The world is clearly changing. In a day and age where we are constantly connected online, whether it’s on a smart phone, via social networks, email…information travels faster than ever. My experience about buying and selling real estate in Latin America is pretty limited, but I have some basic knowledge as I have bought and sold property and I like to read up on the subject. So being somewhat of a novice how is it that I was called by a New York Times reporter and asked about my opinion on the Colombian real estate market?
The answer is pretty straight forward…..thought leadership. I put out a few different articles on sites that stated an opinion on how I saw the market. Since there are few resources or limited critical commentary published online about the topic, I stood out. Believe it or not there are people that would like to know your professional opinion (if it is based on a solid foundation and real experience).
Why does this totally break the mold of how business is done in Latin America?
From my experience living, working and traveling in several countries in Latin America, I have come to recognize that people are more protective of what they know. I have met MANY experts on different topics with loads of experience and professional education. Specifically in the real estate industry there are thousands of professionals with 20+ years of experience under their belt that have been through countless situations that have contributed to a wealth of knowledge that they pass on to their clients every day. What absolutely blows my mind is why they only share this experience on a one-on-basis in the confines of their office. Maybe they think that their competitors don’t know what they know and they don’t want to give them an edge, but I disagree with this approach.
SHARE WITH THE ENTIRE WORLD WHAT YOU KNOW!
Sometimes the truth hurts, but don’t take this personally.
If I were a real estate broker, I would drop the generic website that talks about how GREAT your company is. Sorry for being so blunt, but nobody really cares. People want to know what you can do for THEM. Almost every website I have seen in the real estate space in Latin America includes several sections about the “Advantages”, the “Mission” and “Vision”. I hate to sound so negative, but I have to call it like I see it…..YOUR CLIENT’S DON’T CARE!
I would invest time and money into a real estate website where your property listings are the centerpiece of the site. I would also make sure to include a real estate blog where you provide information about trends in your market and address questions that you are constantly getting from your clients. Open up the conversation. How many times do your clients have the same questions over and over again? Chances are if your clients walk into your office with a specific question, that same question is either being asked directly in Google or there is a discussion happening somewhere on Facebook where hundreds of millions of people interact. Write about that topic and solve someone’s problem. If you can do this you will build a following and it will lead to new business, more brand exposure and credibility. This is a major part of client prospecting in the 21st century.
The truth is you have a tremendous opportunity to establish yourself as a local market expert by sharing your knowledge with past clients and prospects. If you make compelling arguments, educate your readers and do it on a consistent basis, your business will grow. Of course it requires some time, dedication and you must know what you are talking about, but it works. When people tell me I don’t have time, my response is “make time”. The traditional rules of marketing are changing and you need to adapt and overcome.
How do your prospects or clients find you?
If you are like most successful businesses you generate a lot of new clients from referrals. Being a thought leader and providing the marketplace with great resources will enhance this part of your business greatly. Nowadays, increasing your visibility by putting out quality content will help spread the word about your business. People love to tell others when they find a great resource. I recently received a question from someone looking for a a good real estate agent in Miami that speaks Spanish. Since I see Ines Hegedus-Garcia everywhere online and know she does the right thing by her clients, I recommended her. She was the first person that came to mind. This is a result of putting out content and establishing credibility and trust which are important pillars to building a long term relationships with your clients.
Besides the obvious benefits to having an online reputation, there are other ways to generate visitors that could lead to potential clients. A few weeks ago we wrote an article in Spanish about the price per square meter in Bogota, Colombia. Now when you search in Spanish for this topic you will see us at least on the first page of Google. It has generated hundreds of visitors since it was posted, all people looking for information about real estate. Take a look at the comment that was made at the end of the article loosely translated into English.
Good afternoon, I am Venezuelan and I am seriously thinking about buying an apartment in Cartagena or Santa Marta with the purpose of renting it out to tourists. I have seen various projects via the internet that look pretty attractive. I would like to receive some advice. Thanks for your attention to this matter.
If you work on the Atlantic coast in Colombia, you should get on this!
In conclusion, ditch the template website, get serious about engaging prospects by sharing your knowledge and change the way you think about the internet.