To be a successful real estate agent or agency, you need to break the traditional marketing mould and venture down the path of becoming a super brand (kind of like a supermodel). To do this you’ll need the right tools for your ‘real estate’ trade.
To control the success of your brand, you need to start baring more of your own business and marketing costs and finding ways to streamline and automate your marketing activities.
If you or a member of your team manage your marketing activities in-house then the marketing tools (and associated skills) they’ll need must be more advanced than your standard office publishing tools.
Here’s a guide to what systems and subscriptions a highly capable real estate marketing team needs today.
Marketing production tools
One app that I love, and am using to write this very blog, is Grammarly.
Grammarly is a writing assistant that helps you avoid silly spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes. Grammarly will check both emails and documents, whether they’re on your computer or within a web browser before you hit send.
My recommendation is to purchase a licence and have your entire team install the tool on their computers. That way you’ll ensure clients and contacts see you all as consummate professionals.
Next, you’ll need some kick-ass creative tools.
Adobe Creative Suite
First, let’s remember that potential vendors judge the way you market yourself and draw conclusions about how well you will promote their property. So, if you or your team don’t possess a creative bone, then you’ll want to skip this suggestion, engage us experts and outsource your brand and marketing activities.
If you do have creatives on your team, then Adobe Creative Cloud is the tool they’ll need for photo corrections, brochure designs and even video editing. The best part is that you can now buy an online subscription and download the creative applications as you need them. Your software stays up-to-date this way too.
Canva for real estate
For the non-creative types, Canva is a great design tool for generating custom artwork or visual media for your real estate brand. With inbuilt templates, photo editing tools, alongside a bunch of icons and fonts from which to choose, you can pick it up in a matter of minutes.
The best part is that your designs can be resized automatically for different outputs without needing to create a new file and you can even send your designs off for print through the Canva interface as well.
Several of the larger real estate brands have made their pre-designed brand materials available through Canva. For example, we work with Belle Property at both a head office and office level, and they provide brand assets through Canva for their staff.
We’ve also created Canva templates for clients. This setup enables us to bring the creative smarts, and you as a client of ours can then reuse the file (or artwork template) and make changes to the text and images without needing any advanced graphic skills.
Overall, Canva is a great low-cost alternative for managing brand materials over and above some of the real estate templated systems that only mainly handle property advertising.
Real estate stock imagery
Having a brand photo or video shoot is the best way to tell your story and promote you and your team. In fact, when it comes to social media engagement, I notice a significant uplift in interest when images include people, and better still you!
However, there are some cheaper ways to find photos, videos and even music to portray your brand messaging.
Search Google using the term “free stock images”, and you’ll find lots of sites such as Pexels, Pixabay and EveryPixel (see a trend!). There are literally hundreds, with some websites acting as aggregators pulling images from multiple sources.
First, however, a word of caution – make sure you understand the copyright laws and double check that the image you want to use doesn’t infringe someone’s copyright, even if it says it’s free. Often it’s better to pay a small charge for an image from a paid stock website to be safe in the knowledge that it’s legit.
Another piece of advice is to look for ‘shoots’ rather than single images or video clips. Because, if you find a set of photos from a creative whos style you like, with the same models featured over and over again, you can use several of the images, or video clips, across different elements of your brand. This is a great way to achieve a consistent look and feel.
Also, it’s a big time waster looking for images, so again, I recommend using professionals to help because someone with a creative eye and experience with visual imagery can save you hours.
Other tools a professional creative will have in their repertoire are annual subscriptions to fonts, icons and photo retouching services.
Marketing promotional tools
Now that you’ve created your brand and marketing content you’ll need some tools to promote your business.
Real estate directories
It should be a no-brainer by now to list your services on the major real estate directories. In Australia, these include; realestate.com.au, domain.com.au, and ratemyagent.com.au (at a minimum) and in New Zealand they include realestate.co.nz and trademe.co.nz/property.
It’s entirely up to you if you want to list your business on directories such as openagent.com.au or localagentfinder.com.au. These companies have a slightly different model whereby you pay them a commission for a lead.
Google business listing for real estate
Don’t forget, Google will help put your real estate business on the map – literally! Just claim your free Google business listing from them at business.google.com.
Social media sites
Next, make sure you have a well designed and expertly created set of social media accounts. I am not talking about the personal accounts you use with friends and family. I’m talking about a different set of professional profiles set up to promote you as an agent, alongside pages for your real estate business across Facebook and LinkedIn as a minimum.
Paid social and digital advertising accounts
Then when you are ready to start placing paid advertising, you’ll need a Facebook Ads Manager or better still Business Manager account, with the Facebook Pixel installed.
Then there’s Google Ads (formally Google AdWords) where you can place paid advertising in Google search results and across websites that have Google advertising banners installed – known as the Google Display Network, or the GDN for short.
Handy marketing tools for your website
If you have your own real estate website you’ll need to purchase your chosen domain names (the URL address) plus website hosting. Popular services include GoDaddy and Netregistry (these businesses are like the equivalent of Optus and Telstra, in the internet world).
Content management systems
Next, you’ll need a content management system or CMS for short. It’s the software that your website framework will be built with. WordPress, Joomla or Magento are three of the most popular web development solutions used by website developers all over the world. The best part is that there are hundreds of skilled creatives that know how to use them.
A word of caution, if a company says they’ve built their own system or refer to it as proprietary software, that means only they know how to use it. So, be aware that if you choose to move from that company down the track, you’ll have to build your website from scratch. If they say you can keep your site, should you move, be mindful that it will be challenging for another developer to make changes for you.
Automated marketing systems
There’s also a new kid on the block when it comes to managing your marketing activities, and that kid’s called a marketing automation system. Systems in this category for small businesses include ActiveCampaign, ActivePipe, Infusionsoft, Ontraport and Hubspot. They include features that show you when a prospect has returned to look at your website, how you which pages they have visited and will also sync with your online advertising accounts.
Marketing tools that connect
Finally, you’ll need to understand the world of sharing apps, URL shorteners, social scheduling tools and analytical tracking dashboards to ensure all the pieces of the digital jigsaw puzzle are working together.
As you can see, your marketing team require many creative skills and marketing tools at their disposal to shape and promote your real estate brand. The good news, however, is that these tools are far more accessible and sophisticated than ever before, and by outsourcing your marketing to a skilled team of real estate marketing specialists (like Hoole.co) you don’t have to subscribe to them all yourself.