As a realtor, it is important that you know how to effectively sell yourself and your brand. Discover our top marketing ideas for realtors to learn exactly how.
As a realtor, you’re selling both a product and a dream –– considering buying a home is something that many Americans spend years dreaming of. But in addition to moving inventory and delivering the American Dream to prospective buyers, you’re selling one other thing: yourself. Purchasing a home is a big decision, with many first-time home buyers touring as many as 8 properties before making a decision. And if this figure seems high, it’s actually one of the lowest in recent years, according to the National Association of Realtors.1 Purchasing a home is also a major financial undertaking, and it can be easier for prospective buyers to assume this expense if they trust the person walking them through the process: if you, as their realtor, have properly marketed yourself.
But not all real estate agents have the resources for costly marketing campaigns, the wit for catchy taglines, or the ego for billboards and bus ads. So what are your options? Read on for 12 real estate marketing ideas, and some key business development insights.
Before we launch into our real estate marketing ideas, we should first explain one of the most central themes in marketing and advertising: the four Ps. Referring to product, price, place, and positioning, the idea of the four Ps has been around since long before Mad Men, and even before the fictional era its characters occupied, yet its relevance has hardly waned. They can be applied to any service or industry, with many marketing experts agreeing that businesses and brands must thoroughly understand the four Ps before crafting a marketing strategy –– whether that strategy is designed to market toothpaste, automobiles, or the embodiment of the American Dream itself.
Though real estate may be different from the products found on supermarket shelves, the four Ps are still every bit as important. Let’s take a closer look at the four Ps as they pertain to the real estate industry.
Perhaps the most obvious of the four real estate Ps, the central product real estate agents are selling is, well, real estate. Be it a home, a condo, a townhouse, or undeveloped land, the product is largely the same. But as we mentioned earlier, realtors are also selling their expertise, their attentiveness, and the relationship they forge with home buyers. Unlike a sports car or a pair of $1,000 designer shoes, home shoppers are likely going to buy a home –– it’s who they buy it from that comes into question.
As you’ll soon discover (or be reminded of,) many aspects of marketing boil down to simple psychology. The way in which goods are priced is a prime example. Think about it: How big of a difference is $49.99 from $50? For most shoppers, probably not big at all, but for those with strict spending parameters this microscopic difference can be game-changing. When we look at homes, whether we’re passing the time on a real estate site or diligently searching for a forever home, we set parameters; a home priced at $400,000 versus $399,999 may fall outside of those parameters, never to be seen by a potential buyer. Realtors play on this psychology, and the result is worth far more than the dollar difference on the price tag.
No, this isn’t the old “location, location, location” spiel. Rather, place refers to the platform(s) you’re using to list your properties, sell your services, and promote brand awareness. This place can make a world of difference, and successful real estate marketing might require stepping out of your comfort zone –– and beyond the tried-and-true tactics. For some real estate professionals, using a social media platform may be the definition of “out of the comfort zone,” but it’s virtually impossible in this day and age to build brand awareness without it. Many of the top realtors are using social media to move units and market their services.2 If you want to know how to generate leads in real estate, you should consider being among them.
The last P, positioning, is where real estate professionals can best differentiate themselves from others. In the real estate market, agents have a reputation for being sharks. They cut deals quickly, make tons of money doing it, and personal relationships with home buyers fall by the wayside. But while this works for them and gets their buyers what they want, there are undoubtedly some shoppers who will feel alienated or put off by this approach. The decision is yours: position yourself as another shark, or as a skilled salesperson and empathetic guide through the home-buying process. How you decide to position yourself as a real estate professional is up to you, but as a rule of thumb: If everyone else is doing things one way, it might not be a bad idea to mix it up.
Different products, services, and industries benefit from different types of marketing. Steaming plates of food require a visual representation in order to drive traffic to their restaurants of origin, making television commercials and roadside billboards a natural home for food industry brands. Skincare brands, on the other hand, rely on celebrities and lifestyle influencers to move units, making social media a more sound place to invest a marketing budget. But these industries are selling products, edible or otherwise. What about those selling an image based on empathy, understanding, and years of real estate knowledge? Perhaps unsurprisingly, your approach to marketing will be different than that of McDonald’s –– or MAC cosmetics, for that matter.
