Contrary to what you might believe, direct mail marketing is anything but extinct in this day and age. In fact, $46 billion dollars is still being invested in direct mail marketing by major corporations. Even with the advent of modern technologies that spread awareness of company promotions like email and social media; direct mail isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Direct mail has too many marketing benefits that the new kids on the block just cannot compete with.
For starters, think about the hassle a consumer has to deal with when being flooded with spam email. There are:
- Newsletters that you used to read 7 years ago.
- Promotions from companies that you never intended to see or receive.
- Status updates from what your once-upon-a-time high school friends are doing during their trip to the Ozarks.
- The tenth “forgot password” request that pushes you oh so closer to throwing your laptop out the window.
All of these emails are the same: they are an Arial-font request asking you to buy or do something you have little interest in doing.
Compare that with this year’s birthday card from Grandma. Outside of the intimate family connection you have with this individual, what does the direct mail card look like? What does it feel like? What meaningful message is in there? What’s the psychological connection that is made knowing they went out of their time to pick a card, write in it, seal it and send it with postage?
It’s more than striking a few keys and pressing “send”– it means something.
Even within all the physical mail you receive, this sticks out. It seems in 2018 the only letters you receive in the mail are the various bills you’re obligated to pay (unless of course you opted for “paperless”).
All of this plays into a hefty advantage in your favor as a real estate agent. Here’s how. Consumers like direct mail more. A recent study indicates that 73% of your customers actually prefer to receive direct mail over other marketing mediums. This is even more pronounced with millennials where 90% of them reported to responding favorably to direct mail when making their purchasing decisions.
Direct mail allows for easily tracking ROI. At first glance, it might seem like tracking ROI would be in depth and time-consuming.
On the contrary.
The ROI of direct mail is measured simply by choosing your sample size of the direct mail campaign, calculating costs for sending the campaign out, providing direct responses in your campaign, and tracking the rates of people sending back the responses. It’s that simple.
People love tangible, physical objects. We can see this prevalence for “the physical” in both the book industries (physical book sales consistently outselling kindle and digital) and music with vinyl albums hitting record highs in 2017. Even with being in the digital age, people love to hold, touch and experience “real things.” With direct mail marketing, you are able to set yourself apart from the competition with uniqueness.
- You can choose a striking color for your envelope.
- You can choose an interesting shape for your card.
- You can include personal graphics of your team.
- You can include a physical call to action within the content of your mail.
Any variable you choose to implement into your strategy further bolsters your uniqueness in reaching your customers and keeps you at the forefront of their mind–something of dire importance in the real estate industry. One study, “The neuroscience behind the response-driving power of direct mail” found that,
“Brand recall was 70 percent higher among participants who were exposed to direct mail ads rather than to digital ones.”
Direct mail also builds trust, maybe the most important facet of this job. Studies indicate that 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.
As an agent, you are overseeing and working with a specific geographic location. You are the real estate arbiter of a neighborhood. An effective method you can use in optimizing your direct mail marketing strategy is to implement it in conjunction with Nextdoor, the social media platform that allows you to touch and impact a given neighborhood without physically knocking on their doors. You might be thinking that with all these benefits direct mail marketing can bring you, the upstart would be labor intensive and take a decent chunk out of your marketing budget.
Wrong and wrong.
In 2018, there are plenty of companies that specialize in equipping you with everything you need to develop and implement the best direct mail marketing campaign to fit your business.
- Postcardmania is a great business to employ if you are looking to spread brand awareness. They are low cost and offer a bunch of customizable looks to help get your brand into the hands people are looking for.
- Mail Shark is a company that is specific for the real estate industry. They offer three different products that are solving three specific needs: Targeted Mail to specific types of people, Saturation Mail to people in a specific area, and EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail) for people who want to hit a specific area and prefer to do the mailing themselves.
