Blogging is becoming an increasingly large part the real estate industry, and it’s great to see real estate picking up its pen. While I’m a big proponent of our newfound love for writing, I do have one minor niggle: everyone seems to be writing entirely too much of the wrong stuff.
It all comes back to one reasonably elementary error: we’re getting our target audience wrong.
Most agencies seem to be falling into the same trap, designing their content exclusively for the 12 per cent of homeowners statistically likely to put their house on the market within the next 12 months. You know – the hot leads.
Fair enough, they’re an important demographic – but what about everybody else? The other (relatively enormous) 88 per cent of homeowners will be selling at some stage too. Real estate is a marathon, not a sprint. The fact they’re not necessarily looking to sell now doesn’t mean we should just forget about them.
By writing just for the 12 per cent, we incur two problems:
1. If I’m looking to sell my house, my first step (and the first step of 90 per cent of the population) would be to jump online and do some research. I’m going to be looking for two things: home selling tips and the agency I want to work with. Pretty quickly, I’m going to find hundreds of real estate agents with practically identical OFI, marketing and negotiating advice. Who’s going to truly stand out? No one, that’s who.
2. On the other hand, if I’m part of the 88 per cent not looking to sell, the entire real estate community is startlingly silent. I may not be ripe for the picking, but I’m still interested in what real estate professionals have to say. I’ve spent a lot of money on my house – I want to know how it’s going to hold up financially. I want it to remain an asset rather than a liability. And, who knows, maybe some content on interest rates or the state of the market could even convince me to start thinking about selling? If not, any good content is sure to convince me that the agency that authored it is worth my while.
This is the part where I should add something pithy and germane to come across all Warren Buffet and sage: plant a tree today for shade tomorrow.
Blogging for homeowners before they’re even considering selling is an incredible way to nurture cold leads. When the time comes to sell, and everyone is trying to get them to list with their agency by way of shouting over one another, you’ll be an old friend already. Multiply this by the number of neglected cold leads in your catchment area, and you’ll begin to see just how good an investment that half an hour a week is. Make everyone part of your target audience – from new homebuyers to retirees. At some point, they’re all potential clients.
I think we can all agree it’s time for a little balance in our blogging schedules. An enormous portion of our market has been missing out on what we’ve got to say. Here are six ideas to get you thinking:
- Write about any developments in your area, and how they’re likely to affect local property values
- Some DIY or gardening tips that can increase the value of their home
- Tips on getting a better mortgage (maybe you could offer a free appraisal?)
- How to make your new house a home
- A recap on how the market has done over X years
- You might like to try centring a few posts around interest rates
The consensus of industry experts is that in order for agents to stay relevant, we need to shift from our role as facilitators of sales to property experts. Basically, we need to become trusted advisers, not just salespeople. So start showing off what you know. By educating clients, we add value to our service and build ongoing, engaging relationships that secure lasting business. And if you start doing this well in advance, you’re going to beat the queue of people trying to win that listing. This is how the standout agents of the 21st century are going to succeed. This is, hopefully, how you will too.
Bottom line: blog as an investment.
Anton Babkov is the chief executive of Rex Software, a real estate software provider with 30 staff and more than 600 agency users. He talks regularly with Rex users and leading industry thinkers about the state of technology and innovation in the real estate sector. Until 2008, Anton practised intellectual property and internet law, working with tech companies from early-stage start-ups to some of Australia’s largest telecommunications and media companies.