The next generation of marketing tools is here

by Melanie Kalmar

If you have ever wondered how longtime agents get buyers and sellers to think of them, and only them, when it comes time to make a move in real estate, keep reading. Pop-up ads fueled by artificial intelligence, TikTok videos that make a lasting impression in under 60 seconds and opinion polls that engage followers online are a few of the ways veteran agents stay in front of clients and leverage the wide net cast by social media to maximize referrals — the lifeblood of any business.

The choice is yours: Market yourself in an edgy, new way and stand out from the crowd or become lost in a sea of agents with the same old marketing routine. Why not choose wisely and let our experts show you how to mix it up, combine the old with the new and market yourself as a broker with whom buyers and sellers beg to do business.

Video helps build name recognition

Back in the day, Hilda Jones, broker associate and team lead of the Hilda Jones Team of Baird & Warner in Elgin, used local newspapers and magazines to keep in front of clients, placing “Hilda sold another one” ads on a regular basis. While the mode has changed somewhat, the concept remains: Keep your name in front of people so they always know you’re in the business, Hilda said. Now clients are the ones writing about their experiences with the Hilda Jones Team on internet review platforms, or, as Hilda’s daughter and team manager, broker associate Jenny Jones, likes to call them, “referrals on steroids.”

“I use the Canva template and share their words with the general public on Google and Facebook to show I helped them out and they were satisfied with our services,” Jenny said. “I know a lot of people are afraid of reviews. It’s been very helpful for our business.”

The mother-daughter duo has worked together for 17 of the 45 years that Hilda has been in real estate. Together they oversee five team members. She and Hilda market for the team, as well as themselves as individual agents on separate Facebook pages, since each of them has their own client databases to keep in front of.

Get comfortable being uncomfortable

Jenny does a lot of marketing via video — the most highly consumed content online. “It’s nerve-wracking to get yourself in front of a camera and talk,” Jenny said. “But the more you do it, the more comfortable you get.” Video helps Jenny highlight her knowledge of the area and shows she is up to date on nationwide trends in real estate — two benefits buyers and sellers look for in a broker. She shares a variety of video content on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, including property videos set to music featuring professional photography and drone aerial shots; small-business spotlights that capture her visiting a local proprietor to promote its products or services; and informational videos where she gives market updates and discusses topics such as interest rates and how to win bidding wars.

Jenny also makes use of TikTok, creating informational videos that grab viewers’ attention in the first five to 10 seconds and last less than one minute. “Add a little humor and put a pet in the video — dogs and cats are always a hit,” she said. Jenny’s content looks professionally done, but she designs the videos herself using apps such as Canva and Magisto, which is based on artificial intelligence. “You upload all of your materials [walk-through videos and various other content], pick a song, a template, and they do a little magic and come out with a video.”

If a DIY approach seems daunting, do what brokers Beth Wexler and Joey Gault of @properties Christie’s International Realty, The Wexler Gault Group, in Highland Park did: Hire an intern to handle it for you and teach you how to do it yourself. “We need that younger generation,” Wexler said.

She and Gault are constantly updating their marketing and image.

“You have to refresh every few years,” said Wexler, whose team has a designated person handling in-house marketing. “Depending on the time of year, we change the colors of our ads. If it’s October, it’s oranges and yellows. If it’s spring, pinks.” They also think it’s important to advertise in print publications because of the long shelf life. Plus, people always comment about their ads.

In terms of getting their names out digitally, they use AdWerx, an artificial intelligence tool. You pay to have your name pop up in an ad while people are browsing online — reading The Wall Street Journal, for instance — or shopping online. It’s also a good way to capture the attention of unconventional buyers, like multiple generations within a family whose members want to live together, by targeting ads specifically to them.

The team engages their followers on social media through “Motivational Monday” posts, showcasing new and closed listings and shout-outs to team members when they make a sale.

Jenny and Hilda like to engage followers online with polls that ask for advice, such as which kitchen people like better. “Mix up the content you’re showing on social media to trick the algorithm and show up in front of more people,” advised Jenny.

This is a strategy that Craig Hogan, an agent with GC Luxury Group, Coldwell Banker Realty, in Chicago, knows well. A bloopers reel from a recent introduction-to-the-team video shot by Luxury Presence for GC Luxury was so funny that the team is sharing it on social media to generate interest, according to Hogan. He highly recommends hiring an outside company to produce all of your marketing materials.

“We sell property,” insisted Hogan. “I’m not a builder, videographer, photographer … What’s important is talking to people. That’s what we’re good at. We’re not at home making brochures or postcards. Let it go.”

To market yourself, he said, fire all the cannons: public relations, marketing, video, photography, live events, social media and print. “Get your Instagram game up,” he said. “Watch what you say, and make sure you don’t look like a robot.”

A recent video post garnered 24,700 views and an overseas call for the group, versus a social media post without video that captured 6,000 views, he noted.

Target your audience

Each member of Hogan’s four-member team is a luxury property specialist. They market their services as a group to the high-end and mass-markets simultaneously. Still, the team is very specific about what they say to each buyer and seller, because not everyone wants to hear the same thing, Hogan explained, especially when dealing with different products and market conditions.

“You don’t need to know that many people, but the small group you do know needs to remember you,” Hogan said. His team uses Wealth Engine, a service that gives them access to a large database of affluent people. “It gives you the ability to zone in, to filter your marketing message down to the people who are most affluent — select marketing for a select buyer,” he said.

He emphasized that their message focuses on luxury and is clear about what the team is selling: experience, history and a strong track record.

Face-to-face communication remains top priority

Everyone is always interested in real estate, Wexler said. Whether it’s playing pickleball or socializing with friends, get out in the community and talk about what you do.

Wexler and Gault maintain a presence by sponsoring events, dropping off gifts to clients on special occasions and serving as local real estate experts in several print publications.

Build a reputation from the inside out

New and seasoned agents can benefit from hiring a mentor or coach. Jenny meets personally every two weeks with a coach who helps her develop new strategies, maintain the systems she has in place and recognize changes she needs to make. “It’s always helpful to have someone outside of the situation help you assess what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong,” she said. “It’s making sure you’re building the business that you ultimately want to build.”

While everyone makes mistakes, Hilda said, it’s how you handle them that matters. “It’s a learning process,” she said. “The silliest things become the biggest problems. You forget about a refrigerator that was supposed to be left with the property, and all of a sudden, you’re buying one for someone, because you never want to end like that. One commission check is not worth my reputation.”

Hogan has come to understand that it’s not possible to win every deal, because people want to hear things that are not true when they shouldn’t — like that their $2 million property is worth $11 million. “Being honest is critical,” he said. “They have to know you, like you and trust you, or they will not do business with you. It’s just the nature of it. Integrity in all things stands the test of time.” His other tip: Never agree with a buyer who says they paid too much for a property, because, honestly, they paid what the market demanded at the time.

Expert Sources

Craig Hogan
Broker, GC Luxury Group,
Coldwell Banker Realty

Hilda Jones
Broker Associate and Team Lead,
Hilda Jones Team of Baird & Warner

Jenny Jones
Broker Associate and Team Manager,
Hilda Jones Team of Baird & Warner

Joey Gault
Broker, The Wexler Gault Group of
@properties Christie’s International Realty, Highland Park

Beth Wexler
Broker, The Wexler Gault Group of
@properties Christie’s International Realty, Highland Park

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