Helping consumers understand the value a REALTOR® brings to the homebuying and homeselling process boosts members’ business. Most associations post REALTOR® value talking points on their websites, many produce marketing materials for members to pass on to consumers or the media, and a few (with the resources to do so) create media campaigns, which include television commercials, print and electronic advertising, and social media posts that address their local market conditions and unique communications needs.
All associations are encouraged to amplify the REALTOR® value message by using NAR’s Consumer Advertising Campaign tools and creative materials in your own market. NAR’s current campaign, Get Realtor® (pictured left), communicates REALTOR® brand value to consumers, targeting up-and-coming generations of home buyers, sellers, owners and investors. The Get Realtor® campaign also includes 200 pieces of entertaining and highly shareable free content (at nar.realtor/adCenter) that you and your members can post on social media. For more, visit nar.realtor/consumer-advertising-campaign.
Our Consumer Campaign: We Are The R
By Kelsey R. Croston, director of brand experience, Richmond Association of REALTORS®, Va.
When I polled a room of Virginia’s local AEs in July, only a couple said they have run consumer campaigns. Yet the majority raised their hands when asked, “Would you start one if there was a realistic way to fit it into your organization’s strategy?”
So here’s how we did it at the Richmond Association of REALTORS® and MLS.
“We Are The R” is our public awareness campaign to promote using a REALTOR®. The campaign launched in 2012 and, every year since, we’ve added new commercials and social media material, all directing consumers back to WeAreTheR.com.
The original idea came from our leadership, and because the campaign is producing results, subsequent leaders have embraced the program.
Public outreach like this is not for every association because it eats up resources, both financial and staff, and the results are difficult to quantify. We knew we could afford it only if we got members to back the content and drive the campaign to consumers. If your campaign is a top-down, all staff-driven effort, it will cost much more and be far less effective. But if you can rally member support and get their buy-in, which isn’t easy, you can build greater momentum because members will feel they are an essential part of the campaign to promote themselves. We’ve found it’s both more economical and effective if we empower members to promote the consumer materials we create. Without member excitement, we would be solely at the mercy of social media algorithms and paid advertising.
If step one is to design the campaign around member buy-in, step two is to include member “influencers” in the brainstorming process for the creative.
The concepts for our campaigns come from merging the talent and instincts of our board, communications committee, CEO, and communications staff. That sounds like a lot of cooks in the kitchen, but after all ideas are gathered and vetted, our CEO makes the final decision on concept and gives communications staff full ownership over how the ideas are implemented.
Each campaign we’ve had focuses on where we think the market will be and incorporates the current market conditions. Do we need to encourage people to buy or list? Do we need inventory or do we need buyers? For example, our 2014 campaign focused on attracting buyers by promoting the low interest rates and rising rents. This year’s low inventory inspired our “Leave it to the REALTORS®” campaign, aimed at owners and focused on the ease of using a REALTOR® to manage everything related to selling a home.
We don’t stray from content that can be mostly conceptualized and produced in house. But when we do hire vendors, we make sure that they understand that consumer campaign materials are created with consumer considerations taking distant second to membership considerations. Even though the campaign is for consumers, the members are the ones using the materials—and they won’t use them if they don’t like them.
Video has yielded our highest engagement rates with members. They’re aware it catches the consumer’s eye, and it’s so easy for them to show their personal brand by tacking on an often pithy comment when they share.
To save money, we use services like Biteable and GoAnimate to create animated videos in house. Live action is created through a hodgepodge of resources. We write scripts, host casting calls, and direct on set, but often outsource the videography and post editing.
Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram are the social platforms that now complement the WeAreTheR.com campaign site. We are continuously evaluating the decision to house this content on a separate domain from our member site. At this point, the divide is still working for us because it helps members understand what’s for their eyes and what we are putting out there for them to share with consumers.
Material on social platforms suggests that we want members to share it, but that message isn’t always understood, so we give members express permission and encouragement to share via text, mass email, and briefly speaking at classes, WCR meetings, and sales meetings.
The real ROI of consumer campaigns
Unfortunately, there is no way for us to know if members are getting more clients because of the work we’re putting out there to consumers. What we can do is gauge the overall feedback from members on the campaigns and how excited they get for the materials. For example, we made promotional posters, which members hang on their office walls and give as closing gifts.
You can look at the clicks and engagement metrics on social media and see what content is popular, but at the end of the day, you don’t know if it’s members or consumers looking at it.
