Real estate marketing in the age of COVID-19

Property Management

Real estate marketing in the age of COVID-19

According to new research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), 86% of brands have changed their digital ad spend in response to COVID-19, with 21% of respondents freezing their ad spend and 57% decreasing their spend.

IAB Australia CEO Gai Le Roy said, “Some brands are simply not in a position to spend at the moment and the majority of other brands are adjusting their spend, creative messaging and tactics to suit the current market.”

History tells us that brands that continue to advertise when competitors go dark see increased market share in the long run. After all, lower competition means higher exposure and engagement for your brand at the same cost.

If you’re not sure where to start, here are the best ways to market your properties in the age of COVID-19, according to industry experts.

1. Use social media to tell a story or sell a lifestyle

Tiffany Wilson, Director of Chronicle Republic said that “if you aren’t already offering social media advertising as part of your marketing package, now is the time to implement this and make your listings stand out from the rest.”

“Driving as much enquiry as possible is imperative to maintain competition amongst buyers on your properties. Social media advertising is a great way to promote your property, especially in the surrounding areas of the property,” Wilson explained.

Wilson recommends creating targeted Facebook and Instagram ads using property videos where possible, and spending at least $50 per week per property listing to increase exposure and drive enquiry.

“Now is also a great time to use Stories on Instagram and Facebook to showcase your listings. The great thing about Stories is that you can tell a story about the property and local area, share its history and showcase the lifestyle that is possible.”

“Use multiple photos and videos to create multiple Stories for each property listing. Be sure to save these to your highlight reel, so that they appear at the top of your Instagram profile. Stories is also a great place to share ‘coming soon’ posts to build excitement about the property before it goes live online.”

“Social media allows agents to think outside the box when it comes to property marketing, without the limitations of online listing portals. Think about the benefits for buyers or tenants and how you can communicate that in an entertaining and fun way on social media.

“One idea is to interview owners and ask them what they loved about living in their property. This will allow you to connect with the buyers and tenants emotionally through the power of storytelling.”

“Social media can also be used to showcase the ‘normal lifestyle’ of the area such as the surrounding facilities and local amenities such as parks, walking tracks and businesses. At some point, the world will return to normal, and buyers and tenants inspecting your properties will want to get a good gauge of the true vibe of the area pre-COVID-19.”

2. Focus on ‘top of funnel’ marketing

According to Kylie Davis, Founder of Real Content and HomePrezzo, it’s critical to focus on ‘top of funnel’ marketing, rather than relying on property listings to create relationships.

“This means we need to be building connections with people before they decide they need an agent. Many people are holding back from the market now because they are worried about the market and whether it’s safe to transact,” Davis said.

“You can reassure them by sharing valuable information about market performance through videos and reports, or give them some guidance about how to get ready to transact with general content that provides helpful advice and tips.”

“Think of all the questions you regularly get asked by sellers, buyers and tenants. The answers to those questions can be used to create great articles that position you as a trusted authority.”

3. Consistently build your brand on social media

Iolanthe Gabrie, Director of Ruby Assembly believes that agents and property managers should always be building their personal and professional brand on social media.

“As digital and virtual inspections have become more popular, it’s important to focus on strengthening your digital marketing presence. It’s a great time to build your personal and agency brand, and deliver a much needed message of hope,” Gabrie asserted.

“Communication done well and done regularly makes a real difference. Be sure to refer to your brand guidelines to ensure consistency and brand alignment. After all, brands build legitimacy through repetition of visual motifs like logos, fonts, colours, and the way that the artwork is actually constructed.”

When asked about what tools agents can use to create their own artwork, Gabrie suggested using Canva and Easil’s pre-made templates. However, “it’s essential that you use the same templates and filters for consistency.”

“Really good digital marketing is a mixture of curated on-brand content paired with the real stuff—behind the scenes Stories, the Instagram and Facebook Live videos, market reports and property walkthroughs.”

“I don’t think it needs to be brain surgery. But you’d want to have a process around each new property listing. For example, in the first week, you might make a commitment to create a three or four chapter Instagram Story, then the following week you might go live on Facebook and promote that on your Facebook page.”

“You should also carve out some budget to promote your content and make sure it reaches the right audience. Without putting budget behind your content, your social media posts only reach about 15% of your audience. It’s a huge waste of time and effort otherwise.”

“In the context of property management, digital marketing is great for showing your landlords exactly what you’re doing to market their properties. You’ll be able to show them how many people clicked on the Facebook ads and how many people watched the Instagram Stories featuring their property. If you’re not getting many applications, you can use that as leverage for a rental reduction if you need it.”

“Lastly, I think it’s important for principals to support and empower their staff to devote time and budget to innovative real estate marketing. Over time, these efforts pay off in the form of more listings and improved employee engagement and morale.”

4. Leverage virtual tools and video to market your properties

Trent Muffett, Country Manager of Soho and host of Soho Carpool remarked that as technology improves in the real estate space, it’s becoming cheaper, faster, easier and more efficient than ever before to market a property, even in the age of COVID-19.

“Agents have adapted quickly to the changing restrictions and legislation with online auctions, 3D virtual tours, 360 walkthrough tours for prospective tenants, paperless contract signing, and FaceTime and WhatsApp live video inspections,” Muffett said.

Virtual tools that help agents and property managers mitigate risk have become common in the marketplace and Muffett believes that agents should take full advantage of these tools during this time.

“Video marketing has increased with more and more agents filming walkthrough video tours on their phones, while other agents will still opt for professional video marketing packages that many companies provide to market a listing.”

“One of the great things about showcasing your listing via FaceTime, WhatsApp video, Facebook Live or Instagram Stories is that it allows prospective clients to really connect with you. This encourages engagement, builds trust and really adds a human element to your brand.”

5. Double down on content marketing

Josh Cobb, CEO of Stepps and host of the Real Estate Pros podcast has seen many real estate agents respond to COVID-19 by pivoting their messaging to focus on virtual tours, online auctions and contactless online appraisals. However, he said that “for most, every piece of marketing has been a call-to-action.”

“Adapting to difficult times is something I admire about our industry but when every agent in your area is saying the same thing in their marketing, you’re only part of the noise. You’re shouting the same thing with a different megaphone,” Cobb asserted.

“With fewer people in the market to sell and buy right now, these tactics are not inspiring the vast majority of your community. In fact, it could be turning people off your brand if you’re being too ‘salesy’ at a time like this. While you might hit a home run, which is very unlikely right now, you’re going to waste your time and money having to keep coming up with clever messages to stand out among all of the other agents in your market.”

Instead, Cobb urges agents to use this time to double down on creating content that is genuinely helpful to prospective clients. In the long run, this will help you build brand authority and credibility.

“Content marketing is the opposite of everything we’ve been taught about marketing in real estate. Instead of pitching for a lead, content marketing is about making your company inherently useful and interesting without expecting an immediate return. This mindset is in direct opposition to the principles of marketing and business that are deeply ingrained in real estate at all levels.”

“The long term payoff is far greater and more sustainable than any tactic or short term campaign because you’ve captured the hearts and minds of the people in which you serve.”

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