Interactive marketing

Recent Internet and social-media developments have transformed traditional marketing practices, leaving a remodeled advertising landscape for many industries. Savvy Front Range real-estate agents capitalize on this new foundation to build an unprecedented window into prospective homes for prospective buyers.

For Re/Max Alliance on Walnut, however, interactive marketing is an actual window.

Brokers at the real-estate office in Boulder have mixed the traditional photographic display on their 1911 11th St. office with a computer screen allowing customers to select a property, see images, take a virtual tour or contact an agent.

“The window has become a very smart, tactile tool for the consumer and a benefit to the seller,” said Jay Hebb, partner at Re/Max Alliance on Walnut. The system records the number of touches, garnering 100 interactions per night, he said.

The Walnut office, founded in 1975 as Walnut Realty, recently joined forces with Re/Max Alliance, said Tom Kahn, founder and managing broker of Re/Max Alliance on Walnut. The union allowed the agency to blend the Re/Max Alliance presence with the people, culture and flavor developed over the years in its same high-traffic address.

“It’s a very active form of marketing that nobody else offers because of our location,” said Kahn. Innovative real estate marketing backed with solid agent follow-up isn’t new to the organization. In 2010 Hebb was recognized on the national stage for his development of an app that allows consumers to combine a smartphone’s GPS ability with MLS listings called iRealty.

“You tap into the map and it will actually drive you to the property,” Hebb said.

Up to 60 percent of buyers now use smartphones when house shopping, he said, and the app seemed a logical step. The consumer response has been great, Hebb said, because it allows people to search for properties in real time while they are moving through neighborhoods they like.

With most buyers looking at properties online before contacting an agent, Re/Max Alliance on Walnut also submits properties to more than 100 real-estate websites, providing worldwide exposure, Kahn said, and maintains a good placement on Google searches. They also try to keep website content fresh with regular blogging, new photos and virtual tours.

The uptick in demand for high-quality photography and virtual tours created a niche filled by Colorado Virtual Tours. The company opened in 2005, offering aerial photography of commercial sites but quickly evolved into marketing high-end residential real estate, said Tim Ray, owner of Colorado Virtual Tours. They now offer aerial and mid-range photography, 360-degree panoramic shots, interior photography and night shots among others.

“We do whatever it takes to come in and make the property look its best and help the real estate agent more effectively market it,” Ray said. He works with a number of Front Range agents, often as repeat clients. The online nature of today’s real-estate market makes a quality first look at a home essential.

“The first impression is the online shot they see, and having that good first impression is key to us,” Ray said.

Tara Boston, with Keller Williams’ Boston Group in Longmont, agrees that buyers want online quality.

“If that’s not spot on, then they are not interested,” Boston said. She uses social media in a focused approach, looking to build relationships with existing clients then draw others in.

“Our business is 92 percent referrals and our marketing isn’t to the masses,” she said.

In a sea of social media and Internet marketing, hand-written notes still round out Boston’s strategy because they stand out and create a personal touch.

Good old personal connection is still the basis of her business, but Boston recently began using’s services. When prospective buyers click on a property, participating agent names pop up. It’s where Boston gets the other 8 percent of her clients, she said.

Blogs packed with fresh content and an interactive community, both online and in person, work for his agency, said Tom Kalinski, owner and broker at Re/Max of Boulder Inc.

“We see ourselves as a purveyor of content, and it’s a way of connecting with people,” Kalinski said. “It’s fairly satisfying because you can get them to communicate back.”

The agency strives to stock its website with ever-changing information relevant to the community, such as links to area schools and information on community activities.

The days of putting a picture and an ad in a print publication and then waiting for a phone call are long gone.

One recent strategy included sponsoring the U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge. Re/Max of Boulder held a party for clients during the race’s Boulder stage. So many people rode over for the event that bikes filled the Re/Max racks and spilled onto the lawn, he said.

All this new marketing and information has widened the business and made selling houses more fun.

“I enjoy this part of the business more now than I ever did,” Kalinski said. “You have to know a lot more about what you’re selling … and online, you can find out about anything you want.”

The next step could be online marketing videos for high-end properties. It’s something for which real-estate consumers are clamoring, said Ray, and Colorado Virtual Tours created a branded version of real-estate video marketing called Make It Life.

“The market is demanding it,” Ray said. “It’s a great way to tell a story about a house.”


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