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How to Market Real Estate Photography to Real Estate Agents

Published: 03/02/2017
By: larry

MarketingBrochureDevon in CA says:

I recently introduced myself to a large office of Realtors in my area with intentions to just get my flyers around. However the lady at the front desk told me that very few of their realtors were in at the time. She suggested to me to actually contact the office manager and arrange a time to set up a meeting in their office so that I can speak to all the agents directly. This seems like a great opportunity, but I have no idea how to go about this. Should it just be a sales pitch? Should I be offering them all something upfront? How long should it be? How should I convince the manager to let me do this? Has anyone ever done anything like this? Any ideas? I don't want this to slip by, but I've never done anything like it before.

Yes, we have exactly what you need! Talking to real estate offices at their weekly meetings is a classic way to market to Realtors. They routinely have sales pitches from various vendors selling things to Realtors. Just call the managing broker and ask to get on the schedule for her next meeting.

I have what I call the Realtor Photo Guide which is a summary of the importance of real estate photography. There are two versions:

  1. The 9 page PDF that goes into a fair amount of detail on the importance of real estate photography.
  2. And the condensed version that is a double-sided page of the same basic information.

Feel free to reproduce either of these and use them for your marketing needs. These 2 PDFs summarize the primary motivation of professional real estate photography:

  1. Homes for sale promoted with real estate photography sell for more.
  2. Listing agents that use great real estate photography for marketing get more listings.

I want to thank everyone that has contributed to these documents and helped it evolve since 2009. Especially Robert Preville who agreed to let us all use his little infographic.

A great way to use either of these two PDFs is to go to a real estate office and ask the managing broker to attend their weekly meeting (all offices have such a meeting) and take 5 or 10 minutes to talk about real estate photography. Take hard copies of either of these PDFs for each agent and do a quick 10-minute presentation of what good photography will do for selling listings. Many agents don't understand these details. It is valuable information for them!

Everyone is free to give these PDFs away on their website, in whatever way you find useful. It's a marketing tool for everyone to use! Also, feel free to modify these PDFs and add your own branding. Note that the 9 page PDF is available in 7 languages here. These concepts apply worldwide!

17 comments on “How to Market Real Estate Photography to Real Estate Agents”

  1. Don't get discouraged when you are unable to get on the weekly meeting calendar very quickly. There are many vendors that want to make presentations and the broker or office manager acts as the gatekeeper so that the agents don't get overwhelmed with vendor presentations. Be clear that your presentation is brief and to the point. If you are able to get a client in an office, ask him or her to speak with the broker to get you on the calendar.

  2. Devon, I have done presentations at Realtor meetings. Some of them expect you to bring something to give to the agents so make sure you know before you get there. I have done raffles where they were given a gift (I try not to give away my work for free or discount it) but I might make an exception if I think this is going to land me a long time client. I have done several of these and while I think leaving fliers at offices is an effective way to get clients, it's always better to shake someone's hand. I bring my laptop and show them my work. But mostly I talk about how professional images are a reflection of their brand. They give you about 15 minutes to do your pitch - the agents are usually super busy and have little time. Many of them will already have long time photographers that they work with but the newer agents might not. Make sure you are competitive in your market meaning don't overprice and don't underprice just to get new clients. You don't want to get a reputation as being the cheap, go to photographer. You want to be the one that delivers an excellent product and is worth every dime.

  3. Scheduling and presenting at monthly Broker meetings is a powerful component of a real estate photographer's marketing program. It goes with out saying that we want to take advantage of any valid speaking opportunity with our target audience. Unfortunately, for many RE photographers, these speaking/presenting events produce very low conversion rates with Agents. There are multiple reasons why these presentations produce less than the desired result for the photographer. Perhaps the number one reason is that the photographer fails to meet the objective of building their List... of attending Agents who meet their target market criteria AND; who have agreed to opt into a continuing dialog leading to a potential future business engagement. List building is job #1 for the photographer at these speaking venues.

    Proper and valid List building is not simply leaving a stack of business cards on the reception table, randomly handing out business cards, or writing semi legible notes and names on the back of an envelope or napkin. List building is all about having a reliable, repeatable and predictable process that gets you to your end game...a valid List... quickly and efficiently

    For some time now, our team has been using a mobile device SMS lead-gen product that has produced a whopping 98% successful conversion rate for List building at venues where we have been invited to speak and present. Simple to set up and manage, these lead gen products allow you to offer your audience a proper Lead Magnet (perhaps that PDF mentioned above) in exchange for their email contact information.