Social proof, a psychology term often used in marketing, applies to many of the best real estate marketing strategies. This theory coined by prominent psychologist Robert Cialdini3 refers to the human tendency towards copying –– if someone we know tries something and likes it, we’re more likely to try it, too; if they don’t like it, we’re less willing to take our chances. And while word-of-mouth marketing is not strong enough to exist as a standalone marketing strategy, this principle of social proof can be the key differentiator in a real estate marketing strategy. Ask yourself: If two realtors in your town had identical track records, demeanors, and online presences, would you be more likely to hire the one with rave reviews from friends and family or the one with none at all? If you chose the former, the principle of social proof is to blame.
Several of our marketing ideas for realtors are built on the foundation of social proof, and can be essential in helping you raise both awareness and sales.
In just about every American city, there are brick-and-mortar real estate offices with (sometimes digital) photos of current listings pasted on the windows. And while a prospective client may peer in at these listings, or maybe even walk into the office to inquire, it’s almost always the online efforts of realtors which will end up selling these homes.
But the internet is not a new thing, nor is it news to you that a web presence will make a world of difference to your real estate business plan. The ways you can wield the web, however, might be. We’ll spare you with the ins and outs of how Google reads and ranks web content, but what you need to know is this: The easier you are to find, the better. And the stronger your SEO, the easier you’ll be to find. So how do you get “good” SEO? And what even is it? In short, SEO (search engine optimization) is how well your content performs compared to other, similar content. With competitive SEO –– accomplished through the strategic use of keywords, a rich content library, and a mobile-friendly website –– searches for realtor in [your city] will display your website as one of the top results.
If you don’t have a website and blog, these should be priorities one and two; getting them to the front page of Google will follow as a close third.
We know what you’re thinking: “Is email good for anything other than spam?” The answer for business owners, whether you’re a realtor, a doctor, a painter, or anything in between is a resounding yes, as email marketing’s return on investment is a whopping $38 for every dollar spent. Put in perspective, social media has the next best ROI at just under $3.4 So how is a 40-year-old piece of technology now one of the most unique marketing ideas for realtors? As it turns out, email’s lingering nature –– the very thing that allows it to clog our inboxes –– can be a marketer’s greatest asset.
When you encounter something on a social media platform, it’s there and it’s gone. If you like it, you save it or share it, but many users will simply keep scrolling for that next hit of dopamine. When you receive an email, it’s in your inbox until you move it or delete it. If you can’t look at it right this minute, you can revisit it later. And once a prospect is on your mailing list, you’ve got a direct line to their inbox; there’s no algorithm around to bury your content.
With that said, the unsubscribe button does exist, and your email marketing campaign should be centered around quality, useful content that creates value. Inventory is important, but if you can work in insights and educational pieces, you’re not just another salesperson: you’re offering an extremely valuable service for free.
No, referrals are not a new, unique, or groundbreaking marketing idea. Nor are referrals all you need in order to build a successful real estate business. Rather, they’re a corner piece of the puzzle: They’re a great starting point and make everything else just a bit easier. They also work quite well, largely due to the idea of social proof we introduced earlier.
In fact, referrals work so well that 36% of sellers who used a real estate agent did so on a referral from a family member or friend.5 But, as great as it would be if every satisfied client went on to rave to their closest friends, totally unsolicited, collecting referrals and testimonials will require some work on your end. Further, referrals aren’t limited to just those who bought a home from you or sold their home through you –– even those who had a pleasant experience at a showing or open house you hosted can help generate some buzz. Ask for a referral any time you feel it’s necessary. Like most things in sales, the worst people can say is no!
It’s a simple fact of life that, in a post-iPhone society, we’re all glued to our phones. We use them to keep up with friends on Instagram, read and respond to work emails, and, of course, shop for homes. But even seasoned realtors and prolific cell phone users might be surprised to learn that, in 2020, seventy-six percent of home buyers searched for their forever home on a smartphone or other mobile device.6 Needless to say, a real estate website that does not offer a friendly experience to mobile users is likely to be at an immediate disadvantage.
