How is a Realtor® supposed to stand out from her competition online? It’s a question that webmasters and marketing assistants hear often and struggle to answer. They do their best to write cheerful website copy but the problem is that everyone says the same thing, and the result is noise.
We did a survey a few years ago that showed the median budget for online marketing, including a website, was about $2,500 per year. That’s expensive considering that a lot of outstanding graphic design is wrapped around the same generic statements about dedication, commitment, and the joy of selling homes. These things make a client feel good but if everyone is saying the same thing, how is it outstanding?
Millions in Realtor® dues have been spent on the regulation of a sound methodology for trading real property. This investment in the methodology is intended to create a transaction experience by trained real estate professionals. It’s ironic that some of the most remarkable features and benefits of this transaction experience are not advertised as a reason to engage a Realtor®.
Realtors® typically don’t bridge the gap between their online marketing and the extraordinary value that the brand offers. If you ask a new agent what she brings to the table, she will probably talk about market knowledge and “professionalism”: Intangibles won’t differentiate your services online. Instead, try talking about the reasons why Realtors® are licensed and why they have a government-sanctioned monopoly to trade real property. Here are a few topics to explore in your marketing materials and website content if you’re looking for some ideas.
Fiduciary duty is a term that should be defined on every real estate website. It’s the core of the Code of Ethics yet most ordinary people don’t know what this phrase means or have any idea of how it relates to their transaction. It’s also the basis for almost every conversation, and has far reaching implications, so clients should read about it as part of your introduction. Try searching for a real estate website that has the term fiduciary duty and you’ll find zero results—add it to your site and you’ll take the first step toward real differentiation.
Full disclosure is a concept that some wary clients will assume is only offered to friends and family of the agent. Nobody has ever told them that a Realtor® cannot conceal information, lie, exaggerate, make a secret profit, and a multitude of other failings. There are people who believe that when they hire a Realtor®, it’s caveat emptor. Trust grows from disclosure. Talking about professional standards on your website in a confident voice gives clients a reason to believe in you.
Errors and omissions insurance is a foreign term to most people. The general public doesn’t know that Realtors® must carry E&O, what the policy limits are, and when it is called into force. Visitors to your website want to know they have some security beyond the warm hug that everyone else is selling so let them know you have excess coverage. Confidence builds respect and mutual respect is critical to the fiduciary relationship.
By discussing the foundations of the Realtor® brand in your marketing, and making it a feature of your business plan, you’re making a promise to the public that this is how you do business. Website copy about fiduciary duty and insurance isn’t boring to the people who are trusting you with their nest egg. It’s exciting to know that someone is taking your transaction seriously and using their professional resources to ensure your success.
If you want to continue the Realtor® brand theme throughout your website and social media, ask clients to use specific keywords that promote it. Suggest they comment on privacy or try to use the phrase ‘The Golden Rule’ in their testimonial, if they feel it’s appropriate. It will elevate your business to a new level and give potential clients another reason to have high expectations.
The reality of the real estate business is that there are never enough customers to satisfy the sales force so differentiation is very important. All Realtors® have a strong desire to be fun, responsive to clients, and give good service but those intentions don’t go far enough. Be different—tell people what it really means to be a professional Realtor® and they will respond by giving you their business.