Open Letter Marketing is again another company geared specifically for real estate that offers a menu of different options from handwritten letters to professional letters that help generate exposure and also offer a call to action and lead generator tools for your given market.
While technology is always innovating and changing, there are some tools that remain constant.
These tools pass the test of time and remain in the marketplace because they work. If you aren’t using them, you are missing out on effective ways to grow your business and enterprise. Direct mail marketing tops this list of “old dog“ tools. The tools that have remained viable even though many people have forgotten their effectiveness. What many people forget, you can use to your advantage. Be where others aren’t and see the success of your business rise.
Videos are the future – something that SaaS marketers can’t avoid, and a notion that is backed up by people’s natural disposition towards flashy visuals (the many sequels to Fast and Furious and Transformers can attest to this). If Michael Bay isn’t your thing, then there are also stats to provide it, courtesy of the renown IT authority –
Cisco: “Globally, IP video traffic will be 82 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2021”. If you’re more driven by what’s happening in the here and now, Hubspot states “that 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI”.
Given how the shortness of both SaaS sales cycle and attention spans, video stands as your next best piece of content.
What’s worse,by NOT deploying a strong content and video strategy, you’re ensuring that your competition will leave you in the dust. Instead, use videos to engage with your customers. Garnering more eyeballs to bolster your social media presence also works as a way to frame your business (literally) as a source of expertise.
Videos are the perfect vehicle for you to promote your brand and product. As the old adage goes: Seeing is believing. So if you’re able to demonstrate your company’s values via video, then your potential clients will more readily “buy what you’re selling”. Be sure to slap some captions on the video and boom – you have all of your bases covered to ensure that your client can consume your content while on the go.
It is a fact that videos are taking over. According to Forbes, 90% of reported customers confess that product videos help with their purchasing decisions. Clearly, this notion is most applicable when it’s applied to your most important product: your product and your brand. Again, if what you’re “selling” is yourself, then videos will aide prospective clients in their n to “purchase” you and your services.
Videos are also easier to share, and could potentially earn you some self-sustaining, word-of-mouth marketing. In 2016, we released Zillow, It’s Me, a parody of Adele’s critically acclaimed comeback anthem Hello. Keeping our finger on the pulse and capitalizing on what’s hot, this video was created with the hopes of creating our own buzz within the real estate space (at the time, our sole demographic), while connecting with potential clients through empathy and levity. Over 200k views and counting, we continue to attract new clients to our service with the help of this content. (LINK)
Of course, all of this is only possible if you’re using actively using social media channels to build your business. We’ve covered extensively how to boost your engagement on these platforms, how to advertise, and even use your social data to garner more clients/success. Even tips on setting up yourself up profiles for each platform.
As far as including videos within your social media strategy, you don’t need fancy editing or high-end production value, just something that is quick and engaging. For example, you need little more than some decent lighting and a camera phone to start your Facebook Live content engine. Everything from Q&As, product announcements, explainers, opinion pieces, or even employee appreciation videos. It would present you as transparent, authentic, and knowledgeable. Any of the above and more goes a long way towards building relationships and opportunities through video.
Thankfully, as with all things, there are many services that are willing to help you get started (or even do the work for you). A couple of them are:
- Fiverr: From animations and live-action explainers to short video ads and product photography, Fiverr is a great channel to outsource any of your video needs. If you’re looking for an affordable freelancer, check them out.
- Craigslist: A tried and true resource where budding or expert videographers are offering their services at reasonable rates. Here you can also find local companies in your area, which allows for a continued business that will continually adapt to your needs, vs. the impersonal singular nature of freelancers.
Whatever you decide to do, videos should have a presence within your marketing, as it will take your lead conversion to the next level.
Did you know that customer referrals may be the most effective tool in your marketing bag?
