You cannot extract value before you give value. You have to build a relationship with customers first.
- Joe Pulizzi, Content Marketing Institute
In Canadian real estate circles, the term "reciprocity" usually applies to "MLS Reciprocity", or the IDX feed for displaying MLS reciprocity results on the website. (IDX is an acronym for Internet Data Exchange.)
Real Estate boards like the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) and Victoria Real Estate Board (VREB) provide their own proprietary feeds. Their Reciprocity Programs allow participating real estate companies to share web based listings. FTP and RETS are the two types of data feeds many third-party vendors also use to aggregate MLS data and display it on approved real estate websites.
: a situation or relationship in which two people or groups agree to do something similar for each other, to allow each other to have the same rights, etc. : a reciprocal arrangement or relationship
As it applies to IDX, reciprocity represents a relationship in which MLS listings are exchanged and made available across many agent and broker websites. That's the promise of IDX. Any MLS listing you enter, becomes immediately available across thousands of websites.
So why doesn't it work all that well on most sites? It's estimated that if at least 20% of the real estate professionals stepped up to the plate, providing real value to their visitors and search engines, and attracted "eyeballs" to their websites, IDX would fully deliver on expectations. The phone would be ringing regularly and the inbox would be full of inquiries.
Somewhere along the way, many real estate professionals bought into the pipe dream that there actually is a quick, ultra cheap, "no work", solution to success. Pay your fifty bucks a month, bang out a quick cookie cutter rental site in an hour or two, with an MLS Reciprocity feed, fill in the 3 to 6 standard pages, and wait for the leads to pour in. Months and years later, they're still waiting.
There's a far more important exchange, that many real estate professionals have not actively embraced... the one with the prospective buyer and the search engines that can literally 'make it rain'. You must share to receive. When you publish regular, ridiculously valuable content to your audience, your website is:
1. Worth reading
2 Worth linking to by other sites (this influences rankings)
3. Worth indexing by search engines (it becomes 'findable')
4. Worth subscribing to (you have permission to influence their decisions again and again)
5. Worth sharing through social media channels
Internet marketing works for those who work. There is no free (or nearly free) ride. Failure to invest time and effort into content marketing consistently produces abysmal returns for conventional small businesses, and it works the very same for real estate. The good news is, it doesn't have to be you at the keyboard, but someone must be actively publishing regular, epic quality, relevant, hyper-local content on your website. That content must be marketed, and there should be engagement with your prospective buyers in social channels. You can expect to invest 4 times as much time in promoting a great article or post, as researching and writing it. Subscribers and inquiry leads are nurtured with ongoing valuable content. You have to keep doing it.
Whether you hire a coach for your team, or a content marketing pro who specializes in real estate, you need to become proactive. Traffic is earned. You don't receive it automatically because you tossed up a cheap website. There's a proven blueprint and carefully executed strategy behind success.
When you sell real estate, you are the brand. You have to invest in your brand.
The law of reciprocity dictates that you get out of any relationship, exactly what you put in. When you provide value first, you can expect value in return.
Is it worth it? If you're about the only real estate website in your area anybody visits, because the local information is so good, and they check out the available MLS Reciprocity listings on your site, who do you think will get the call, or an email? Standing out from the lazy herd definitely has its advantages.
In no human relationship, can we expect the receive the greatest return, by investing the very least. It certainly doesn't work in a marriage? 🙂
Would you agree, that providing genuine value to your prospective buyers, is the best way to upgrade them into leads? Or have you been led to believe that internet marketing is a complete waste of time and money, by someone selling more 'traditional' marketing solutions? I welcome your comments below.
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.
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