Dear Marketing Mastermind: How do I make my open house more effective?

Make sure you are creating an event that is exciting, staging the home for maximum impact and putting out the word ahead of time

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In this monthly advice column, Marketing Mastermind Christy Murdock Edgar answers three burning questions from the real estate industry at large. This month’s topic: leveraging the media. 

‘Tis the season for putting up signs, putting out water bottles and opening up your listings to friends, neighbors, looky-loos and, hopefully, buyers. This month, we’re all about open houses and how to make them work for you and your listings.

Questions of the day

Question 1, Bruce Ailion, Atlanta

There is a lot of discussion around mega open houses. What should the digital and print activity be in support of a successful mega open house?

This is a great question because it gets to the heart of a lot of the resistance to mega open houses — what if no one shows up? As you surmise, the key is laying the groundwork beforehand and following up afterward.

There are a variety of elements at play in hosting any open house and a number of goals for you as the agent.

  1. You want to get the house sold and get as many prospective buyers through the door as possible.
  2. You want to meet those prospective buyers and, if they are not yet represented, become their buyer’s agent or pass them along to a buyer’s agent in your office or on your team.
  3. You want to connect with neighbors in the area of your open house so that when they are selling their home, they’ll remember you and list with you.

All of these goals require different types of connection and different messaging. The first step, then, is getting people through the door and making sure the house is at its best when they arrive.

The key to great marketing support for a mega open house is the same as the key to a great rollout of the listing itself. Professional photography, copywriting and design for flyers, brochures and mailers are all essential in showing the home at its best. Pristine staging inside and out is also key.

For digital marketing, you’ll want to leverage social media in a variety of ways: an informal tour of the home on Snapchat or Facebook Live, professional photos on Instagram and in your Facebook feed, and starting a conversation with local agents and brokers on Twitter.

You’ll want someplace to drive all of that social media traffic; a standalone blog post or landing page will give you a great place to send interested fans and followers. These should have a clear call to action, information about the open house and an easy way to get in touch with you — like a link to your email or a contact form.

Be sure to roll out the listing to your email subscribers as well, especially to local agents and brokers. Invite them to “bring their buyers,” and let them know about any special features or selling points.

During the week before, you will want to mail postcards to homeowners in the surrounding neighborhood, inviting them to stop by. You’ll want to have plenty of flyers or brochures on hand so that everyone has something to take with them. You might also want to provide pens for people to take notes as they walk the property.

At the event, you’ll need to prioritize getting names and contact information for those in attendance. Within the first 24 hours, get that information into your database and follow up to get first impressions and stay top-of-mind.

Reach out to agents and brokers who came in with a phone call to find out their thoughts and their clients’ level of interest.

It sounds like a lot of effort, but if you’re going to go to the trouble of putting on an open house, it’s worth it to ensure you’ve set up and followed up effectively to maximize your results. Just one solid lead will more than pay for the time and effort expended.

Question 2, Jennifer Okhovat, Los Angeles

Do fancy open houses and catering really help the house get sold?

As with almost anything in marketing, the answer is “it depends.” Here are some of the factors at play:

  • Location: You’ll want to be guided by the norms of your local area and the type of property. If you are selling a small starter home or condo, you might find that a fancy setup is out of place. If you are selling a luxury home, you will probably find that the expectations of both the homeowners and the attendees are considerably higher. If you think that a fancy spread won’t work for your listing, consider alternative options. A summertime open house might be a great time to offer popsicles or snow cones on a porch or terrace. Hot apple cider might be just the ticket at an autumn open house. You don’t have to be fancy to be memorable and hospitable.
  • Audience: There is often a different expectation for midweek broker’s opens and Sunday afternoon public open houses. You’ll also experience different expectations in an upscale gated community as opposed to a small urban loft building. Older buyers will have different ideas than younger ones. Luxury buyers will expect more than first-time homebuyers. Know your audience, and determine whether your fancy charcuterie and passed canapes will be a hit or a miss.
  • Setup and follow up: Here’s where you really get to the root of the purpose and effectiveness of a fancy open house. You can have all of the fabulous food in the world, but if you don’t reach out and advertise the event, you won’t get boots through the door, making all of the time and expense meaningless. If you don’t follow up, you won’t be able to gauge feedback, and you will have wasted the time and money you spent on that upscale open house.
  • Wow-factor: Remember, it’s not just about “fancy” — it’s also about fun. Rather than creating a stuffy, formal gathering to show off that listing, consider alternatives that are more memorable and more exciting than tired sandwiches and a warm glass of Chardonnay. A food truck, ice cream truck or outdoor barbecue can help you take an event from ho-hum to oh, yeah! Be sure to talk it up on your social media, take lots of photos and stream live video throughout the event to keep people coming and get them excited about that listing.

Rather than expecting the caterer or food to do the work for you, make sure you are creating an event that is exciting, staging the home for maximum impact and putting out the word ahead of time.

Question 3, Brett Ringelheim, New York City

What is more effective — print marketing or digital marketing for a new listing?

A combination of both is, of course, the ideal. Again, because you are marketing different things to different people — the home, your services, the neighborhood, etc. — you’ll want to provide a variety of marketing materials aimed at different audiences and purposes.

For print, you’ll want postcards to send to the neighbors plus flyers or brochures for door-knocking and open houses. For digital, you’ll want a standalone blog or website plus social media and email marketing to drive traffic.

Rather than thinking in terms of “more” or “less” effective, think in terms of the way that these platforms can work together to inform each other. Add a branded QR code to printed materials to direct people to the website or blog. Use online platforms to invite people to IRL (in real life) events, like an open house that includes an on-site lender.

The more you can mix your marketing, messaging and platforms, the more people you’ll reach and the more business you’ll do.

Do you have any questions for the Marketing Mastermind? Shoot us an email. 

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

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