As a matter of fact, 42% of home buyers were referred to their real estate agent by an existing or previous client, and 74% of clients will provide a referral if their agent has stayed in touch with them. Referrals are inexpensive, produce results, and helps generate an incredibly powerful network effect. Your network, therefore, becomes critical to your success, and with the help of a smart strategy you can create an ever-growing network that will deliver a continuous supply of high quality leads.
“I’ve come to believe that connecting is one of the most important business—and life—skill sets you’ll ever learn. Why? Because, flat out, people do business with people they know and like.”
-Keith Ferrazzi, Never Eat Alone
The importance of networking
We are all bound by the laws of human nature, and scientific studies demonstrate that humans crave connections with other humans. Those laws translate into a world of business where we instinctively prefer to do business with people we like and have an affinity for. Those people mould our network, and if we treat them well, they help us expand it. Therefore, the bigger the network, the bigger the pool of potential clients becomes.
Consider that networking is the single biggest source of leads for real estate agents; 34% of all actual closed business comes directly from an agent’s network. The second most impactful lead source is from paid digital advertising, but that only delivers 19% of all leads.
What’s especially compelling about these types of leads is that they are among the highest quality ones you’ll ever get. People in your network either already know you, or they have a connection with someone who does and can validate your credibility. That immediately breaks down the awkward part of having to sell yourself and go through the back and forth dance of proving yourself. You always need to deliver for your customers, but referrals are a core part of your network because they get you closer to actual business than almost any other marketing tactic.
By definition, networks are always growing. That growth delivers you more connections and strengthens your reputation among people you already know and vouch for you. This is an especially important thing to understand in an environment where people are busy and are constantly seeking ways to reduce the burden of assessing and interviewing potential service providers. Once inside your network, the hassles of vetting a Realtor® are essentially solved for them, which gives them even more affinity for you.
Referrals are your network proof-point
Let’s think about it from a practical point of view: if you were in the market to buy a house and make one of the biggest decisions of your life, would you choose your Realtor® based on a trusted friend’s advice, or pick the first name that shows up in a Google search for local agents? We trust our friends and we rely on them, and if they have had a positive experience with a real estate agent, and then pass that recommendation to us, there’s almost a guarantee we’ll go with it. It’s just a natural progression of the relationship because satisfied customers are usually happy to refer you. In today’s market consumers have more choices than ever before, so they increasingly rely on proof points and validation from people who are like them.
According to the National Association of Realtors®, 62% of all home buyers choose their agent based on some form of referral. That statistic speaks volumes about the need to service clients, maintain a connection with them, encourage them to promote your name, and continue to deliver such excellent service that you are THE go-to person to help with real estate needs.
Growing your business and brand obviously takes a lot of smart marketing, but a vibrant, growing network will deliver referrals at a much faster paced and with overall greater consistency than any other method. Most importantly, these leads will be high quality and more prepared to buy.
Verse has created an impactful solution for lead generation and sharing called the Agent-to-Agent Referral Network. It enables agents to refer qualified leads and receive a payout for every closed deal. Major real estate firms like Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Berkshire Hathaway, and others are currently using it as a way to help their agents get greater impact from their networks. It’s also a roadmap to help agents generate better leads and be rewarded for providing others who are likely to close.
We encourage you to try our Referral Network to see how the power of networks can not only deliver qualified leads, but can begin to generate a sustainable, growing channel.
You’re already doing two things at once: working on behalf of your clients and trying to get new clients, but it’s a delicate balance. Using your network effectively changes the dynamic of lead generation so you can focus on building your business in a cost-effective way, while also closing more deals, faster.
There’s been a lot of media coverage recently about how personal information is being used and misused by social media companies. The best known example is the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, where personal data about Facebook users and their habits were sold to marketing firms. It unearthed security and privacy breaches, and as a result, limitations have been placed on how advertisers access user and behavioral data.
The repercussions are certainly felt among those of us in the real estate field because Facebook is an important marketing tool in our efforts to engage with prospects and generate leads. While the changes to Facebook’s advertising guidelines change our approach, they don’t have to impede the benefits we get from using the social media giant. The right path forward can help you effectively use Facebook to build your business or find alternatives that still deliver high ROI on your marketing spending.
