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Marketing Your Vacation Rental Home Part Two – Online Marketing

This article, part two of a series, will help vacation rental home owners learn more about marketing a rental property online. It is important to understand that people who are looking for a vacation rental home are generally looking for more than they can get with a brand-name hotel. They typically want space, privacy, laundry facilities and – almost always – a cheaper rate than if they stayed in a hotel.

The one major difference between booking a private vacation rental home and a branded hotel chain is that you know ahead of time what you will be getting when you book with a hotel chain. Plus, if things are not quite right, you always have the manager on hand to sort things out for you. On the other hand, vacation rental homes are almost always privately owned and operated, and in the past you never could be sure just what you would be getting.

The Internet has changed everything about marketing a rental property. Now, prospective renters can visit a website to view pictures and read information about a vacation rental home before making a final decision – which means that online marketing of a rental property should be a major priority.

The Benefits of Marketing a Rental Property Online

By marketing your rental property online, you have the perfect low-cost way of showing that vacation rental home to the world. Online marketing can put you on an even footing with the big hotel chains; in fact, it actually gives you an advantage. While their sites will be practical and informative, you can take time and TLC to make your site warm and welcoming while reassuring prospective renters that your vacation rental home will more than fill their requirements.

Plus, establishing a website for your vacation rental home gives you a global presence. While the vacation rental market in the United States may still be in its infancy, it is the norm in many other countries for families to stay in vacation rental homes rather than hotels. Marketing a rental property on the Internet can help an owner in the U.S. reach families from abroad and draw them to the home.

Putting Your Vacation Rental Home Online

There are several ways in which you can use the Internet for marketing your rental property:

  • Create your own website
  • List your vacation rental home with a property rental agent or manager
  • List your vacation home on one of the many vacation rental sites

While all three options for marketing a rental property have their place, creating your own Internet site is essential. Having your own site gives you complete control of how your vacation rental home is displayed to potential renters. If someone contacts you wanting to rent your home, do you really want to send them to a site that contains other homes similar to your own? Remember, there are always other owners out there who are also involved in using the Internet for marketing their rental property and who will undercut you just to get the rental. Listing sites can help you reach more people, but in the end you want a renter to see your individual site.

Creating Your Own Site for Your Vacation Rental Home

Your website should consist of the following standard pages, which are all important for optimally marketing your rental property:

  • Home Page
  • Property Description
  • Photo Gallery
  • Visitor Information
  • Rates
  • Contact Information

The Home Page

The Home page is probably the most important part of your strategy for marketing your rental property, as this is a visitor’s first point of contact with your home. Make sure the design of your home page is simple, clean and uncluttered. Consider adding two pictures instead of just one to make your site stand out from the competition. One picture can be the traditional front-of-the-home shot, while the other image can be of something that sets the rental property apart – a great view, a beautiful sunrise, a scene by the pool, and so on. You can also consider taking a picture of the house lit up at night, which will certainly make the image memorable.

The Text

You will also need to write text that helps you with marketing your rental property. This step does not have to be difficult, but you should take time and give some thought as to what you want to say. You want to sell your home, not just state the facts. The text should help prospective renters imagine kicking back by your pool with a cool drink while watching the kids splash around. Set the scene first, rather than starting with a list of the best things about your vacation rental home. Be descriptive and use your imagination so that you are marketing your rental property in a way that will make the reader want to find out more.

In order to get some ideas of what to focus on in the text, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you your family and friends love about the vacation rental home?
  • What do you enjoy doing when you are there?
  • Is there something you have found that you love but is not generally known about on or near your vacation rental home?
  • What special features does your home offer?
  • What would you want to know if you were going to rent this property?

General Picture Ideas

The use of good quality pictures of your home’s exterior and interior cannot be overstated for successful marketing of a rental property. In a highly competitive area such as Florida, pictures could make the difference between securing a booking or missing out. Sometimes a potential guest will be considering several properties with the same features and at the same cost. In this case, guests will undoubtedly choose the vacation rental home they like the look of. This means that quality pictures are critical for successful marketing of your rental property. Common faults are images that are badly lit, that are taken from strange angles, that feature pool decks and porches devoid of furniture, or that have inappropriate things in view (wet towels, piles of papers, and so on).