    While there is no guarantee that all the Agents on your list will turn into customers, you have given them a positive experience with you. You have added value to the PDF (or any other digital assets you want to share) by asking for something (their email) in exchange for the product; and most importantly, you have fully complied with CAN SPAM laws.

    Suzanne and I have experimented with a number of these SMS lead-gen tools. We'd be glad to freely share our experiences and the results we have achieved. We just returned from the PhotoProExpo Conference in Covington, KY. We made two conference presentations. We had developed a Photographers Conversion Marketing Guidebook as a Lead Magnet. We used our SMS lead-gen tool. The audience texted us their email address and they instantly received our PDF...while I was still on the podium speaking!! A huge marketing success for our Team.

  4. Terry Granger, I like the idea about talking about Branding. That goes back to Scott Hargis' wonderful post on the subject last January 21st, 2015. Its what I would like to use in my talk as well. Do you use a slide show emphasizing those points or just show your work?

  5. About the only thing I can add to "presenting" at a Realtor staff meeting is that it goes beyond the actual presentation. Get there early, mingle, and most importantly, place a flier on each vacant chair and handing to other early arivees that they can take with them. Also be aware that the big hitters probably will not be there. Management has few carrots to dangle to attend (i.e. eligibility for floor time, etc) and certainly is not going to lean on their top producers as they want them to just keep producing.

  6. As Larry stated, this is a great way to get in front of realtors. Whether they'll hire you or not, is a different story. In my experience, this approach only works if:

    A) You're cheaper than whoever they're using now (and can offer at least similar quality).
    B) You have something different to offer than who they've been currently using.

    California is a very competitive market. You're going to need to find a way to stand out. Pretty much all the top realtors here have at least a couple "go to" photographers in their rolodex. You'll need to be able to prove to them why they should use you, rather than their trusted sources.

  7. I recently did my first guest speaking arrangement at a local real estate office in CA. I was able to pass out my marketing materials, explain my business, as well as answer some questions. I do feel that the time spent chatting with agents in more personal 1 on 1 conversations before the meeting began was hugely beneficial. Being able to create high quality photos is great, but being a person that people respect and want to work with is also a big part to consider.

    Thanks for the PDF's explaining the importance of professional photography in general Larry, this is one aspect I'd definitely use at my next meeting.

    -Michael

  8. I think we have all agreed for some time now that attending and participating in monthly RE Agent brokerage meetings or any other legitimate business conference, trade show, lecture, association or network event is pretty much mandatory for building a list of prospects leading to their conversion to being clients. The real question is how to start the client conversion marketing cycle in a way that produces a ROI for attending one or more of these live events.

    Some time ago we stopped giving out business cards, hard copy brochures and similar materials to attendees at the many events we participate in. We found that the exchanging of business cards was way too inefficient and did little for building our List...leading to closing business. Ditto for making notes on the back of business cards or taking notes on a notepad, back of an envelope or cocktail napkin. Way too hard to accurately remember the conversation or follow up delivering the promised information to the Agent. A lot of potential to drop promising business leads.

    In our monthly RE Agent brokerage meetings we are now exclusively using our smart phone as a text based, mobile messaging system to gather qualified email addresses, in real time, from Agents attending the meetings. We have a 98% conversion rate at every meeting.
    There are several providers of this type tool. We have vetted several and have a favorite. In the spirt of this post, we do not advertise specific products. However, Agents who see the phone number and text code that you promote can opt into your email lists via this SMS messaging. This is the same text message service most people use on their phone every day. This is a very user friendly for Agents, since it is much easier to text a short word to a short number than to open an internet browser, type in a URL and then fill out a form. When the Agent types in the short code on their phone, they instantly and automatically receive your information - something about your company - it should be a Lead Magnet, but it can be about an upcoming event, a special offer coupon, what ever you want to communicate to the Agent. BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, you have captured an opt-in email address for your List, that is in compliance with CAN SPAM.

    Simply put, SMS messaging is a strategic and authentic list building tool that gets you the best bang for your buck in time, resources and energy. It is great for growing your credibility, authority and influence with your RE Agent audience in real time. We have found this tool to be particularly effective when marketing emerging or Millennial RE Agents. According to funworkforcefacts, 90% of polled Millennials say that their smart phones never leave their sides, and that 80% say that they check their emails first thing in the morning.