The effects of user privacy
Individual data and how it’s protected is increasingly concerning in today’s digital world. The Facebook/Cambridge Analytica case highlights the issues of users and the companies that are chartered with the responsibility of protecting them.
What happened at Facebook wasn’t illegal, but it raised serious ethical questions about corporate behavior and the rights of users. The company did what many companies have been doing for a long time. Essentially, Facebook has a lot of data about each user. It includes pretty much everything that the user divulges voluntarily (name, date of birth, hometown), but it also collects information about users’ behaviors in the network. Who are they connected to? What groups do they follow? What links do they tend to click on? From that data is a lot of valuable information that could help others target their advertising and messaging to specific users.
Facebook sold the data they had collected to companies who then used it to target advertising campaigns at those users. Cambridge Analytica was a political consulting firm that identified information about users’ political predilections and used it to target very specific types of ads to specific people, and generated usable demographic and psychographic information that helped them in campaigns for their candidates.
As a result of all of this, Facebook has changed some of its policies and features. They have restricted how user data is shared, and will no longer let third-parties (like the companies who develop game apps and other apps you might use while you’re on Facebook) have access to user data. Users, however, have more power over how they manage their profiles and how their behavior is tracked. It’s also showing fewer ads, and herein is the concern for those of us who spend money to advertise there.
What can you do now?
Despite all of this, Facebook remains the most popular social channel, one that still maintains a high degree of trust among users. And as we’ve seen, it offers a variety of ways to convey your message and brand. It still gives you the ability to target your advertising to people based on location and other information they voluntarily provide. So in many ways, not a whole lot as changed, although it looks like over time, users will be increasingly reluctant to share much information about themselves.
If you’ve invested marketing dollars in Facebook, we would suspect you will see very little change to the effect it’s having on your ability to increase awareness and generate leads. Many digital advertising experts suspect there will be very little impact, especially if they already have a presence on Facebook.
A new approach might be helpful, however. One thing you can do is to make your advertising non-invasive. Avoid anything that looks like you’re creepily tracking what a user is clicking on. Instead, just focus on your message of being a great Realtor for their particular geographic location. Instead of ads that focus on a come-on like “book a meeting” or a home evaluation, link your ad to a happy success story about your clients. Or use ads that highlight your community involvement more than delivering a hard-sell.
Many have found success with Facebook Lookalike Audiences. This is a program that enables you to upload a list of your own customers to Facebook and the network then identifies people who resemble that audience. It gives you a way to target without Facebook selling user data. Rather, it’s a way to align your needs with Facebook members who have willingly provided information about themselves.
Alternatively, you may want to experiment with other social networks like Nextdoor, Instagram, TikTok, or Snapchat. As we’ve outlined previously, social media can help you package your message in a creative, effective, efficient, and cost-friendly way, all in pursuit of increasing our reach among potential clients.
Don’t stop marketing (or believing)
We have survived all kinds of changes to marketing processes. Many of us have relied on forms of advertising that have changed over the years, and we’ve survived. The PennySaver used to be the go-to source for reaching prospects, and even billboards and bus ads have brought many of us lots of business. Digital marketing has changed much of that, but we’ve adapted and continue to thrive.
If your business is being impacted by changes in Facebook’s strategy or other aspects of social media, get with other real estate agents to learn what has helped them deal with it and succeed. We know this won’t be the last time there is change in our marketing strategy, so continuing to learn, experiment, and move forward will help us stay focused and profitable.
The personalities of both you and your team will play an integral role in your success – from the listing appointment to escrow. Backed by extensive research and clout within the medical field, the Big 5 personality assessment can assist you in understanding and capitalizing on your personality strengths (and weaknesses).
