It’s official! Among marketing strategies for real estate agents, building relationships is the leading strategy for success.
When I was first preparing to write this blog, I found myself pulled in all directions. There is a mound of information out there about how to market yourself as a real estate agent.
Frankly, I feel great empathy for any agent who is trying to figure out the best way to establish a brand and make a name for themselves or decide where to best invest their marketing dollars.
With the real estate market being what it is right now, I thought a search for “real estate marketing trends” might get me the latest and greatest advice. No such luck—that simply sent me down the rabbit hole of content marketing trends, social media marketing trends, digital marketing trends, email marketing trends, and mobile marketing trends. The list of channels and possible ways to market yourself as a real estate agent is overwhelming.
That’s when it hit me—why not ask top-producing agents to share how they are marketing themselves and attracting leads?
What follows are the strategies being used by seven successful real estate agents and brokers. (I first encountered most of them when they appeared as guests on our Stay Paid podcast, and I’ve worked with two of them personally.) Across the board, they recognize building relationships as their best tactic for securing repeat business and referrals.
Real estate marketing idea #1
Give back to your community
With nearly 20 years of experience as a real estate agent and broker, Stacy Allwein of the Allwein Team at Real has secured her position among the Top 100 Realtors® in the DC Metro market. She’s built a team of four successful agents and a transaction manager, and so far this year, they’ve closed 57 home sales—with the majority of them coming from referrals and repeat business.
Stacy is a big believer in building relationships and giving back to the community. In fact, it’s her best piece of advice for new agents: “Reaching out to the people you know and who know and care about you will provide referrals to your business. It’s what has grown my business over the years and will sustain it through the up and down times.”
Years of making phone calls just to catch up, mailing notes for special occasions or no occasion at all, and conducting pop-bys has allowed Stacy to build connections with many people in her sphere, and she counts many of her clients among her closest friends.
But more than staying connected with people they know, Stacy and her team are also committed to helping the community at large.
One of the activities that has made her a recognizable figure in her area is her annual Independence Day commitment: to decorate the town center with flags and other celebratory items. She’s also hosted axe-throwing events and has taken different opportunities to rent food trucks. But her signature event is her off-the-charts pie party—it allows her to build her brand in a way that gives without taking anything in return.
Every November, Stacy and her agents select a Sunday, rent a venue, ensure there are plenty of televisions to watch that weekend’s football game, and arrange for drinks and appetizers. Guests bring a toy to support Toys for Tots, and everyone goes home with a pie for their holiday table. As she explains in her podcast interview, “People come because they want to see the people who they know. They want to see the people who they met the year before or their neighbors. They start asking us, ‘When’s the party? Are you having your party?’ It’s become a thing every year. We always have close to 200 people.”
Real estate marketing idea #2
Use videos to build a brand that people know, like, and trust
Shannon Gillette, founder of the Gillette Group at Real Broker in Queen Creek, Arizona, is a two-time guest on Stay Paid. She leads one of the top teams in her market, and to date this year, they’ve closed 101 deals—with months still to go!
In 2006, when Shannon first launched her real estate career, she decided to build her business in ways that, at the time, were “nontraditional.” She committed to crafting a personal brand online by consistently posting a variety of educational and entertaining information to Instagram and, more recently, using the power of YouTube for video marketing. (YouTube has become her #1 source of new leads.)
I asked Shannon to share her thoughts about how changes in the industry are impacting how agents should be thinking about their marketing. Her response: “It’s becoming apparent that agents with the strongest personal brand will dominate the market. The reason for this is simple—clients want to do business with professionals they can trust and connect with on a personal level.”
For Shannon, video is the most effective way to create a brand that encourages audiences to know, like, and trust her.
“By leveraging the power of video marketing and getting their faces on camera,” she explains, “real estate agents can create a personal brand that resonates with their audiences, thereby increasing their chances of securing more deals.” Indeed, during her second podcast interview, Shannon tells the story about being hired by a client who found her online and developed trust in her due to her consistent posting of value-laden videos.
Importantly, it is this consistency of her efforts that makes the difference.
