How to sell a MLS Consumer Website to your subscribers
The first in a series of articles about how to host a successful MLS Consumer Website
Many MLSs have told us that they like the idea of a MLS consumer-facing website or that they would like to take their existing consumer-facing website to a whole new level, but they have run into resistance from some brokers in their region.
There are several programs that can be used to help sell brokers on why a MLS Consumer Website is an effective tool they need to support. If you need hard copies of the study for your board of directors we will be happy to provide them to you.
1. Review the WAV Group MLS Consumer Website Effectiveness Study.
The report we published recently about MLS Consumer Websites is a good place to start. It looks at the validity of consumer-facing websites from three perspectives.
- Consumers appreciate MLS Consumer Websites
Consumers who responded to a survey about HAR.com said the public website is a great tool that provides them with more comprehensive and up to date listings than any other online listing aggregator. They appreciate the REALTORS who provide this valuable service to them.
- REALTORS® get business from MLS Consumer Websites
REALTORS understand the marketing value of MLS Consumer Websites
REALTORS interviewed in Houston appreciated the fact they received hundreds of thousands of leads every year from their MLS. The estimated value of leads delivered to them in 2006 was $5,660,000. The cost to the agents to receive these leads was nothing other than their normal MLS dues. This value, particularly in a time when brokers are trying to tighten their belts can be very well-received.
- Dramatically increase listings exposure
The study also showed how successful MLS Consumer Websites can dramatically increase exposure to listings and provide an opportunity for consumers to connect directly with listing agents to learn more about a property and to schedule an appointment.
2. Involve local Real Estate Clients
One of the most compelling arguments in favor of launching a MLS Consumer Website is the opinions of real estate buyers and sellers. Conduct a survey with local real estate consumers and find out how much they value the concept of an objective, comprehensive, up to date, advertising-free, website for their use. If your market is similar to Houston, consumers will create a compelling argument in favor of a public website.
3. Present Findings, Talk to experts
Once your board of directors has had a chance to review the study, you can present the findings live. WAV Group is happy to present our findings of the study and marry it with an overview of the strengths and weaknesses of other listing aggregation sites which brokers can also take participate in. You may also want to think about contacting fellow MLSs who have experienced successful MLS Consumer Websites to share their insights with your board of directors. This technique has been successful at other leading MLSs around the country.
4. Finding the Budget
Another key hurdle for MLS Consumer Websites is finding the budget to develop and promote it. As MLSs are losing members and experiencing significant pressure not to increase dues, finding the budget for a new initiative can be difficult. While these initiatives can be time-consuming, new technologies have made them much more affordable than they used to be. If your association is currently allocating budget to REALTOR® image campaigns, you can add promotion of the website to the website communications to the campaign without costing any more budget. If your website is designed properly taking full advantage of Web 2.0 search engine optimization techniques, the budget for promoting the website will be more reasonable.
The funding of the website development itself will be incremental, but the cost of development and hosting have been reduced over time. If you need to trim budgets for the initiative, start with only a terrific, intuitive property search and a simple, clean design.
If budgets are really tight and you believe that a MLS Consumer Website is a valuable tool for your subscribers, you may want to evaluate the services you are offering currently and see if there’s anything you can discontinue to fund the development effort. Prioritizing these types of cuts, but it can be done with an effective member satisfaction survey which will help you better understand which services are the most and least valuable to your customers.
In our next article we will talk about the best ways to build a MLS Consumer Website.