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Pilot or Passenger III - When they Zig, you Zag! One Profound Marketing Technique for Real Estate Agents

Today, real estate agents have access to tons of modern technology and tools that enable you to automate tasks, build professional-looking marketing assets, deliver messages through new channels, and on and on it goes. Exciting times in real estate marketing, for sure—and Realvolve is pleased to be a contributor to this great evolution of real estate.

When the masses indulge on these new platforms, for some agents it becomes a trap that causes them to be lost in the crowd…but for other agents, it becomes an INCREDIBLE opportunity to differentiate. It’s up to you to decide if you want to take the easy route with the common crowd—or if you want to put a little bit more thought into how you will use today’s tools to truly stand out.

Before I begin with the third installment of my Pilot or Passenger series (thank you for always voting for more episodes, I really do love writing these), I want to start with a personal story. So grab your Red Vines and Cinnamon Soy Latte Macchiato, and enjoy the next 60 seconds!

I once decided to experiment a bit in human relationship psychology (that’s what I’m calling it, but maybe I was just bored). I was walking through a drugstore when a rack of postcards caught my attention—and I had a truly oddball idea.

As you can imagine, these postcards featured corny, retro photos that were probably taken 15-20 years ago. A rush of nostalgia filled my body and suddenly I felt my hair morph into a mullet. My nicely pressed slacks shrunk into a pair of short-shorts, my button down shirt shriveled into a half-shirt bearing a retro “Montana” graphic, a pair of Oakley Razor Blades magically appeared on my face, and I was standing there in the year 1988.

These postcards were grainy, the color was a little off, and I thought to myself, ‘Wow, who buys these anymore?’

Turns out, I do!

I bought a $.35 postcard and rushed home, excited to figure out who on earth I would send it to. I was enjoying the absurdity and imagining someone finding a postcard in the mail with a short letter written on it.

To elevate the absurdity even more, I finally settled on a recipient: a guy from high school whom I hadn’t talked to in years. I looked him up on LinkedIn, found his employer, and sent the card to his work address with a very predictable (and again, absurd) postcard message written on the back (“Dear Jamie, How are you? I thought I’d send you this postcard…).

What happened next was interesting; my friend stalked me back, and wrote me a long email about how cool it was to get a postcard in the mail in a time when everyone just texts or emails. That was more than a year ago. We are still in touch, and he still loves telling the story about the time he got a random postcard in the mail.

What can agents take away from this? Send a corny postcard with an absurd message to your leads? I’m pretty sure you’d only end up with prospects who think you’re a little bit off your rocker. But the point is this: When the masses do one thing, find a way to do something remarkably DIFFERENT.

That’s the million dollar question, though, isn’t it? How can I be different in my own marketing?

3 Steps To Remarkable Real Estate Marketing

Here's an exercise to help you figure out how you can do things a bit differently.

Step 1 - Identify current trends in real estate marketing. 

What are all real estate agents doing as a part of their usual marketing tactics? Social media marketing? Building out YouTube channels? Here’s an easy one: the email newsletter.

Step 2 - Identify how most agents are approaching these trends.
What are the masses doing to carry out these strategies? Well, I think we can all agree that in the case of the email newsletter, they’re designing HTML-formatted newsletters with images (and maybe videos) and drumming up the most clever subject lines as possible.

So in step 1, you identified email marketing as an effective strategy. But in step 2, you identified the ZIG—in other words, how the masses are approaching this strategy. Prospects are used to being on the receiving end of the zig. They’re used to getting fancy HTML-formatted emails with photos and videos and subject lines that are obviously designed to so-cleverly grab their attention. And guess what? They are already conditioned to tune it out. So when everyone zigs, you need to ZAG. That brings us to step 3.

Step 3 - Brainstorm ways to surprise your audience with something different.
Here’s an idea: send your prospects an email newsletter that comes in the form of a friendly personal email! But wait, that’s so 2000! Why on earth??? Because it will surprise them, and you will stand out, and amidst all of the other HTML newsletters, maybe it will be a bit refreshing just to get a personable email from YOU.

By following these 3 steps, you’ll build a marketing strategy that will set you apart from other agents. And remember to make sure your zag is as cool as you are. Show that you have the courage to get back to good old fashioned authentic communication. Your audience will certainly appreciate it.

Here at Realvolve, we tried a similar experiment. We decided to surprise our audience with exactly this kind of newsletter. Before committing, we A/B tested it to see if our assumptions were correct. So we sent our own customers a monthly email; one was a standard HTML-formatted email with photos, just as we (and everyone else) have sent so many times before. The other was a letter-style email with some links and not much else...and we even encouraged our readers to just skim the email, rather than read it. It was personable and even though we still didn’t hide the fact that it was a mass-send email, we succeeded in keeping it authentic.

Anyone who’s a follower of author and podcaster Timothy Ferriss has probably noticed that he is a master of zagging. Tim sends out a personable email every Friday that he calls “5-Bullet Friday” and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the typical email blasts that we all receive every day.

The results? Two months in a row, the letter-style email outperformed the fancy HTML-formatted newsletter. We even got some praise in response:

“So as a VA I get slammed with marketing and junk mail. This highlights version is awesome!”

And there you have it. Where others zig, we zagged. And while we're not going to claim that our new format is everyone’s preferred way to read a newsletter, the numbers tell us that the majority like it (for now), and we consider that a success.

While other CRMs Zig, Realvolve Zags!

Real estate agents using Realvolve love our workflows because we can automate everything imaginable, creating hands-free experiences for your prospects and customers. Other CRMs have drip campaigns and pre-scripted texts and emails that tend to blur the customer experience from one agent to another. Realvolve, on the other hand, has stepped things up a bit and added the ability for agents to really customize the experience! Where other companies in CRM zig with their capabilities, Realvolve zags with workflows. And where other agents zig with common CRMs, Realvolve agents zag with a highly authentic customer experience!

How will you zag?

I challenge you to think about some of the tactics you currently engage in that might be zigging along with the masses of real estate agents. It’s time to zag. What’s your plan?

If you like this blog post, continue to share and “like” and comment. As long as I keep getting love, I’ll keep the series going. I know I have a lot more fun topics just begging to be put out there!

Finally, if you haven’t seen them already, here are links to parts I and II of the series:

Mark Cafiero

Mark is passionate about the evolving nature of content marketing, is a creative problem-solver, and feels strongly that the secret to success for business lies within an empathetic approach to understanding customer needs and wants. Mark is Realvolve's newest addition as their Director of Marketing Strategy. Mark is proud to have some of his accomplishments featured in Timothy Ferriss' 4 Hour Workweek (extended version).

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