Ten Things a Real Estate Professional Can Do in a “Down” Economy: #10

June 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Robin's Ruminations

#10  Take Photos of Your Marketplace (last in a series)

People love pictures!  As children seeking a good story, we favored books with lots of pictures illustrating the story.  As adults seeking a new home, we favor listings with lots of photos.

When considering moving to a new community, consumers also seek pictures.  Oh, they will read the Chamber of Commerce descriptions and statistics, but it is the photos that will engage their interest in the community.

Similarly, consumers will be more inclined to select a real estate agent who really knows the community.  How will they determine that?  Based on the stories and photos on your website or in your blog.

Your website should have a special page devoted to each community in your marketplace.  Showcase your marketplace through a narrated virtual tour, or add photos to a map of the community.  Include links to the municipal website, the historical society’s website, the local Chamber of Commerce, and the school board.

In subsequent articles / blog posts,

  • feature the information and resources to be found at the municipal center
  • provide a tour of the educational facilities – public and private elementary and secondary schools, colleges, and training centers
  • illustrate the variety of recreational facilities available
  • focus on the business centers that serve the community
  • highlight the medical centers and hospitals in the area
  • do special features on nearby historical sites,
  • and illustrate the many benefits of living in the community.

Be sure that you include appropriate tags in your posts.  Always include the community name and your own name, so that the stories are indexed by Google and other search engines.

You will soon become known as a community expert, and will attract a lot of visitors to your website.  And, you will have a lot of fun doing this!

P.S. As you’re setting up your website, do the same thing with a Facebook fan page for each community!

Previous post: #9 Be More Visible in Your Community

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Ten Things a Real Estate Professional Can Do in a “Down” Economy: #2

May 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Robin's Ruminations

#2 Enhance Your Online Presence (second in a series)

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In today’s market, having a strong online presence is essential.  You probably already know that!  Unfortunately, many (most?) of us tend to set up our websites, then ignore them for weeks or even months at a time.

An effective online presence requires continuous “care and feeding.”  Without that, your websites will stagnate, lose visitors, and eventually drop out of sight.

So, during this slower economy, set aside a day or two, to burnish your online image and spruce up your websites.  Here are a few ideas that you might find helpful.

Overall Impression

Look at each wesite with a critical eye.  Is it neat, or cluttered?  Is it modern, or old fashioned?  Does it use too many colors?  Are your name and company’s name lost in the array of information?  Are you adhering to your company’s branding guidelines?  Using a fresh look / template for your website will attract more consumers.  Limiting the number of colors to 2 (in addition to black and white) will make the website easier to read.

Organization

How easy or difficult is it for consumers to locate information in your website?  Do you have tabs or a navigational sidebar?  How many sections are there?  Research shows that 7 ± 2 is an appropriate number of items for any kind of list.  You can help consumers locate information through the overall redesign, by renaming sections, by reordering sections, and by keeping the number of sections near 7.

Biographical Information

How stale is your biography / “about me” section?  When is the last time you updated it?  Have you accomplished anything at all, since you wrote the existing copy, that would make a good addition to your biography?  Does your biography truly reflect who you are, now, or is it dated?  If you were a consumer, would your biography instill confidence and trust in you?  This is one place where good friends may be of help.  Ask your friends why they think you’re a good real estate professional, and why they would recommend you to their acquaintances.  Then, weave their reasons into your biography.  Warning: You may find that you have to start “from scratch”!

Images

If you have used clip art on your website, remove it.  If you believe that the page must have an image, then use a high-quality photograph.  Photos of your marketplace are the best, but you can purchase photos, relatively inexpensively, from services like Dreamstime, iStockphoto, and others.

Blogs

You should be updating every blog at least once each week.  This is particularly critical for the blog on your main website.  That’s where consumers will look for your marketplace information.  Don’t neglect your independent blogs, either.  If well done, and updated regularly, they will drive consumers to your main website. If you don’t yet have a blog that is independent of your website, I would recommend using Blogger, which is hosted by Google.  It is a very easy-to-use platform, offers a variety of attractive templates, and facilitates including a number of useful widgets in your blog’s sidebar.  If you are more comfortable with technology and know some HTML, then WordPress provides an excellent blogging platform.  You can also apply to have your independent blogs listed on a local or industry aggregator website.

Listings

Do I really need to talk about listings on your website?  Well, yes, unfortunately.  You may not be guilty of this particular crime, but some real estate professionals do a terrible job presenting their listings online.  What do consumers want?  Information and pictures – lots of both.  So, every single listing you have should include as many good-quality, well-conceived images as you can fit into your template, a virtual tour, detailed information about the rooms and features of the property, a floorplan, a map showing the property’s location, and links to other information, such as nearby schools.

Consumer Information

If you’re like most real estate professionals, you include helpful information for consumers on your website.  You may include information about the buying and selling processes, financing a purchase, community resources, up-coming events, and vendors / service providers you recommend.  Information like this is valuable, but it can very quickly become obsolete – especially an events section.  Mentally “flag” this part of your website for a thorough review, at least once a month, to ensure that all of the links still work, and the information is current.

Social Media

After you have updated your primary real estate websites, apply the same analysis to each of your social media sites.  And, if you’re not participating in, at least, these social networking forums, sign up!

    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • TwitPic
    • Facebook
    • Flickr
    • ActiveRain
    • BrokerAgentSocial.

    When you have completed these tasks, and are pleased with the look and functionality of your websites, do not just pat yourself on your back and walk away.  Before you break out the celebratory sparkling wine, create a plan to ensure that your online presence never again becomes stale.

    You can do a lot in just 15–30 minutes a day, by selecting one website or one type of task for special focus.  Make a list of website components that should be updated regularly (for example, listings, blogs, financial information, community information, images, and so on), and simply cycle through them, day by day.

    Now, you’re ready to celebrate!

    Previous post: #1 Become Reacquainted with Former Clients and Customers

    Subsequent post: #3 Retool Your Presentations & Marketing Pieces

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