Marketing To The Google Generation (Part 1)
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Today, my 70-year-old grandmother has an iPad. Most pre-teens own a smartphone. And the term “cloud-computing” is recognized and understood by a vast majority of the population. Technology is such a ubiquitous part of our lives that most cannot comprehend or remember how to function without it.
Technology plays a comparably significant role for home buyers and sellers, who use the Internet, email, SMS, social networking, mobile computing – and many other technologies to improve both their lives – and the process of buying or selling a home.
Every consumer has some basic demands:
- Value Added
Buyers expect a quick response from real estate professionals and quick access to listings of interest. Sellers expect to know that their listing is online as soon as they have signed the papers. Both buyers and sellers expect access to information quickly and easily.
Buyers want access to listings from the convenience of their computer or mobile phone while sellers want to be able to access their listing information and view any reports generated from it whenever and wherever they want.
Buyers want to be able to find listings from a website of their choosing, be that Zillow, Trulia, Google, etc. Just as not everyone chooses the same flavor of ice-cream, not everyone searches for listings using the same website(s).
Virtual tours, downloadable listing brochures, and CMAs, are all pieces that add value to a listing from the buyer’s perspective. Sellers see value added when their listings are distributed to as many places as possible.
Buyers want access to quality listing data, just as sellers want their home to be advertised in the best, most accurate manner possible. This also ties in to ‘information’. Consumers want access to feature-rich sites, and with as many details about a listing as possible. Listings that display a single, grainy photo, with virtually no additional information are quickly passed over, regardless of their relevance to the consumer.
Based on those demands, how does technology fit into what the typical consumer expects from a real estate professional today?
In an age when ‘technology’ means everything, and keeping up with the times simply means staying competitive, real estate professionals cannot settle for just ‘okay’.
So how does technology change your game plan?
There will always be a need for technology basics: a domain name, branded email account, and a web presence. But what are the more specific needs of today, and more importantly, what will be the needs of the future?
Selective Online Marketing
The term “online marketing” is broad. It covers everything from having a website, to advertising via email, to pay-per-click search engine marketing and search engine optimization (SEO), to participating online in blogs and social media channels.
Is money best spent paying top dollar for a custom-designed website? What about search engine optimization? Do the DIY advertising options available out there such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads deliver enough bang for your buck? There are no universal answers that apply to every agent. Fortunately however, most online advertising options are fairly inexpensive and provide analytics to help determine the effectiveness of your efforts and your reach.
Social Media Presence
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ – the list keeps growing, and will likely keep growing. Once a means to share photos and connect with friends, social networks have been rapidly expanding their reach into areas of business networking, media, and communications.
The advantage of using social media platforms as advertising mediums is that typically the only cost is a little elbow grease. Social media will continue to be a key channel for online marketing and advertising in the immediate future, and real estate professionals should look to this area for significant business growth opportunities in 2012 and beyond.
Generational and Niche Marketing
The preface to “Rocking the Ages” by J. Walker Smith and Ann S. Clurman states: “Understanding generational values and motivations has become essential because each generation is driven by unique ideas about the lifestyle to which it aspires. And it’s these aspirations that determine the ways consumers spend and save their money.”
The book continues, “Marketers who use the principles of generational marketing to understand the factors that influence the values and buying motivations of consumers stand a much better chance of spotting trends way ahead of the competition and reaching customers first in profitable new ways.”
Niche marketing may be equally important to a real estate professional’s marketing plan. Since many real estate professionals focus on very specific market areas (e.g. condos, commercial, vacation, etc.), their applicable audience needs to be identified and marketed to accordingly.
No longer can there be a one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. Get to know your audience and the various ways you can market to them.
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