Why Salesy Real Estate Marketing Fails with Today’s Sellers
Quick: take a look at these two headlines. Each appears on the front cover of a real estate agent’s local newsletter or publication.
- “Peter Pumpkin-eater named #1 Producer at Joker Broker Inc!” (by Peter Pumpkin-eater)
- “Record High Prices for Sunnytown Homes this Season!” (by Berta Experta)
Which article would appeal to you, a homeowner in Sunnytown? How much would you care about Peter Pumpkin-eater’s awards, even if you happened to know him? After getting a newsletter with a cover story like Peter’s, month after month, you’d probably start throwing it right in the recycle bin without so much as a glance.
But what about receiving a newsletter – or publication – with cover stories like Berta’s, month after month? You might begin to anticipate some useful market information when it appears in your mailbox. Instead of pitching it, you might toss it on the counter, and read it the next morning while your coffee brews. This all seems obvious, but yet we see it every day: agents who wouldn’t give two hoots about, for example, their insurance agent “hitting goal” turn around and build huge expensive campaigns about their personal awesomeness.
You’ve probably already made massive changes to your business in the wake of Coronavirus, so what better time to take a good hard look at your marketing messages!
Fact: buying patterns have changed dramatically in the last 10 years.
As more advertising mediums become available, the more consumers are becoming conditioned to tune out to anything that seems “promotional.” Content Plus found that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than ads, and a TMG Custom Media study revealed that 78% of consumers believe that organizations that offer custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. While it’s important to communicate the value you offer – and to share real-life success stories about who you’ve helped – building a trust-based connection is the foundation for generating listings and referrals.
Trust is built in the emotional part of the brain, deep in the subconscious.
We don’t decide to trust a person; rather, we one day realize that we trust someone. Add to that the the fact that big decisions – including most major purchase decisions – happen in the part of the brain where emotions are processed. Trust is an emotion. To put it very simply: trust = purchase.
A brain scan study by Mart Lindstrom in 2015 backed up claims that 90% of purchasing decisions are not made consciously, and that brands that are intentional about evoking our emotions always win. Decision-making may be wired to our emotions for very good reasons. For one, it is impossible to consciously tally, process, score, and react to the hundreds of facts and other non-overt pieces of information coming at us. Our emotional subconscious does this for us and outputs a “gut feeling,” without our awareness.
The beautiful thing is that this “gut” is very efficient at making the right call. It’s in no way a shortcut. In fact, relying on a well-honed instinct is indeed more efficient than manually – consciously – wading through a million variables. We’re built to rely on it – in extreme cases, our very survival depends on trusting our gut rather than a painstaking conscious calculation. For most people, the emotional brain is a well-oiled super-computer so it’s no surprise that decision making occurs there.
What does this mean for real estate agents?
The key take-away for real estate agents is this: if two agents are competing for a listing, the one who has taken time to embed themselves in the emotional brain of the homeowner will get the listing, even if they’re younger or less successful.
“Embed themselves in the emotional brain” means marketing and prospecting in a way that resonates at a human level, garners an emotional response, and leaves the prospect feeling that the agent knows and cares about the market, gets great results, and can be trusted.
In order to develop these emotions about the agent, the homeowner needs to repeatedly experience these emotions while at the same time learning about or engaging with the agent’s brand. For this to happen, the agent must truly be trustworthy, get good results, and care – because those are the things he or she need to impart through their marketing. Otherwise, no amount of “messaging” will seed legitimate emotional headspace in prospects.
So, how can you do this?
How to implant yourself as the Real Estate Agent of Choice
in the emotional brain of homeowners in your farm
First, you must show (not just tell) your prospects that you care about them, the community, and ultimately, their home sale. Marketing with information they personally care about accomplishes this much faster than sending information they don’t care about. Against our best advice, we’ve worked with agents over the years who’ve insisted on publishing self-promoting articles on the front covers of their publications. After investing thousands of dollars, they either learn the hard way and begin publishing community-related content, or they quit publishing altogether in frustration (and to be blunt, arrogance). We encourage agents to keep their custom content focused on the community; for example, during the pandemic, we published articles for agents about how Coronavirus was impacting the local housing market. Similarly, we take care to ensure the general articles (the syndicated stories we publish inside each client’s paper) hit home and resonate with homeowners. Whether you publish with us or do your own newsletter, these principals apply.
And here’s the key: make sure your picture and branding is on the header and all throughout your marketing, so that when the reader is engaged with an article or feature, they implant you in their emotional brain as they read and react to it.
Branding remains paramount
When you regularly supply your prospects with interesting, valuable information (such as with your newsletter, publication, emails, social posts, webinars, etc.), you need to be front and center. This doesn’t mean how great you are, but your branding must be prominent. Otherwise, you’ll be cultivating meaningful emotional responses, but the connection to you will be lost.
Additionally, it’s important to layer in messages about what you do and how you can really help. Do this in ways that actually resonate; for example, instead of a dry testimonial, run a short feature called “Sunnytown Success Story” with a photo of a happy couple you helped, and tell the story of how they needed to move quickly, how you helped them with fix-ups and staging, and how you marketed it to your broker network for multiple offers. Or instead of an ad about being #1, present an infograph of exactly how you stack up to other agents (Average Sunnydale Agent: Sells 2 homes per year. Berta Experta: Sold 28 homes last year. / Average Sold Price in Sunnydale: $200k. Average Sold Price for Berta’s Clients: $235k). This communicates to the homeowner that you don’t expect them to hire you just because of a fancy award – that you mean business and get tangible results.
The most important message here is that self-promotion fails as the core of any marketing strategy. Think instead of how to show the area you are a caring, knowledgeable, trusted expert. And make sure they know it’s from you.