marketing

ListedBy Launches Blog

It was only a matter of time before we launched the ListedBy Blog.

The auction segment is growing rapidly and, more and more REALTORS® are moving to learn about auctions to add to their marketing toolkit and differentiating expertise. One of the biggest shifts that ListedBy is driving in the real estate auctions market segment is the move to an entirely Web-based process. The benefits are huge and in many cases obvious, including efficiency, speed and lower costs for everyone involved.

Another major change is the revenue model. While traditional auctions usually involve registration/participation fees and, the biggie, up to 10 percent of the asset value in what is referred to as a Buyer’s Premium, ListedBy is doing away with ALL these costs. The result is more money in buyer pockets to go towards making a deal happen. For the seller, it means wider participation and optimal market value, for reasons too many to cover in this post.

If not the auction part of ListedBy, industry professionals are highly interested in the platform’s online offer submission technology, another major advance ListedBy is bringing to the real estate transaction that we will also discuss here in the future.

We look forward to engaging with you here on the blog as well as in the ListedBy (LB Social) Forum. If there are any specific issues or subjects you’d like us to tackle, please post your ideas and thoughts in the Comments area below, or send me an email to roger@listedby.com.

Please drop by often for corporate updates and news, special feature property listings and education on the world of auctions, or to view and participate in on-going discussions.

Meanwhile here is the full announcement about the launch of ListedBy Blog that was issued on the Wire earlier today:


Online Real Estate Auctions Platform ListedBy Launches Blog

Dynamic stage to deliver timely corporate news, ListedBy user communication and online real estate auction education

ListedBy Offers Live Offer Listings and Traditional MLS Listing Search

ListedBy (www.ListedBy.com), the first free online real estate marketplace and social network with integrated live bidding auction and ‘Best Offer’ functionality today announced ListedBy Blog, a dynamic environment the company will use to deliver corporate and product news, featured listings, ListedBy member and user information, education materials, articles, event schedules and market reports.

“I am excited about how the blog feature on our site will allow us to not only broaden our ever growing base, but also gives us yet another way to keep direct contact with our very loyal and active user base on the site,” said Stephan Piscano, CEO and Co-Founder, ListedBy.

ListedBy Blog is now live and features a number of real estate marketing and auction related educational articles, success tips, and answers to frequently asked questions.

Membership in ListedBy continues to increase at a rapid pace with thousands of new accounts added over the past month and approximately 4000 industry professionals now participating on the site’s LinkedIn Group.

Additional Resources:

- Media and industry analyst briefings: roger@listedby.com

- Follow ListedBy on LinkedIn and Twitter

- Reference Articles

o Leaders and Laggers – How Industry Pioneers are Using Online Real Estate Auctions to Distance Themselves

o Online Real Estate Auctions – When to Dive and When to Skip

 

Unlock Your Unique Value Proposition (Part 2)

Everyone would like to have a powerful and effective Unique Value Proposition. This article offers steps to guide you through the process.

Getting a clear understanding of what a “Unique Value Proposition” is can be very helpful, but pinning yours down can be quite the task.

Typically, an advertising agency is the best route to get such work done. In reality though, most REALTORS® may not have, or wish to commit the resources to undertake such an exercise.

This article is a relatively simple step by step guide to help you pin down an advertising promise that makes your brand stand out through an effective benefit oriented promise.

In the first article of this series, we described the term “Unique Value Proposition” as your market edge. Technically, that it is a sentence or paragraph that captures and describes the unique benefit your solution offers to a target audience and that ideally addresses an opportunity or pain point they face. The ultimate value proposition will not elaborate on the pain but rather focus entirely on the benefit you bring to the table. People buy benefits, not problems.

Step #1 – Identify a group of 10 – 20 people willing to give you unbiased, genuine feedback. Current and former clients are what you need (not friends or family members). Give this audience a good incentive to provide you with their genuine and real feedback. Gift cards or a drawing to win an iPad or camera may do the trick.

Let them know that:

  • You need their input for an important branding exercise for your business
  • That their candid and genuine input is crucial
  • That there are no right or wrong answers. That all answers are critical to the exercise, and that what think may be bad input can be the best input they have, and the other way around. This is key.

Step #2 – Create a list of one or two-word attributes that describe a great REALTOR® or their services. Then email, fax, or drop off the forms to just half of your research group and ask them to rank the attributes.

