‘Guess the List Price’: Contests Clients Will Love

Creating a friendly competition among your online followers could earn valuable brand loyalty. Here are some ideas for games to boost your marketing.

Hosting a contest on social media, along with a prize for the winner as small as a $20 gift card, can sometimes earn more client engagement than any other advertising. Gino Montalvo, a real estate pro with Marabal Montalvo & Associates in Corpus Christi, Texas, knows this well. As a former radio personality, he’s learned how to hook his audience—and in his real estate business, he might do that by sharing a “guess the list price” contest or a down payment pop quiz. He says these efforts net him the most followers online.

“Everyone loves to offer up information,” Montalvo says. “That’s why people like contests. People love to talk about themselves and share their opinions. So that’s the strategy I use online: to always think of ways to get others to talk or share something about themselves, so I’m not just the one talking at them.”

Several real estate brokerages have launched their own contests, from open house treasure hunts to online photo competitions, and such efforts appear to be effective. Businesses that incorporate online games into their marketing acquire an average of 34 percent more followers, according to data from promotional marketing firm Kontest. The company also found that one-third of people who enter online contests go on to sign up for newsletters from the sponsoring brands.

So what kind of contest would you host for your followers? Here are a few examples of what agents and brokers have done.

1. Guess the List Price

Jerry Pierce, a sales associate with Mountain Valley Real Estate Experts in Morgan, Utah, posts an interior photo of his listing—perhaps the kitchen or living room—on Facebook and asks his followers to guess the list price before the listing debuts on the MLS. He gives the person who comes closest to the actual price a prize, such as a TrackR Bravo GPS locator, which can be attached to any item and tracked via a smartphone app. “[The contest] receives a lot of participation,” Pierce says, adding that his contests garner an average of 4,000 views and 100 comments. However, a particularly popular one recently got more than 11,000 views and nearly 300 comments. His “guess the list price” contest also steers more interest toward the listing itself when it hits the market.

2. Share, Comment, and Like to Win!

Montalvo occasionally sponsors a contest for one of his new listings, asking participants to do three things: comment on the listing post, “like” it, and then share it. Those who do all three will be entered in a drawing for a $20 gift card to a movie theater or local sports store. Why must participants do all three actions? Montalvo says it’s a strategy to game Facebook’s algorithm, which pushes posts that have attracted comments, likes, and shares higher in people’s news feeds.

3. Hold an Open House Scavenger Hunt

Give visitors a card with clues and questions to answer as they tour the home. Some example questions are: How many fireplaces does the home have? Which room had an inviting window seat overlooking the backyard terrace? Which rooms featured custom built-in shelving? Not only do you give prospects a reason to pay closer attention as they do a walkthrough, but you also teach them about the home’s features, which they may find appealing. The Keller Williams Realty office in Las Cruces, N.M., took a different spin on an open house scavenger hunt in 2014. Agents with the office held nine open houses in the area on the same day, providing visitors with a checklist to fill out as they went. Those who visited all nine homes were entered into a drawing for a free iPad mini.

4. Sponsor a Contest for Local Businesses

Small-business owners are sources of referrals, and they too can be motivated by contests. David Serpa, leader of The Homes Team with Signature Real Estate Group in Murrieta, Calif., developed a contest among sponsors of his community’s French Valley Fall Festival. Serpa and his team host a booth-decorating contest for businesses who sponsor booths during the festival. Last year, 22 businesses participated—with designs ranging from haunted house–themed booths to face painting—and the winners received a plaque (including Serpa’s real estate logo). “This is not a moneymaker for us,” Serpa says. “But value exchange is our focus. The businesses appreciate being able to get their name out in the community, and they’ll send us clients because of it. No one is going to begrudge you for advertising to them when you’re offering a fun, family event that is free.”

5. Snap a Selfie

Another take on a scavenger hunt, encourage your followers to find your yard signs or ads around town and take a photo with them. Then, have participants post the photos on Facebook, and whomever gets the most likes on their photo wins a prize. Here’s a tip: Create a hashtag for the contest, such as #FindJohnDoeRealty, to extend your branding and organize submissions.

6. Host a Holiday-Inspired Contest

Washington, D.C.–based brokerage City Chic Real Estate hosted a “Show Us Your Stoop“ photo contest around Halloween last year, asking participants to send in pictures of their home decor. The photo with the most votes online received a $250 Target gift card.

A few years ago, First Team Real Estate in Huntington Beach, Calif.—one of the state’s largest independent brokerages—sponsored an “Extreme Home Makeover Lighting Contest” for Christmas, inviting local residents to “like” the brokerage’s Facebook page to be entered into the raffle. A participant was chosen to receive $5,000 worth of professional lighting decorations (clean-up costs included), along with a $500 check to go toward additional electricity costs. First Team Real Estate also offered runner-up prizes, including $500 and $250 American Express gift cards.

You can also show your personal flair by hosting a contest around a nontraditional holiday. For example, on Nov. 2, which is “Men Make Dinner Day,” have your male clients post photos of their meal online. You could give the person who gets the most likes a restaurant gift card.

Put Some Rules in Place

If you plan to hold a contest, avoid potential legal issues by drawing up guidelines that clearly state the rules and how a winner is selected. Social networks also have their own rules for how you can promote a contest. Review the rules on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.