But while this information may be news to us, Google and other search engines are already fully aware of the importance of mobile-optimized sites –– which is why mobile-friendliness is a key factor in determining a site’s search ranking. So, when creating your website and developing a library of content, ensure that the experience is just as seamless on mobile as it is on desktop. After all, this attention to detail will pay off in more ways than one, appeasing both prospects and the search engine overlords at Google.
It may seem like real estate listings are all about imagery, and this is true to a certain degree. When people look at homes, they envision their own lives unfolding in the spaces; the decorations they’ll use, the paint colors they’ll swap, the fixtures they’ll keep and the ones they’ll immediately replace. But the imagination is only so powerful, and the role of the real estate professional is to aid potential home buyers in the envisioning process. One of the best ways you can do this is through written home listings which invoke emotion and stoke the imagination of shoppers.
Now, if you’re not a writer, don’t fret — we don’t expect you to whip up award-winning copy in your (non-existent) free time. We do, however, encourage you to give a voice to your descriptions, deviating from the paragraphs of lifeless listing copy which have come to be expected. Communicate the unique selling propositions of your properties exactly how you would during an in-person showing or open house. Trade some of the traditional jargon for text which allows your personality to shine through. (Or, if your marketing budget permits, outsource the job to a pro.)
We say “game,” because understanding and taking advantage of the social media algorithm can feel exactly like playing and winning a game. And, though you may be personally averse to social media and its many pitfalls, using it as a marketing tool (rather than a pastime) can make a world of difference to your business. So, what exactly does the “game” entail? It means staying active, keeping consistent, being an engaged user, and –– potentially –– trying your hand at paid promotion.
Even if you decide you’re not ready to pay real money to promote your online profile, simply adhering to the other three strategies can help you wade through the sea of sameness and stand out to prospects. If you’re not leveraging social media, and are hesitant to start out of fear of being a “newbie” or not having a million-person follower count, here’s some reassurance: Engagement alone can give your content an algorithm boost, and a high follower count does not guarantee this engagement.7 In other words, regularly engaging with your 50 followers (and receiving the same treatment from them) can do more for your presence than hundreds or thousands of inactive followers.
Should you decide to promote your profile through paid Facebook ads or elsewhere, you can put your content into the feeds of users outside of your follower list. But while this may create more visibility, this doesn’t necessarily equate to engagement. You can always give paid promotion the old college try, and decide for yourself if paying for a boost is worth it.
While we’ve spoken quite a bit about SEO and social media, one of the most unique marketing ideas for realtors doesn’t require Instagram, Google search rankings, or the user experience of mobile users. Instead, it relies on creating a memorable, immersive experience for real-life home buyers. If images of flash mobs (and dollar signs) are coming to mind, don’t click away just yet –– we think this creative marketing idea is worth hearing.
When home buyers move to a new area, they’re quick to familiarize themselves with what this new locale has to offer. Independent coffee shops, restaurants, walking trails, parks, and amenities are what make the move worthwhile, and all come together to make a new neighborhood much more than the sum of its parts: It becomes a community, instead. Realtors can create this sense of community in their open houses, skipping the Starbucks coffee and supermarket snack bowl in favor of local offerings, giving visitors a taste (no pun intended) of what life in this new home may be like. If your schedule permits, take things a step further by guiding a tour group through the surrounding neighborhood, allowing them to experience the local amenities in a way that pictures simply can’t replicate.
This may be a lot of time, energy, and effort when compared to tinkering with keywords and revamping your web presence, but an innovative approach to marketing like this can help you stand out in the real world. And if you can’t quite replicate this experience, a virtual tour can achieve a similar effect.
Much like real estate listing descriptions can be uniform at best and downright stale at worst, home photography can be similarly generic. Heavily edited photos can lend an almost uncanny aspect to otherwise cozy homes, making potential buyers feel disconnected from what could be their dream house. And just like listing copy can benefit from a tinge of character, this photography is a key way for realtors to stand out from the competition. Drone photography, in particular, creates an opportunity for real estate professionals to paint a clearer picture of the property in question, but there are other ways in which a change and perspective can be a creative marketing idea for realtors.
Pictures may be worth a thousand words, but videos are even more valuable –– and video tours are a great way for realtors to diverge from the home photography strategies their competitors are (over)using. These tours also allow potential buyers to see how the space flows in a way that photos simply can’t communicate. With this new perspective, shoppers can see their own lives play out, rather than having to piece it together through hundreds of photos.
