If you do a Google search for the phrase “lead generation,” guess how many results you’ll find? Over one million. You don’t have to be an industry expert to know that lead generation is a big deal. And some real estate agents believe it’s the only thing that matters when it comes to marketing.
But the secret is this: if all you do is focus on lead generation, you are playing the short game. Lead gen is just one piece of a more comprehensive marketing plan. Others parts may include brand awareness, social proof, nurturing your sphere of influence, and more. Add those elements together and now you’re playing the long game.
About brand awareness for real estate
See those billboards along the highway? Brand awareness. Newspaper ads? Also brand awareness. But neither of these are targeted in the way that digital brand awareness can be. Billboards don’t change content based on who is driving by (not yet, anyway). But digital ads do. When you can identify your specific audience and find them online, you can afford to advertise to them repeatedly. And studies show that repetition is the key to making them aware of your brand. For a real estate agent, when we say brand awareness, we typically mean local people being able to recall your name, face, office name, and tagline — and being able to associate your brand to real estate. It can take someone seeing your brand up to 20 times before they will be able to correctly associate it.
Why does this matter, you ask? Because 92% of home sellers and buyers start their home search online before they talk to a real estate agent. And according to the NAR 2015 Profile of Buyers and Sellers, over 70% of those people will hire the first real estate agent they talk to. They can’t possibly call you if they aren’t even aware you exist, right? That’s what awareness marketing is trying to solve.
About social proof for real estate
Think about Amazon.com reviews. They are incredibly valuable to other consumers, because they validate (or invalidate) the claims of the product. Social proof is kind of like a product review — except you are the product!
So, given that 92% of people start their home search online, it’s becoming more and more important that you pay attention to the social proof that is out there about you on the web. Think of it as word-of-mouth marketing in a digital age. A vibrant website filled with your community connections, testimonials, and track record is a good start. And things like an active Twitter or Facebook page with comments on them all serve as social proof that you are an experienced real estate agent worth talking to.
Remember, you are dealing with the biggest financial transaction most people will ever do in their lives. They are looking for an agent that instills confidence. Social proof is what builds that confidence. In fact, The Wall Street Journal recently published a survey that found the headline, “Your neighbors are already doing it,” was more persuasive than one that said, “You’ll save $54/month” when it came to influencing consumer behavior. We feel safe when something is tried and true — it’s just our human nature.
Don’t get me wrong: lead generation is incredibly important in any sales environment, and real estate is no exception. But if it’s all you are doing in your marketing plan, you are likely missing out on longer-term gains. In fact, your lead generation marketing will actually perform better if people have already heard of you, and if they see strong social proof about you.