In my last post on social media, I talked about social media from the point of view of how I use it (and don't use it) to promote this blog. Promoting a geographically focused small business like real estate photography is very different problem.
Here is the marketing problem that real estate photographers have:
- Your potential clients are listing agents in a very specific geographic area
- You don't want to spend time an energy promoting your services to anyone but those that are likely clients.
- You have to figure out what is the most effective way to communicate (market) these specific people who will decide to use your services.
Here are two fundamental marketing facts you should center your marketing plan around:
- You can make a complete, detailed list with names, phone numbers, office addresses, brokerage, e-mail address for every one of your potential clients. That is, you can make a list all the listing agents that list homes in the geographic area you want to work in. You can sit down with your browser and make this list in a few hours if you know the company names of the major brokerages in your area.
- Some listing agents are more likely clients that others. The most successful listing agents are have the best chance of becoming your client.
So depending on the size of the city you live in, before you start your marketing, you can make a list of 50 to 200 specific individuals that you want to convince to use your services. A big part of getting your message to these people is learning what is the most effective way to communicate with these particular people. Is social networking an effective way to communicate with these people? It can be for some of them, but it's not a "silver bullet". I think you will find that to be successful you need to use a whole variety of marketing approaches:
- Personal meetings with listing agents
- Flyers or jumbo post cards left in agents mail slots
- E-mail campaigns to listing agents
- Direct phone calls to listing agents
- Presentations to real estate office meetings
- FaceBook and Twitter interactions
Here are two facts that should guide your marketing to successful agents:
- Personal contact is the most powerful marketing approach. All the non-personal approaches are just methods to work towards a personal contact. Top agents are gregarious people. They live for personal contact. This is why they are good at sales and helping people.
- The majority of successful listing agents have been in the business a long time (15+ years). Because it takes a while to build all the necessary relationships in real estate. This means most started their careers in real estate before the web became the primary means of promoting listings. And before social media was even invented. So they may not be up on these new communication techniques.
The bottom line on using social media to promote your real estate business is that yes, it can be helpful as a communication technique. It's just another way to work towards a personal contact with listing agents that can result in business. Some listing agents on your list will use it while some will not. But, it's not a starting place. Real estate photography is one of the few businesses where you know exactly who needs your services and getting your message to those people is a matter of connecting with those people and communicating with them whatever the most effective means is.
What experiences do readers have with using social media to connect with real estate photography clients?