Mapping, Google’s Local Business Center & Going Mobile
It’s an exciting time in technology innovation, particularly as it relates to our real estate marketing practices. With cell phones getting smarter, netbook computers, and faster broadband access, Americans are going mobile at a frantic pace.
The search engines, especially Google, have been important sources of website and blog traffic for quite some time. Now these engines are also going mobile. What does this mean to the real estate professional, as well as brokerages? There are two seemingly opposing trends developing as regards mapping. Let’s look at what they are and how each will influence our business and marketing practices.
In May, the National Association of Realtors held sessions focusing on how brokers can cut their operating costs for office space and overhead by increasing the mobility of their agents. There are already very successful large brokerages that provide little or no office space for most of their agents. They have space for meeting clients and administration, but their agents operate from their homes and remote locations with today’s technology providing the services they need.
Using the new inexpensive netbook computers and cellular broadband access, even greater mobile capabilities are very inexpensively in reach of even the individual broker or agent in the field. With an Intranet, a complete online business structure can be created with all of the resources necessary for managing listings, prospects, leads and transactions.
What we will be witnessing in the near future is more mobile officing, with fewer agents manning their cubicle at the brokerage location. This isn’t a negative, as more consumers are saying in surveys that they appreciate services that come to them. This saves their time and transportation dollar, but even more, it’s convenient for them. With this in mind, let’s look at another trend in search technology that seems to be out of sync with this one … seems to be.
Google’s Local Business Center – You should be noticing mapped search results for local business at the top of your Google searches. Google Local Business allows you to map your business location. You can add images that meet requirements, and give details about your business as well. It’s like any other Google search result, in that your listing and site are competing for position with other sites in the local area.
With more consumers going mobile, doing searches on their cell phones, and locating businesses on the fly, this could be an excellent free marketing resource for the real estate brokerage. If you’re maintaining a consumer service brokerage location, as most are, this could get you walk-ins while they’re out there driving around looking at homes to purchase. It’s an excellent way to get a buyer when they’re in buying mode. It could also help with listings, as sellers do notice which companies have the best Web exposure for marketing their homes.
If you’re an agent who does maintain and man an office space at the brokerage, you can do a business listing as well, possibly giving you an edge. If a walk-in found the office with your listing, your name will be the one they use at the front desk. As independent contractors maintaining real estate websites, this is a way to get a leg up on others in the brokerage. Now, let’s try to figure out how getting away from the office while drawing customers to it can both work for us.
Google Mapping and Agent Mobility – Are you mapping your listings on Google and MS maps? You can you know. You can have a public map that will allow searchers to locate your listings with Internet searches. Though it’s not a Google Local Business listing per se, it’s a mini business presence for you in Google maps. And, the advantage is that you can have one for every listing. Did you know that you can even have an image or virtual tour video pop up in that Google map listing?
So, while the brokerage is marketing a centralized location for those consumers who want to walk in and talk, you can be marketing multiple locations with your own link back to your personal real estate site. At each of these homes, we hope that you’re providing sign riders with site links and even text messaging capabilities. Never before has a small independent business person been able to penetrate their markets in this way.
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