A p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h e R e a l E s t a t e B u y e r ’s A g e n t C o u n c i l , I n c .
A w h o l l y - o w n e d s u b s i d i a r y o f t h e N a t i o n a l A s s o c i a t i o n o f R E A LT O R S ®
New marketing models for
By Richard Silver, Salesperson, Bosley Real Estate Ltd. Brokerage, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Richard Silver sits as a Director-at-Large with the Toronto Real Estate
Board and is a member of the MLS and Technology Council at CREA.
His Web site is RichardSilver.com and blog is Torontoism.com.
The world has changed since I ﬁrst entered the real estate business. Personal
networking is still crucial, but the tools have changed: It seems that who you
know, who you golf with, and what boards you sit on don’t matter nearly as much
as they used to.
This is partly because buyers now have different motivations. Their top priority is
ﬁnding someone who really knows the market they are most interested in. Being
the “go-to” person is key. Buyers are also changing in terms of how they like to
communicate and how they prefer to search for homes. The Internet has had a
huge impact on both these activities. Buyers are looking online ﬁrst and want to
see who stands out in a market as giving them the best information and advice.
BY THE NUMBERS
I’m guessing I’m not the ﬁrst agent who has told you that business is done
differently now. If you remain skeptical, however, consider this data from the Innovative Marketing
National Association of REALTORS®: According to the latest NAR Proﬁle of
Home Buyers and Sellers 2009, 90 percent of buyers used the Internet as an
information source in their home search, up 30 percentage points during the
past six years. First-time buyers were even more likely to use the Internet.
Blogging Rules: Join the
It’s hard to look at this data and ignore the importance of establishing and Conversation Online
maintaining a meaningful online presence. But what exactly is a meaningful
online presence? I’m referring to much more than a Web site, which tends to be page 7
ﬁlled with relatively static content. Participating in online social media networks
and posting new, important content on a regular basis, especially through a blog,
allows you to actually engage in online conversations. You are much more likely
to connect with buyers this way, rather than relying solely on your Web site.
Continued on page 4
New marketing models for ﬁnding buyer-clients
Continued from page 1
Here’s another important fact from highlighting your conquests, I advise answers to these questions, along with
NAR research: 66 percent of buyers agents to make sure their site does your regular material.
only contact one agent during their a good job of answering consumers’
search process. Granted, personal four most important questions: WAKING UP TO DYNAMIC CONTENT
referrals play a very important role in I had a Web site years before I had a
this statistic. But if most buyers begin 1. What is the current inventory of blog. Before I started blogging, I dabbled
their search online, doesn’t it also stand homes in the neighborhood? (and with adding a little statistical information
to reason that many of them are making display them with excellent and about our market to my site in the form
that ﬁrst contact with an agent via numerous photos) of short and poignant factoids. Once I
the Internet? did that, I noticed something that really
2. What is the consumer’s home worth? got my attention: The number of visitors
It doesn’t really matter whether buyers hitting my site went up 20 percent and
meet you via your blog, or your Web site, 3. What’s happening in the real estate the bounce rate (how long someone
or your Facebook page, or your Twitter market? (market statistics, tax stays on your site) also improved
posts. The real point is that if buyers use beneﬁts, etc.) signiﬁcantly.
the ﬁrst qualiﬁed agent they meet, and
if they are using the Internet more than 4. What’s happening in the community? This really convinced me of the
any other information resource, don’t you (lifestyle elements, including importance of adding fresh content on
want to be the agent who buyers ﬁnd ﬁrst schools, restaurants, etc.) a regular basis. Blogs are the easiest
and connect with when they begin their way for an agent to do that. I happen
search online? Of course, doing a good job of answering to use Wordpress for my blog, which is
these four “simple” questions can very user friendly. But there are other
WHAT IS A WEB SITE GOOD FOR? require a lot of Web content. If you have platforms that also allow you to post blog
Web sites are an essential component a blog integrated into your Web site, then content without learning anything about
of your marketing efforts. Rather than you can use your posts to provide many programming and html code.
