In a real estate market with limited inventory and higher interest rates, marketing creativity is often key for brokers to keep a foothold. Seattle Agent spoke with four brokers who are helping lead the way with their marketing initiatives to find out how they are reaching clients in this ultra-competitive market.
Cassie Walker Johnson, Windermere
Finding a marketing niche is crucial, says Cassie Walker Johnson of Windermere. Walker Johnson and her husband, Jeremey Johnson, have been a real estate team since 2005.
“What we focus on is what it is like to work with us,” she said. “Who are we as agents and as people?”
Part of that effort is marketing on social media with authenticity and “really talking about anything except real estate market stats and listings,” she said. Walker Johnson posts online about baking cakes and remodeling fails “just to show that we are humans.”
Walker Johnson and her husband publish a quarterly newsletter and send out two mailings per year, one with a farmer’s market schedule and the other with the Seattle Seahawks schedule because they love football. They publish a fall guide with the best pumpkin patches and corn mazes. They do a holiday guide for last-minute gift ideas. All of it gets back to authenticity and presenting themselves as a resource, for real estate or anything else in the community.
“Market stats are not that interesting,’ Walker Johnson said. “If you’re telling me about the perfect paint color that I need in my home, they start to view us as resourceful. Be the resource for everything.
“We do what’s authentic to us.”
Walker Johnson’s ability to market to clients has been so successful, she launched her own real estate marketing company as well, called CWJ Marketing.
Wendy Carrington, John L. Scott Real Estate
Wendy Carrington’s marketing strategy hasn’t necessarily changed in the wake of the pandemic buying frenzy — but one thing she has now is time.
“During the frenzy, our team didn’t have much time to attend to our foundational pillars of business,” said the John L. Scott broker. “Now we have time to be more intentional — returning to client appreciation. Getting back to basics.”
For Carrington, that means face-to-face events, VIP events and even door-knocking. She’s also focused on more intentional marketing — targeting certain demographics, like clients on Bainbridge Island or Woodinville looking for second homes in the downtown area.
When it comes to potential sellers, Carrington makes a point to update clients on their home values and keep them aware of their options in the market. She says the listing launch program at John L. Scott was an integral part of her marketing strategy before the housing boom, and it remains an important tool today.
Carrington has also taken time to expand her outreach into the rental market. “Another shift our client tends to make in a drastic change of market is toward the rental industry. We help past clients with rentals or clients who want to keep their investment — and low interest rate — while still making a change,” she said.
Kara Mumma, Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty
For Kara Mumma, networking has been vital to her post-housing boom strategy. “Before, you had people reaching out to you nonstop, and now it’s vice versa,” she said. “You can’t just put something on the MLS now and hope it sells.”
Mumma said she’s put more time into emails, social media posts and phone calls, in part because she has more time in the current market climate. She emails agents who’ve been searching in the areas her clients are selling, and she checks up on previous clients to ensure their real estate needs are met.
“I’m leveraging listings much more than I did prior,” Mumma said. “I’ve always been very referral-based, but now I have time to focus on updating my social media or picking up the phone and calling people. It’s a lot more intentional. Where is my business coming from?”
Mumma says marketing is the “differentiator” in the industry, regardless of what the market is doing.
“I think marketing is always important,” she said. “The money comes back tenfold.”
She said personal touches like thoughtful staging or small, meaningful gifts help her stand out. She also recently set a regular marketing budget and hired a marketing service.
“Before, I would market as things came up,” she said. “Now I have a more consistent approach.”
Jen Cameron, The Agency
Jen Cameron has more than 24 years experience as a broker in the Pacific Northwest and New York markets. The Seattle native has been well entrenched in the digital universe for years, focusing on online advertising and social media.
She pushed the creativity envelope with a recent listing located across the street from a school. She and her team created a digital children’s book featuring two pets from the neighborhood, Hank the bulldog and Gabby the goose. The book showcased the family- and pet-friendly nature of the area “People loved that,” she said.
Cameron is a managing partner and part owner of her own firm, which is part of The Agency, where she is able to drill down and target a specific kind of client.
“The Agency’s marketing is really geared toward the next generation,’ Cameron said. “It’s very fashion forward, and it’s geared toward millennials and the next generation. We don’t look like a company that has been here for 80 or 100 years.
“I’m investing more in my marketing now than I probably ever have … It gives me a chance to stand out.”