In 2013 Behr Paint company had the foresight to build up its brand with the future generation of homeowners. The challenge? Marketing to a consumer base currently living in dorm rooms.
So Behr launched a successful sponsored content marketing campaign with Buzzfeed, known for capturing an audience of more than 60 million millennials per month.
The case study highlights the power of developing a marketing plan, knowing your audience, and reaching them where they are.
Now, a house is unlike any other product on the market, paint included. It’s in many cases the biggest purchase of a lifetime and not one you make every day.
That means marketing your home for sale can’t be compared apples to apples with, say, selling a car or a cup of coffee. However, tried-and-true marketing theory nevertheless helps create a marketing plan for real estate that’s organized, strategic, and targeted.
“We don’t just throw a sign in the yard, put a lockbox on the front door and sit back and wait for buyers,” says top Phoenix, Arizona, agent Kim Panozzo, who’s sold over 76% more properties and sold 60% quicker than the average agent in her region.
“We invest in marketing because we want to sell homes for the most amount of money in the least amount of time.”
Rather than market your home using the flimsy trial-and-error method (hey, let’s test some stuff and see what works!), we’ll introduce you to a few basic marketing tools and techniques that help you think about selling your house like a seasoned business executive, including:
- Conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
- Identifying your ideal customer profile
- Developing your marketing mix
- Outlining your marketing timeline
Any real estate marketing plan worth its salt will have similarities to some of these top-rated marketing strategies. And if you do some of this marketing analysis yourself, you’ll be better equipped to give your agent the right information to develop the best marketing plan.
1. Evaluate your home like a buyer with a SWOT analysis
The SWOT analysis is a marketing assessment tool that examines a product or company (in this case, your house) for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
It’s one of the most comprehensive and user-friendly ways to obtain the product knowledge you need because it analyzes both the house itself and how it stacks up against the competition.
In essence, with SWOT you’re creating an objective profile of your home—one that highlights the various features that’ll appeal to or disinterest various buyer pools.
Just don’t make the mistake of assuming you know everything your house, simply because you’ve spent years living in it. When you analyze your home, you need to stop thinking with the emotional attachment of a homeowner and evaluate your house and neighborhood as a buyer would.
This analysis is designed to do just that. It goes beyond the listing of basic demographics, such as size, location, and number of rooms. It focuses instead on how the various features of your home will influence the marketing strategy. However, it’s easier said than done.
For a simple example, imagine a two-story, three-bedroom home that was built in the 1950s. It has its original kitchen and bathrooms, new flooring and an older HVAC system. It’s also located in a sought-after suburb near great schools, with no other homes on the market.
Looking at the Strengths and Weaknesses of this home with the SWOT analysis, you’d put the schools, flooring and neighborhood under Strengths, and the HVAC’s age under Weaknesses.
Other features of this home, such as its age and older fixtures, are harder to categorize. For buyers who love the retro look, the original kitchen and baths are a Strength that’ll inspire higher offers. For others, it’s a Weakness, because it’s a sign of an as-is property that needs expensive remodel work.
The fact that it’s a two-story home is tricky, too. On one hand, it’ll have a smaller foundation than a one-story home—which means a more spacious backyard. On the other hand, the stairs limit your home’s accessibility for some seniors.
The second half of the analysis (Opportunities and Threats) focuses more on external factors, like how your home fits into the current real estate market.
The fact that you’ll be the only listing in the neighborhood certainly fits under Opportunities. However, this opens up the possibility of a Threat if another nearby home becomes available at a lower price than your list price.
Figuring out which of the trickier home features are Strengths or Weaknesses—and identifying all of the Threats and Opportunities—often only becomes clear after you have a better understanding of your potential buyer pool.
2. Create your ideal customer profile
Since your home is a product that you’re selling, it makes sense to plan your marketing the way many of the over 13,000 ad agencies do—by identifying your ideal customer.
An ideal customer profile helps you pinpoint the type of homebuyer most likely to fall in love with your home and neighborhood—because these are the prospective buyers most likely to make you the best offer.
Identifying your ideal homebuyer begins with demographics, such as age, occupation, marital status, and income. This information is vital for your marketing materials—especially for determining things like which buyer pools can afford your home.
