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By John Benson

RISMEDIA, September 18, 2008-No one wants to be the person to call a bottom in the housing market. Me included. At the same time, a lot of news out there is starting to show the housing market in many areas is stabilizing. Consider:

If the market is in fact stabilizing in the majority of the country, how can agents capitalize now to get an advantage on their competition?

Simple-build their brand.

With NAR reporting that 80% of consumers start their search online for all things real estate, there isn’t a better place to currently be building your brand than the Internet.

Economic down periods should not prompt marketing cutbacks. Instead, smart, cost effective, and aggressive marketing designed to achieve superior business performance should be a main focus, according to research authored by Gary Lilien and Arvind Rangaswamy of Penn State’s Smeal College of Business in 2005. Their study finds that firms with an established emphasis on marketing are best positioned to approach down periods as opportunities to strengthen their competitive advantage.

“Marketing is the last thing any business owner should cut during an industry down time,” said Dave Conklin, co-founder of real estate agent marketing firm GetMyHomesValue.com. “Even at the expense of income for yourself or your ownership group, real entrepreneurs should not sacrifice marketing spend. Keep your brand strong in times of hardship.”

Originally a nationwide real estate lead generation service for agents, GetMyHomesValue has grown over the past four years into a one-stop Internet marketing shop for real estate professionals. In addition to continuing to provide the industry’s premier lead verification system, GetMyHomesValue also provides each of its subscribed agents a suite of Internet marketing products designed to cultivate Internet consumers into real estate clients.

With the addition of the Internet marketing services for agents-a personal website, blog, client relationship management (CRM) tool, and personal coaching to help agents turn Internet consumers into clients, GetMyHomesValue’s subscriber base has skyrocketed. In the face of the housing market’s burst bubble, GetMyHomesValue has continued to grow, and earlier this month was named to the Inc. 500 list of 2008’s fastest growing companies.

Does Internet marketing actually work? And what parts are most effective?

“Human beings do not scale well, especially when they try to scale up,” said Daniel Rothamel, a member of Strong Team Realtors in Charlottesville, VA. “But the Internet is a great help in the effort to get your information in front of your audience.”

Rothamel, who operates the blog RealEstateZebra.com, was a guest on a recent podcast from RorySteveAndDave.com. Hosted by the founders of GetMyHomesValue, RorySteveAndDave.com features video podcasts with tips for real estate agents looking to capitalize on the consumer move to the Internet. Rothamel was a guest on the podcast titled “The Real Estate Market Doesn’t Suck,” and spoke directly to the advantage blogs and websites play in the fight against “doom and gloom” headlines in the news.

“Blogging allows you to increase the ability of your voice to reach people and the number of people you can contact to establish relationship,” said Rothamel. “If you can learn the basics of blogging, you can be constantly creating your own content and greatly increase your ability to educate people.”

Having your own website gives you the ability to be heard over all the static and noise in the marketplace, which is still full of doom and gloom headlines. Blogs and personally branded websites are a great way to keep yourself top of mind to your customer pipeline.

For more information, visit GetMyHomesValue.com.

John Benson is a real estate analyst who helped lay the groundwork for many startups across the Mid-Atlantic, and now works with Realtors in the region as a new media and marketing consultant. He welcomes your questions and comments. Contact him via e-mail: jbenson304@gmail.com.

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