This week’s Real Estate Marketing Cocktail Party was another huge success! We had some people interested in buying houses, those looking to invest, and other professionals simply eager to network with others in the real estate industry. Join us for next Monday’s event!
Escaping the Zillow rat race was the topic this week because we find so many real estate agents, new or seasoned, dropping thousands and thousands of dollars into the platform so they can get a steady stream of leads. Although this approach works and will get you selling houses, it’s not sustainable and lasts only as long as you’re throwing money into the system.
What people forget to realize is that they’re feeding the very service that is putting them out of business.
Paying for leads through Zillow only increases that platform’s online reputation and ultimately makes them even more valuable so you can continue paying them for leads. If you want to get free leads, you have to create a platform of your own that generates the traffic and information that your competitors are.
I compared Zillow’s strategy to Uber’s. Uber and other ride-sharing services’ ultimate goal is to have self-driving vehicles to cut out their biggest expense — the drivers.
If they didn’t have to pay out to a physical driver, they can lessen the cost of the rides making it more appealing to users and perform better than everyone else in the game. The only way they can create the funds to get to that level is by incentivizing physical drivers to work on Uber all day.
Effectively, when you drive for Uber, you’re helping the platform raise more money to ultimately put the driver out of business.
The same exact thing is happening to realtors who continue pouring money into Zillow. They’re feeding that platform more revenue and data to work with so the platform gets even better so they can turn around and charge more money for the service that you’ve become so accustomed to.
What Is Zillow?
You surely know what Zillow is, but what is it really?
Software as a service has always been one of the greatest avenues for building a scalable and profitable business. From that facet of the overall business alone they’re ahead of 99% of Realtors who have no interest in truly building a system that is working for them.
Although Zillow is more of a listing site than actual software, the principals are similar and the scalability is one of the most important advantages.
Every piece of content on Zillow is used to generate traffic which then turns into a lead. Zillow’s platform has tons of blog posts, videos, content, and other educational and entertaining pieces of media that attract buyers to come to the site for their needs — which they then resell back to agents. See how you’re getting cut out of the process yet?
B2C & B2B
The next thing Zillow is doing very well is catering to both the business end of things while pleasing the consumers. Whether you’re an agent looking for a buyer or a buyer looking for an agent, they’re essentially going to profit off both ends of that transaction.
What Does Zillow Have That You Don’t Have?
Zillow is a content machine. They generate traffic which turns into leads from all of their amazing blog content. If you don’t have a blog that answers the questions and provides the information people are looking for, they’re going to end up finding that out from Zillow instead and then become more locked into their system when they’re ready to buy or sell.
Zillow has hundreds of thousands of emails, phone numbers, addresses, and everything else that is used to sell homes and generate leads. Although you may have a nice list of sellers, their list is bigger and you have to compete with their system.
The greatest thing any website can have are leads. Because of Zillow’s extensive blog and thousands of listings all the time, there’s always traffic coming to the site which turns into leads that they can then resell.
The Zillow Cycle
As you can find in the SlideShare above, the cycle goes something like this:
- I want to buy a house
- I search online for the best areas and information
- Oh wow! A Zillow article discussing exactly that!
- Well since I’m here I may as well look at some listings
- I like this one — let me input my information so this realtor can contact me!
At this point, that lead is syndicated out to ten real estate agents who want to follow up with you about that property you were looking at. Zillow is making a killing off of each and every lead while the realtor suffers and has to buy the same lead other agents are buying so they can fight over them.
Although you don’t have to completely cut out Zillow from your strategy, you can certainly begin investing some of your time and energy into your own platform so you can ultimately cut out Zillow and continue getting great leads for free.
Escaping The Cycle
The problem all realtors are going to face when they decide that they want to invest in their own platform is that they rely so heavily on these lead-purchasing systems. The thought of cutting out a source of solid leads to work on another facet of their business that would demonstrate no growth for a few months is terrifying.
The good news is that you can work out a way to continue using Zillow while building your own platform until you find the fruits are worthy enough to cut it out altogether.
The cycle you should be aiming for goes something like this:
- I want to buy a house
- Let me search some areas and get a better feeling for the best locations
- Oh, look! A video describing property values done by the same person who did a deep dive into the school systems here too!
- This is your website or blog which is now generating organic traffic!
- While I’m on NickCalabroRealty.com, I may as well search some of their listings!
- I like this one! Let me input my phone number so I can work with this person!
As you can see, it’s all in that initial touch and opening up the top of your funnel.
This is what Zillow has spent years cultivating and although it works, it doesn’t have you in mind for the long term.
Your strategy for the future after this is implemented goes something like this:
- I want to buy a house
- Oh! I see this real estate agent on my social media all the time – I love how they interact with their clients
- Let me call them.
BOOM! You that simply got an inbound lead who already trusts you and knows they want to work with you based on reputation and being present. Your blogging, video creation, and social media content is what brought them to you.
This is exactly what we preach at Calaboration as part of the curriculum that teaches you how to market yourself as if you’re running for public office. When you consider yourself a public figure, you’ll get more and more leads, clients, and even fans who will not only love to work with you but follow you as well.
Don’t forget to join the meetup so you can learn more about all of these tactics for free while networking with other professionals!