Some additional things you may want to consider when marketing your rental property with photos are:

  • Consider using flowers. A fresh vase of flowers can be welcoming, but don’t go overboard, and don’t be tempted to move one vase of flowers around as you take pictures – it will look silly if the same vase keeps turning up in different rooms.
  • Set the tables. In the formal dining area, open a bottle of wine, fill wine glasses, light candles and use napkins. In the kitchen dining area, set it for dinner with the family, with more casual place settings, a pitcher of lemonade, and so on.
  • Make sure the kitchen of your vacation rental home sparkles. It should be spotless, with a bowl of fruit on the counter. Basically, you will want to make the home looked lived in and like you are just waiting for guests to arrive.
  • Make the bedrooms welcoming by turning down the sheets, fluffing up the pillows, and placing magazines and books on night tables.
  • Photograph the bathroom in the evening. Fill the tub, add lots of bubbles, light candles, have fluffy towels and perhaps a glass of red wine on hand to create an atmosphere.
  • Use a digital camera so that you can take hundreds of pictures of your vacation rental home. Even if you are not a photographer, you are sure to get some good ones that you can use for marketing your rental property.

Marketing a rental property with your own website can be a part of a strategy that uses many other techniques, from print ads to online listings on real estate marketing sites, allowing you to attract more renters to your property. Future articles in this series will explore additional avenues for marketing your vacation rental home and their benefits to you.

Hotel Marketing: Is Your Website Search and Sales Ready?

The first and foremost element before any hotelier indulges in any kind of marketing is to understand and define its marketing goals, the target audience and its competition. This is so because every business is different or in this case every property is different with its own unique selling points. One could be choosing to do online hotel marketing for a small budget hotel located on the outskirts of a city, an exotic resort far flung from the outer world or simply could be a five star concern belonging to a large chain of hotels and resorts that are established in all the four corners of the world. Depending upon the business goals, one has to set the way or strategies for a complete online marketing mix for promoting the property.

This is a crucial step but once formulated, rest is not too tough as the base has been formed upon which the ideal plans can be carefully laid out. Hotel marketing in terms of online comprises of several elements such as search engine optimized website, pay-per click marketing campaigns, creating and leveraging communication through social media, managing the online reputation, sending direct messages through e-mail marketing and SMS marketing, having the rightly developed app on the property’s mobile website and so on and so forth.

Each element has to be rightly and highly focused, keeping in mind the marketing goals and the kind of communication that the hotelier wants to send out to its target audience to tap the prospective customers and create new ones as well. All in all, all the activities centered on one’s brand’s digital space should also reflect a positive return on his or her investment. Well, honestly it’s not easy and can be quite a taxing and intimidating task but not an impossible one. With the right set of objectives, careful planning, strategies which are updated at each phase, with the latest benefits of technology achievements and of course with the right experienced professionals, hotel marketing or hotel website promotion becomes an easy feat.

Singularly, if one wants to just focus on the hotel website promotion and not the other tools of online marketing then they too can be carried out effectively and efficiently. At the outset, if one has an existing website then it has to be analyzed meaning each page will be checked so that it can be found out that the hotel website in question is search and sales ready? Depending on the result of this analysis, the existing website will be revamped or a new one will be created as per the requirements so that the customers can search for your hotel and make reservations. The happy news is when a customer is able to search you on the World Wide Web and is convinced to book room nights.

Expired Listing Letter and Real Estate Marketing Tips

The expired listing letter is a valuable asset for real estate marketing plans. Expired realty listings refer to contracts that have expired between homeowners and their agent. Realtor contracts generally last between six and twelve months. If the listed property is not sold during the contract period, sellers can enter into a new listing agreement with their current realtor, hire a new agent, list the property as for sale by owner, or take the home off the market.

Investors use the expired listing letter to solicit business from the seller by offering to buy their home or help them sell it. In order to find expired property listings, investors must subscribe to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) database; a service that provides lists of nationwide properties for sale to realtors.

Investors who have never used expired listing letters can easily locate sample templates online. Investors will need to adapt marketing letters to suit sellers’ circumstances. A good place to learn and share expired listing marketing ideas is by participating in real estate forums or networking groups.

