My Zillow Bulletpoint

When I go with one of my agents to pitch a listing with a potential seller, I’m always looking for something to differentiate us from the competition.

Everyone is going to come to a presentation like this armed with a “marketing plan,” which is a mostly-boilerplate bunch of glossies that talk about how terrific the company is.  I think this is full of sound and fury, signifying (you guessed it) nothing.  There is almost no work that the typical agent puts into changing the address and a few fields and pressing “print,” although most sellers are overwhelmed with the heft of the folder…or for really high end listings, the three ring binder. 

I’ve never been much for binders. 

And the CMA and its accompanying explantion, while critical, is something that every good agent provides the listing prospect.  Ditto a good, thoughtful listing in the MLS.

So I want to focus our time on something different; on the tangible, real things that we can do to effectively market this unique home, in this specific location.  If this is a two bedroom $1.3m house in Leschi, I know my target market isn’t likely to be a family of five.  If it’s a 2,000′ condo in a 55 and over community, I’m not selling to a 20-something.  Each home needs to be treated differently, and marketed in a different way.  I like to focus on some unique things we can do to reach those prospects.

For the past year or so there’s been another bullet (point) in my holster:  The Zillow EZ ad.  Now be warned, this will come with bias – I was hired to be Zillow’s first advisor, pre-launch, way back in December 2005 and I currently sit on their Board of Directors.  So I’m a Z-believer.  But that’s because I’ve spent three years now pondering how this site can HELP me and my clients, in so many ways.  This little EZ ad is just the start, but amazingly, not many folks are doing it. 

For about $200, or the cost of a really nice Sunday Times ad (which prove nearly completely impotent, drawing few open house visitors and even fewer prospect calls) I can put up an EZ ad, with a color photo, a few lines of copy, and a link back to the listing’s website.  If I don’t have a specific site for that listing, I can link it back to Zillow’s Home Details page for that listing where I can go on and on about the place.  And that $200 buys me 20,000 impressions in Zip Codes that I choose. 

What that means, if I compress the 20,000 into a one week campaign, is that there is a good chance my listing will show up in the margin of a Zillow user’s search, like this:  


(tragic reproduction of a screen shot…sorry for you photoshop experts who just cringed)

Lots of our listings are in Seattle’s north end, where $500-$700k buys you way more house than on Queen Anne, or in Madison Park.  So I like to blast those zip codes…the buyers shopping in those areas often don’t consider Lake Forest Park, but when they see they can buy NEW construction, 4100′, on a quiet street with great public schools?  Well, maybe they can tolerate the eight mile commute.  I can show this ad in San Fransciso for that matter, or in Manhattan (NY or KS, my choice). 

CHEAP.  $200 is a fraction of our marketing budget for the typical listing, and if the ad is well constructed, I’ll get 1% of those viewers, or 200 of them, clicking through to my website for more info.  If I can just get a few of them to call, and one or two a year to convert…well, that’s a good ROI. 

I said I’d never share a trade secret on my blog but only my agents read this stuff anyway. 

Go forth and try it for yourselves.  

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