Blog Branding

I often field calls from realtors asking me if there’s more ways to gain additional traffic to their blog. Over a year ago when we started our company we wanted to make sure that all of our clients knew everything there is to know about blogging. Last year corporate blogging wasn’t big to realtors but now it’s becoming a necessity to have one. Let me offer you a few tips followed by a short story about a blog that I’ve been watching.

1. If you haven’t subscribed to my blog log or blog catalog do so now. It’s a great blogging community and a great way to gain additional exposure to your blog.
2. Learn more about your market and what your area has to offer. You’re posts will be found on all blog engines and it’s a great way to establish yourself as an expert in your area by showing people that you know what your talking about!
3. Read other blogs, check out news headlines and state your opinion. The wonderful thing about having a blog is stating you views on various topics.
4. Link to other blogs and comment on them. One clear way to gain visibility is to let other bloggers know you have one. Read what others have to say about a topic that interests you and begin a dialog.

Now for my story:
I’m an avid baseball fan/Red Sox fan and have been reading Red Sox Pitcher Curt Schilling’s blog 38pitches for three months now. In three months he has a 4pr and an alexa traffic rank of 59,000. That’s pretty impressive for a blog to move up that quickly in such a short period of time. He’s famous and gets a lot of traffic so thats why his blog has become so popular. I can’t tell you how many times ESPN has mentioned it in the past few months. This leads me to my final tip:

5. Find blogs of famous people. A ton of politicians have them and they’re open for conversation not to mention actors/actresses, rockstars, CEO’s etc…..Link back to them and comment on their blogs about posts they’ve done. You’ll be amazed by what can happen. Hey, I hope Curt visits our blog and comments on this post!

We talk to a lot of realtor’s.  It amazes me what kind of programs they are being pitched and why realtor’s continue to throw their money away.  I have a client in Chapel Hill NC who listens to everything we say. Remember, anyone can get a blog but if it’s not optimized and you don’t have a clear strategy in mind, you don’t have a chance in succeeding.  What also amazes me is that realtor’s are not jumping on a program like this.  I’ve finally realized that most realtor’s think this is one of those “new” marketing schemes to get your money.  Well, it’s not.  We actually care about our clients and their success and we’re a firm believer in your success is our success.  Without it, we don’t have a company.  So instead of thinking this is “one of those calls again”, listen to what we have to say and offer.  Right now, it’s the best marketing program online for realtor’s and we have plenty of them to vouch for this.  You could end up like this realtor:

“Dear Triangle Direct, I just wanted to let you know that through my blog I have received my second lead for a new neighborhood that isn’t even my listing. Ive posted a few discussions on the type of neighborhood and where it’s located and people are contacting me first instead of the developer. I’ve already secured one lot reservation on a 700k house! Thanks for your ideas and help in creating my blog. Kim vanDusen Chapel Hill, NC “

Your time is now.  Take advantage of it!!

According to CNNMoney, the real estate downturn is hitting real estate agents. During the boom’s peak from 2002 to 2004, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) saw memberships soar 26 percent. Today, over 1.2 million Americans call themselves Realtors. The NAR forecasts existing home sales to fall 7.6% in 2006.  It seems that agents with 3+ years of experience are reaping the benefits because people are utilizing experienced sales agents to buy and sell their homes.

If realtors have less than 3 years experience they must invest wisely in certain marketing programs.  People start their home search online.  Are you visible on the search engines?  Do you have a blog strategy?  It would be wise to start putting your dollars into something that will help your visibility online and expand your brand.

In the recent UCLA Anderson forecast of economic activity in the real estate sector, housing prices are due to fall but the thought is that a slowdown will not necessarily affect other market segments or bog down the economy overall.

According to the study, sales volume will drop at a faster rate than home prices, affecting people associated with real estate transactions such as mortgage brokers, real estate agents appraisers etc. If prices are remaining fairly constant, there is still money to be made. Real estate related firms just need to step up their marketing and reach a smaller pool of increasingly fickle buyers. One method is for firms to use blog branding to differentiate themselves from the competition and to keep from losing valuable market share.

Home price appreciation during the second quarter of 2006 was at it’s slowest rate since the forth quarter of 1999.  Nationally, home prices increased 10.2% from the second quarter of 2005 to 2006.  The East south central states had the highest home appreciation of 8.3% , while the New England States had the lowest home appreciation of 0.8%  Read more……

I read an interesting article in Classified Intelligence about a study which detailed the way that spending in real estate marketing is moving away from print and towards online. While realtors appear to be advertising more on free sites like Craigslist and Google Base, the main shift in spending was towards realtors personal websites and blogs.

This marks a departure from traditional online marketing channels such as paid search and online newspaper listings, and shows that realtors now realize that with a bit of time and effort they can become highly relevant in natural search and compete with bigger real estate firms.

This merely confirms what we have been saying for the last six months, which is that as a realtor you do not need to spend a lot of your budget on paid search, print, radio or tv. All you need is blog branding. The blog levels the playing field for smaller firms to be able to compete for the dwindling number of home buyers who are looking for something extra and want to work industry leaders.

I read an article the other day that talked about how 20% of marketers were considering using viral marketing to brand their products and increase sales. Viral marketing is where the marketing message touches or resonates with the reader/listener to the point that they will forward your message to others that share the same interests. A great example of this is UTube or Google videos. You see a video that you think is funny and you forward it on to your friends, thus creating a viral effect. People share information that they think is interesting and images, text or audio can very easily be spread across wide groups.

Realtors can take advantage of this with their blog marketing by being original with their writing and podcasts. There was a car commercial in North Carolina with a highly annoying presenter. Most people, when asked about the guy said they did not like him or the way he talked, but they remembered the company and the brand. A lot of real estate success also comes down to successful branding. The more original and memorable you can be with both your writing and podcasting; the more you can stamp personality on the way you relate with people;  the more successful you will be, and the more you can use viral marketing to spread your brand online and offline.