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77: Josh Cobb: The Evolution of Marketing in Real Estate

By |May 4, 2016| No Comments

 

In the beginning, marketing in real estate was dominated by advertising and that meant buying media. It meant buying space in newspapers and hoping consumers would notice before they turned the page. It meant buying time on TV and hoping consumers would keep watching when the show cut to a commercial break.

But today, the more you shout and jam your advertising in front of people’s face, the less people are going to listen. While that might have worked years ago, those days are definitely over.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we’ll explore the history of marketing in real estate – how it was done and why it probably won’t work on its own in the future.

Josh Cobb: The Evolution of Marketing in Real Estate1000x150_ver2

For those of you who know me, you’ll know how passionate I am about the actual practise of marketing and the history of our industry. To understand the future of marketing, we must first understand the past.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of marketing.

In the beginning, marketing in real estate was dominated by advertising and that meant buying media. It meant buying space in newspapers and hoping consumers would notice before they turned the page. It meant buying time on TV and hoping consumers would keep watching when the show cut to a commercial break.

Businesses sent postcards and letters to our homes and called us during dinner, pushing out their messages with whatever budget they had. They hoped that consistent, repeated distractions and interruptions would convince us to buy. Some businesses still do this.

But that magazine or newspaper ad had limited space and the TV commercial had precious little time. If budgets were tight, the message disappeared completely. And it was always very difficult to tell what was actually bringing in sales. Marketing executives used to say “I know we’re wasting half of our advertising budget, I just don’t know which half.”

Then the web came along and, like magic, advertising wasn’t limited by space and time. Once online, your brochure could be a hundred pages and printing and postage wouldn’t cost you a dollar. So, the web became another channel to put out those ads. Brochure style websites were born and the sales copy was simply pasted in from other advertisements. Little, if any, effort was made to treat the web as a unique channel with new opportunities.

But unlike traditional marketing, web traffic was measurable. People began to talk about how many “hits” their online brochures were getting.

Then, a shift occurred…

Slow, steady changes in technology and consumer behaviour reached a tipping point. Suddenly the website was the center of all marketing efforts. The push of traditional ad campaigns directed consumers to the web. Every billboard, TV ad, radio ad and newspaper insert had a web address at the bottom.

As people began to see the value of web marketing, billions in marketing budgets were moved toward search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising and email marketing.

Also during this time, traditional advertising became less effective. Consumers had more ways than ever to dodge the interruptions of advertising. Spam filters blocked unwelcome email. Digital video recorders (DVR’s) allow you to skip distracting TV ads. Banner blockers cleaned the blinking boxes off websites. “Do Not Call” lists helped keep the telemarketers away.

Welcome to modern marketing. It’s new and improved with more creative ways to connect with the people that matter to you and your business. And the best part is that if you create meaningful content, those people will come to you.

The barriers have been removed and, rather than advertise on television, you can be your own TV station. Rather than seek publicity through PR, you can start your own online newsroom and grow your audience. You’ll spend less money on printing and postage, and more time teaching something useful. You are on the web, and the web is quite literally in people’s pockets.

We are in the golden era of social media, video and mobile marketing, and it’s built on content. The simple act of listening to this podcast means that you are likely to take advantage of these trends but it’s important to understand the fundamental difference between advertising and this thing you’ve probably heard about called content marketing.

Sometimes referred to as inbound marketing, content marketing is the act of using helpful and informative content to connect with clients and potential clients at every stage of their lifecycle with your business – from prospect to raving fan.

Content marketing is not only different from advertising, it’s the opposite of it. Content marketers attract their audience by being relevant. Advertisers inject themselves into other relevant media, hoping they get noticed. It’s pull versus push.

You probably don’t like being interrupted yourself by TV ads, newspaper ads or cold-callers. You probably don’t click on many banner ads. You probably scroll past the paid ads on Google search results to the unpaid links below. You might even use a spam filter on your computer.

You probably like to look for things on your own terms, research the options and read reviews. You probably listen to input from friends and you may even share recommendations with them.

This explains why content marketing is emerging as a winner. It’s a friendlier, more credible and more sensitive way for us to connect with information, including the information that drives our purchasing decisions. Although one doesn’t necessarily replace the other, dollar-for-dollar and hour-for-hour, inbound marketing is beating outbound. Content marketing is beating advertising.

Through the experience of growing our own audience to nearly 70,000 listeners around the globe who’ve tuned into this very podcast, and thousands of readers to our blog, I’ve learned many things about content marketing. One of which is that it works, tremendously well. It has for us. But the single most important – and simple – lesson is this:

Today, the more you shout and jam your advertising in front of people’s face, the less people are going to listen.

While that might have worked years ago, those days are definitely over.

Content marketing is not for everyone. It takes time to build an audience and it doesn’t happen overnight. Some businesses or individual agents are just too impatient. They want sales now.

But while content marketing and building an audience takes time, I believe, deep down, that it is critical to modern business – especially if you want to be relevant in the good times and not-so-good times. We all know real estate has its up and down moments.

My hope for you is that you’ll see that the marketing you’ve done in the past will not work on its own tomorrow. You need something else. That something else is content. Helpful content. Content that adds value to someone’s life and inspires them to do something today that they wouldn’t have thought about yesterday.

You’re going to have to invent how marketing is going to occur. You’re going to have to invent the future. And guess what, content is a pretty good way to do it.

Good luck.

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