If I chose to exchange my keyboard for a ‘for sale’ board – making houses, rather than words, my stock in trade – what thoughts on communication would I take with me to power-up a career in real estate?
It’s not an unreal scenario. An agent friend once tried to lure me into the business – but I preferred working with agents, rather than for them. I did, however, obtain a basic qualification.
So, in case I ever change my mind, here are my communication notes to self. They might give some practising agents food for thought – and help other professions, too.
It’s your shop window, a showcase of properties to attract genuine buyers to your business. It can also help to draw future sellers, too. Add fresh material frequently – bright, clear pictures and honest copy – and ensure everything is optimised for the search engines so that your site appears at least among the first results for the most applicable search terms in your area.
Update your news page (or blog) at least once a week – daily if possible – with a range of articles demonstrating thought leadership, market leadership and the benefits buyers and sellers receive from dealing with you. Comment on local issues: say something of substance, but avoid controversy. Go easy on human interest stories about staff – they may undermine the professional image you should be trying to portray.
Give potential newcomers to your area a head start: tell them everything they need to know about life in your area. Make sure your local information is always fully up to date and that hyperlinks to amenities such as schools, churches, surgeries and other public facilities actually work. And make sure they open in new pages, so that people are more likely to return to your site.
4 Testimonials and case studies
A well-written piece showing how you provided customer service excellence and achieved a great outcome for buyers and sellers can be powerful reference material, giving future customers the confidence to deal through you. Write objectively (as far as possible) to enhance credibility. Focus on the benefits of your service, rather than the features.
5 Attracting visitors
Be aware that the majority of website visitors will be people who are looking to buy or sell in your area now or in the near future. They will look at other agents’ sites, too. You will stand a better chance of longer visits, return visits and ultimately commitment to purchase if your site offers the right stock at the right prices – and is perceived also to demonstrate the best levels of professionalism and usefulness.
The biggest issue is how to drive traffic to your website in the first place – an that is why it is so important to spread your web address (url) as widely as possible. It is also the reason for maintain a high profile on social media.
Because buyers and sellers generally have only a short relationship with you, don’t expect them to make a long terms commitment to following you on Twitter (or any other social channels you use). For the benefit of those who do click the follow button, make sure there’s a stream of posts pointing them to website content that adds value to their experience.
Use your Twitter account also as a source of information for yourself: follow other agents, mortgage brokers and lenders, property developers, builders, local councils, chambers of commerce, schools and other local institutions and, most importantly, local, regional and national news sources – especially property journalists. Build yourself an influential list of contacts that adds to your credibility: encourage people to follow you. Wherever possible and relevant, engage directly with your Twitter followers and use Twitter to announce significant news items.
If you still prefer a print newsletter to distribute door to door, make it relevant to the buyers and sellers you are trying to impress. Let the benefits of dealing through you be apparent from the successes you report on; demonstrate your understanding of the local market through careful comment on trends. Don’t let the main theme of your business be overshadowed by publicity for feats of physical endurance or other charity events – keep their prominence in proportion.
If you have a suitable email for produce an electronic newsletter. Keep it short: headline, picture, one paragraph of tantalising copy – and a link to the full story … on your website.
8 News release
You may still have occasion to issue a news item as a traditional press release to one or more journalists. If so, it should double up as copy for your website, newsletters and Tweets. In fact, write all news pieces as if they are press releases, so that they can be digested easily by all readers. Don’t blow an ‘exclusive’ publicity opportunity by publishing it on your own site before the chosen journalist gets a chance.
Be as creative as each medium allows. Be willing to try new channels, new techniques. Be enthusiastic about every communication opportunity. And if you need help, please get in touch.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.