Anthony Friedman believes branding and marketing are everything in the real estate business.
“As the saying goes, ‘Don’t be a secret agent,’” says Friedman, agent with the Anthony Friedman Team of Northrop Realty, a Long & Foster company, in the Baltimore area. “Scream it from the mountaintops and let everyone know what you do. I am a big believer in that mindset.”
He wants to be top-of-mind when someone thinks about real estate. His goal is to be his clients’ real estate guy for life, and his brokerage is making that easier to accomplish. Northrop invests heavily in making marketing efforts accessible for its 325 full-time agents.
First, it launched a design platform called Ignite, which allows agents to create customized and targeted branded content with the click of a few buttons, making the agent’s job easier, quicker and more efficient. For instance, when agents are at an open house or listing, they can develop a quick social media piece with a video while they are there to help promote the home.
In addition, Northrop partnered with the online visual platform leader Canva to help agents self-produce, create, print and publish custom items such as postcards, flyers, social media graphics, presentations and more. Agents can customize their content by swapping colors, logos, headshots, emails addresses, team information and other details.
Northrop also launched Studio7, an in-house creative and marketing undertaking. The team of around a dozen people who specialize in branding, creativity, event planning, project management, social media and digital space. Bringing marketing efforts in-house was important, Riley says, so that his team members had access to real people.
“We believe technology is important, but we want to have a team that are behind our agents,” says Jay Riley, Northrop’s chief marketing officer. “Artificial intelligence and technology can only get you so far. But it’s the people with insight and interaction with humans to really advance things even more.”
Studio7 helps agents grow their business, build their marketing plan to align with their business plan and add value with storytelling.
“It’s no secret that storytelling is a powerful tool, even in the real estate world,” Riley adds. “Telling a story is just as important as selling a property when it comes to modern-day real estate marketing.”
Friedman says Studio7 helped his team set up full marketing campaigns well in advance.
“While we are in quarter one, our marketing pieces and the timeline are already mapped out for quarter two,” he explains.
Using Ignite helps his team make rapid changes like editing a picture of a house they just closed on or taking and posting a photo of his team with the clients at a closing with the Anthony Friedman Team logo. This access to consistent marketing assets has made a difference, he says.
“We’ve grown our social media following with marketing efforts such as social media ads, e-blasts, custom mailers for areas that we farm to, commercials and videos,” he adds.
His team is also doing property video tours of listings, community spotlight videos focusing on local businesses, and other videos like the ABCs of real estate, with Friedman and his daughter.
“That is a fun one,” he says. “We can easily edit these videos with our logo, text, images, and more.”
“There are 1.5 million REALTORS® out there. If agents want to stand apart from the competition, they need to put their best foot forward, “Riley adds. “You have less than a second for that first impression.”
But what can realty offices and agents do to excel their marketing efforts when they don’t have such amenities such as Ignite or Studio7? Riley gives his top tips on making marketing efforts stronger, better and more competitive with other agents:
- Use Canva. The free graphic design platform offers thousands of templates to use. A fairly low monthly fee provides access to a professional version that has even more features and functionality.
- Use what’s available. Find services, tools or offerings from local MLSs or real estate associations.
- Focus on the who, why, how and what. Whether marketing at the agent or brokerage level, it’s important to figure these points out to make sure your message reaches your intended audience. Who is your target audience, and whom do you want to work with? Why should a customer want to work with you? How can you make this relationship and transaction easier for your client? What is the result that you are expecting from the marketing piece or campaign?
- Use the free platforms. Create pages for your business on Facebook and Instagram, and make sure to post regularly and engage your audience. These are free, so they should always be incorporated into your marketing plan.
- Make yourself known in the neighborhood. Farm your neighborhood by sending letters and postcards, sponsoring an ad in the neighborhood newsletter and connecting with neighbors in your community Facebook or Nextdoor.