Create A Marketing Plan: Step 3 – Knowing Your Competitors

Conducting a competitive analysis means looking at who your competitors do, what they are offering, and how they market themselves. The bulk of your competition probably comes from a combination of other local real estate agents, the internet, and FSBOs. But how much do you actually know about how your competition does business?

Do some competitive research to learn who their clients are, any new listings they’ve received, new hires, home turnaround times, and any press releases and articles they’ve recently published.

Where Do You Find Competitors?

Too many real estate agents just focus on the internet to find their competitors. Others pick out the top 3 largest and most well known firms (like Remax or Century 21) in their cities and cite them. What you want to look at are those people that your target audience is most likely to consider your competitors. To do that, you need to start an information file on other real estate agents. Here are some things to look for:

  1. Yellow Pages – Which agents in your area have the most prominent ads? Cut them out (or photocopy them).
  2. Web Search – Not all search engines are created equal. Do a web search on the big four search engines – Google, MSN, Yahoo, and AOL – for a few keywords. Good keywords are specific such as [-insert state region/city-] ["realtor" "real estate" or "buy a home"] – like “Philadelphia Real Estate” or “Buy A Home In San Diego”. Now, not all prospects are going to search like this. Think about how prospects (not your firm) describe their problem and try searching for those terms. Which real estate agents show up in the regular listings? Which show up in the “sponsors” or “ads” section?
  3. Websites – You can learn a lot about a real estate agent by looking at thier website. Make note of recent events and news, listings, press releases, articles published, and other key information.
  4. Ads -Whenever you’re reading the newspaper, your Church bulletin, or community newsletter and you spot an ad for another real estate agent, cut it out. Also, make note of billboards or “for sale” signs on neighborhood lawns.
  5. Marketing Materials – Try to get some the marketing materials of other real estate agents nearby.
  6. Networking – If you go to networking events, Country Club outings, or Chamber of Commerce meetings, are there any other real estate agents there? What are they doing to promote themselves?
  7. Board Members – Real estate agents may serve on the boards of charities and nonprofits. Make note of which real estate agents are on which boards.
  8. Speaking Engagements – Some real estate agents offer community seminars or might teach a class at a local college. If you can attend a session – go!
  9. Location – If there are other real estate agents in your office building, make note of them. What do their offices look like? How friendly are their staff members? What kind of signage do they use?

Analyzing Your Competitors

Now that you’ve collected information on other real estate agents, it’s time to analyze the data. Here are some things to consider:

  1. How well are they doing? – What types of clients do they have? Where do they get them? How are they doing financially? Are they looking to grow or shrink? Can you determine revenue? Company size?
  2. In what direction are they heading? – What have they done lately? What partnerships have they announced? What do they emphasize on their marketing materials, website, front door, ads? What do they downplay? What audience do they address?
  3. What works well on their marketing materials and website? – What do you like about each? What makes sense to you? Do they look and sound professional? What would motivate someone to contact them?
  4. What are they doing wrong? – What’s not working with their marketing materials and website? Do their marketing materials meaningfully differentiate them from others? Is their website confusing? Is it interesting and helpful to read? Do all their links and features work as expected? Does the text still make sense if you substitute the name of another real estate agent? (If it does, it’s too generic.)

It’s important to look at more than just the design of the materials. The worst types of advertising focus on you and your firm – usually they include pictures of the real estate agent, a generic heading like “Looking to buy or sell?”, and an address and phone number. The best types of advertising are education-based and focus on their target audience’s problem and offer meaningful advice such as “Build A Home Cheaply: 8 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Prefab Second Home” or “Is An Open House A Waste of Time? Here are 5 Questions To Consider” or “Full Disclosure: What New York State Law Requires Home Sellers To Reveal.” The more specific you can be, the more responses you’ll receive.

By doing a competitive analysis, you’ll be in a better position to differentiate your services from other agents because you’ll know what your competitors are already doing – and you can do something different.

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