Most digital marketing agencies hit the ball out of the park when it comes to developing creative advertising campaigns for their real estate clients. However, there are times when the campaign absolutely makes no sense or doesn’t attain a high level of ROI for the client. It may sound a little amateur, but some campaigns I have seen come off single-sided with no longevity plans built into the campaign. These campaigns are typically designed in two weeks or less, which are highly ineffective.
When I was working as the director of marketing for a car dealership, I was constantly requested to develop an advertising campaign for an event that was 2-3 weeks down the road. The amount of stress I would go through to hit a home run with the little resources I had was embarrassing. Deep down, I knew the return on investment would be very little, but I stuck to my simple outlines of what to do and not to do when faced with creating a big campaign over a month’s time.
I learned from my experience at the dealership and was able to develop a simple foundation of making some great campaigns. So, here are my 10 do’s and don’ts of advertising specifically for real estate advertising agencies.
1. Define a brand image
Get out your creative brief template and start writing out what makes the client unique. You want to make sure you are able to latch on to something that can make them look like a super hero. Sometimes the client thinks they know it, but in reality they have a false sense because everyone else is selling on the same idea, while they really have strength somewhere else that stands out from the noisy crowd.
2. Know the territory and target audience
This one comes straight from the creative brief too. Identify where the client operates and exactly who their primary and secondary customers are. You want to be as detailed as possible with enough information to paint a picture so vivid that you can almost see the customer. Sometimes, you will end up discovering a new niche target market that will help in the next step.
3. Have a big idea campaign
I find this as the most important piece of the puzzle. You must come up with something that has immediate stopping power and isn’t vampiric. This big idea will be developed from the creative brief and should be easy to adapt across multiple media. There are several methods to come up with a big idea, but I like to just spitball ideas until it comes to me in an “aha!” moment.
4. Keep it simple
Try to make sure that you are not overloading the consumer with too much flashy information. The last thing you want to do is give the campaign too many elements that no one remembers what it is for. The more layers of media outlets that are involved, the more complex the campaign can be, which can overwhelm the customer from reaching their desired destination.
5. Create a touchpoint
This seems to be forgotten quite frequently when it comes to marketing in any sense. The place where the consumer interacts with the product, service, and/or advertisement needs to have some kind of memorable experience. These touchpoints should have a good balance of physical and digital interaction with the consumer. This can be in the form of a pleasant setting for the front end of customer interactions or even simply making a blog.
6. Search Engine Optimization
In today’s world, it is imperative that websites have a strong SEO. With all of the changes lately with Google’s algorithms, SEO has been completely turned upside down. A great way to boost a client’s ranking is to have them produce quality content through blogging. Some realtors may say they don’t have the time, but in reality it is the easiest shameless promotion one can do to prove their expertise in the real estate industry.
7. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisements
More often than enough, a simple investment in pay-per-click advertisements on search engines can help direct traffic to a client’s website. In the situation of realtors, you want to be very specific on keywords that are related to the target markets. The keywords can range from something as narrow as “(City) Real Estate” to “Two Bedroom Rancher.” The nice part of Google is that it recognizes customers’ locations; therefore, buying keywords will inherently show up in localized searches.
8. Social media listening tools
As more people become connected with social media, companies will need to have a presence on it. Now, simply just starting a social media Page and adding content here or there is not the best technique. There needs to be well-planned out themes for each month/week/day to grab attention. Once you grab enough attention for a following, I highly suggest having the realtor use tools like HootSuite to remain engaged with followers. The more they are engaged, the bigger their brand image becomes.
9. Have result-tracking tools
If a realtor is investing a large sum of money in to your agency, you must provide great insight in the return on investment. For every campaign, be sure to have some kind of tool used to track when and where the potential customer came from. Being able to identify inbound cash cows and dogs is the key to the success for the realtor.
10. Keep the frequency!
I once heard from a realtor that one of their biggest mistakes was not having a constant advertising campaign. She explained to me that she “shot herself in the foot” when pulling her advertising campaign because she was overwhelmed by too many new customers. The result? When the market started to slow down for seasonal fluctuation she had almost no clients. Real estate advertising needs to be constant to remain top-of-mind for the times it can be slow. A year later when she kept with a full-time advertising campaign, she didn’t have any problems finding customers in the slow season.
