Pay attention to the messages you’re sending to prospects, not just the tools you’re using to connect.
detail of old typewriter; "Content is King" text on paper; social media "likes" cover page.

© Getty images: typewriter - Nora Carol Photography; social - Liubov Khutter-Kukkonin

As you generate leads, chances are you’re also thinking about which method—email marketing, social media, video, or some other tool—is most effective for connecting with prospects. Whatever method you choose, start with superb content. Consumers want to know that you understand their fears, needs, and desires when it comes to buying or selling real estate. Consider these ideas for content that will make a meaningful impression and help you stand out from the competition.

#1: Make videos that focus on consumer needs, not your business. While bio videos and home tours will be part of your toolbox, you also want to create  messaging that conveys your knowledge and your ability to work with people, says Chris Scott, a digital marketing expert at The Paperless Agent in Austin, Texas. Short, professionally produced videos are often the most engaging way to demonstrate your expertise. Ideas for such videos include:

  • History of your listing’s most interesting feature, with the intention to educate, not sell.
  • One-minute real estate tip for buyers or sellers, filmed in front of a current listing.
  • Answering questions from social media followers about the buying and selling process.

Once these videos are in front of people on social or other platforms, “it’s now gone beyond lead generation and entered the realm of dialogue,” Scott says. “That conversation is what’s necessary for the sale to take place or to solidify [a prospect] as a customer.” He adds that consistency is the key to making video work. Scott says over a three-month period he spent about $500 on video production and landed $3 million in sales as a direct result.

#2: Create different content for each social platform. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram each have distinct strengths, so post content that fits the channel, says Adrian Fisher, CEO of Property Simple, a real estate technology marketing company, in Scottsdale, Ariz. Use Facebook to share updates with your sphere of influence; LinkedIn is a place to demonstrate thought leadership; Twitter is for commentary and can also be a great customer service tool; and, of course, Instagram is where you can showcase the beauty of your listings through photos and short videos. The content must add value to your audience, be genuine, and have a call to action to start a conversation. The long game for your social strategy is to stack up leads who feel like they know you personally. When the time comes for them to buy or sell, you easily come to mind.

#3: Host events that get people talking. Jessica Witter, a sales associate at Compass Massachusetts in Boston, hosts distinctive events for clients and listings, such as housewarming parties, car shows, and painting classes. After each event, she sends thank-you emails to attendees and starts a conversation about their real estate needs. These events have generated at least 15 new clients for Witter in the last year, she says. “I can’t tell you how many people say, ‘I’ve never seen a real estate agent do this. Can I have your card?’ ” Witter says.

#4: Focus on connections with long-term potential. With 95% of her business coming from referrals, Sarah Gustafson, ABR, CRS, broker-associate at Janice Mitchell Real Estate in Holden, Mass., believes cultivating fewer, deeper one-on-one connections generates more leads than making fleeting contact with many people. She advises becoming an active member of your local chamber of commerce and other business groups. Set coffee and lunch appointments with the people you meet to craft a strong, personal network, Gustafson says, then track the number of referrals you get from each contact. She says up to 40% of her annual business comes from connections she’s made at networking events.

#5: Get friendly with human resources professionals. When you’re attending business-focused events, seek out human resources executives, who have the potential to unlock referrals for you, says Sasha Farmer, CRS, GRE, broker-owner of Story House Real Estate in Charlottesville, Va. Local HR association meetings hold opportunity for a lot of referral business, she says. Farmer identified companies in her market with more than 100 employees and initiated relationships with their HR managers, CEOs, and company presidents. Through networking groups, she built up an understanding of their real estate pain points. As of late November, Farmer had closed 26 transactions in 2019 that originated from HR -contacts, totaling $209,000 in gross commission.

#6: Treat referrals like gold. When a referral client speaks positively to the referrer about his or her experience working with you, the referrer likely will send more business your way. Shannon Buss, GRE, SFR, broker-associate at Randall, REALTORS®, in North Kingstown, R.I., will text video introductions of herself to new referrals and other real estate professionals to begin building rapport. The video tactic sets her apart from competitors, she says, and has helped grow referrals from 10% to 50% of her business in the last year. “Video allows us to demonstrate that we care about communication and we’re good at it,” Buss says. “It allows us to give a ‘brag bite’ about ourselves so they know why they should choose us over other brokers.”

4 Tactics to Approach With Caution

If you’re not going to engage, don’t join the group. You need to have a purpose and tangible goal for joining a business networking group, Farmer says. Otherwise, don’t waste your time.

Power down the use of robotic scripts. Because real estate is a relationship-based business, generic scripts don’t inspire consumer confidence in you, Witter says. Leads want to see your personality to envision what it would be like to work with you.

Leave cold calling in the cold. Besides requiring that you adhere to federal no-call requirements, cold calling can’t beat modern tools, such as social media, free downloads, and email marketing, which tend to engage leads for longer periods of time, Scott says.

Use direct mail sparingly. With the internet and social media driving more active leads, sending out postcards and flyers could be an unnecessary expense for your business if it doesn’t convert customers, Fisher says. Research whether direct mail has worked for other pros in your area before deciding to use this marketing channel.