This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from other agents is to offer more value for your commission than what other agents are providing. One easy way to do this is to create a website for your client’s home with its own unique domain name. These types of websites are quick and easy to set up – and because you can add virtually unlimited information to the page, you can use the website as a marketing hub for the home.
Any good website takes some planning to get set up and running. Let’s start with the basics:
Step 1 – What do you want your website to do?
This seemingly basic question is something that 99% of all webmasters never ask. If you don’t set goals for what you hope to accomplish, you’ll never achieve them.
In this case, your website has a number of goals, including:
- Impressing Your Sellers – The main reason you are creating these websites is to show sellers how much more value you provide over other agents out there. You’re not simply putting up a quick listing on your website. You’re giving them their own site that you will market in all the home’s promotional materials.
- Marketing The Home – Most means of home marketing are extremely limited by space and price. If you want to run a full-page advertisement including all the home details, it will cost you. The same is true for mailings and any printed materials. With a website, you can put up as much information as you want, without adding cost. And because 77% of home buyers search on the internet, you’re putting your listings out there for people to find.
Step 2 – Who is your target audience?
You might not know exactly who your target audience is, but it’s more specific than simply "a buyer" ready to buy within the next month.
Take a look around the neighborhood. Who else lives there? What are their income levels? What kinds of cars do they drive? How many kids do they have? Take note of the types of people that live in this particular neighborhood. Here are some things to get you started:
- Demographics – Where do they live? How much do they make? How old are they? Their gender? Their ethnicity? Their education?
- Geography – Where do they live? Why do they live there? What type of lifestyle do they have in their geographical area?
- Lifestyle – What do they do for a living? What motivates them? What types of interests and hobbies do they have? What type of car do they drive? Where do they go on holidays or vacations?
- Life Cycle – Where are they in their life cycle? Are they single, just married, expecting their first child, divorcees, empty nesters, retirees?
- Motives – What motivates them to buy? Are they emotional or rational buyers? What do they care about – the economy, investing, security, stability, the American dream?
You might ask, why does this matter? The answer is because your best prospects will probably share a number of these characteristics with the current neighborhood residents. Your marketing will work only when you understand who you are trying to target and why they might buy. The best way to understand their motivations for buying is to find out why others bought within this particular neighborhood.
And I mean "neighborhood" – not city or township or several square mile radius. I’m talking specifics. Who lives on this particular street? What about the adjacent streets? What can you learn about them just by their home decorations, landscaping, cars, kids toys, etc? Once you know this type of stuff, you can mention these specific characteristics within your home description on the website.
Step 3 – What is the competition like?
This might be difficult to answer, so here are two places to start:
- Check the neighborhood – Are there any other homes on this street or on the adjacent streets that are currently up for sale? If so, what makes them distinctive? What advantages and disadvantages do they have over the home you are listing?
- Check the MLS – What homes are in the MLS that have similar features and price to the home you are listing and are located nearby? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What makes them distinctive?
To effectively market a home, you must know what competition you have – and what unique features and benefits your listing brings to the table. Knowing this information helps you distinguish and differentiate your home from all the others on the market.
Think of it this way. Buyers are overwhelmed with choices. When they search through listing after listing, they are looking for something that stands out and grabs their attention. Something that says to them "go see this house!"
If your marketing can do this, you’re going to start attracting a lot more buyers who want to check out this "must see" house. And that means there’s a good chance you’ll close the deal faster- and get paid for your services sooner!
Step 4 – How can you differentiate this listing from others on the market?
At the bare minimum, your website should include the features of the home (price, location, the number of rooms, baths, and amenities) and lots of photographs, but if you want to really generate buzz about the home, tell the "story" of the home.
What’s special, unique or distinct about this home? Why did the current owners buy this home? What do they love about it? What amenities are nearby? What’s the best pizza place in the area? Are there any annual neighborhood picnics or special events? How do the kids like the schools they attend? What’s within walking distance? A 10 mile drive?
Why bother? Because people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. They want to fall in love with their new home – and they’ll justify their purchase with reasons later. People buy homes they can see themselves living in. They have to envision how they’ll arrange the rooms. How they’ll paint the walls. How they’ll set up the nursery. All of that stuff is emotional. That’s why your marketing needs to appeal to their emotions as well as give them the facts and features.
Step 5 – How can you market the website?
The final step is getting the word out. Here are some ideas for marketing your new website:
- On your blog and website
- In your ads and mailings
- On house fliers
- In your newsletters
- On riders for your signs.
- In your online classified ads (Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, etc)
- In your social media profiles like MySpace and Facebook
- Twitter (or tweet, if you like) the URL
- Add to social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us
- In your email signature
- In blog comments you leave (don’t spam blogs, but most software asks for your URL – use your listing URL instead of your blog or website)
- In listing presentations (to show other sellers what you can do for them)
Get Started Today
You don’t have to be a technology genius or pay a web developer lots of money to set up a page for you. It’s relatively easy to set these types of sites up
- Set up a free Blogger.com account. You’ll be able to create a new blog for each listing and the process takes about 3 minutes. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.
- Once you have your blog set up, go to the Settings tab and then click on the "Publishing" link. You’ll see something that says "You’re publishing on blogspot.com." Underneath, it will say "Switch to: Custom Domain" Click on the "Custom Domain" link. Go through Google’s easy step-by-step system to buy a domain for your blog for $10/year. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.
Easy, right? Alternatively, you can set up a free account on Postlets.com – or pay $5 to upgrade to a premium listing.
Setting up single property listings for each of your clients’ homes can be a great way to demonstrate how marketing and technology savvy you are to potential sellers – and they’re simple, fast and affordable to set up.