Monday, December 11, 2006

Your clients are listening…at work?

I have been reading a lot lately about the best ways to contact your prospective customers when they are most open to receiving your marketing message. For real estate agents, my hope is that these new approaches will be much more effective than solicitation letters and general real estate flyers. It seems however that the conundrum that we face is that while most people now start their search for a new home online, they do it while at work. As we all know, most people now begin their search for a new home through the internet, but they do it with the fastest internet connection they can find; which is the one that they use at their work. Therefore, the challenge for real estate marketers (me) and their clients (you) are to find ways to communicate with these people while they are open to your marketing message, but not available for conversation or in-depth interaction. Essentially this means that your online marketing must be a little sneaky (with respect to helping your prospective client mask the fact that they should otherwise be working) while providing your prospects with the information that they need.

With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can increase the likelihood that your site will become a resources for those that are looking for a home online; while they should be doing other things….

1) If you use audio on your home page, make sure it is optional. Nothing will encourage a member of the work force to close their browser faster than when they land on a page and hear a booming voice saying “______ REAL ESTATE! HERE AT ____ REALTY, WE….!” When this happens, every person in the surrounding cubicles stop to listen.

2) Make syndication of your blog AND YOUR LISTINGS available through multiple RSS feeds. Use Yahoo, Google, NewGator and other feed reader links to make the addition of your blog and listings to your prospect’s feed reader as easy as possible.

3) Your prospects will generally end up on your site looking for listings. You should require a user to register when they use your site so that you can collect enough information to market to them and send your real estate flyers. However, include an automated login system with cookies so that after they register the first time, they won’t have to login again unless they clear their cache on their internet browser.

4) Become a resource online. Offer through your site listings, market data, current rates, and any other feature that will make your REALTOR website stand out from the rest. The current model that I am proposing is something similar to Yahoo Real Estate.

5) Offer your own toolbar and feed reader. Feed readers are becoming more and more popular as aggregators of news. There are now a few utilities that allow you to create your own branded and customized feed reader and toolbar. Tap into these and offer them to your visitors to help brand your site and expand your online presence.

There are many other features that need to be considered. However, these are the few guidelines that I feel are most important. Just remember, if your prospective client should be working, but is taking a small amount of time during their work day to surf the net in search of a new home, take steps to help them remain discreet while providing them with as much guidance and information as possible. If your web presence becomes a resource that your real estate prospect can tap into to help the search, they can easily be converted into clients.

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