What Marketing Can And Can’t Do
The E. 60s townhouse, now represented by its 12th agent, took a price reduction last week which finally brought it below $20 million. While still no bargain, it represents a greater acceptance of reality by the owner, who has fired brokerage after brokerage because his unrealistic price expectations could not be met. It made me think, again, about what marketing can and cannot do to sell property.
Marketing does not sell property. A property’s attributes, and a skilled agent, sell it. Marketing drives eyes to the property. That is its role. This seems obvious but is probably more misunderstood than almost any other aspect of our business.
I like to joke that, when working with developers, an agent receives one of only two pieces of feedback: if the project sells briskly, the agent underpriced it, and if it doesn’t sell briskly, then our marketing is inadequate. Whereas in my experience if the product sells briskly, it indicates a balance between quality work, demand, and price. As new construction values have risen over the past decades, the product’s failure to sell usually relates more to the latter two issues, demand and price.
Even the best marketing campaign cannot counteract an oversupply of similar units, nor can it substantially mitigate excessive pricing. What marketing can and should do, however, is showcase a home’s benefits compellingly enough to generate appointments. It is toward this goal alone which marketing should be targeted.
As I have written before, I have a particular aversion to property marketing preoccupied with brand names. I don’t believe that the brand name of the marble in the shower, or the dishwasher, drives eyes to the property page on either my site or any of the public sites. Great photos do (in my opinion more than video, but I know I am in a minority here), especially on Instagram or in a targeted Facebook ad. Print ads in magazines and newspapers make sellers feel good but almost never sell the product. Every marketing piece we produce, either in print or online, shares a goal: to make the viewer seek more information about the property. Hopefully that includes making an appointment to see it. From that point on, it’s no longer about marketing. It’s about the property, the price, and the broker. If one buyer after another views the apartment online and decides NOT to see it, then something is wrong, most likely the price. Assuming the photos and the description create proper context, the lack of appointments is almost certainly not a marketing failure. The problem lies elsewhere.
Too often both sellers and agents forget the purpose of marketing. Its only goal is to bring buyers to the door. So then the question becomes, how best to do that? Do buyers actually want to read run-on sentences filled with empty words like “gorgeous” and “stunning”? I doubt it. I think a few tantalizing sentences, wrought so as to stimulate interest without giving everything away, combined with photos which convey real information about the layout and appearance of the property, most effectively draw buyers in. Once they arrive at the doorstep, the ball is in OUR court. The agent must put the client at ease, provide relevant information while not talking or impinging too much, radiate credible enthusiasm, and answer questions directly and honestly. We can never make people like our listing, but we can create an atmosphere which facilitates liking it.
A well-staged property with appealing photos and compelling copy, a sensible price, and appropriate marketing should drive buyer traffic to any property’s front door. From there the sale rests in the hands of the most powerful marketing weapon in any seller’s arsenal: a smart and talented agent!