In addition to using expired listing letters, investors will need to develop a marketing plan and follow-up strategies. Most investors incorporate multiple marketing tools such as postcard marketing, direct mail, referral marketing, realtor flyers or brochures, and cold calling.

The expired listing letter is generally used to solicit sellers, but some investors use these letters to solicit realtors. Working directly with real estate agents can be a profitable niche for investors willing to develop close working relationships. Realtors do the majority of legwork while investors earn profit by closing the deal.

Investors who are unfamiliar with marketing strategies should consider hiring a marketing specialist and copywriter to create expired listing letters and brochures. Real estate investors often use a variety of prospecting tools.

They might start with an introduction letter, followed by a postcard and a phone call. Or they might start with a phone call and send a folder filled with a marketing letter, client testimonials, and a list of successful real estate closings. Regardless of the marketing strategy, the primary goal is to locate motivated sellers, purchase properties below market value, and earn profit on each expired listing transaction.

In today’s competitive market investors must stay on top of changing trends and create marketing campaigns that make them stand out from the crowd. Sellers often receive dozens of expired listing letters once their real estate contract expires. This is where creating unique marketing strategies can really pay off.

Private investors who dedicate their time to locating expired real estate listings often work with sellers that are frustrated their home did not sell during the listing period. The last thing these people want to hear is empty promises. They want to sell their property. Investors who focus on solving this problem can earn the seller’s business by focusing on their needs and explaining how they can help sellers accomplish their goals.

Real estate investing is a competitive industry. In order to become successful in this arena, investors must be committed to finding solutions for sellers. This can be accomplished by building a strong network of realty experts, developing a strong marketing plan, and utilizing strategies that will attract motivated buyers and quickly close real estate deals.

Real Estate Text Messaging Benefits When Marketing FSBOs

Due to the rising popularity of robust smart phones, real estate agents who utilize text messaging systems can benefit, substantially, from an exposure and lead generation perspective. On a “for sale” sign, your text messaging code can help you share information about properties with people that pass by through a message that sends out detailed property specs and photos. Chances are that the vast majority of passers by who notice a property you’ve listed will have a cell phone and by texting the system right then and there, they can quickly receive detailed listing information on a home. As soon as they do, you’ve gotten a lead that you can follow up with on that property or another listing. Did you know that this could also work to your advantage with FSBO (for sale by owner) properties? Read on to learn how.

Many realtors have realized the potential benefits of marketing through mobile messaging. By subscribing to a real estate industry messaging service, you can market to people via their cell phones. Not only can this tool help you market through properties that you are listing but you can also extend this ability to help you market through properties that you’re not listing. Any realtor that sees a FSBO sign can take that as an opportunity to build their brand and get new leads as well. Approach the homeowner and position the messaging service as a free and valuable marketing tool and you could both benefit.

If you already use real estate text messaging services, you know that it can help you capture new buyer leads. But did you know that you can also use your account on more than just your own listings? By offering use of the service to homeowners attempting to sell their home on their own, this could benefit in several ways:

Build Relationships with FSBO Homeowners

By offering to share your lead generation service for free with FSBO homeowners who don’t have the benefit of marketing and exposure offered by a real estate agent, you can build a relationship that results in business and / or referrals. For example, if the homeowner that is trying to sell without a realtor is unable to sell the property on their own, they may turn to you for assistance later on. It costs you nothing to share your service with the homeowner and in the meantime, if people text for info on the FSBO property and they don’t buy it, they become a lead for you.

Branding

Increased exposure in your area is always good, especially if you’re focused on a community that is highly competitive. People who get text messages from properties on your subscription will learn about you. And, they may or may not choose to look at that FSBO property but even if they do, they may also want to look at other neighborhood listings (that are listed by you). And, if the lead doesn’t already have a buyer’s agent, this is an opportunity for you to extend your services.

Lead capture possibilities of real estate text messaging are substantial. By utilizing this service and by offering use of your service as a free marketing tool to local homeowners, you can increase your exposure, build relationships, and sell more homes.

