An ever-increasing number of small businesses, in every industry, are looking to take advantage of the immense opportunity that digital marketing offers to help them grow their business. Even big businesses are not being left out of the “digital gold rush.”
This fact, of course, leads to a situation wherein extreme competition exists and, as a result, it can often take a lot of time and spent resources before one begins to reap the rewards of digital marketing. It is as true in all industries as it is in the real estate.
Having said that, any small or start-up real estate professional or business that is looking to use digital marketing as a resource to expand their client base and grow their business will face one major challenge: the dominance of several well-established and well-known names in the real estate industry.
Some of the usual suspects include Trulia, Zillow, Zumper, Apartments.com, realtor.com, and others.
Whenever a user performs a search on Google or Bing for a real estate related query, the first page of the search results is usually dominated by several of these big players in the real estate industry. This situation is, obviously, less than ideal for smaller businesses or real estate professionals.
This article will provide a few tips that a startup real estate company can follow to gain an upper hand against these major players and attempt to level the playing field.
Focus on Google My Business/Bing Places
Google My Business (GMB), and the Bing alternative, called Bing Places, are products that aim to serve users with search results that are local to the proximity of the searcher. This means that whenever a user performs a search query in Google or Bing that has a ‘local intent,’ more often than not they will be served with results that include a map listing containing about 3 businesses that are in the same city as the searcher. This will be in addition to the 10 organic results.
For instance, if someone in New York City is looking to acquire a Manhattan real estate property and performs a search in Google if Google determines that the search has local intent and includes a map listing in the results page, and if your real estate or property listing business has a verified and properly optimized GMB account, then chances are that your website will appear in the maps section, and consequently, is likely to get a higher percentage of clicks.
The advantage that a startup real estate business has with this product over more established brands is that the only way a business can get a GMB account is by having a verified business address in a particular city.
Most of these large and well-established companies will usually have their base of operations in their Head Quarters (and in some instances, in a few other cities) and at such will or should only be able to claim a GMB/Bing listing in a limited number of locations.
So, provided your business is not in the same city as any of the above-mentioned big shots, they should not be able to compete with you in the maps listing, and, at such, your business may have a clear advantage over them because you have a GMB listing and can get your business’s website into the maps listing while they will not.
Offer Your Prospects Better and More Personalized Services
Oftentimes, when a business grows and becomes very big, they become complacent and the quality of their product or service suffers, their customer service suffers, among other negative things. When this happens, it can provide an opportunity for smaller companies to step in and fill in any gap.
A personalized service simply means delivering services that are specifically customized to meet a client’s unique needs or wants. While it may require some extra effort on your part to offer these more personalized and better quality services, it will certainly be well worth it for your business at the end of the day.
A client who receives personalized and better services from your business will develop a sense of attachment to your company. You will become “friends” or “family” to them and they will keep doing business with you, in addition to being willing to refer new their family and friends to your business.
Everybody wants value for money, but they’ll be happier if they get premium value at a lower rate.
When prospects search for real estate firms to do business with, chances are that they will not stop at the first one they come across. Price comparison is becoming a more common habit among people who are searching for goods and services online.
If your fees are more competitive than what these larger firms charge then chances are that people will very likely be willing to use your services instead. To top it all up, you should ensure you’re giving them the very best value that a real estate firm can offer. If you can do this, then you definitely will be able to compete with any other firm, no matter how large they are.
And how would potential clients know you can truly deliver on your promise to deliver value for money, despite charging less than your competitors?
That’s where the power of testimonials come in!
If someone is new to your business, they will be skeptical at first as to whether you can deliver or not. But a few good testimonials from past clients can turn their doubts into belief.
For every client you have done business with in the past, simply ask them to drop a short testimonial about their experience with doing business with your company. But more importantly, ask and ask again until you get that testimonial.
Written testimonials are awesome, but guess what’s more awesome? Videos!
Politely asking your previous clients to do a short 1-minute video clip explaining how working with you to get a new home, commercial building, or apartment was wonderful. Or how the help they got from you in selling their house was out of this world.
Having first-page search results thanks to GMB, offering prospects customized services, coupled with competitive rates, as well as convincing testimonials from your previous clients will surely go a long way in attracting more clients to your business.
If you were to go dollar for dollar with the larger, more established real estate firms in the area of marketing and advertising, you will surely lose the fight, simply because your small real estate business likely will be unable to match their budget.
However, if you were to employ the tips provided in this article, you likely will have a fighting chance.
Kanayo Okwuraiwe is a startup founder, an incurable entrepreneur, and a digital marketing professional. He is also the Telligent Marketing LLC, a digital marketing company that provides local SEO for lawyers to help law firms grow their practices. Follow him on Linkedin.