Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their Short List, a collection of tips and recommendations on an essential topic in real estate. This week, we talked with Kevin Oldman, the chief marketing officer for United Real Estate, about how agents deepen their relationships with buyer and sellers through their marketing.
One of the things that we always look at is how agents are growing their businesses, and something I’ve advocated is agents becoming more useful members of the community. What I mean by that is, most real estate marketing today revolves around the product agents are marketing, and if they’re marketing ourselves, they create a brand that does not offer the consumer anything useful.
With utility marketing, though, you offer tools and information that makes someone’s life easier. So, you help the consumer understand their needs and address their issues, and in doing that, you stay top of mind for when that consumer decides to ultimately buy or sell a home.
Here are my utility marketing suggestions:
6. One of the most common methods of utility marketing is publishing current real estate market facts. There’s an agent in my neighborhood who, every month, publishes a full-page advertisement with all the home sales in my community, including list price, days on market, sales price and all other pertinent stats – and that’s for all the area’s listings, not just hers. With that approach, she’s done a wonderful job staying top of mind, in that she’s providing information that people do not want to find themselves – and that people will keep in mind when they need an agent.
5. Real estate is a community business, and agents are ultimately working as members of their community. So with that in mind, what better opportunity to go out and curate a list of fairs, festivals and community events that you can house on your website and publish in a direct mailing? It will not be related to real estate, but rather, things that are going on in the community.
4. There are tools, such as Yelp, that are great for amassing large amounts of input on a community’s restaurants and venues, but what if you, as an agent and member of the community, publish your own top 10? You can write about your top 10 bars, or restaurants, or boutique shops. You can also link directly to those local merchants, and you’ll provide additional support for other members of your commerce community.
3. Another idea is to go out and provide sports schedules, but not in the conventional way. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you were the go-to resource for high school sport scores? Particularly if you were in the environment where high school sports were very important? You could publish them in a real-time format and establish a network with members of the community, who will text you the scores as soon as the games conclude. Your website will become the ESPN for local school sports.
2. Halloween is one of those holidays that is not only fun, but one that also inspires people to buy one particular thing, and that’s a pumpkin. So how about you buy a truck-full of pumpkins and, around the stem of the pumpkin, tie a card advertising your business? You can then deliver the pumpkins to people’s front porches while playing music from your truck – you could even place banners for your business along the side of the truck – making the delivery a community event.
1. The last tip I have to share is the most valuable one. Many real estate professionals, particularly when they get to a certain level, are able to invest in buying a truck people use on moving day. I say, let’s take it a step further: for everyone who buys a piece of property, offer them a free “moving kit” with 20 boxes, bubble wrap and tape. That will be the most useful closing gift ever for your clients, because nobody likes to go out and buy those items when they’re moving.
In summary, you want to give gifts to the world and anticipate absolutely nothing in return. With utility marketing, you’ll be rewarded with enhanced presence in the marketplace, and you’ll be recognized as someone who genuinely cares and is part of the fabric of the community – and your business will increase, as a result.
Kevin Oldham is the chief marketing officer of United Real Estate. Prior to his current position, Kevin co-founded United and United Country’s wholly-owned marketing firm, Enhanced Marketing Solutions, and built it into the largest real estate marketing services organization in the U.S. by number of annual engagements. He earned his Bachelor’s degree and MBA from Baker University, and in 2012, he was recognized by KC Business Magazine with the Rising Star award, which celebrates business leaders under the age of 40.