More and more real estate companies and agents are finally understanding the importance of marketing, especially online marketing. Some do it well and some are still glued to the old fashioned, ineffective, expensive methods of traditional marketing through newspapers, postcards and passing out pens. These people will come around at some point. Fortunately for you, as someone who is proactively staying on top of new trends and tools for marketing your business online, you are already far ahead of the game and stand a better chance at pinning down your niche in the market and dominating it.
Before you are truly able to realize the potential of your marketing though, there is one thing you must accomplish – you must CREATE A CAPTIVE AUDIENCE. This is what sets the big hitters apart from those just treading water. Once your audience has become so tied to your marketing and services, your real estate business will start to realize the real potential that it exists to make that jump to the next level.
What is a Captive Audience?
There is no better real life example of what a captive audience is than what Apple has created for itself. Steve Jobs, arguably one of the most iconic business figures of our time, has successfully created and upheld some of the most effective marketing strategies we have seen in a long time. Apple’s marketing is right up at the top with a some of the best in that of both Coca-Cola and Nike.
Due to the success of the marketing that Apple continues to successfully push out, customers have become loyal fans. For example, take the WWDC (Apple’s Developer Conference) that was held just days ago in San Francisco, California. This event brings tech bloggers, journalists, reporters, gadget gurus and Apple “fan boys” to their knees in anticipation of the cool new products Apple prepares to serve up next. Events like these bring forth true captive audiences – people willing to wait in long lines, pay expensive entrance fees and blow off work just to find out where their next paycheck is going to be spent.
People who are not even Apple customers yet have begun to tune in to these events to see if they are going to jump ship from their PC or Blackberry and become an Apple die-hard like so many others across the world. The buzz that Apple is able to create for these events days and months after is astonishing each time they happen. Even more impressive is the level of anticipation that gets created months before these events even take place.
When was the last time you were able to create such a buzz for a home you were selling or a real estate service you were offering? Have you ever been abel to create this kind of buzz?
How to Create a Captive Audience
Using Apple as an example of a business that has created a true captive audience, let’s look at some things that they continue to do that has helped propel them to a point where consumers (present company included) will buy a rock with an Apple logo on it for over a $100.
STEP 1: Determine Your Target Audience
Before you can create a cult following, as Apple has done, you must know who your target audience is. Apple went after a target market of those looking for something different, aesthetically appealing, easy to use and desirable amongst peers. This strategy kept Apple’s core customer base to younger college students and young professionals, but quickly expanded to almost every other generation to date.
Hopefully you pinpointed your target audience when you developed your marketing plan and you already know what type of customer makes up your target audience. If not, then you need to answer these questions:
What is the age range of the majority of your clientele?
What age range do you want to be working with?
What is the average income level of your clientele?
What is the average income level of the clientele you want to be working with?
What other demographics make up your clientele (education, family, marital status, etc)?
What other demographics are you looking to target?
There are many more qualifiers you need to ask yourself, but these six will get your mind going down the right path. It is important to know the information for the clientele you currently have and the clientele you wish to have as the latter will be tied directly to your marketing if you are going after something new.
STEP 2: Assess Your Target Audience
Once you know the types of people that make up your target audience the next step is to assess this group to determine what your real estate prospects and clients want and need. In Apple’s case, they were able to see that the market was a lot bigger than just college students or young professionals. Starting with these demographics definitely helped Apple to create the type of viral marketing needed to cross barriers into other markets like PC owners and graphic designers, artists and other professions that were so accustomed to using PCs.
If you decide that your target audience is single professionals looking for urban living in downtown areas close to commercial districts and you have historically sold suburban single family homes, then you are obviously going to have a problem. Make sure that your business goals meet the realities of the market and the inventory available to you. On the other hand, if you are feeling ambitious and have come to truly understand the importance of specializing in some aspect of your business then go after that niche and dominate it. This is where your captive audience will get created.
STEP 3: Create a Buzz
Knowing your target audience inside and out is going to help you create the anticipation and excitement that you need to have this audience become putty in your hands. Don’t ever think that your industry is not exciting or sexy enough to pull this off because companies like Coke have done it with soda, Nike has done it with shoes and Apple has done it with phones and computers. None of this stuff was exciting until these companies pulled off some of the most memorable and long lasting marketing campaigns we have ever witnessed.
The most recent example here are the string of Apple commercials set on a simple white background with witty dialogue between an actor representing Apple and an actor representing PCs.
To create a buzz amongst your audience you need to accomplish the following:
- Pick a specific niche (luxury condos for single professionals in commercial districts, Modern single family homes in close proximity to great pre-schools and kindergartens for young families, etc.)
- Hand select some properties in your inventory to showcase
- Create a story behind these properties so people can make personal connections to them. Large transactions involve emotions and personal connections or wants.
- Use viral marketing to get the word out about these properties. Using traditional methods like print ads, mailers, and even boring virtual tours don’t have that appeal that you need to create a buzz. Try different avenues like Social Media Marketing (Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and Twitter) to create interest in these properties. A viral video / commercial on YouTube will go much further than you can imagine.
- Create demand for these properties by making the experience in seeing them an event in itself. Instead of the traditional walk through with a client or open house, make the viewing an experience for the prospect. Make them feel like you are rolling out a red carpet for them. People want and like to feel important and special. If you fulfill these desires you are that much closer to creating your captive audience.
STEP 4: Create Your Captive Audience
You have narrowed down your audience and you have successfully created a buzz around that property you are selling or that real estate consulting service you are offering. Now what?
Now you must follow through.
Apple continues to be successful, not because of it marketing, but because of the quality of the products that they put out and the service they back them up with. Everything up to this point falls under how well you market yourself, how well you effectively use great mediums, like the Internet, to get the word out about your real estate business and how well you are able to create that tension building anticipation that loyal fanatics love to witness.
It is up to your years of experience and education now to deliver on everything you have hyped up. If you have made that luxury condo right next to downtown out to be a once in a lifetime opportunity then you must follow through with that willing client who is ready to pull the trigger. Your follow up must be impeccable and your service after the sale must be second to none. If you come through on every aspect of selling a property, from marketing to closing to support after the sale, then the referrals and reputation you will build for yourself will keep you in the upper echelon of real estate professionals, just as Apple has done for themselves with computer products and mobile phones.
Your captive audience is now created as a result. Congratulations!
HINT: Don’t overplay or over-hype something just because it worked for a previous property. The product (in this case the home) must fit the campaign. You don’t see people lining up for days in front of Apple stores for iPod Shuffles. No, instead they line up for iPhones – the products that Apple selectively markets with its viral channels and hype.
If you have ever been able to create this type of hype or captive audience for a real estate transaction, we would love to hear about it. We will even feature your story on our blog and help you get some additional notoriety and exposure for your efforts that will help other real estate professionals break the mold of the real estate industry, which needs all the help it can get right now.