Where Should The Real Estate Marketing Dollar Go When You Sell Your Home?

I received an interesting email this weekend that I thought I would share with you. A couple was referred to me and are looking for a REALTOR to work with. They wanted to know if I was the type of REALTOR who would just put their house on REALTOR.ca and forget about it. They were convinced that advertising their $900,000 house in the Toronto Star weekly was the way to go. They were also upset that there were few ads in the Toronto Star this weekend and that obviously meant that agents were not working (even though I was responding between showings and appointments).

I tried to explain to them that Real Estate was going through many changes and that their $900,000 house was better served by the demographic in the Toronto Globe and Mail or the National Post (sorry Star Readers but even the Globe and Mail suspended the Homes Section for three weeks at the holidays). I also pointed out that although, REALTOR.ca was definitely part of any agent’s marketing plan, most Buyers searched through Google under the top search terms and that it was important that a Realtor’s web site be positioned front and centre. I also tried to explain to them the power of the Realtor to Realtor TorontoMLS system which allows us to set parameters and forward all new listings fitting those parameters to our buyers 24/7.

They then told me that I was all wrong and they did not think that $900,000 Buyers would be searching on the Internet at all. Realtor.org, the web site of the National Association of REALTORS has a 2006 survey that, at that time, showed the use of the Internet to be over 81% at that time, but they were not interested in listening. They had already decided that I was not the person for them – fine for me – but they continued to send me a couple more emails to tell me how wrong I was. Interesting that someone would choose to ask questions and then tell the respondent that all their responses were wrong.

I tried again to explain to them the importance of Search Engine Optimization (the manipulation of the search criteria that puts one on the first or second page when someone searches Toronto Real Estate or another number of searches). I also sent them to my Blog at www.DowntownTorontoBlog.com and told them how important that Social Network Marketing like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were becoming in Real Estate (They recently demonstrated their abilities in getting amazing political and fundraising support for President-Elect Obama).

Noted Speaker and Coach Barry Lebow says “a Newspaper advertises an abundance of merchandise. It is broad. A person looking for a house today is specific, they go where the houses are promoted the most- the Internet. Niche is important, broad is bad. And what if the Buyer is being transferred or is just moving into the City. They do not have Newspapers but they have the Internet”.

I talked to them about the importance of personal and corporate web sites, professional photos, Virtual Tours, Floor plans to show your property to its best. They did not even give me the chance to tell them how important Staging was in the sale of property today. Sadly, I had lost them when I suggested that “Print Marketing” was not the focus they should have.

Now don’t get me wrong. I do have an ongoing ad in the Globe and Mail, Homes Section but it sends readers to my Web site for full details. I also send out thousands of JUST LISTED with interior and exterior photos within the first few days of listing, I do sponsor by invitation Realtor Open Houses where I serve food, I do strongly believe in public Open Houses, host them and I do advertise those Open Houses in the Saturday Globe and Mail.

What I tried to tell them is that for the benefit of my Sellers, I had to take their properties to where the Buyers are and not where they used to be or where I would hope they would be. The shift began years ago when “I saw your ad in the Newspaper” became “I liked the photos on the “net” so I would like to see that listing” or “I am always on your web site”.

Most Realtors will tell you today that an ad in Print media is a move to keep their Sellers happy and not because they think it will actually bring an offer to the table. Ask yourself the last time you went to get information from a offline dictionary or encyclopedia…and then ask yourself where your Realtor should focus marketing dollars.

Here is a great Blog on what to do when Newspapers disappear by Seth Godin…

6 Responses

  1. Toronto Condo Dude

    Hey Richard,
    Great post. I think most sellers are realizing that the internet is where the marketing focus of selling a property should be, but there are some (as you have illustrated) who are still thinking like it is 1995. Reality check: buyers know what they want, and they are going to Google (and other online sources) to find it!

  2. Scott Hartis

    Richard,

    This post is spot on! I too still have sellers that wonder what print advertising I do when marketing a listing. While I do still have some print advertising, its to generate buyer leads because I know it rarely actually sells a property.

    Keep up the good work.

  3. Deidra

    Hey Richard,

    Another great post! I also believe social media is the new platform for marketing and successfully reaching clients; however, i have been told differently about staging. I have read that home owners should just “de-clutter” their homes and not consult a professional stager, is this true? Has staging been “hyped” through reality TV or is it really a useful marketing tool?

    Thanks.

  4. Richard S.

    Hi Deidra,

    I’m very fond of staging, it’s most definitely a useful marketing tool. It helps the buyer imagine a living space better, than when he comes to an open house without any furniture whatsoever. I’m actually preparing an article on this topic, if you’re interested I’ll notify you when it’s published. Should be sometime next week!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    Richard

  5. Deidra

    Hi Richard!

    I would definitely be interested in reading that article! I’m currently studying marketing and i understand the many promotional tools used to market a product, but i’m unfamiliar with real estate marketing tools. Moreover, other real estate agents stress the importance of search engine optimization, websites and give the impression that staging is only used 10%-15% of the time.

    Cheers

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