A portal won’t save you

A few times a year, the big real estate portals make a significant change to how you, as agents, are allowed to use their service.

The latest of these changes has been to disallow agency branding (including sign boards), in property photos on some listings on the portal.

Agents have responded to this change, much like every other change made over the last few years, in a disgruntled fashion – taking to Facebook groups to vent their frustration.

This has become the standard process for anything that the portals change that agents disagree with. Agents complain that the portals are doing their hardest to systematically take agents out of the home selling equation – they may just be right, we all remember a certain share prospectus doing the rounds a few years ago stating the goal was to “dis-intermediate the agent” – i.e cut the agent out.

As this process plays out in social media forums, it follows a familiar path and invariably someone suggests, “we’re a huge industry body, why can’t we band together and make our own portal?”

It’s been done and it failed miserably to break the dominance of the main players, for a number of reasons. The main reason though is a lack of understanding of what it takes to make a portal successful.

Anyone with a bit of money and access to developers can “make a portal” – but to make it successful and to break the strangle hold on the industry that the main two portals have, you need traffic.

Traffic is the lifeblood of any website and Realestate.com.au and Domain.com have it in droves. They’ve become household names, they own the traffic.

To counter their stranglehold by competing for traffic with the portals (which is what ever portal has tried to do to date), it would take a few dump trucks full of gold bullion, spent on marketing budgets to have a chance.

What will save you is the ability to market property without the need to use the portals.

While getting a hair cut the other week, I had a very interesting conversation with my barber (bare with me here, I have a point to this tangent). She was telling me that she doesn’t use the Realestate.com.au or domain.com apps anymore, because agents are putting properties in her Facebook feed.

Now does one person noticing that and changing their behavior make for a revolution? No of course not. What it does, is make you sit up and take notice and start paying a bit more attention to whats happening around you. How many people are like my barber? Is she a pioneer, or part of a trend that is building momentum.

The benefits that Facebook ad targeting provides, allows agents to target property listings directly to the people most likely to buy it. They can break things down by income, family status, relationship status, interests and much more to pick out the person most likely to purchase the property and then get the property listing in front of them.

In comparison, the portals work much like a billboard on a highway, they show a property to the millions of people driving past. Except now, they have a billboard every 5 feet and they’re just hoping an interested person drives past. It’s essentially hit and hope, but so far it’s been the only option for agents and it’s more or less worked – but many agents I speak with are reporting significant drop-offs in the number of genuine inquiries coming through the portals.

The other big issue is that it’s impossible to market a property in isolation on a portal. The portal’s job is to show the potential buyer as many properties as possible, that’s yours, your competitions and any other property that might even be remotely applicable. You are essentially in massive competition with every other property listed.

Where as correct targeting on Facebook allows an agent to target the people most likely to be a match for the property and market it in their feed, without another property in sight.

Now if you follow my page or have read any of my previous posts, you’d know I’m a certified Facebook marketer and you could be forgiven for thinking I’m heavily bias towards Facebook marketing.

I am. Unashamedly so.

The reason is simple, it works. I’ve used it to generate over $510,000,000 worth of leads for Check My House Price member agents in the last 2 years alone. I’ve run campaigns that have sold properties, corporate tenancies, recruited agents and generated appraisal inquiries all through Facebook marketing and that’s just the tip of the ice berg – I know what it can do and I’m determined to pass these skills on to any agent will to learn them. Having been an agent myself, I understand the day-to-day pressure and threats agents face. Having spent 20 years in the technology space as a published tech editorialist, I also know whats coming and knowing how to market on Facebook successfully is how agents will not just survive, but thrive moving forward.

The agent’s I’ve taught, have experienced similar results, having sold properties, generated leads and experienced a massive boost in profile in their area for significantly less spend than any other marketing channel.

But regardless of whether it’s Facebook or you’ve found another method of selling properties without using the portals, make sure you have those skills. Because being able to market and sell properties without the need for the portals is the greatest insurance you have against the portals or any other change in the industry, phasing agents out.


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