for building your online presence
Step 1. Do your homework. Step 3. Launch your own blog. Step 5. Focus and develop systems to
Dig into a good introductory reference Now it’s time to ﬁnalize your own blogging keep it all running smoothly.
book like Blogging for Dummies so you plans and launch your blog. Your options Don’t assume that you need to develop
can become acquainted with blogging include joining one of the real estate agent unique content for all these platforms.
terminology, content considerations, ways networks mentioned above, or creating a Your blog is most important. From there,
to create a blog, blogging etiquette and stand-alone blog using Wordpress, you should decide to participate actively
more. REBAC’s new Real Estate Marketing Blogger, or other free or low-cost options. on at least one social media network. Take
Reboot course is another great way to If you choose this route, you may still want advantage of syndication tools (see related
learn more. (See page 3 for details.) to get help setting up the technical and item on page 5), which make it easy
design aspects of your blog. Spend 30 to to expand your efforts by automatically
Step 2. Start small. 60 minutes each day for the ﬁrst month reposting content on multiple platforms.
developing content for your blog.
Join one of the blogging sites geared
If you are not comfortable writing, you may Step 6. Remember that you are a real
speciﬁcally to real estate professionals,
prefer video or audio blogging. Find the estate professional.
such as ActiveRain (activerain.com),
platform that works best for you.
RealTown (realtown.com) or on REALTOR. Respond to all comments on your blog or
com (talk.realtor.com). Read other agents’ other social media outlets the same way
blogs and begin commenting on their Step 4. Expand into social media. you would to all e-mails and phone calls.
posts, so you’ll develop a better feel for Spend one month becoming familiar Remember that you are still obligated by
blogging in action. Also ﬁnd and follow at with each of the major social networking the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and must
least two independent blogs by other real sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn and follow all Board/Association rules and
estate agents. Twitter. It doesn’t matter which order regulations.
you approach them, but make sure you
devote time to build your proﬁle, expand
your connections, and participate in
4 TBR • January 2010 conversations.
credit. If you’ve written a post about that,
give them the link.
Assuming they view your post, you now
have a potential buyer who not only
appreciates your help directing them
to valuable information, but they’ve
probably spent a little time viewing other One post...click...now on
pages on your blog, or your Web site— multiple social networks
which can help convince them that you
really know your market.
Once you become
Once they are ready to start their search
in earnest, NAR data suggests that it’s in blogging and
very likely they’ll consider working with social networking,
you. You have become their “go-to” you will likely ﬁnd
person. You will often ﬁnd that buyers that it takes time
have read your blog and therefore know to sign into and
your thoughts on certain issues. That’s post content on all
why they want to work with you. the platforms you
participate in. Ping.fm is designed
The other beneﬁt of blogs is that they to greatly simplify the process.
dramatically improve the odds that Make one update and Ping.fm
buyers will ﬁnd you when they begin
pushes it out for you, allowing you
searching online. Again, this is because
search engines favor dynamic content to simultaneously update your
Personally, I keep my blog and my online posts based on speciﬁcations
over Web pages that never change.
Web site separate, but often copy and you control. (This technique is also
Make sure your posts include the
paste some of my posts onto my site. called syndication.)
same keywords that homebuyers use
Again, this is relatively easy to do if
for searching, to help ensure that your
your Web site includes a good Content
pages ﬂoat higher in their search results. Nearly 50 social networks are
Management System—or if you have a
personal assistant or site administrator supported, including Facebook,
Regarding keywords, it’s also important Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace,
who does this for you.
to note that you shouldn’t use acronyms plus several blogging platforms,
that are familiar to someone in the real instant messaging services, and
OTHER BENEFITS OF BLOGS
estate industry, but are not familiar to
Agents often ask me, when do you social bookmarking sites. You can
consumers. For example, if you work
have time to write a blog? I reply by create posts from your computer or
in the Houston area, don’t use “HAR,”
asking them: When do you have time but rather “Houston area REALTORS®.” your phone.