    If any readers want additional information on the technical aspects of setting up a SMS service you can private email me. I'd be glad to share with you how we created and use a very effective tool for successfully marketing to our RE Agents, builders and interior designers.

  9. During the past 8 yrs we've attended real estate staff meetings, did flyer drop-offs at offices, and mass email marketing. However, the most effective form of marketing has been weekly visits to Open Houses. Every Sunday we visit at least 5 or 6 Open Houses and speak to the listing agents. This gives us a chance to meet face to face and discuss our services. We are able to ask 'who currently does your photos?' This creates an opening for us to sell them on our strong points such as same day delivery. We also show them our website on an iphone so they can see the quality of our photos. In addition we give them a flyer and business card for their file. The personal approach works best for us, often an agent will call us the following week for a shoot. For those who want to give this a try, you can access Open Houses via http://www.homefinder.com. It's best to have a list of Open Houses beforehand and use your smartphone GPS lady to navigate. Bear in mind that most Open Houses are between 1 and 3 pm so you'll want to make sure you can get to them in that timeframe. It's an interesting way to spend the afternoon and meet some nice people. We also get to see some unique properties firsthand. Also wanted to mention that we freestyle along the way. If we see signs and balloons we check it out. There are Open Houses on Saturday but the best day is Sunday. And if there's a game that day it's even better. Agents love to chat. What we're doing is building relationships while marketing our services.

  10. @Joanna, I do pretty much the same thing, but I put all of the addresses in Google Maps to locate them and then use a SatNav (either my Garmin or Magellan) to navigate from home to home. I really hate having the Nav app preempted by the phone while I'm driving. Some stand alone SatNav's will let you program a trip from the computer rather than having to punch them in manually.

    If you sign up, open house notices will be emailed from Trulia/Zillow for a defined number of cities. Realtor.com may have a similar feature. My local MLS also lists open houses, but there is no notification and the UI is very old school.

    Often times you will find that a junior agent or somebody other than the listing agent is conducting the open house. I have a box on my marketing spreadsheet where I can type in the date I met an agent in person so I'm not revisiting the same agents every weekend and so I will also know if I still need to track down an agent I'd like to talk to. There are a couple of offices in my area that only allow the use of "approved" photographers and don't ever call back when I make inquiries about getting on the approved list, so I don't visit agents that work through those offices very often. It's good to ask agents if they are allowed to use photographers of their own choice.

    It's a good idea to look up each agent you plan to visit (Trulia/Zillow/Realtor) to see how many homes they sell and the average asking price of those properties. The busiest agents are the best people to market to if they aren't locked in to one photographer that they aren't going to switch from. It still doesn't hurt to introduce yourself and get the agent's contact information in case they need to find somebody in a hurry. If you see that an agent specializes in mobile homes, there might not be enough of a budget for them to use a professional. Don't write them off completely, but don't spend too much effort selling to them.

    One of my best finds is an agent that is based a couple of hours away but still gets listings in my area from time to time. I get all of his business in my coverage area since it's less expensive than having his other photographer drive out to do one property and he very much likes my images and service. I keep an eye out for more agents like him and try to meet them if they hold an open house near me.

  11. Ken, excellent points. You're right about looking up each agent we plan to visit to see how many homes they sell. I neglected to mention that. I also like your method of maintaining a spreadsheet to keep from visiting the same agents every weekend. We have that problem as well. We also encounter substitute house sitters or junior agents but they often turn out to be viable clients and show genuine interest in our services.

    We try to cover all bases when visiting open houses but realistically. We don't do drone photos and we tell them that along with the drawbacks associated with drone photography/videography. But we do provide pole aerials shot w/a 12 ft pole, remotely connected to an iphone. Occasionally, we'll be asked about walk-thru videos shot with iphones and we explain the drawbacks involved in Zillow's walk-thru video program. Some agents believe videos, no matter how bad, get more views than photos but it's not true. It's good to understand how these things work so we can educate agents.

    The fact is good photography sells houses. That's the bottom line.

  12. Joanna and Ken,
    Thanks for the tips on Open Houses. I plan to start attending some this Sunday .

    Joanna, where can I find this negative info on Zillow's walk-thru video program and the drawbacks w/ the drones?

    Thanks!

  13. @Carol - The drawbacks Joanna is referring with Zillow walkthroughs are obvious if you just look at some. When you shoot walkthrough with a SmartPhone you don't have a wide enough lens... they look awful!

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