Next, you’ll want to hone in on family and lifestyle factors that your home is best suited for. For example, if you’re selling a one-bedroom condo, your ideal homebuyer isn’t a couple with children, or if your one-bedroom home is located in a 55+ community, your ideal customer isn’t a millennial.
This profile can also serve to widen your buyer pool, too. For instance, maybe you’ve got a 3-bedroom, family-friendly home near a major tech company—perfect for a family, or a single tech guru with roommates.
Armed with this information, you’re set to create marketing that targets the wants and needs of a specific segment of the buyer pool. Plus you’ll have a good idea on where to find your target market.
3. Develop your marketing mix
The analysis of your target buyer and market makes it easier to decide which marketing materials will best reach your home’s ideal buyers and where to spend those marketing dollars.
Some marketing materials are a given, like the listing in the MLS—for which you’ll need high quality, professional photographs. Others can be tailored specifically to target your ideal buyer—both in visibility and content.
“Once a listing goes live in the MLS, it actually data-feeds out to over 900 websites,” says Panozzo. “In fact, 80% of our sales come from other agents showing their buyers our listings in the MLS.”
Consider that one-bedroom home located in the 55+ community. While that property should have an online presence for those seniors who are tech-savvy, there’s no need for a full-blown digital marketing campaign.
You’re better off spending any extra time and money marketing your home in places where seniors are most likely to see it—such as flyers at local senior community centers, a feature in the real estate section of local senior living publications, or online publications that target retirees.
However, if your target market includes millennials, the largest buyer pool, it’s a smart idea to develop online-friendly marketing materials that take advantage of technology, like virtual tours or drone photos and videos.
The market research data you’ve collected can even influence details as minute as word choice in your listing description—especially when you’re working with an agent who knows which home features and buzzwords are bringing in the buyers.
For instance, if your agent knows that buyers are clamoring for 1950s homes with original bathroom fixtures in decorative colors, and boomerang skylark Formica countertops in the kitchen—those retro assets will be featured in the listing description.
Once you’ve crafted all of your marketing materials, all that’s left is nailing down the timeline on when to go public with your strategy.
4. Outline your marketing timeline
“Timing is everything.”
This familiar phrase is especially appropriate in sales and marketing. This is especially true in real estate, where a high number of days on market is a red flag that your home is subpar. The longer it sits unsold, the more likely you’ll have to lower your list price.
So what exactly is the right timeline to launch a marketing campaign to help your house sell?
Each local real estate market, neighborhood, and home is unique, so unfortunately there’s no cut-and-dried timeline.
However, this timeline template which hits all of the marketing fundamentals can help your jumpstart your own, personalized marketing plan calendar.
3 weeks before listing
- Your home is deep cleaned, decluttered, staged, and photo-ready (all repairs and upgrades completed)
- Professional photographer hired, scheduled and photo shoot completed
- Set multimedia extras in motion—including separate shoots for the drone, video, or 3-D tours
- Write first draft of listing description with your agent
2 weeks before listing
- Curate photos for editing with your agent and photographer
- Finalize the listing description with your agent
- “Coming soon” flyers approved and mailed
- “Coming soon” mini listing goes live on social media
1 week before listing
- Make final photography selections
- Organize photo order to follow flow of your house—label each photo
- Approve all MLS listing materials, including photos, description and accuracy of statistical data
- Finalize and approve all multimedia extras
- Listing goes live on MLS (photos + description), syndicated to top real estate websites
- For-sale sign goes up in the yard, lockbox on the door
- Flyers and print materials ordered (using MLS listing data)
- “Just Listed” posts go live on social media
- “Just Listed” email blast to buyers agents
One month after launch day
- Social media marketing blitz execution
- Direct mail flyer push
- Modify marketing materials to reflect any changes (lowered price, new upgrades, etc.)
All sellers hope that their agents are going the extra mile and pulling out all the stops on marketing their homes, but the truth is, not all agents do.
However, when you know how to deploy the best marketing strategies, you are armed with the knowledge you need to assess the quality of your agent’s marketing strategy.