Here is an example:

Please rank, in order, the most important attributes you look for in choosing a REALTOR®.

Note that you should not include more than ten attributes. Following are some suggestions but by no means yoou don’t have to use those. You know best what should go on the list. Just make sure the suggested attributes are not biased or self-serving. You want a solid, true exercise you can learn from and use to effectively reposition your business.

1) Honesty
2) Neighborhood knowledge
3) Efficiency and productivity
4) Speed of service/responsiveness
5) Negotiation skills
6) Etc. etc. etc.

Step #3 – Ask your research base, in the same document, to write your name next to any three of the attributes they believe you genuinely represent.
Once you’ve collected and analyzed the responses, you will have a list that highlights the attributes your market values most in a REALTOR®, and, from this first group, which of the top ranked attributes they think you represent. You may be surprised by the findings, but this is what the exercise is all about.

Armed with a clean sheet and new information, hand the top attributes ranked by the first group, from most important to least important, to the second half of your research audience and ask them to put your name next to three of any of the descriptors. The objective is to further validate the findings that came out of the first group exercise.

While there will still be more work to do following the discovery phase, you will have reached a point where your advertising and messaging can begin to tackle criteria you know will hit a cord in your marketplace and that genuinely position you as a stand out advisor.

Use the findings intelligently to craft highly focused advertising and listing presentations. And, do NOT do what most marketers do. Resist the temptation to change things after a few months have passed. And, resist the equally destructive temptation of merging more than a single attribute into your promise.

Consistency, over time, is what creates equity and association around a brand. Repeat your message until home owners and prospective buyers in your area start to automatically suggest your name when asked for a REALTOR® who is ‘responsive’ or ‘is a very strong negotiator.’

The fun part is knowing that as you build towards this kind of strategic awareness, many of your competitors will be spinning their wheels trying to be everything to everyone.

As a final note, being associated with a #3 ranked attribute and playing up on that association in your positioning is far more powerful than trying to associate yourself with the #1 attribute that you are not that strong in. Effective market positioning is all about a relevant promise you can deliver on better than anyone else.

Not about promising something everyone else can deliver on, or worse, that others can deliver on better than you.

Unlock Your Unique Value Proposition

If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone. In fact, you would be pleased to know that some ‘professional’ marketers often don’t know what it really means. Some, including a few veterans I know, give up on the concept entirely at some point in their career and pull back to focus on product or service attributes. Big mistake.

A Unique Value Proposition is your market edge. It’s a sentence or paragraph that captures and describes the unique benefit your solution offers to a specific target audience and that ideally addresses a pain point or opportunity they face.

A proposition that includes a competitive bite stands to be more successful in the marketplace than one that does not. Meaning, a solution that delivers something better than other solutions (you need to be able to prove that), is more powerful than one that does not benchmark against anything. While we’re on this aspect of a value proposition, the benchmark you compare against in your communication may even be your own ‘older’ solution that is now being replaced, if yours is the leading solution in the market or, if you cannot actually compete with others’ solutions.

Let’s also not confuse a Unique Value Proposition with a selling proposition or, selling line. We’ll make that a separate discussion in the future.

You might want to start thinking about your value proposition and write it down. That will be the first step towards more powerful communication as you focus your pitch around this promise. Don’t give up on the exercise if you find that once you start writing things down, that the process does not work out as easily as you hoped. Over time, the idea will crystallize and a strong, effective Unique Value Proposition will emerge.

Do yourself a favour though. Don’t try to pin a proposition without consulting with those who know it best – your current and former customers. This is the most important part of the process. In talking to a few of them specifically about this exercise, you should quickly realize there is a common theme that keeps emerging, and it will likely be very different than what you thought it would be. That’s what you should go for and build on. It’s what makes you or your service unique and with that, no one will be able to easily claim the same promise. For one, they’ll be looked at as a ‘me too’ pretty quickly and lose their credibility while you build brand equity around your promise.

The last point to take note of is to maintain your message consistently once you’ve established the value proposition, and resist the urge to change it whenever you introduce a new marketing campaign. Focus on it in the long run, and re-evaluate it as you go to ensure it remains competitive. It’s the repetition of the same message that will make you stand for something unique in your market. It will take time and effort. At some point, no one will be able to touch you on that particular promise, but only if you maintain your competitiveness in that specific area.