As Shannon observes, “Unfortunately, many real estate agents become disheartened and give up too soon because they expect to see immediate progress.” Of her own experience building a brand, she says, “I made a commitment to myself to stay consistent with video marketing, even if it felt like nobody was paying attention. I kept filming, even on days when I wasn’t in the mood or didn’t see immediate results. It took years of diligent effort to establish my brand and cultivate a stable client base.”
Her advice to agents: “Patience, time, and effort are required to achieve results. By committing and remaining steadfast for a continuous six months, you can attain your desired outcomes.”
Real estate marketing idea #3
Get back to the basics
Lana Lemberh is a solo real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty. She’s been an agent for five years and this year has closed more than 30 deals serving clients along the prestigious Main Line area just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Her marketing strategy is one familiar to most agents.
She networks with her referral partners, who include other real estate agents and professionals in mortgage, title, and insurance. (It was through an agent referral that I met and hired Lana to help me find my current home.) Additionally, she actively pursues leads on portals like Zillow, and she places her fair share of pay-per-click ads on Google. However, Lana warns, “The skyrocketing costs of online lead generation requires a very strong follow-up strategy for it to make financial sense.”
Coupled with economic volatility, the competition for clients in a market with low inventory, and recent regulatory changes, Lana has found it especially important to stick with the basics and keep in touch with the people in her sphere. “The personal touch and deep connections with clients are becoming increasingly important,” she says. “You have to consistently keep showing up for people to know, like, and trust you.”
Newer agents in particular need to reach out to their sphere in ways that remind even those closest to them that they’re real estate agents. Lana recalls her first years as a real estate agent, noting, “Your sphere may not yet instinctively think of you when real estate discussions come up, so helping them to think of you as a real estate agent is important.”
Contact Lana on her website at lanalemberh.com.
Real estate marketing idea #4
Maximize your use of social media
A veteran agent, Janet Brinck has been serving clients for 23 years, and in all that time, she’s never subscribed to cold-calling, door knocking, or geofarming. Instead, she and her team at Dwellus are intentional about systematically reaching out to their clients 36 times each year to continually add value outside the transaction and stay top of mind.
In addition to sending birthday and home anniversary cards and a regular email with market and neighborhood updates, Janet and her team create a yearly plan of client events. In past years, the schedule has included a March Madness happy hour, a charity golf tournament, movie nights, and catered family fun days at local parks complete with face painting and games.
More recently, Janet has gone all in on social media, posting videos that promote her brand. “Social media platforms are free, and you have a potential audience 24 hours a day,” she says. “The new ‘call to action’ is simply ‘time on brand,’ and consistently posting authentic videos gives your audience an opportunity to know, like, and trust you.”
Janet advises agents to “create interesting and engaging content and then proactively reach out and interact with your audience and followers.” She contends that “regardless of an agent’s lead-gen model, if they’re not optimizing their marketing and branding on social media, it’s a huge, missed opportunity.”
Follow Janet on Instagram @janet.brinck.
Real estate marketing idea #5
Above all, be honest
Founder, CEO, and principal broker of Global Property Systems Real Estate and host of the podcast Never Trust a Realtor®, Vanessa Saunders’s mission is to revolutionize the real estate industry by advocating transparency, fostering innovation, and delivering value-driven service. Based in White Plains, New York, she and her team have a presence on three continents and routinely use blockchain technology to give clients real-time, unhindered access to information.
Vanessa is also a staunch champion of honest and ethical behavior among real estate professionals at all levels. For her, acting in your clients’ best interests may not always be the easiest thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do. It’s also a highly effective marketing strategy for real estate agents—such behavior will create the trust needed to convert prospects, secure repeat business, and earn referrals.
When it comes to acting in your clients’ best interests, Vanessa notes that agents need to be vigilant and consider the consequences of even the most common industry practices, such as hosting open houses. “Open houses are a familiar staple in real estate,” she explains. “But they also serve as a glaring example of a practice that brushes aside clients’ privacy and security in favor of apparent openness and accessibility.”
As she points out, “There’s a concealed vulnerability in welcoming unverified individuals into your client’s space, not only exposing the physical realm of their home but also granting a glimpse into their private life. Agents must take careful steps to vet prospective buyers before ever permitting them to enter a client’s home. To do otherwise is to give rise to a myriad of unintended consequences.”