Tips on Marketing a Luxury Home

When thinking of luxury real estate you can expect to pay more than five hundred thousand dollars for a home. With the economic recession behind us, the market for luxury homes is booming once again. The market is now getting the benefit of the rising income levels of people along with their desire to own a lavish, grand residential space. It is just as easy to sell a luxury home as it is one that is affordable to those without a lavish income. The market will basically targets the individuals with high net worth that also has big cash reserves and is looking for high quality living and potential investment options. These luxury properties are usually found in an up-market locality where the residents can enjoy a lifestyle that is world-class and has ultra-modern amenities.

One thing to note is that the prices of a luxury home can be very volatile. At one time, they can be at their peak when the demand is at the highest point and then it can drop substantially where you have no buyers in the market for luxury real estate.

There are many different ways in which you can market a luxury home. One way that is very important is that you will need to advertise aggressively. You should use mediums of advertising like radio, the internet, newspapers, and television effectively to attract potential buyers. You can also use billboard and pamphlets as a means of advertising in order to draw the attention of potential buyers. In your advertisements, make sure that you highlight the specifications, layout of the home, the location, and the facilities to generate more curiosity.

You can also organize seminars and exhibitions where you can showcase the luxury properties that are available to the buyers. Ask the sales representatives to interact with them personally and be able to solve your buyer’s queries. Convince them how investing in the properties will be in the long term advantageous to them.

Make sure that you can assure your potential buyers that they will have legal clearance on the homes they are considering purchasing. No buyer wants to spend millions, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on a luxury home only to find that there is some form of legal trouble related to the property.

You can also hire a brand ambassador, who could be a celebrity that works in some of your commercials that is helping to promote the luxury properties you are trying to find a potential buyer for. Make sure you promote the luxury home throughout the world as a potential buyer can come from anywhere.

Internet Marketing Your Investment Property

So you’ve made the decision to make additional income by flipping or wholesaling investment real estate, and you’ve acquired the property following a profit formula. What is your plan to market the property to find a buyer?

The percentage of homes purchased by people looking online can’t be ignored. From the National Association of REALTORS (NAR): according to the latest NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2009, 90 percent of buyers used the internet as an information source in their home search. With figures like this, doesn’t it make sense to have a planned internet marketing strategy?

Real Estate Related Websites

One of the best sources to find buyers for retail home owners and investment buyers is Craigslist. With a reported 59 million visitors in May 2010, Craigslist (CL) is a great site to promote your property and drive traffic to your business – and it’s free.

Using CL is one of the simplest ways to start an online marketing campaign. I’ve received most inquires and built our buyers list from CL ads over the years.

After you’ve posted your property on CL, post the same property on other online real estate related websites. They are mostly free, requiring you to only fill out an online form for your information. The great thing about some of these other websites is that they automatically post your property on other real estate or “for sale” websites.

Some of my favorite sites are Postlets.com, Houspads.com, Loopnet.com, MyHouseDeals.com and Sellpoint.com.

Video Marketing

Make a video of your property. Video marketing is one of the most popular ways to get your property seen by retail buyers and investors. A good video only has to be about two minutes long. The most important part, if it’s an investment property, is to show how the financial numbers look, the investor’s monthly cash flow. Also, in your videos, remember to always give your viewers a “call to action” at the end, by going to a website, filling out a form, etc.

Start your own YouTube page – also free, and start posting your videos there. YouTube will give you a place to where you can send people to see the properties in your ads.

Article Marketing Site or Blog Site

Have a blog site or article website where you can post articles on various subjects in real estate and draw buyers/investors to you. If you have a blog site already, update your articles on a consistent basis. It can be once a week, once every two weeks, but as long as you’re adding new material, real estate buyers searching for information will find you.

If you don’t have a blog site, sign up for a free account on Squidoo.com. Squidoo allows the user to create a “lens” of a particular subject. Make a lens of your property using the wording from you CL ad and you can also embed the video that you have on YouTube for readers to watch your video all on one site.

Social Media

Hopefully by now you have a Facebook account. Yes, you can use FB to keep in touch with friends and relatives, but you can also build it to use FB as a way to promote your real estate properties. I’ve written an article on how to start using Facebook as a marketing tool. Check it out: “Facebook Internet Marketing for Newbies”.

With consistent promotion and updating, potential buyers/investors will funnel down to your website or final property page from these various sources.

