As for many, 2020 came with a lot of unique challenges for the team at FUEL and our clients, from working at home to conducting strategic planning meetings on Zoom. But when clients start saying, “Since we restarted our ad campaign through FUEL, we can’t clear property on the ground fast enough,” you know that selling real estate wasn’t one of those challenges.
Our clients saw triple-digit increases in phone calls and double-digit increases in new paid and organic leads in 2020. So, how do you market and sell real estate like this during a pandemic?
- Know the market and follow the trends.
In the luxury and second homes market, we’ve been seeing more interest in the Western North Carolina mountains than ever before. Huge spikes in search volume, phone calls, form completions, and record-setting performance across marketing campaigns are all occurring in the midst of the pandemic.
Why? Because homebuyers are looking for a safe haven where they can live comfortably, aren’t stacked on top of their neighbors, and can still enjoy activities and the outdoors while social distancing.
Another important trend is the shift towards remote work during the pandemic. With many offices closing their doors and more employees working from home, this is allowing employees who were previously tied to large cities to move to areas that previously weren’t an option for them.
- Look for opportunities, not roadblocks.
Early in the pandemic, everyone was worried and there was a lot of uncertainty. On Reddit, Quora, and other online communities that marketers frequent, everywhere you looked, you would find stories of clients cutting budgets, agency layoffs, and businesses folding.
But rather than going into survival mode, smart marketers on the brand and agency side looked for opportunities. For example:
- Spending on Google Search when everyone else has paused their campaigns due to uncertainty is a competitive first-mover advantage. Bids can be lowered, traffic is cheaper, and it’s easier to dominate search impression share for relevant searches while everyone else is afraid to spend. Basically, you get all the good leads for cheap.
- Circling back to knowing the market and following the trends, even something as simple as speaking with the sales team can teach you a lot about what buyers are looking for in the moment and allow you to shift your marketing message in near real-time to fit what the market is seeking. If the sales team sees that buyers are looking to escape the cities, find a safe haven, and be outdoors in a place where it’s safe to do so, you’re armed with important information and can quickly shift your messaging.
- Put a solid marketing strategy in place before you run into trouble.
Many brands (and agencies) were caught flat-footed when the world as we knew it changed overnight. Brands that had ignored marketing or were already having a hard time with challenges — like driving qualified real estate leads — scrambled to pivot and adapt but struggled to do so because they didn’t have the plans and processes in place to run a well-oiled marketing machine even during a bull market, much less in a downturn.
Just as the world’s governments and health organizations are already planning for the next pandemic, you want to be planning ahead for your brand’s marketing needs. What happens if your best source of quality real estate leads dries up tomorrow? How would you respond? Do you have a backup plan or know the right people to pull one together quickly?
- Invest in building your brand.
Beyond simply planning ahead, building a solid foundation for your brand helps to weather a storm. The luxury real estate clients we’ve seen have the most success in 2020 and early 2021 are those who have been investing consistently in building their brands and marketing efforts for at least a few years, if not longer.
Obviously, building your brand is beneficial at any time, but for many of our clients, this solid foundation provided the confidence to move forward during uncertain times, which gave them a springboard to launch ahead of their competition in 2020 and continue riding that momentum to this very day.
What do I mean by building your brand?
- Set a healthy marketing budget. We recommend at least 8% to 10% (at a minimum) of your total sales (depending on goals and the size of the development) be invested in marketing.
- Invest in a quality brand, with the right assets to make your community look professional, distinctive, and legitimate to potential buyers.
- Invest in a website that is designed from the ground up to pull in inbound leads via search engine optimization (SEO) and content marketing, as well as convert qualified leads reaching your website from paid digital media campaigns, PR, and social media channels.
Essentially, don’t cut corners on building the foundation of your online presence and don’t undercut your budget and your own ability to reach the right people and convert them into leads, tours, and sales.
If you’re a real estate developer in need of branding, websites, or lead generation for real estate, FUEL is a proven partner for Real Estate marketing needs. We combine well-devised strategy and smart creative to build effective campaigns that drive leads, tours, and sales for your development. Learn a little more about what we can do for you and then drop us a line.