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    Real estate marketing is all about building relationships. Whether you’re looking for new clients or networking to increase your database of possible referral partners, your focus is on building one-to-one relationships. As a real estate agent, you have a number of ways to make those positive connections.

    Traditional marketing tools including lawn signs, mailers, print ads, flyers, and brochures. While not high-tech, these forms of marketing are an effective means to making your presence known — but are unlikely to spark that much-needed connection.

    Digital marketing tools — email, website, and social media — offer a more direct and custom approach. Email campaigns can be tailored to a particular audience, such as first-time homebuyers or empty nesters looking to downsize. Website engagement can provide critical behavioral data about customer interactions — like what content do they view and what information are they willing to share? Depending on the granularity of your targeting and engagement segmentation, you can learn a lot about prospects. But where is that elusive spark which enables a strong relationship to evolve?

    Face-to-Face Marketing

    Making contact face-to-face with potential clients is the most direct way to elicit new business. As a salesperson, you know this to be true. It is innate. Not every real world interaction will lead to a commission, but if establishing a relationship is the goal, that first look is a start.

    Making real eye contact, engaging in a good conversation, and telling your story are all that’s necessary to spark a connection. The elevator speech is a classic for this very reason. When you deliver a succinct pitch honestly and show respect for the listener you have a chance to establish a relationship.

    All You Need is Trust

    Trust is at the heart of any successful relationship. Building trust can be accomplished in many ways. Here are a few to start:

    • Expertise. Sharing your expertise without expectations is important. When we give first, we leave a strong impression. While you may sell, you don’t want to be seen as a used car salesman.
    • Experience. What you’ve accomplished in your years in real estate is crucial to landing business. Past successes are meaningful to someone in search of a first or second home. Share stories of previous clients and how you were able to help them find the right property and negotiate the best price. By focusing on your client’s experience instead of yourself, you display humility — an important ingredient when building trust.
    • Market knowledge. Your understating of the local real estate market is a great way to show both your expertise and the benefit of your experience. Honest observations and recommendations build trust.
    • Shared values, interests and experiences. In order to make a human connection, it’s important to find and acknowledge the things we have in common. Family, friends, background, hobbies, sports, and reading are all avenues for getting to know someone better and gaining trust. To get to know someone you need to listen as much as you speak.

    The Bottom Line

    There’s a tendency to become overly focused on new marketing tools or trends. This is particularly true with easy-to-use tech like our smartphones on the one hand, and software with a steep learning curve on the other. Even effective social media marketing has proven to be less-than-intuitive. Database management, website development, and content creation have all improved the way we manage and market prospects, current clients, and post close referrals. But, lately it seems our phones have become a distraction. Instead of connecting, they cause us to look away from the people we want so very much to engage.

    I am not a “luddite.” I recognize these tools are here to stay and the benefits of these technologies will only improve over time. And, with the added sophistication and promise of artificial intelligence, custom targeting potential business opportunities may vastly improve. Real estate agents have a unique relationship with technology.

    That said, it’s important to remember that humans are social animals. Engaging someone and sharing experiences is the foundation of friendships and strong business relationships. Face-to-face marketing should come naturally if we’d just put down our phones.

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