A quick 7-question litmus test: how to evaluate real estate marketing products
Today, it’s more important than ever to market in ways that will help you stand out, and there are a million products that can make that possible. But agents need to know how to evaluate real estate marketing products; just because the product itself stands out to you does not mean it will stand out in the market.
Conferences underscore this better than anything we know of. Just browse through the rows of exhibitors at the shows such as NAR, RE/MAX, Inman, Keller Williams, Century 21, ERA, Better Homes & Gardens, on and on. Vendors know that real estate agents are always in search of the next big thing that will differentiate them from the crowd. Most of the offerings are uncannily reminiscent of the television commercial in the early days of the Internet: A young web designer is enthusiastically showing off his creation to the business client. “Look, look, music plays, it spins wildly, and then fire comes out of the top!” The client looks very disenchanted and says, “But does it update our inventory?” Alas, where’s the beef?
Successful Innovation is a very tough commodity and we don’t intend to short-sell ideas that don’t quite hit the mark. Many of these ideas are wonderful and can really help you stand apart from your competitors, even to the point of exclusivity in some cases. However, we’d like to offer a short litmus test to increase the odds that your marketing campaigns hit the mark, get you remembered, and build your listing inventory:
1. Is the product unique? Have your prospects received anything like it from competing agents?
Real estate direct mail, for example, is dominated by postcards and the occasional envelope or newsletter. Agents that want to know how to evaluate real estate marketing products for geographic farming can eliminate thousands of options with this simple question: how different it is? Will homeowners actually open, read, and engage with it?
2.Does the product have a real value, not just perceived value?
Before signing up for a new service, ask around the industry. Make sure the company has multiple case studies they are willing to provide, and multiple clients they will put you in touch with. Read Zillow or Trulia reviews on the service, if there are any. If too many agents are griping about wasted money or lackluster results, it might be best to move on.
3. Does the vendor give you the right of exclusivity to a marketing area?
Exclusive territories are of paramount importance, especially with unique marketing that an agent could not easily replicate. For example, Discover Pubs locks up clients’ ZIP Codes (even the homes in their ZIPs they actually don’t mail to, in some cases), which prevents copy-cat competitors from watering down results. Any agent in the business for a few years with a decent amount of marketshare knows that competitors do play follow the leader.
4. Can other competing agents reproduce your product easily?
Products that are complex are ideal for preventing competitors from trying to duplicate your efforts, which is important if you are fortunate enough to have an exclusive territory for an effective product. For instance, competitors are hard-pressed to write, design, print, sort, and mail their own newspaper every month, and there isn’t a second company out there that can do all that for them. There are many great examples of exclusive marketing products in real estate that are unique and hard to replicate.
5. Is the product used by other successful real estate agents?
Indeed, agents using a particular service are the best benchmarks for how to evaluate real estate marketing products offered by a company. Again, ask for case studies and references and look to see who those agents are. Have you heard of them? How big are they? How many homes do they sell? If successful agents use the product or service, and have for many years consecutively, odds are it’s working for them.
6. Do past and current users vouch for claims of achieving substantial ROI?
When checking references or reading case studies from real estate marketing service providers, look for concrete evidence of effectiveness. While results widely vary with just about every product (because agents vary so much, and not all have the best conversion systems in place), if a significant volume of users are getting substantial ROI, you should too.
7. Does the product endure over time and can you use it repeatedly with similar strong impact?
Many agents get stumped about how to evaluate real estate marketing products that are new or seem to be constantly in flux. If a product is brand new, it’s a risk – with you as the crash test dummy. And if a product is adding and subtracting features every few months, get curious about that. It may be smart innovation, but, more likely, something about it isn’t working. Products with stable histories (so long as they keep up with the times) are likely to have a stable future.
We hope you found this information useful. When you attend your next conference, think about these 7 questions and you will feel much better about availing yourself of a new marketing service.