We saw some of the most creative real estate marketing from agents across the country last year. Low interest rates, coupled with deprived inventory in many markets, created an ultracompetitive marketplace in which agents were bringing nothing short of their A game to the table. I predict none of that will change this year—except for maybe the methods. Here are six of my predictions for what we will see in real estate marketing in 2018.
Fewer Hollywood-Caliber Video Tours
In the last couple of years, we saw exceptionally creative and highly produced (read: expensive!) mini-films as property tours in the ultraluxury real estate market. Some of these videos cost $40,000 or more to produce and featured helicopters, luxury cars, and a cast of talent. While some of this may continue in prime luxury markets, such as Los Angeles or New York, it isn’t sustainable for most agents—even if they do serve the top 1 percent. I think we’ll see many luxury agents retreat from high-priced, overproduced videos and return to simpler, traditional video tours that focus less on plot development and more on the home.
Pro tip: Don’t overthink the message you’re trying to convey through video. If you do produce a property film, remember that the main focus should still be the property. Don’t let an overly complicated plotline overshadow the home you’re trying to sell.
More Focus on Agent Personality
Clients want to know who you are as a real estate professional and a person. So agents likely will focus on creating video and other marketing materials that showcase their personality as much as the homes they’re selling. Humor is one way to accomplish this. One of the funniest and most creative real estate videos of 2017 was the marketing of hip-hop star Ryan Lewis’s newly renovated Seattle mansion. Real estate agent Casey Price invited Seattle musician Allen Stone to “break into” Lewis’s home in a “Funny or Die”–style production. The film is more than 20 minutes long—a bit lengthy for my attention span—but it’s filled with laughs from beginning to end.
This personality-driven marketing has become very effective and will only grow as technology advancements continue to roll out. Personally, I received great responses on a lifestyle video I created and sent out to potential clients before a first appointment.
Pro tip: Don’t wed yourself to the image you want others to see of you. Step outside your box. If you’re the agent posting photos of yourself in front of expensive cars, wearing a Rolex and Gucci shoes, I dare you to post a pic of yourself in front of a car from the ’80s. Tell a story about how this car is just like the one your family had when you were growing up, and then tie it back to your current status with a hashtag like #StartedAtTheBottom. The goal is to have fun and be transparent.
Virtual Reality Goes Mainstream
More consumers indicate a desire to work with an agent who provides VR marketing, enabling home shoppers to have an immersive experience in a digital home tour. But the technology remains somewhat exclusive, and there’s not a simple solution to applying it to real estate. I’m keeping my eyes open for a compatible mobile add-on that will allow you to capture VR video from your smartphone, bringing usage of the technology to a wider audience.
Pro tip: If you’ve never used a 3-D tool in your marketing, make this the year you try it. Even if you’re not ready for VR, it’s imperative to show clients that you have some understanding of emerging technology. Transported is one of my favorite tools, providing the ability to create 3-D and VR tours, adding a layer of content to your marketing plan.
The Drone Craze Is Over
Aerial images and video were the hottest marketing tools in 2017. But the industry may be going through drone fatigue. So many agents have marketed listings solely using drone photography, and in many cases, it’s been detrimental. I’ve seen many listings of beautiful homes in which the property video only showed aerial footage, with no interior shots. It does a massive injustice to the home. I think we’ll see much-needed moderation in the use of drone footage, as agents remember not to forsake professional-quality photos, 3-D tours, and other tried-and-true marketing materials.
Pro tip: You can still shoot aerial video, but make sure it doesn’t become your shtick. Reserve the use of drones for properties where it makes sense, such as ultraluxury homes or those on large parcels of land. But know when to say enough is enough. Too much of a good thing is just that—too much.
One-to-One Marketing Is the New Black
This is a customer relationship management strategy emphasizing personalized interactions with customers. Generic drip marketing campaigns don’t cut it anymore. It’s like writing “HBD” on a friend’s Facebook wall on the day of their birthday (because nothing says, “I really took time to think of you on your birthday” more than that). This is the year agents will switch to a better CRM that allows them to deliver specialty communications to each and every client. My team recently started using Contactually. With templates for emails, a “send now” feature for handwritten cards, and the ability to connect clients’ social media accounts to their system profiles, we can stay in front of our customers at all times.
Pro tip: Avoid CRMs that offer too many features you won’t use. The simpler the CRM, the more likely you will be to use it. Also, know your clients’ communication patterns so you can decipher how much contact is too much. Set up your touch points according to each client’s communication preferences.
The Year of More Polished Live Video
A lot of agents and brokers dipped their feet into live video in 2017 through platforms such as Periscope, Instagram stories, or Facebook Live. But their efforts didn’t always go according to plan. During one of my first broadcasts, the camera fell out of its stand, which ended up being quite comical. But real estate professionals have gone through the period of trial and error and will now begin to master live video. We’ll be using quality mics and professional equipment to eliminate background noise, improve image quality, and deliver a more professional viewing experience.
Pro tip: Don’t allow your desire for perfection to slow down or hamper your production of live video. Unexpected flubs on camera is part of the nature of shooting live. Do a practice run to test your lighting, sound, and other equipment before you go live in front of your audience. And most of all, have fun with it.