Astrology. Numerology. Even fortune cookies – there is an endless number of “authorities” out there that apparently know you better than you know yourself. Are you born between the dates of May – June? Then you’re stubborn as a bull (or cow, does anyone know what a Taurus is?). How about some Orange Chicken with a clairvoyant cookie on the side?
At the root of all of this is a desire to discover/understand ourselves and predict our futures. Or more precisely, to take control of them. The same is true within real estate – an industry defined by think pieces and coaching, all in the hopes of achieving our best selves/teams. This even applies to having the right personality for success. There’s an endless sea of advice articles on the subject (I’ve even covered it myself), imploring you to adopt these one-size-fits-all traits that will apparently guarantee success. Conversely, there is far less literature out there that provides quantifiable proof of the impact of personality, nor is there much material on how to actually assess your personality. (Nothing worse than someone who doesn’t know that they’re a Hermione)
But fear not, now you can have your cake and eat it too. Here’s a little something to prove the impact of your personality, and how to actually gauge it.
Thankfully there are many resources available that will help you determine your real estate compliant personality traits, such as the ‘Big 5’ personality assessment. “In contemporary psychology, the Big Five traits of personality are five broad domains which define human personality and account for individual differences,” and they include: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Granted, you may be lead to think that Big 5 are no more than trumped up fortune cookies and astrology diagnosis (though, Gemini’s are wild). But the Big 5 has been fine-tooled by psychologists over eons, while being respected and utilized by a host of medical professionals. There’s even a push to create the practice of “personality neuroscience (i.e., the systematic study of individual differences in personality using neuroscience methods) as a discipline.” (Pubmed).
Most importantly, Big 5 personality tests have even been used to predict team and job performance within the workplace – showcasing its application in improving your own business. Again, we’ve established that those with a high level of Conscientiousness and Openness tend to perform better within sales. Conversely, one of these OCEAN traits even has a negative correlation with success.
The point is, you should be seeking to improve your success rates by any means necessary, and taking one of these assessments could be your ticket to achieving this. Don’t worry, there are no wrong answers.
What This Means for You and How to Take Advantage
Upon taking the assessment, you can use your results to double down on the good stuff, while minimizing the ‘detriments’ to your success. For example:
- Are you too agreeable? A competitive agent will hunt for the best deals for their client, but a “manipulative” one will drive business away.
- Too Open? Trying new things is great, but you have to be firm in your convictions and opinion. After all, you’re the expert.
- Not Open enough? A know-it-all agent risks losing clients by being inconsiderate of their needs. Also, a lower score for “Openness” is marked by an unwillingness to “meet new people”, which is most likely bad for business when working in real estate.
Tell Us What You Discovered
Clearly, personality can be a strong benefit (or detriment) to driving business. Find out what yours is, and make it work for you! If you haven’t already, join our Mastermind Community and let us know what results you get!
Millennials have really taken it on the chin as of recently, don’t you think? It seems like everyone from pundits to industry leaders to even their own parents have had something negative to say about this young generation, calling them everything from entitled and lazy to arrogant and spoiled.
It seems like even if you mutter the word millennial during your lunch at the local cafe you’ll be met with older folks shivering and reacting with a foul taste in their mouth.
In truth, many of the young professionals within the workforce now are resourceful, determined, industrious, and thoughtful people.
The millennial generation from a bird’s eye view:
The optimization of your own real estate enterprise is contingent on adhering to and capitalizing on the very specific and tailored needs of the generation that makes up 33% of today’s workforce.
Furthermore, the millennial generation should be considered a gold-mine demographic within the housing industry:
To take all of this a step further, a PwC NextGen study notes that over 60% of millennials would prefer to work remotely inside the confines of their homes. Furthermore, this study finds that with the current economic landscape, it’s possible for 50% of the US jobs to be compatible with partial telecommuting.
