First home buyers are scarce at the moment. With investors very active in the market it seems like the best place to grow your agency business is to target investors and to pay less attention to the younger generation of buyers and sellers.
However, anecdotal evidence shows that investors themselves can often be younger, stay-at-home professionals whose first foray into the property market is to purchase an investment property. And with over 600,000 homeowners under 35 there is a large pool of potential sellers who are in this cohort.
So, as an agent, how do you target these buyers and sellers? Is the approach the same as targeting the older generation? Does email marketing work? What about letter drops and phone calls? Is it all about Facebook and Twitter? Is the new way about social media only?
The younger generation is far more savvy about their use of technology, but they are not fundamentally different to anyone else; they just see through any direct selling strategy. It’s not the distribution channel – email, letter drop, or social media – that matters it is the content and the expectation of the sender.
So, with over 70 per cent of agencies having some form of ‘social media’ strategy, how do you make sure you cut through and become noticed and, more importantly, trusted in your community?
Research shows that it is about how genuine you are in your interactions with your ‘audience’. Are you trying to sell them something or are you helping them to understand, grow and become more able property buyers and sellers? If the latter, then you will find that you will have longer conversations with increasing interactions, and a naturalness in your sales funnel. You will naturally find prospects becoming contacts and then becoming customers. This naturalness lends itself to a social media environment as it allows for longer-running open conversations that in turn build trust. The younger generation doesn’t use Facebook because it is a new fad; they use it because it allows a more open and honest (and shared) communication environment than email or direct mail. The same applies to Twitter – quick relevant comments on topic and broadcast to whoever wants to hear them, again allowing for open and honest conversations.
Approaching this new communication paradigm can be quite a challenge for an agent. What is there to say that makes a difference to your audience? What are you giving them to make them better buyers and sellers? How do you build a relationship over months which results in them trusting you and therefore using you when they are ready to enter the market, or sell what they currently own?
In my experience, changing how you think about your prospects helps to change how you communicate with them.
Imagine you are standing around a barbeque, with beer, wine or soft drink in hand and there are five or six of you watching the meat cook and talking. What would you say to this audience? Of course nothing hard sell, you are at a barbeque! But given you know a lot about the property market and what is happening in it, the kinds of comments they would find interesting could be:
“I am seeing twice the number of people come through open homes compared to last month. It feels like real change in the air. It is quite exciting to feel the buzz of activity finally come back to the market.”
“I listed a house last weekend and it sold before the first open. That is the first time in four years I have managed that. I am pretty happy.”
“I took a look at RP Data last night and saw that twice as many four-bedroom houses sold last month than the month before, and three times more than the month before that. Not as many three-bedroom houses are selling so there must be a different type of buyer out there. I am a little puzzled as to why – has a new school started advertising in the area?”
What is common with the above comments?
1) They are shareable. The people you tell are likely to repeat to their friends. The facts are simple to remember: “twice as many through open home”, “sold before open”, “more four bedrooms than three bedrooms selling”;
2) They are not blatant sales but they emphasise you know what is happening in the market;
3) They are personal, they show some emotion or positive response from you;
4) They are mini stories. People love stories and repeat stories.
Social media is like being at the barbeque. You start or respond to stories told by others and contribute what you know. As you are the expert and have access to data tools that others don’t, you also can add relevant and interesting stories and facts to the conversation. Through the process you become recognised and trusted.
Does this help you get listings in the end? The answer is yes, but it does require time and a different level of engagement. Keeping the content flowing is important, not necessarily every day but at least a few times a week. Use the tools you have – you would be amazed how much you can find out just by browsing. Then convert that to comments others find interesting, overlaid through a story and with a personal slant.