Product, Price, Place and Promotion

Jay Zenner

by Jay Zenner on January 19, 2009

The Traditional Elements of the Marketing Mix

When I first got my real estate license I assumed that my many years of marketing experience and the knowledge I had acquired renovating and flipping a couple of condos would be a good basis to start my new career.

I was mistaken.

I didn’t fit the profile at all of what the industry considered a potentially successful agent. In fact, I wasn’t very successful. What the industry traditionally looks for are the extroverted type that is willing to network incessantly at the country club, church, kids’ school, etc.

Many of the most successful agents religiously maintain contacts with past clients and prospects and love doing it. They are gregarious almost to a fault.  Back in the good old days a  managing broker looked for people who could envision their faces on billboards and bus stop benches and relished being recognized in the supermarket as the local “top producer.”

Agents typically get two types of training.

Initially most of the training an agent receives is associated with obtaining and keeping a license. It is designed to keep them out of trouble and protect the consumer. It focuses on the legal concept of agency and using the appropriate forms correctly.

The other training focused on drumming up business. It relied on tried and true practices for farming neighborhoods and communicating with past clients and working your “sphere of influence” that included family and friends. Even things like print advertising and open houses, which appear to be selling homes, are really more useful for promoting agents and their brokers.

Which gets to the point.

How come there is so little training on selling homes? The simple answer is that it just wasn’t necessary. In a boom market with more buyers than sellers, everything sells eventually so why knock yourself out learning a new skill.

The Boom is OVER.

Sellers outnumber buyers by a wide margin. Maybe it’s time to consider whether the gladhander on the billboard has any marketing skills. Here are a few questions sellers should now ask any agent that they are considering to list a property whether it’s rental property in a declining neighborhood or a multimillion dollar estate.

1. What is your pricing philosophy and how do you determine the appropriate price at which to list a property? Paradoxically, luxury properties are the most difficult to price but the least elastic because they are usually unique.

2. What promotional activities do you propose and who do you target them for? Often overlooked in the promotional plan is the middleman, the buyers agents who can strongly influence what properties their clients will see and consider.

3. What is your marketing budget? Many agents won’t spend much more on a million dollar home than they will on the average listing which is around $200K  in my community. Shortsighted? Maybe, but if they know the property could sit on the market for a while or not sell at all, this money comes right out of their lunch money.

4. What is the “unique selling proposition” that you would use to promote this property? This gets to an agent’s  understanding of both the importance of the product in the real estate marketing mix and also what is promotable.  The most promotable feature may have nothing to do with the house at all and more to do with the community.

In the first few weeks of my new real estate career I vividly remember reviewing a template  for preparing a marketing plan for a prospective listing.  It was comprised mostly of things like “place sign in yard,” “place directional signs at key intersections,” “take pictures,” “place in MLS,” “put flyers in info box,” “put lockbox on front door.” I wondered to myself if this was all there was to marketing a home. What I discovered was that that was all it took…then.

But this is now.

The best agents still have to be able to establish rapport with potential listing clients but they are also going to have to demonstrate they can market a home.

Marketing Homes

The point of this website will be to explore concepts, practices and tools that we can use to do more for our seller clients to get their homes sold. The competition between sellers is now intense.  Buyers have the upper hand and many choices.  NewREMarketing will focus on all elements of the marketing mix.

How will this be different from other blogs about real estate marketing?

Two ways. First, the primary emphasis will be on marketing homes. We won’t ignore ways to get clients by marketing yourself and your services, but there is lots of good advice about those topics  in other places.

Second, we’re not going to talk about “new brokerage business models” or make a point of reviewing industry trends.  Our interest is in the grassroots techniques that help troops in the field…working agents…be more effective.  We want to find useful tools and review them intelligently and create opportunities to share best practices. This is the first “official” post on NewREMarketing. There will be many more. There is a lot of work to do.

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