There are other aspects to internet marketing, such as SEO and keyword use that will be covered in other articles or you can research the importance of their uses yourself.

But also remember, that face-to-face networking, is marketing that should always continue and not be forgotten in this internet marketing world.

Learn Internet Marketing

Selling Your Home – FSBO – Is it Time For a Total Shock and Awe Marketing Campaign For Your Home?

In today’s over-crowded real estate market to pull out all the stops when creating a marketing campaign for your home. You need to use every marketing means available.

You need to overwhelm the market with information about your property. If you don’t your home is likely to get lost in the sea of other properties on the market. You might want professional help for planning out your campaign, or else do a lot of reading to get knowledgeable on real estate marketing.

The first thing you will learn is that there are literally dozens of places to advertise your home-for-sale website. You will also learn that many of them are free to use if you comply with the website terms.

The only cost to advertise on these sites is the time to register at the site and set up your property advertisement. It may be more efficient to hire somebody to do this for you because there is a learning curve in working with all these websites out there for you to advertise on.

The same is true for other places online you can list information about your property for sale. By this I mean social bookmarking sites, social networking sites, blogs, forums and directories. There are more of these than you think, i.e., dozens of each kind that are available to you.

Then there is the non-internet advertising media. There are more of these than you think too. People think there are only two newspapers in Maryland (in Baltimore and Annapolis) but there are actually 36. The same for magazines and free distribution “shopper” type papers for classified ads.

The thing you won’t want to do is blow a lot of your money on one or two expensive ads (like a display ad in the Washington Post, for example). Every dollar you spend has to be analyzed to give you the most “bang for the buck” in terms of exposure, readership, and traffic.

Paying an internet marketing consultant with expertise in real estate marketing will give you access to dozens of free (or very cheap) advertising vehicles, and this will cost less than some expensive ads can cost.

Internet marketing even allows you to set up “word of mouth” advertising campaigns, which can be the most effective. There are dozens of paid advertisement websites online also, including Google, which now gives local real estate search results.

Pens, Still an Effective Promotional Marketing Product

Everywhere we go, we see pens with a logo on it, and even I have been guilty of thinking, oh, just another pen, why don’t they get something more exciting? The truth is that pens are still an extremely effective marketing product. People take pens keep it in their purse, car, or it ends up in their office or home where a family member or co-worker ends up walking off with it, they use it a while and it goes on to the next person. For some reason people don’t respect pens as “someone’s property” so they don’t think twice about walking off with a pen, in fact, most don’t even realize they are doing it. As silly as this is, it makes for great marketing, because people are distributing your logo all over the place, you couldn’t get that much exposure yourself with any other product if you tried!

At our company each sales person has their favorite items to show clients, one refuses to show pens because she believes they are boring and we have so many more cool products to present. Another we call the pen queen because she sells thousands upon thousands of pens every year. Knowing some of the statistics about how people use pens may change your mind about presenting pens to your clients. After all, just about everyone uses pens every day and most clients can fit some pen into their budget somewhere, even if they have to use an office supply budget.

PPAI (Promotional Products Association International) did a survey on the use of pens and found that 73% of people always carry a writing instrument with them. 83% use ballpoint pens on a daily basis and will keep and use it if given to them as a complimentary gift. What more can you ask for from a promotional product? If you can get 83% retention of your item, you know that most people aren’t just going to stash your item or give it away. Pens are both a functional product that everyone uses as well as an effective promotional product, so making sure to present some pens to every client is essential!

Some interesting facts to think about when presenting pens or other writing instruments: Of the people surveyed about the types of writing instruments they use on a daily basis 83% use ballpoint pens as mentioned above, but 36% also use pencils, 31% use highlighters, 30% use gel pens and 25% use markers with 20% using mechanical pencils and 20% using roller balls. So, if someone does want something a little different, there are other options in the writing instrument category. Of course as everyone in the industry knows, there are probably millions of options that we can present to our clients.

Statistics from PPB a PPAI publication July 2012

Real Estate Investing Basics – Choose Your Neighbor Marketing

A very effective, yet often overlooked method of marketing both your rentals and your houses for sale is door to door flyers in the neighborhood of your property. Residents who live near your property are likely to know someone – a friend, colleague or family member in the market for housing that they can pass your flyer on to. You may also attract the direct attention of a neighbor who is ready to buy or move up/down in their housing.