Noting that “the industry isn’t the televised spectacle of glamor but about ethical diligence and creative resilience,” Vanessa encourages aspiring agents to “embed honesty and relentless effort into the foundations of their pursuit.”
To read more about Vanessa, her team, and their commitment to transparency, visit GPS’s website.
Real estate marketing idea #6
Ray Ellen is a top-producing agent and national speaker. He hosts tWiRE (this Week in Real Estate), a podcast that examines news affecting the real estate industry, and has been featured in Realtor® Magazine and Inman News. He’s also the team leader at Pixel Properties with Real.
When I asked Ray what marketing strategy has worked the best for him, he was reluctant to point to one thing, saying, “There isn’t one strategy that we use. I think everything we do works hand in hand.”
He explained, “If it wasn’t for our videos, our clients wouldn’t feel as connected when we’d call them, or they may feel like they hadn’t seen us in a while. If it wasn’t for our use of social media, many of our prospects who found us through an agent referral, Google, or a Facebook ad wouldn’t have reached out because they wouldn’t have related to us as well. And without our presence in the community, our mailers wouldn’t be as effective—and I could go on and on.”
“I think now more than ever,” he continued, “real estate agents need a multichannel, multimedia marketing strategy to be at the top. They can make a lot of money using one strategy, but they won’t take a massive share of the market.”
As the host of tWiRE, Ray has first-class access to industry experts and information about what’s happening in the real estate market. So I asked him what marketing tactics he thought would be become increasingly important for agents wanting to promote their services. Not surprisingly, he pointed to connecting with your sphere.
“Connecting with your sphere and clients in a genuine, authentic way,” he elaborated, “while also being a true authority on the local market and national trends so you’re the go-to person for any real estate question is paramount. Relationships will matter way more than they have in the last three years.”
Finally, when I asked Ray what advice he’d give a new agent, he said to ensure they represent their clients well: “Anytime you are representing a property, you’re representing someone’s home—which is their most intimate space. Make sure that whatever you add brings value to their listing, is professional, and is high-quality. I think a lot of agents see a shiny new toy and dive in without thinking through all the repercussions.”
Connect with Ray on Instagram at @rayzorback.
Real estate marketing idea #7
Be relevant. Be everywhere. Be intimate.
Before she changed direction to create the Listings Lab and offer rubber-hits-the-road coaching, Jess Lenouvel had built a successful seven-figure real estate business. Her go-to strategy then, and the one she now teaches to more than 2,000 agents, is to use digital and online marketing to provide highly relevant information and foster intimate relationships with clients and prospects.
Jess preaches relevancy, omnipresence, and intimacy as the three core pillars agents must include in their marketing to effectively target their ideal clients and generate more business. She notes, “Relevancy, omnipresence, and intimacy essentially ensure you show up in the right place, at the right time, with the right messaging, to the right people.”
I asked her to elaborate.
“If you have the right messaging that shows you really understand your audience’s struggles and you provide a real solution to them—all the while regularly showing up with that relevant message and proving that you actually know what you’re talking about—then you become the authority. They get to know, like, and trust you because you’re showing up everywhere and are speaking to their needs. When you do that, you become the go-to agent in their mind.”
When engaging with her clients, Jess constantly reminds them that real estate is a service-based industry steeped in emotion: “Humans connect with other humans. We don’t connect with infographics, logos, business cards, or market stats. If you aren’t connecting with your audience on a personal level, you’re likely driving away opportunities.”
Many agents on Stay Paid, including those featured here, have talked about the importance of sharing personal content with their audiences. I asked Jess why it’s such a critical component of knowing how to market yourself as a real estate agent.
“As a real estate agent, you support your clients through an intensely emotional experience. You only want to go through an experience like that with someone you genuinely like and connect with. Through personal content, you’re building that connection with your ideal clients—you’re fostering long-term relationships with them. Successful agents don’t treat their clients like they’re disposable, like once the deal is over, they’ve served their purpose. Instead, successful agents prioritize long-term relationships.”
The message is clear: the best real estate marketing strategy is one focused on creating and nurturing sincere, caring relationships with the people you serve. Whether you mingle at client events, share videos on social media, stay visible and active in your community, or use some other means, the smart move is to give your sphere access to the authentic you while providing superior service.
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