There are lots of ways to promote your business, but what’s best? The answer is, of course, ‘it depends’ because every business is unique. But if you want to make a good decision, it’s important to understand your marketing options.
Broadly speaking, marketing is divided into two categories: outbound, where you ‘reach out’ to your audience directly, and inbound, where you draw your audience to your business, also known as digital marketing.
And in today’s communications environment, you need to consider the balance between print, online, and other media. The key is to understand your market and how it likes to receive information. Every form of media has its strengths and weaknesses; it’s simply a matter of targeting your campaigns and tailoring your messages.
Outbound marketing is sometimes called ‘interruption’ marketing because you’re interrupting your audience while they do something else. Radio, TV, and print ads are classic forms of interruption, as they reach their audience while they’re listening, watching, or reading. Online pop-up ads are another form, but they’re so annoying and unpopular that marketers have almost completely abandoned them.
The advantage of outbound marketing is that it reaches people who may not be aware of you. It’s a great way to find new customers or to reach old customers with whom you’ve otherwise lost touch.
Typical outbound activities for a real estate agent might include:
- Follow-up calls to buyers that visited a property for sale to see whether they are also looking to sell
- Phone calls throughout the year to people listed in your database as owning property from your core suburbs
- Letterbox drops (for example, a campaign to let locals know about upcoming auction dates or when a property has been listed or sold)
- Letterbox drops of printed market reports that provide information on local sales for the month or quarter
- Letterbox drops of printed invitations for residents to have their properties appraised.
Printed materials should play an important role in your outbound marketing mix. They’re platform-independent and never run out of power, and more important, they serve as a lasting, physical reminder of your message. Phone calls, if you handle them correctly, offer an opportunity to engage directly with a potential customer (and learn about their needs and wants), while advertisements in local publications can bring in new customers.
Inbound marketing or digital marketing
Inbound marketing is a newer technique, and it’s mostly digital. It’s sometimes called ‘attraction’ marketing because it relies more on providing material that’s interesting and useful to its audience, drawing their attention and – if you do it right – engaging them with your business. Blogs, social media posts, and email newsletters are common inbound marketing tools, and when you use them as part of a content marketing campaign, they can be highly effective.
Digital marketing simply uses digital platforms, such as email, social media, and the web, to provide and promote content that will appeal to your audience. As people spend more and more time engaged with mobile devices, it’s becoming increasingly important to engage with them when they’re on the move and to provide information that’s as fresh and up-to-the-minute as possible.
Typical inbound or digital marketing activities in the real estate realm would include:
- Blog posts on topics relevant to home buyers and home owners
- Downloadable guides on relevant topics, such as preparing your home for sale or choosing the best agent
- Social media posts about sales, upcoming events, and local news
- Video market reports produced monthly or quarterly
- Infographics on local demographics or growth stats for investors.
Content marketing is a methodology for inbound marketing. It grew out of the ‘custom’ publications that some organisations still produce for their customers, such as the NRMA’s Open Road magazine. In today’s context, much of content marketing is also digital, as companies create blogs, email newsletters, Instagram or Pinterest pages, and the like.
Overt branding and selling take a back seat to providing information that’s genuinely useful – or at least entertaining. This creates an audience of readers (listeners, viewers, and so on) that looks forward to each new instalment and will be naturally predisposed towards you when they’re ready to buy or sell.
Putting it all together
There’s no single ‘silver bullet’ that will meet all your marketing needs – as noted, you need to understand your audience and where, how, and why they want information. The best advice is to create a content marketing campaign that’s consistent in its tone and approach and that uses whatever media will give you the best reach.
This holistic approach – for example, a blog backed up by printed reminders of upcoming events and courtesy calls the day before, or an email newsletter promoted on Twitter and linking to your website or Pinterest page – should deliver strong results by making your audience feel valued, included, and, most important, happy to put your brand at the top of their considerations.
My view is that offline materials (print or phone calls) should always include a call to action to drive people online to connect with you and register their interest in your database. Most agents are trying to attract and maintain relationships with 500 to 1,500 people; inbound or digital marketing can help you find those ‘likely to sell soon’ needles in the haystack!
Want help with digital marketing? Contact me for a free 1 hour phone chat, where I will review your online profiles.