Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now, More Than Ever, Marketing Matters in Real Estate

The real estate market is awful, agents are leaving the business, the money agents and brokers spent with us to advertise is down, or worse, gone! So what's left to do....well start an online marketing program for real estate agents. That's what Connecting is doing.

What I like about this latest entry into a crowded field of online real estate marketing is the hyper-local nature of the concept. Agents become neighborhood experts. And this tool helps an agent market themselves as such. My question is simple, why can't our media properties provide this to their local agents? Just thinking....

Here's what Terry Heaton from Promoblog says about this idea:

In a remarkable example of how anybody can be a media company today, the sites are managed and sponsored by realtors, who use them to mine for potential clients. While declining to provide site statistics, Connecting Neighbors Marketing Manager Lisa Knight told me that the sites do very well, especially with a sponsor who dedicates time and resources to marketing it within the neighborhood. Simple yard signs (like the one pictured on the right in Huntsville, Alabama), postcards and word-of-mouth are all it takes.

Connecting Neighbors offers you the opportunity to become the exclusive Neighborhood Expert in your targeted market, while locking out your competitors. Begin building relationships in your market today!

The sites are simple and spartan, but packed with useful information and opportunities for user-generated content. There are publisher disclaimers throughout the site where users interact, just like you’d find with any other media company. Classifieds are free, local news comes via (note: your local news is likely being presented on these sites via Topix), a directory, recipes, lots of referrals and links, and the general “feel” of a community site. The difference is that it’s run by a realtor who’s using it to mine for clients. How terribly smart!

A few sites serve communities beyond just a neighborhood, and the company has experimented with aggregating neighborhoods. Some of the content is provided by feeds, but the quality of the sponsor’s marketing is what makes the difference in generating content from residents of the neighborhood.

The price to the sponsor varies and is based on the number (and in some cases, the prices) of homes in the neighborhood being served and the services the sponsor chooses to offer. “On average, our one time setup fee is $1.65 per home,” added Ms. Knight, “and on average our monthly hosting fee is $0.09 per home.” The Connecting Neighbors website lists the following options:

* A Neighborhood Website that allows residents to connect with one another, read community news, post free classified ads, share pictures, and more.
* A Neighborhood Newsletter that features information specific to the neighborhood and is emailed to residents each month.
* A personal Neighborhood Marketing Coach assigned to help announce and promote the program to neighborhood residents.
* Quickshow multimedia presentations to engage and welcome residents to their Neighborhood Website.
* MLS data integration (where available) to constantly provide up-to-date real estate information.
* Relationship Manager feature (where available) for Members to manage all of their communications with their new prospects!

This provides two important lessons for media companies. One, anybody can be a media company today. Any. Body.

See their site from the link below.

Connecting Neighbors: Find a Neighborhood Expert

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