The property business is a high-risk, high-profit industry that is very competitive – and anyone working in it should take every chance to get ahead. However, many have not yet embraced internet technologies to help get the word out, and are therefore invisible to the 5 million affluent South Africans who are online today. Whether you are a rental agent, a buyer or a service provider to the property industry, creating an online marketing strategy is straightforward and doesn’t require extensive technical skills or a lot of money – just a bit of knowledge and effort.Do you need an online presence?
Definitely. A clever business owner uses every channel available, and a property agent should be no different. Considering the cost of internet access in South Africa, those people who are online are generally the affluent members of society – and exactly who you want to target. And if you are not online yourself, chances are that somebody else in your area is, which means that they are offering better service, they will receive all of the internet focus and your business will remain invisible. In such a competitive environment, every advantage should be taken. There are, broadly, three categories of places where you can market yourself online: email, websites and social networks.
Setting up a regular email newsletter is an excellent way to keep your current customers up to date on property-related issues and to inform them of special offers, discounts and deals. Email is an excellent way to reach people because you can target your recipients very specifically; you can gather data from your own customers and find other likely people to approach online. If you include good content and offers that your customers enjoy, it will be easy for them to pass the email on to their friends and grow your customer base for you.
The second category is your website. Having an attractive, professional and informative website is affordable and easy, and highly recommended. Think of it as your own little corner of the internet, which you can design and control however you want. It is also the definitive source of information about your property offers, and a place where you can include the most up-to-date information about the rentals or sales that are available. You can even include an online application form so that clients can apply for rentals or purchases automatically. There are many excellent and free online tools, like Yola, for building websites – and it’s so easy that anyone can do it.
Thirdly, there are social networks like Facebook and Twitter. These are less about making direct sales and more about building a community of fans and followers around your property business. Social networks are used for chatting, sharing information and photos, writing recommendations and passing on links to friends. They are a place for having a conversation with your customers, responding to questions, addressing complaints, offering special deals and sharing media and offers. In addition, it’s a great way for your customers to network with each other to find new tenants or apartments, or to sell their properties to reputable people. It’s important to engage in a useful and valuable way – don’t just market yourself aggressively, but rather share links to interesting articles, ask for feedback and join the conversation.
How do you promote your property business online?
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 5, Issue 8, Page 6
Paddocks students will receive a 10% discount when they register (and use “Paddocks student” as the promotional code) for this course by the end of August 2010. The University of Cape Town Internet Marketing course starts on 20 September 2010. Click here for more information.