9 Alternative Marketing Tactics for Real Estate Agents
By Matthew Bushery
About Inbound Marketing
Before we dive too deep into alternative tactics for real estate agents, we have to stress one point: These are alternative marketing methods for a very good reason. Outbound marketing tactics just don’t produce the same results for your real estate business as inbound efforts.
Here’s how to differentiate the two marketing types:
- Outbound marketing: This is any kind of marketing where you put your business’s messages with the purpose of converting, typically by paying for advertising space. Billboards, TV and radio spots, bench ads, posters — anything you create and put out into the world to lure in new business and improve brand awareness is an outbound tactic.
- Inbound marketing: This type of marketing focuses on creating valuable content that potential customers are already seeking. Creating search-optimized, relevant content on (homepage, landing pages, blog) and off (email, social media, other people’s or brands’ sites) your website are examples of inbound marketing.
Simply put, inbound marketing is a must for real estate agents and brokers to implement as their core marketing strategy in this day and age. After all, more than 90% of companies have increased lead generation using inbound marketing — and for sufficiently lower costs than outbound marketing.
While inbound can clearly boost your bottom line, there are several alternative outbound marketing tactics you can implement to add a second layer to your real estate marketing campaign that are inexpensive ways to get the word out about your business. Here are some of the best:
Alternative Real Estate Marketing Ideas
1) Secure local sponsorship deals.
Public access TV, youth baseball teams, adopt-a-highway programs — there’s no shortage of interesting sponsorship opportunities out there. The great thing about these kinds of deals is they don’t have to be ongoing. You can offer to sponsor specific events in your community, for example, and then determine if it was worth spending dollars there. In short, doing a one-off sponsorship can give you a sense as to whether additional (or bigger) sponsorships merit pursuing.
2) Speak at local meet-ups.
Have a handful of real estate agent friends and associates in the area? Consider co-hosting a meet-up with them and allow the public to join in. You can discuss anything and everything real estate — perhaps give locals a lesson in how to determine their homebuying budget or how to prep their homes to sell. In this type of setting, you can be a resource for people with questions and comments about topics with which you’re familiar. Becoming the go-to person for local community members can position you as a thought leader and someone they can contact regularly. What’s more, you could be asked to speak regularly for other organizations’ get-togethers and further promote yourself.
3) Leave promotional materials at area businesses.
Pamphlets, mini posters, one-sheets, custom postcards, window decals — whatever can promote your business without making you look like Saul Goodman could be worth leaving at cafe counters and grocery store windows. When deciding where to drop off your materials, find local companies that get considerable amounts of business. The more eyes you can get on your promotional items, the better. Just be sure to speak with the managers and owners of the businesses to get approval beforehand.
4) Get involved with community groups.
By becoming involved with local groups and organizations (think a biking group or bowling league), you can make strong connections. Joining up with others who share a passion is a great way to make friends and potentially gain clients and/or referrals. Think about what sparks your interest, and see if an opportunity exists for you to hang out with like-minded folks. Identify groups in your area through websites like Meetup.com and your favorite social media sites.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”
— Bill Gates
5) Develop a referral program.
Building loyal, friendly relationships with past clients is a big priority for agents and brokers because former business can (and often does) lead to new business. If those you’ve helped had a good experience working with you, they may tell their friends and family. To ensure they do, offer them rewards for their referrals. As Nielsen reports, the majority of consumers trust their friends most for brand referrals, so a referral program could net you lots of leads and eventual business.
Even if you don’t want to set up a referral program, send past clients small thank-you gifts. Companies like Twegistry and Twitgift, for instance, make it simple to send someone a free coffee or lunch at a local cafe or an iTunes gift card through Twitter. Your generosity can get them to tell their friends and family about you, just like they would in a traditional referral program.
6) Talk at an industry or school event.
Here we’re not talking about major events, like ones hosted by the National Association of Realtors or Inman News. We mean speaking in front of people like students or niche real estate groups in your area. While real estate is your area of expertise, don’t feel as though you’re limited to strictly these types of events. Put out feelers to those running general business events that focus on things like structuring a company or developing a brand identity that take place regularly in your community, and try to make as many contacts as you can. If you can get your foot in the door speaking at one major event, that could lead to other big-time speaking opportunities down the line.
7) Hand out free swag.
And while you’re speaking at these events, consider bringing some free items you can give away to audience members. No, we don’t mean plastering your mug on (what else) coffee mugs. We mean handing out pens or mouse pads with your business’s name on them — everyday items that don’t cost too much or make you or your business look corny or disreputable. Business cards offer another optimal promotional material to hand out, as you can include your website, social media profiles, email address, and phone number. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy, consider attaching a QR code to them: Recipients can scan it on their smartphones and be led to your responsive real estate website.
8) Place ads in local publications.
This doesn’t mean to just choose any newspaper or magazine. Find a publication that has a large subscriber base (large as it pertains to your local market), and contact it for advertising opportunities. If ad pricing is in your range, it could be worth testing an ad here and there. When developing ads for use in the local paper or other publication, focus on short, appealing copy (like you do for your real estate listings) that succinctly gets your value proposition across. Also, design an image in editing software like Photoshop or use a great photo you or a professional has taken for your real estate business to use in your ad. Images make ads considerably more attractive than just plain text.
9) Write a column for local publications.
Don’t forget you can submit your own writing to these publications as well — and it doesn’t even have to be promotional. For instance, write an op-ed or guest column on a topic close to your heart and add in your company name, title, and history to be included in your author bio for the article. Even many small-town publications have websites nowadays, so your print article could even end up online after all (and boost your reach even further). To determine how to form your piece, think about what topic you want to focus on, the angles you want to convey on that topic, and what kind of voice/tone you should use to appeal to readers. Just like with inbound marketing, knowing your audience with these alternative outbound methods is important.
If you’re hoping to grow your online lead generation, check out our Inbound Marketing Checklist SlideShare.
What kind of alternative real estate marketing tactics have worked for you? Share with us below in the comments.
Published on July 9, 2014
Written by Matthew Bushery
I'm the Sr. Content Creator for Placester, where I educate real estate professionals about modern marketing and, in turn, help agents and brokers make the most of their online presence, earn more traffic, and generate more leads and business.