Who's your target market?

The five must-haves for a real estate website are: who, what, when, where and why. “Who’s your target audience?” is day one of a series on the 5Ws of Internet marketing.

Social capital directs how we interact and consume—especially in a soft market.

Rethinking real estate websites, a blog is a conversation-starter.

By frequently providing quality content, a REALTOR® gains credibility within their community. The blog platform gives an agent a channel to market her greater knowledge base. Since potential clients prefer doing business with agents they “know” and respect as experts, blogging agents generate more leads than non-blogging competitors.

Like any exchange, there’s the requisite give and take online. As interest ensues, quality interactions lead to personal relationships. Recognizing the value of these relationships is essential to your business.

Spending money on traditional marketing practices (i.e. direct mail) that yield a 2 percent return rate is not going to build your business. Your sphere of influence promises a better rate on return.

“I get over 80 percent of my business from referrals,” said Christina Ng of Alain Pinel in Burlingame, CA.

In fact, children of past clients make up Ng’s growing customer base. Drawing from over 20 years of experience, Ng helps these young adults sell their parents’ homes and/or buy their first property.

“It’s not just about your knowledge and experience—although they still are very important. It’s really about an agent’s adaptability,” Ng said.

Catering to retiring boomers as well as Generation Y techies requires an area expertise that easily translates. “The older generation wants a human touch (e.g. lots of telephone conversations) whereas the Internet home buyer asks first and foremost, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

Both require personal attention. In an automation era, replete with automated follow-up campaigns, people long for authentic communication. That’s the point of need.

Stop Talking, Start Listening

“The most important question I ask is: ‘How do you want to be contacted?’”

The answer shapes Ng’s marketing approach. “You really have to listen. If a client prefers email and you call too much, you lose that customer,” she said.

To close the communication gap, Ng is leveraging new technologies to exchange ideas and information, and build on common experiences that transcend cultural differences. Rather than using her real estate website as an advertising vehicle for quick sales, she’s building an online self-service station for visitors.

“You have to get more involved in finding information. You have to store info.”

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