There are approximately 36 000 estate agents in South Africa. Standing out therefore is exceptionally competitive, and remaining at the top of the pile is even more difficult, especially given the level of professionalism that exists. So yes, it’s a tough market made tougher by a lackluster economy that was exacerbated by Covid-19. Now throw into that mix the wealth of PropTech disrupting the marketplace, it becomes evident that it requires some extraordinary tactics to reach new target groups like millennials and still cater for traditional prospects.
The good news is that despite the digital age, its still relatively easy to get noticed and gain a solid reputation by adjusting or enhancing tactics that have withstood the test of time. The differentiator, however, may lie in taking a blended approach; a mixture of both old- and new-school campaigns that in effect cover all bases.
The brochure and business card
The most obvious start is a brochure or binder that can be supplied to all clients, along with a business card. That’s pretty standard but what about taking it up a level and producing a Meishi Digital Card? These cards give clients all the information they need but with the addition of being able to showcase your business. From the card clients can fill in forms, access websites and brochures, and may even include a Bot that improves customer responses. It is shareable on social media and messaging Apps and its truly digital nature allows you to do your green bit in reducing your carbon footprint.
The brochure too, can be interactive. Instead of a static one-page, produce a short video (recommendation is no longer than a minute) which is a great way to make eye-to-eye contact with customers, albeit virtual. In the video outline your value statement, display your logo, and be personable. Clients are more likely to click on a short video than have to read through a lengthy brochure.
A monthly newsletter is another standard marketing activity that provides effective results, especially if there are home tips and community events advertised. In today’s climate, where people are bombarded with different readings materials, it’s worth considering just a single page with headline teasers aligned to a website link. The click-through to one of those articles also has another advantage … it may be a strong indicator that the reader could be considering entering the market in the near future.
Listings images, apart from those by a professional, have become very run-of-the-mill. Do you want to make them stand out? Twilight/sunrise shots that spread light beautifully across a property engage the viewer’s imagination far better than a bog-standard daylight shot. It’s about finding a creative perspective that is unusual and softening the edges. Some international organisations also create slide shows with voice-over descriptions as a cheaper alternative to a 3D walkthrough. Do you know someone that sounds like Morgan Freeman, or Sean Connery? As long as you aren’t crediting those personalities, distinctive voices can be a crowd-puller.
And what about asking the sellers for some input in the listings, verbal or written? Their genuine affection for the property and some of its features may tap into a potential buyer’s desires. If you are using this idea, it is better not to use the names of the property owners but the generic use of the word ‘owner comments’ should suffice.
Estate agent boards are part of the South African property landscape, and have an almost subliminal effect on those that pass. But, if you are competing with many other agents in the area, and you really want your board to stand out … light it up! Understandably petty theft is a consideration, but mounted on a wall and lit up with a small solar-power lighting effect, will certainly draw attention and does not impact on a seller’s power usage.
It’s not always possible to find a property that ticks ALL the boxes for a buyer. Proving popular internationally, as seen on home property television shows, is including a home renovator, such as a kitchen outfitter, in a showing. The premise is that while you know the kitchen isn’t what the client requires, here is an expert that can help you get the kitchen of your dreams. It’s a win-win for all parties.
This brings in the use of Pinterest and Instagram. If you have applied the idea above, and the renovator and buyer agree, post a before/after image.
Another evolving trend is to ask other local suppliers to collaborate on show days. For example, local restaurants could donate a plate of finger-foods that represent their menu, or partnering with a local financial planner who can assist potential buyers in determining their affordability. This list is endless.
A large number of realtors in the US are offering high schools and further educational facilities a short training course on how to buy your first home, and other similar workshops. This type of marketing strategy not only taps into Life Orientation lessons, but builds brand awareness among future buyers. These also don’t necessarily need to be physical meetings, but can be online. The bottom line is to capture a youth market who in turn can educate other family members.
Another rather nice tradition, is the fridge magnet, or laminated info sheet that is presented to the buyer during the property on transfer stage. This should feature the telephone numbers of all local emergency services – ambulance, fire, water, power, hospital, police, GPs etc – and other amenities like takeaways, community centres, schools, nursery care, aerial installers, Wi-Fi suppliers, security companies, etc. This can be a shared cost between those who wish to be featured. It can also be sent digitally.
Overall existing marketing strategies don’t have to change dramatically. Tweaking one or two to cater to the digital age may be all you need.