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Marketing Maven: Online Marketing Is Key Today

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By Lesley Geary

RISMEDIA, March 12, 2009-Valerie Fitzgerald
Coldwell Banker Beverly Hills
The Fitzgerald Group
Years in real estate:
19
Region served: 13 or 14 markets on the west side of Los Angeles
Average sales price in your market: $1.6 million
Average listing time: Four or five months

The Los Angeles Business Journal recently gave you its award for ‘Excellence in Innovation in Marketing.’

Yes, and it was a big honor for me. I have been doing branding and marketing for a number of years. I find being consistent throughout the year is very important. I have long looked at the best ways of staying in touch with my customers.

What type of marketing do you find best connects with today’s consumers?

I think you need a lot of things that have value that touch people on a regular basis. People don’t have a lot of time in today’s market, so you must do a lot of online marketing. I also take out a local full-page ad in the L.A. Times every week. My clients like to see that. You have to go back inside and reinvent what you’ve got. In the old days, you’d say, “I’ve got five people in my pipeline.” Today, you can incubate several hundred people and keep sending them things. The pipeline is longer. For instance, I am on 73 social and professional networking sites. There is a whole other world in terms of communicating and it involves instant marketing on the Internet.

What are some of the more ‘typical’ real estate marketing practices that do real estate agents a disservice?

There are people who advise doing a personal brochure. The disservice today is talking too much about how wonderful you are as an agent. People today do not care to see big fancy posters about an agent. And it’s expensive.

How is your marketing strategy different from most agents?

In the last year, we have created separate targets in our list of clients, and we use three separate newsletters to send out what’s relevant to each group: For our women, we send out a newsletter that women find inspirational; to the group of agents, we send out a newsletter that is relevant to the day-to-day issues agents think about-agents can be alone in their thoughts and feel isolated…this newsletter connects them; the third newsletter goes out to our clients. I also have a blog: LosAngelesrealestatetalk.com. And I am also writing a book that is soon to be published by Simon and Schuster: Heart and Sold: How to survive and build a recession-proof business. It is written from the heart, all about how I managed to build a business step by step and all the mistakes I made along the way.

What do consumers expect?

The truth.

What type of marketing sends the right message?

Information that helps them and serves clients. Also, you have to deliver whatever news you have for clients right away. It’s just the news and you tell them and tell them straight up. It’s only bad news if you convey it as bad news. The person may say, “I am so glad you told me-now I can do something about it.”

What’s your best idea for turning this market to your advantage?

I go directly to the lenders and I try to get them to partner with me in making the project happen. I say, “Please help us get through the process. Let’s get some sales going.” I am reaching into each corner of the market to be a team player…big time.

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