to answer the same questions, over and Search engines will rank this keyword
over, with your buyers? phrase much higher, since it’s what Potential downside? Be careful
consumers are more likely to use. about sending overlapping
Admittedly, the ﬁrst 100 entries for a messages to many of the same
new blog are daunting. But once you’ve HOW DO SOCIAL NETWORKS FIT IN? friends, colleagues and contacts
built a solid collection of material on all on multiple services, which can
Even though social networks play an
the most important topics and questions, be perceived as annoying. Also,
important role, I ﬁrmly believe that a blog
it becomes much easier. And for each don’t forget that social networking
is the most essential component of your
question that a buyer raises, you can
professional online presence. It’s the hub sites were originally developed as
point them to speciﬁc posts that answer
that sits in the middle, with other online two-way conversation platforms,
that question in detail and with good
communities acting like satellites orbiting not one-way broadcasts. Using
around it. social media purely to push out
This is how online conversations that messages, without any commitment
Major social networks like Facebook, to engage with others, can seriously
begin on social media networks can
LinkedIn and Twitter are excellent for
evolve into business opportunities. For harm your online reputation.
expanding your connections. Each
example, imagine chatting on Facebook
platform has a different ﬂavor. Once
with someone in your local market who To learn more, go to http://ping.fm.
you dabble in them, you’ll ﬁnd some
is interested in learning more about
more appealing than others. Also, don’t
whether they can take advantage of the
overlook smaller online networks that
extended and expanded homebuyer tax
Continued on page 6 TBR • January 2010 5
Continued from page 5
may be directly connected to your local
community—or consider launching one
of your own.
Ramp up the power
If you do a really good job on your of Outlook e-mail with Xobni
blog, you can use other networks to
further leverage your online presence.
For example, maybe you’ve decided to
use Facebook primarily for posts and
comments that are of a more personal Imagine that you received an e-mail from a prospective homebuyer.
nature. That’s ﬁne, as long as you’re Then imagine that alongside their message, you could also view a
smart and sensible.
small preview into their life. What if you could see their proﬁle photo on
But when you add a post to your Facebook, their current company and position via their LinkedIn proﬁle,
blog, you should also post about it on and other similar details?
Facebook, sharing a link back to your
blog. This is how you can use other
social networks to help extend the reach Would this kind of information give you an immediate advantage in
of your blog. Put another way, I look to terms of understanding a little more about who you are corresponding
the social networks to syndicate the blog
content I write. with and how you might be able to make a stronger connection with
them? Would it also make it easier to link up with them via an online
Even if you decide to concentrate on social network?
one social network more than others,
it’s important to establish a presence on
all the big ones. Different buyers have Well, you don’t have to imagine it, because this is exactly the type of
different communication preferences— intelligence you can gather—and much more—when you install Xobni
including various social networks as well
as phone, text and e-mail — so you (think Inbox, spelled backwards), an add-on program for Microsoft
want to make sure you are accessible Outlook. The Xobni panel also displays phone numbers, a list of
through all the major channels. Be other messages and attachments you’ve sent or received, and related
ﬂexible, so you can connect with your
clients the way they want to connect. appointments—a real time-saver since you don’t have to navigate away
And ask them about their preferences from your Inbox or go searching within it.
from time to time.
DON’T DELAY ANY LONGER There’s a free version of Xobni, or you can pay for
It’s a new year. What better time to shed various software enhancements.
some of your old outdated habits and
start new ones? If you haven’t already Go to xobni.com for details.
shifted gears and stepped up your
efforts to modify your marketing focus
and priorities, there’s no time like the
present. Things have changed. If
you’re still doing the same things
you’ve always done, this is probably the
right time to consider rebooting your
marketing strategies and exploring
ways you can make a stronger
connection with today’s buyers. Now
is always a good time to learn something
new. Re-invent yourself!
6 TBR • January 2010