1. Skip on making a creative brief!
As much as it can be painful to write out this 1 to 2 page report, do not skip out on doing one of these. So much useful information is provided to guide constructing a strong campaign. This is especially important for real estate, as each realtor has their own specific strong selling points that will help them stand out from the noise of competition.
2. Have flashy graphics
OOOH LOOK FLASHY PICTURES! As much Creatives take pride in making amazing products for their clients, sometimes their egos can get in the way. The overload of too much information and flashy designs can annoy the person being subjected to the advertisement campaign.
3. Just do social media
If you are going to launch a campaign only on social media, you might be in for a rude awakening. The way to direct people to the social media outlet has to be big and in their faces for customers to want to connect on social media. That means offline tactics or big budgets for only social media will be needed to succeed when doing just social media advertising. You also have to make sure that social media is highly accessible for the target market. In some real estate areas, the clients’ target market could be near retirement. In that case, social media isn’t a method to reach out to them.
4. Set it and forget it!
Ugh, I dread seeing this one happen. I remember hearing from a director that once the campaign is over that nothing needs to be done. The funny thing is that this is the best time to grab people’s attention. Show off to the public the results of the success of your campaign by creating positive PR. This brings the side-line watchers closer to considering actually being involved with the next campaign up your sleeve.
5. Forget about statistical forecasting
All too often, a campaign can fall flat on its face by not digging up the deep details of statistics. I’ve been there, thrown in to a situation where I was asked to “make something up in a couple of days.” I had range of emotions and was able to produce only a rough strategy. I gave the proposal on condition that I would be able to gain access to all of the statistical records to aid in the campaign. After digging deep for a few days and making lots of excel spreadsheets, I was able to make a confident forecasting. It was successful, but it was partly due to really getting to know the statistics behind the target market. Be sure to ask the realtor for anything that can help statistical forecasting.
6. Be a “yes” person
Clients can be difficult to win them over at times, especially when it comes to big corporations. But that doesn’t mean your agency has to be a “yes” man to satisfy the needs of the realtor. The realtor could come in with a great idea of what they want, but you want to make sure you can blow their socks off with an even better idea that speaks directly to their target market.
7. Make campaigns quickly
A common mistake that all too often weakens the penetration of an advertisement is making a campaign up in less than two weeks. It has been proven time after time that quick patch work to make up an advertisement campaign quickly is highly ineffective. For realtors, the focus of the market needs to be several months in advance of potential trends and opportunities that can be connected with the campaign. I like having at least three to four weeks to build a campaign before it starts.
8. Game popularity
This has become a bit of a no-no lately. Gaming the system to make it appear your client is more popular than what they really are can lead to backlash. Creating bunch of fake back links, buying followers, and/or making up fake reviews are all damaging. Not only does it seem unethical, search engines like Google are starting to spot the activity and will penalize any website pursuing such tactics.
9. E-Mail list blast
Making an E-Mail campaign can be successful, as long as it speaks directly to different target segment groups from organic developed database of e-mail addresses. Buying lists just doesn’t work anymore and it can get you into trouble quickly if you are not in compliance with anti-spam mail laws in different regions. I once had a director become fixated on getting e-mail addresses from other companies. He thought the more e-mail addresses, the better chance of success. Want to know what happened? The desired tactic ended up causing red flags and ended up black listing the company’s domain address, marking it as spam. The campaign failed and it made future e-mail campaigns more difficult.
10. Use QR codes and augmented reality
I hear it all the time, “QR this, QR that, QR is the future.” You know what? Forget QR for now! Think about it for a second. With the power that QR codes harness, why isn’t it on every phone as a default application? The only brand that I know that does this is BlackBerry and they are sinking quickly. The issue for me is the reliability of long-term addresses and the convenience on the side of the customer to adopt it. If it was a native application when a consumer gets their phone, I would be jumping all over this. The same goes for augmented reality. I think AR has a better chance than QR codes, but it is going to take a long time to adapt. However, I can see in the future where QR and AR can work together on a house advertisement sign for a realtor. It would allow for a digital tour of the home without needing the realtor. Until a time where the cost of developing the technology drastically drops and the adoption rate becomes easier, I would advise to steer away from either technology for now.
So there we have it, my guide on what can make or break advertising for real estate for your agency.