This is placing an absolute premium on the homebuying characteristics of millennial buyers. If this trend increases (and all signs are pointing to such), millennials are going to be an exploding market that is putting an emphasis on the home and office combination purchase.
So what does all of this mean for you?
In order for you to capitalize on this burgeoning opportunity, you’ll need to equip yourself with the proper toolbelt in order to reach, communicate with, and make the most of these opportunities.
Communicating with this unique generation requires tact and strategy. As the old saying goes:
“I can sell a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves.”
With millennials, you’re going to want to say,
“I can sell contacts to a hipster wearing thick-framed glasses.”
Your communication tool belt for reaching millennials:
As a real estate agent, you have many different means of communicating with potential clients. You are able to meet in person, call on the phone, text, send emails, and perhaps the occasional carrier pigeon (hold for the mountain-man agent who just happened to gain internet access to read this…thank you).
With all of these mediums at your disposal, texting should be the pinnacle choice in reaching this market.
Text messages do have several advantages—which is probably why 68% of millennials admit to texting “a lot” on a daily basis, compared to 47% of their Gen X counterparts. They’re instant and mobile, which means they can be read and exchanged at almost any time. Millennials are the digital generation. Most (if not all) of the millennials you know are probably literate in one or many forms of digital machinery.
Facebook and Twitter are perhaps the best social media channels for agents to use in order to relate to millennials, but if an agent can make use of Tumblr, Instagram or Google+ too, then they should.
Pew Research Center reports that 71% of people aged 18-24 are using Instagram on a regular basis. The research further concludes that 94% of the same age range of people are using Youtube regularly (68% regular Facebook users, 78% for Snapchat and 45% for Twitter).
While the statistics are always changing and at times difficult to track, Hubspot reports the best time to post and communicate through the respective social media outlets are as follows:
- In general, the best times to post on Instagram are on Monday and Thursday, at any time other than 3-4 p.m.
- For Facebook, on average, the best time to post is 1-4 p.m., when click through rates have shown to be at their highest.
- Good times to tweet average around 12–3 p.m., with an apex at 5 p.m. — which makes sense, given that it correlates with the evening commute.
The way you communicate through these digital means can also have a big impact on how it is received by your potential millennial buyer. Here’s a list of effective ways to communicate with millennials:
- Keep it simple and short: Modern day is calling for efficiency and expediency. Just as we like to grab our meal-on-the-go power bars for a quick bite, we also like our communication to follow suit. Get to the point. There is no need for the next Gettysburg Address when communicating with this buyer.
- Converse at their level: You’re definitely the expert here, let’s not forget that. However, millennials like conversing with people as if they were their friends; even in the context of doing business. You can quickly tune out and lose the interest of a potential millennial buyer by bombarding them with over the top industry lingo.
- Show them what you mean, don’t always tell: 98 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds watch video content on their smartphone on a daily basis. This is a fact. So when this generation is looking to purchase their largest investment, where do you think they are going to go in order to gather critical information? By now, you know how important video is in selling homes. Utilizing and texting links to show off your prowess is one the best tools you can use in communication with millennials.
- Have fun: Millennials want to be heard. They want to be catered to. In a world where it seems like you can customize everything from your burrito at lunch to the t-shirt you will wear to your next night out, customization to the experience of a millennial’s home buying shouldn’t fall by the wayside. Communicate in a fun and engaging way that really helps get to know your millennial buyer. Adhering to the agent’s job’s persona of an uptight professional yearning for the sale at all costs is so 1975. Make your buyer feel like they are the only person on the planet. Get to know their interests and hobbies. Use this information to build a custom experience around them.
As much as people are still going to want to poke fun at millennials and make sure they are the butt of all the jokes when it comes characterizing a generation, if the tactics illustrated above are taken seriously it can open up opportunities for you to tap into a market that is on the verge of redefining the entire industry. The American Dream is still alive and well. It is taking on a new shape and it will be the unique and tactful advisor that helps these millennials reach their dream.