The real payoff is intangible. Members get a sense that the association is doing something for them and their business. They are interacting more often with association materials, and the association is more present in their daily business.
For those venturing into a local campaign initiative for the first time, my advice is to not be overly concerned with what you or your board defines as success. The long-term understanding about the needs of the members is well worth any potential failures when creating consumer material.
Our Consumer Campaign: REALTORS® Play Many Roles
By Carolyn Schwaar
When the leadership of the Kansas City Regional REALTOR® Association came together to brainstorm how best to put investment earnings into new programs for members, they considered a wide range of services and products. The goal was to find something impactful for the community and something that would reach and benefit all members, says Christian Zarif, 2016 association president.
Two programs made the cut; one was working with Habitat for Humanity and the second was to develop and implement a multi-media consumer marketing campaign to promote the use of a REALTOR®.
“We felt this provided a benefit not only to our members but also to the community and the clients we serve,” says Zarif.
Leadership and the association’s creative team focused the campaign message on educating consumers on the many roles REALTOR® play to serve their clients and communities from adviser and concierge to negotiator and advocate.
The television commercials debuted in June to wide member acclaim. Videos, social media, and print materials drive traffic back to the campaign microsite WhichRole.com.
The campaign is designed to last and change focus along with consumer needs and market conditions. The materials are easily sharable and available to association brokerages and members to tag and use for their own promotion. “We have no reason to promote the association brand,” says Zarif. “We want to promote [members] and the REALTOR® brand.”
Our Consumer Campaign: Using a REALTOR® should be a priority
By Suzanne Westrum, vice president of communications and marketing, San Antonio Board of REALTORS®
It is inevitable in our line of work that we have had to explain to a friend or family member that not all real estate agents are REALTORS® and that the process of buying or selling property is actually much more complex than it looks on the internet or television. In a time when the DIY mentality reigns, the task of informing the public about the value of a REALTOR® is more important than ever.
At the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®, we use several platforms to spread this message to the public and help them understand why using a REALTOR® should be a priority. Through a strategic mix of paid advertising in print, online, and on television and efforts aimed at earning unpaid media mentions and features, our goal is to provide a convincing case for the REALTOR® value.
Our consumer outreach, which focuses mainly on why consumers should use a REALTOR®, began more than a decade ago, and today members view it as a core benefit that they receive from their association. We make sure they know about all of our efforts by giving them a monthly list of our media appearances and advertising buys.
Our most popular and successful outreach has been paid segments on local morning television talk shows. In these segments, our spokespeople, who are current association volunteer leaders, discuss buying and selling tips while emphasizing why a REALTOR® is a necessity in each step. These segments allow us to go in-depth on the REALTOR® value, but appear as interviews rather than sponsored content, which lends increased credibility. And since the segments are universal to REALTORS® and not specific to anyone, our members share these clips widely online as tools to market themselves.
Each of our paid efforts ends with a call for action to visit our consumer website at SABOR.com to find a property and a REALTOR®. In our earned media interviews, our spokespeople are trained to highlight the use of a REALTOR® and how to find one.
Our print ads in popular local publications, including the daily newspaper and several magazines, are a staple and allow us to have a continued presence in front of consumers and members. Our digital ad strategy goes further by allowing us to target internet users who have already visited SABOR.com, searching with specific keywords that we have selected. Tracking impressions and click-through rates is instant, and we can adjust keywords and artwork mid-campaign as needed. These ads follow the users wherever they go online.
Although we have found success with these platforms, we continuously evaluate how well each is working and where they falter. This allows us to determine whether we should scale back one method while amplifying another or add in a new platform or media partner altogether. By remaining nimble and flexible with our campaign, we expect this mix of digital, television, and print advertising to continue building the consumer impression of REALTOR® value in the San Antonio area and garnering further earned media attention for our message.
The California Association of REALTORS® has an extensive TV, radio, and digital campaign, and a robust tool-set that REALTORS® can use to enhance their personal branding.
The long-running “Champions of Home” campaign emphasizes the benefits of working with a REALTOR® and how REALTORS® are connected to their community and the economic health of the state.
The latest campaigns feature REALTOR® Egypt Sherrod, host of HGTV’s “Flipping Virgins” and “Property Virgins”; Telemundo star Edgardo Gazcón; and a selection of “real Californians” sharing their personal stories about why they used a REALTOR®.