6 Cost Effective Ways to Build Your Online Brand
Take a hard look at your budget expenses for 2008. If you don’t have a budget, start NOW. Most agents fail in real estate because they do not have a business plan, or do not track their expenses on a regular basis. Analyze where most of your business is coming from and how much is spent to obtain that business. Authentic numbers digress the hard truth about the last year’s success of our business plan.
The National Assn. of REALTORS® releases its annual home buyer profile of home buyers and sellers every year at the annual conference which tell us how what buyers want, what sellers want, and what marketing works. According to the 2007 profile, for the first time ever the Internet has tied with the agent for information sources used in the home search (84%). According to the 2007 technology survey by the Center for technology of the National Assn. of REALTORS® 65% of agents have their own web sites.
A single web site is not a differentiator anymore. Ask these questions: how many web sites do you have and how are you using the latest Web 2.0 technologies to brand your business online? There is no one solution web site. Consistent combinations and strategic positioning of web 2.0 technologies will immediately differentiate your business from the competition, and remain relevant to future home buyers and sellers.
Here are six ways to build your Internet presence for a fraction of the cost:
- Online social networking (Free). Two out of every three people visit a social online networking site for resume type data. Google and Yahoo generate a substantial amount of online traffic using search engine optimization techniques (pay per click being the most common). Free sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn, and MySpace add tremendous value to search engine optimization while creating interaction with online users. Save time by creating one profile on one online social networking site and copy/paste the same data into the rest. Find your sphere of influence online and send them a message. Save a stamp or two per person by communication and servicing that online community.
Blogging (Total cost $10-120/year). Creating web sites has always been an outsourced, high cost investment. Blogs are free using software: www.RealTownBlogs.com, www.ActiveRain.com, and www.WordPress.com. Create an account using one of the free online software programs, buy a domain name ($10/year) from www.GoDaddy.com, and forward the domain name to your blog account. Advertise it online and in print. Post topics relevant to your niche on a regular basis and watch your credibility and search rank fly to the top.
- Podcasting (Total cost $10-240/year). Ready to take your practice to the airwaves? Build immediate worldwide presence by taking your expertise to iTunes, the world’s largest collection of audio programs that can be downloaded to your computer, car, MP3 player, and home stereo. The only equipment you need is a computer, free audio editing software http://audacity.sourceforge.net/, a microphone, and an Internet connection. Real estate practitioners know which questions to ask lenders, inspectors, and other vendors involved in the transaction. Interview vendors and affiliates to share knowledge in an audio format while collaborating marketing efforts.
Videocasting (Total cost $0-9600/year). If you do not have a YouTube account at www.YouTube.com then do it now. This is also an online social networking site too for your resume and video clips. Film client testimonials, walkthroughs of properties for sale, or create professional new cast type presentation of market statistics to immediately differentiate yourself from your competition. Quality vs. quantity and the budget associated with each will differentiate your video presentations.
Web Widgets (Free). A web widget is a portable chunk of code that can be installed and executed within any separate HTML-based web page by an end user without requiring additional compilation. In other words, take communication or part of one site and put it on another. Examples of widgets are www.Plugoo.com, www.widgetbox.com. Plugoo will allow consumers to communicate through your web site. It will give you code to insert in your web site and display a box where consumers can ask quick questions. This is great for those who have assistants full time who can monitor this applet. Widgetbox will let you install a widget on your web site for most web 2.0 RSS feeds. This allows web sites to contain blogs, podcasts, and other social media that is searchable in reverse chronological order.
Search for homes by text messaging (As low as $10/month). Over 20 billion text messages are sent each month and continues to grow and an exponential rate. Also over 98% of cell phones have the text messaging functionality. Instead of picking up the phone to call companies about home prices while driving in their car, consumers can now text message a code to a 5 digit number to receive property info immediately. Most traditional companies will scream NO at this service since the number of property calls will be reduced dramatically as more real estate professionals market this service. But, buyer activity and behaviors can now be traced to the cell phone thus knowing more about their inquiries before picking up the phone to call. Visit www.CellSigns.com for more info.
Every agent should have a business plan, marketing plan, technology plan, and budget. A successful agent will dedicate time weekly to monitoring, tracking, and readjusting these plans to meet the market’s expectations. Take a hard look at the yearly National Association of REALTORS® "Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers." This invaluable guide is available at www.realtor.org to assist in determining how to set up your real estate business. Also go to http://www.realtor.org/technology/index.html to download the technology survey to find out what agents are using across the country.
(Doug Devitre e-PRO, ABR, CRS, GRI is a recognized national speaker on Internet marketing and technology. For more information please visit www.ReTechTraining.com or email to Doug@ReTechTraining.com .)