Guest Column by Michael Beckerman
Disclaimer: I too am running a start up focused on the real estate industry and fighting the good fight every single day! I don’t have any magic formula and I am certainly not counting the gazillions of dollars I have made selling my site to Facebook/Google :)
Having said that, I do think I know a little bit about marketing to the real estate industry and specifically, how to market a start up based on my own career experience.
My Career Part 1: I started and ran a successful public relations and marketing agency that specialized in real estate for 25 years.
My Career Part 2: In 2012, I launched a real estate content platform, The News Funnel, which allows companies to distribute their content directly to real estate professionals.
Today: As I look back at my experiences with marketing The News Funnel over the past four years, I believe I have valuable advice for anyone else looking to market their startup to the real estate industry.
Before I begin, here are a couple of truths to know…
1) The real estate industry is not looking for your site! Things are just fine in the industry. People are making money as they always have and change is not always welcomed as a good thing.
2) The majority of the industry looks like me; middle aged, bald, with a belly most of us are trying to hide. So don’t be fooled into thinking you are marketing your site to Millennials, or Gen this or that. We are old school, predominantly male and not good with things like knowing our passwords on the App Store.
3) Change is absolutely coming, but it’s not in the near term so be patient.
Ok – so now that I have depressed you, the good news is that there is actually a group, small albeit, that is embracing tech in the real estate sector. And they are not necessarily the younger generation; they happen to be the thought leaders, those that have always been the first in their office with the newest tool, the latest gadget, etc. They are out there, and there are in fact also a growing number of young people in the industry and that's where your focus should be. Trying to convert the "non-believers" is too time consuming and too costly so go where the fish are and start fishing using these tactics:
1) Embrace non-tech tactics. Since most of the industry still markets itself in old school ways, you should do the same. Send emails, make appointments, do demos, attend sales meetings, go to events. The most important takeaway from these meetings is that you must find a few “ambassadors” for your site that others will follow. Don’t worry about getting gazillions of users from the get-go because it simply won’t happen. Getting a few of the real movers and shakers to embrace your product will go a long, long way to establishing credibility.
2) Embrace social media, but the RIGHT social media. Yes, Facebook owns the world, but not the real estate world. Instagram loves the Kardashians but not real estate folks. Most real estate people are on LinkedIn and Twitter. Follow @dukelong, @allencbuchanan, @barbireuter or @jneuer19 to see the types of content they share via social media.
3) Create content and share it. Writing content that is NOT self-serving and that offers tips and insights on trends is the single best marketing investment you can make. Having a great blog on your own website means nothing. People don’t visit websites anymore. They get their content on platforms like The News Funnel or LinkedIn. So create it and share it!
4) Don’t waste your time on tech press unless you are trying to raise money or impress your friends. NO ONE IN REAL ESTATE IS READING THAT STUFF!!! And announcing you have raised money and doing no other press is self-serving and pointless.
5) Connect with other sites. If you know of another site that is complimentary to yours, connect with them and market with them. The industry is growing daily so do your best to play nice and work together. We are in this together! Typically, people in the real estate tech industry are eager to make new connections and will do everything they can to co-market. There are some amazing thought leaders in the space running their own sites already like Nick Romito, Dave Eisenberg, Michael Mandel, Brandon Weber, and visionaries like Jon Schultz, Ash Zandieh and Pierce Neinken so connect with them!
These are just some of the things I have found that work. It won’t be easy or quick but I am confident that if you follow these five steps, you will ultimately get there faster.
Here is a recent blog where I asked some of the leaders in this space about their own marketing tactics.
Would love to hear your suggestions as well.