Many marketing professionals will tell you that one of the biggest components of marketing is meeting your audience where they are. Considering it’s the biggest real estate website in the U.S. and receives nearly 70 million monthly visitors8, your audience is likely on Zillow. Though Zillow has been around for nearly 20 years, the online real estate marketplace has emerged as a full-blown cultural phenomenon in recent years –– with Saturday Night Live even creating a skit around the joys of scrolling the site. And among other sites like Redfin, Trulia, and Realtor.com, it’s Zillow that has become synonymous with online home shopping, wishful or otherwise.
We could go on and on with our list of reasons why realtors should have a presence on Zillow, and recite statistics about survey respondents spending up to 4 hours a day on the platform,9 but we have a feeling you’ve already made a home on Zillow.
Video home tours and natural photography can help home buyers (and aspirational Zillow surfers) imagine their lives in a given house, but home staging takes this element of realism to another level. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2021 report, forty-seven percent of buyers’ agents agreed that staging had an impact on the way a home was seen by buyers. Eighty-two percent said that staging made it easier for buyers to see themselves in the home.10 When it comes to making a home more marketable, staging can help position a property as being livable and welcoming when compared to a home that is presented as little more than four empty walls.
Despite the effectiveness of this real estate marketing idea, many may see staging as just another cost that eats into sale proceeds. But considering the fact that staged homes sell quicker, this time saved could mean more sales and greater profit in the long run.
If you’ve paid a visit to an independent business in your town, be it a coffee shop, a boutique, or a law office, you may have encountered a display of assorted business cards. These didn’t end up here by accident, nor were they left without the business owner’s consent. Rather, they are likely the result of a referral partnership or simply the spirit of collaboration. As a realtor, whether you have your own office or work for a large firm, you live the life of a small business owner –– which creates an opportunity to partner with other small business owners to grow each of your businesses.
This could work in countless ways. Maybe you stock up with goodies from a local bakery for your open houses, refer home buyers to a local estate planning professional, or even keep in communication with other realtors to share the love and help out with sales whenever possible.
The last of our marketing ideas for realtors is less of an idea and more of a revolutionary approach to marketing: automation. If you’re using a client relationship management system (CRM), you’re likely familiar with automation and the role it plays in your business. When leads come in, your CRM helps track them, ensuring that no one falls through the cracks and that your potential closing rate is maximized. But this hardly scratches the surface of the true power of automation, and expanding on these capabilities can make automation one of the strongest marketing tools in your arsenal.
For example: When a potential home buyer completes an online inquiry or reaches out directly, their messages might sit in your inbox without a properly utilized CRM. A CRM complete with automations, however, can send a personalized, pre-written response email immediately –– keeping these leads warm while giving you time to reach out directly. Should you reach out and not get a response, this could be the end of the line. Or, you can implement an automation for routine follow-ups, keeping your services top of mind until they buy or sell a home with you or opt out of your messages. How you choose to automate is entirely up to you, but not automating at all means missing out on one of your greatest marketing opportunities.
Whether 12 tips, 20, or 200, it’s virtually impossible to list out every marketing idea for realtors –– and it’s up to you to decide how to best market your business and maximize your sales. With that said, we hope that the above tips from the team at Truehold helped you rethink certain aspects of your marketing strategy (and maybe even come up with some all-new approaches!)
For more marketing and business development tips from Truehold, and to keep your real estate marketing mind sharp, browse our free resource library.
1. House Digest. How Many Homes on Average Do Buyers View Before Making a Purchase?
2. Forbes. How Top Agents Are Leveraging Social Media to Sell Homes in 2022.
3. Sprout Social. Social Proof. How to Use Psychology in Digital Marketing.
4. AgencyAnalytics. Social Media Marketing vs. Email Marketing.
5. National Association of Realtors. Quick Real Estate Statistics.
6. National Association of Realtors. Real Estate in a Digital Age.
7. Adobe. 9 Tested Tips to Boost Your Instagram Engagement in 2022.
8. RubyHome. Zillow Statistics: Users, Revenue, and Market Share (2023).
9. Bloomberg. When Browsing Zillow Becomes More Than a Hobby.
10. National Association of Realtors. Profile of Home Staging.
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