If you are local and don’t mind running around the neighborhood yourself, this method will only cost you a few hours plus the cost of printing. If you’re not available for the distribution, or just have better things to do, paying someone to distribute flyers is very cheap and incredibly cost effective if it results in a sale or a qualified tenant placement. Just remember to do a quick drive through of the neighborhood to ensure the flyers have been distributed if you’re paying someone to do it.

As for the content of the flyer, it’s worth it to take some quality photographs of the interior and exterior of the home. If your main selling point is the quality of the property, be sure to feature these in full color along with some of the basic specs of the home. If you are advertising a rent to own that’s a really great deal, make sure your analysis of the numbers is prominent and easily understood. Also, be sure to emphasize that this property is in their neighborhood and that this is an opportunity for them to choose their new neighbor. Lastly, don’t forget to include full contact information: your telephone number, fax number, email address and 24 hour recorded information line if you have one.

A more expensive variation of this method is to use direct mail to target your property’s neighborhood. Again, you’ll want to tailor your marketing message to let them know that this is their chance to mold the neighborhood by helping to select the new neighbors. To maximize your exposure, try using both flyer and direct mail distribution methods, timed several weeks apart to make sure that as many neighbors as possible get your message that you have a great property for sale or rent in their neighborhood.

Real Estate Marketing: 3 Ways Realtors Can Brand A Home For Sale

Executing an effective marketing campaign for your listings can seem like a dreadful undertaking – specifically for newer agents – but it doesn’t have to be. You’ll likely find yourself asking, “How should I present this property to the public? How should I present myself?” The solution to this seemingly beleaguering problem is actually found in this simple answer: there are essentially three ways to brand any listing.

What exactly is a brand? For our purposes, we’ll define a brand as a design strategy associated with a product. The application of the brand to a product or service is called Branding or Brand Management. Through regular branding, the consumer is trained to remember & recognize your product by its direct association with your design scheme. A brand establishes a feeling for a product – a visual connotation of sorts – that is essential for effective marketing.

There are three ways to brand your listings:

1.) Utilize your company brand

A great benefit of hanging your license at a real estate firm is the ability to use its brand to your advantage. Depending on the company, the brand can be a powerful marketing tool because all of the Brand Management has been done for you through years of consistent presence in the market. Therefore, the general public is already familiar with that brand – even if they do not recognize your name – and you should use this to your every advantage. Sotheby’s International Realty, for example, caries such an impressive reputation that you can enjoy the brand’s benefits with little effort, allowing you to do what you do best – selling homes.

2.) Develop & use your personal brand

A second avenue for branding a listing is the creation of your own personal brand as a realtor. Many of the world’s top producers understand this. They have a consistent listing portfolio, they are known in their respective geographical areas & they advertise continuously to their spheres of influence. This is achieved through persistent Brand Management. An agent’s personal brand can be anything from a recognizable logo to a consistent color pattern to a unique type treatment – or any combination thereof. A smart brand integrates well with the brand of the broker. An agent’s personal brand should never clash with the company logo & should always be versatile.

How does this effectively brand a specific property? This approach communicates to the public that you are a consistent producer of not only sales volume, but of quality marketing. With your personal brand, you build the same level of trust with your clients & prospects as any mainstream commercial product, giving the public confidence in you as their realtor.

3.) Create a brand that is entirely unique to a specific property

We all know an exceptional property when we see one – perhaps it’s a well kept mid-century modern in the suburbs or an early 19th century Spanish architectural in the hills. These special properties deserve special marketing. A talented graphic designer or marketing team can tailor your specific campaign to reflect the soul of the property in its design scheme, creating marketing materials that reflect the personality of the home. This route not only wows your sellers, but signals to the public that the listing belongs in its own category & should be treated as such.

Now you’re ready to go!

Now that you’re familiar with the three ways to brand a listing, you can more easily structure your “plans of attack” when releasing your listings onto the market. Each of the three above methods can be blended together or used singularly as desired – just remember to keep your brands consistent & complimentary of one another.

And now it’s time to sit back & watch your listings fly off the shelves!