Drew asked this important question:
The area I'm in an area that has a hot real estate market and there are a good amount of real estate photographers. What are some things I can do to stand out from the pack?
This is a classic question! We've discussed this subject before. As the number of real estate photographers increases in large market areas competition increases.
Here are some suggestions distilled from previous discussions on this subject:
- Understand your competition: You need to know what you have to do to compete so understand your competition's price, quality what extras photographers in your area offer. You can do this by looking at the websites of other real estate photographers. What features and services to they supply. Don't try to compete by just charging less. Focus rather on continuously upping your game.
- Maintain a great looking portfolio: Work at looking as good or better than your competition. The portfolio on your website is the center of any marketing you do so make it top notch! Don't skimp on your portfolio website, it helps you sell yourself. Shooting new construction model homes is a great way to build your portfolio. Ask the site agent to let you shoot their model home during a quiet period. Model homes are typically beautifully staged and make great portfolio images.
- Meet your potential clients: You need to meet your potential clients if possible. Real estate agents are people oriented and respond best to personal face-to-face contact. Go to their open houses, their office meetings and real estate agent events to meet them face-to-face.
- Offer products beyond still photography: Extras like floorplans, tours and simple video can attract more business.
- Create a marketing piece: Create a regular size or jumbo size glossy postcard that has one or more of your very best images on it along with your contact info. Deliver your marketing piece to targeted agents office mail slots. You don't have to mail these. Agents have mail slots at their office. You can personally deliver these to these mail slots. Distribute your marketing piece every few months.
- Create a presence on social media: Most agents these days are on Facebook or LinkedIn. Show off your successes and connect with agents. For many agents, social media is more important than email.
- Be persistent: You have to stay visible to agents. Do the same things over and over. Build a mailing list of agents you shoot for and agents you've met and send out an update every few months. If you stay visible, then an agent is likely to try you out when their regular photographer can't make a shoot.
- When you get a chance to shoot, make a good impression: Word-of-mouth from other agents is THE most powerful marketing. So when you get a chance, dazzle them with great customer service. Great customer service is more important than anything else; even more important than how your photos look.
- Ask for referrals: Don't be afraid to ask clients to refer you to their friends. Some photographers give discounted shoots to clients the refer them or give a thank you gifts for referrals. Also, be sure to write a personal note or thank the client face-to-face when someone refers you. Agents understand the process and importance of referrals because referrals are key in their marketing too.
What have others found to be good competitive practices to breaking into a market?