Facebook) we reached 152,000 people (covering 93% of Parramatta residents) with their brand content. Their brand messages were seen on average 8.5 times per month – further instilling their reputation for superior real estate services.
We updated the social media profiles for all staff across both their real estate sales and property management teams. Every three months we publish a new sales report or investor report, which can only be accessed via a form, ensuring that leads are captured.
With regular photoshoots arranged we’re able to keep their brand imagery stocked up with high-quality photography to help tell a visual story of what it’s like to list, promote, auction, sell or rent a property through Belle Property Parramatta.
We keep their website, Instagram and Facebook pages fresh with regular content and brand marketing messages aligned to the Parramatta region. We provide ghostwritten content that resonates with homeowners and property investors who are highly educated, yet mainly overseas-born.
The Belle real estate team, with our help, transitioned successfully from LJ Hooker to Belle Property and at the same time gained ground on the real estate agency leaderboards.
Get our help
If you’re a real estate agency owner or selling principal who wants to take your office name and staff reputations to the next level, take time out to talk with me, Melanie Hoole. I’ll show you how digital marketing can help you scale your business, by ensuring you find and acquire more listings than your real estate competitors.