Real Estate Marketing? Stake Your Claim

Like you, I struggle with the idea that to succeed, a real estate professional is expected to be an expert in all aspects of business. Brokers and agents are bombarded with all kinds of training they ‘must’ take, coaching they ‘need’, technology seminars they ‘have’ to attend, ‘must-go-to’ conferences, marketing this, SEO that and so on. It’s overwhelming and in my opinion, not the best use of time and resources for most.

Marketing is one of those subjects that are not only complex but unfortunately, and respectably so, hardly well understood.
Although a single article will not cover everything there is to know about marketing, my hope is to leave you with a critical thought that stands to change your business, how you think of marketing and help shape your efforts in this area.
If all you do is re-program your business to address this single principle in marketing, you could set a new foundation for solid growth – even market dominance.

Simply said, it’s niche marketing. Carving a piece of the pie for your business where you or your organization becomes known and referred to as ‘experts’ in a certain market segment.

The kind of market focus that inherently lends to the buildup of expertise that eventually no one else can claim overnight, truly setting your services apart.

This is the sacred part of the recipe for success in real estate. And for that matter, any business.

Whether you like Donald Trump or not, the man knows a thing or two about marketing. In one of Trump’s early Apprentice TV show episodes, he noted that if one could not pin point their target market with the tip of a needle, their business will fail. Yes, fail!

The typical business person or entrepreneur could keep going in circles implementing different strategies, changing things around, blaming the market for this or that, yet without addressing this single most important catalyst, limitations and challenges typically persist. Don’t take this to heart though. It applies to any kind of business.

Consumer product giants figured this out decades ago. A commercial that depicts 6-12 year old kids playing soccer in the yard, sliding on the field with their white socks picking up those familiar hard to remove grass stains while mom looks over from the kitchen window with a smile, does not happen by chance.

Key to getting the box into the right household and the differentiating positioning in the marketplace is the laser sharp target marketing.

Examples abound. Just examine TV advertising campaigns by the world’s most successful brands, and you’ll start to notice more and more of a common approach. Mind you, you’ll never again watch a commercial for its own sake, without making judgment or conclusions.

Another extremely important outcome – and opportunity to further validate the value of niche marketing, is more effective use of your marketing resources.

Imagine splitting $1000 advertising dollars to convince 20 people with different issues, requirements and needs that your product is the right solution for each of them. The results can in no way match the impact of directing all these advertising resources towards just one group of 20 people that shares the same issue or need. They’ll be exposed to your message more frequently, across a number of mediums. They’ll hear about it on the radio, glance at it while passing a billboard, see it in the paper, hear about it from a friend and read about it in your newsletter or the local paper. And they’ll relate to it each time.

A higher rate of exposure to a single minded message via a combination of channels delivers the ‘frequency of exposure’ necessary for enhanced conversion. Frequency with a message that hits home (insightful, relevant messages that touch hot buttons to make people stop and take a closer look), builds familiarity. With familiarity and frequency, trust and awareness for the brand evolves. And when the need arises, the product or service is top of mind with the prospective buyer.

This is one critical aspect of marketing that makes the phone ring.

It’s also a key catalyst that helps organizations weather tough times better than others, or do exceptionally well in good times, almost always contending for the top market share spot in their business.

In real estate, a niche may be military personnel, seniors, empty nester, university students or corporations who frequently relocate staff. Each of those areas of speciality, and the respective audiences draw and respond to different messages. In fact, completely and entirely different stimuli drive each. As time passes, the insight you build around your chosen niche will turn into a goldmine of knowledge that shapes all your communications. Website, business cards, voice mail, brochures, advertising, social media and others. If you’re a broker, having a team that specializes in a certain niche, itself, gives your business a unique competitive edge.

Search engines would also start to pinpoint your business more frequently, for your target group inherently searches using terms relevant to their lifestyle and needs. Integrate those into your online messaging.

And if you have strong knowledge or expertise in the distressed property, foreclosure or online real estate auction markets, highlight these facts in your niche-focused marketing communication. The auction space, a $58 billion dollar market in 2011 is a rapidly rising segment that NAR (National Association of REALTORS®) projects will make up 1 of every 5 property transactions in the U.S. within 4-5 years.

So go pick your target market and go after it! Change everything.