Business

Serine Labidi is Disrupting Real Estate Marketing

If you’ve ever looked for an apartment to rent or shopped around for a home to buy, then you know just how old-fashioned the process can be. 

Actually, even if you’ve never been in direct contact with a real estate agent, you’re probably still familiar with how agents market themselves and the properties they’re looking to sell or rent. 

For decades, real estate agents have had a particular style when it comes to promoting their services. Maybe you’ve received a magnetic fridge calendar with the agent’s smiling face at the top. Maybe you’ve seen a billboard with an identical photo and some corny phrase like, “Find your forever home!” 

These marketing techniques are so ubiquitous, in fact, that they’ve also been mimicked by movies and television for years. 

Are these techniques bad? Well, from the customer’s perspective, these techniques are perfectly acceptable. It’s simple enough to get in touch with an agent, though it will be a toss-up whether they can fit you into their schedule. 

But from the perspective of modern marketing, these methods are grossly outdated. Basically, it’s possible for realtors and entire agencies to market their properties using far more modern (and compelling) techniques, and today’s guest expert has been leading the charge when it comes to improved real estate marketing. 

Real estate marketing, refreshed 

To put it simply, Serine Labidi has redefined real estate marketing and branding, and she’s done this by producing add-value content that delivers compelling narratives and branding. 

Leading successful digital campaigns, Labidi has marketed more than $800 million in luxury New York real estate. She also helped her teams achieve the highest sales volumes for multiple years in a row, and she has earned a slew of industry awards, including the Douglas Elliman Pinnacle Award and being named one of Variety’s Showbiz Real Estate Elite. She has also been chosen as one of Real Trends’ Best Real Estate Agents in America for four years running. 

That’s quite the reputation, and it’s been well-earned. At the start of our conversation with Labidi, we asked whether real estate marketing was in need of an update at the time when she was entering the industry. Her answer? Absolutely. 

“With social media becoming such a large part of our day-to-day, it was evident that real estate marketing needed a bit of a refresh.”  

That’s putting it mildly, and this was especially true for real estate agents in New York City, where over 60,000 real estate agents compete to make it to the top. 

Digital presence was a major area where real estate marketing was lacking, and Labidi saw a clear opportunity to 

“Essentially, just like any business nowadays, a digital presence is necessary. Gone are the days of hiring your aunt Sally’s friend as your real estate advisor. People don’t hire an agent off of a flier anymore.”

As Labidi points out here, many other businesses and industries had already recognized the incredible possibilities presented by digital marketing and building an online presence, but for whatever reason, real estate was slow to move online, at least in certain areas. 

We’ll be talking about this updated marketing in action throughout the article, but for now, it’s important to understand that a major shift has taken place. 

Agencies and brokerages now employ full marketing departments, and some even have their own in-house content creation studios.

“Put simply, to compete in 2022, your brand needs to not only be everywhere. It must also add value.”

Disruption in action

The story of how Labidi arrived at real estate marketing is an interesting one, and it also demonstrates how, from the very start, she’s been looking for better ways of communicating with the customer. 

Labidi was attending university in New York, studying international business management. She was living with roommates in Hanover Square, and one of her roommates was doing some real estate work on the side. 

He asked for some help with marketing some especially tiny apartments in Manhattan, but the square footage of these rentals, paired with the steep prices, were making it difficult to actually get them rented. 

This is where Labidi’s out-of-the-box thinking had a chance to shine. She created iPhone tours of these apartments and posted them to social media groups for international students of nearby universities. 

Suddenly, messages started pouring in, and Labidi knew right away that she was onto something.  

“Soon after, I was getting more requests to advertise apartments than I could handle. I started working with two landlords in the Bronx and Little Italy. And none of it was for the money. I was making peanuts. I was just trying to figure out how I could help, disrupt the industry, and make it easier, better, and more efficient to market these properties.” 

Though Labidi was working in real estate, she was far more interested in the marketing aspect of the business, specifically. So she moved forward by getting her real estate license and working as a Marketing Associate with Compass. 

She worked her way up to marketing luxury properties, but even then, she knew that what she really wanted to do was build a full-service content agency specializing in real estate marketing.  

About the brand 

Now that we know how Labidi arrived at real estate marketing, it’s time to talk about the core of her approach to marketing itself. 

“Put simply, it’s not about the product. It’s about the brand, what it represents and how it adds value in an oversaturated market.” 

Branding is another concept that’s incredibly common and basic in marketing as a whole, but it’s also yet another area in which real estate marketing was lacking. Labidi’s solution was to apply this concept to the sale and rental of properties. 

“Building a real estate brand with an ethos and story is what will truly differentiate you from the rest. I look to disrupt the status quo, it’s about creative marketing and thinking completely outside the box.”

As for where all this branding gets communicated to the customer, the internet is the perfect environment. 

Video-forward

Ok, so we know that an online/digital presence is important, but how is that presence established and maintained? 

For Labidi, video is the top priority in terms of content. 

“Video is the most effective way to showcase personality, inspire, and educate. I have an 80/20 approach to marketing real estate. 80% is video, and the rest is a mix of graphics, photos, print, etc.”

Just a few years ago, social media marketing didn’t always include video content, instead focusing on simple graphics, similar to print advertising. 

But now, social networks don’t just support video content, they encourage it, and Labidi knows exactly how to create effective video-forward marketing for numerous social networks. 

“We lead with video everywhere, and this applies to our social strategy on Instagram, Tiktok, LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube. We create short-form and long-form videos of real estate tips, property tours, neighborhood guides, did-you-knows, podcasts, and more.” 

It’s crucial that this content reaches beyond simple property tours, since other related topics can get viewers thinking about where they’d like to live next, and it might even get them searching around on real estate sites. 

Just like that, there are more potential customers.  

Lead generation 

Another fundamental aspect of real estate marketing and real estate transactions is lead generation. 

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but lead generation is all about finding and accessing new customers. 

“Generating different lead sources is vital for the bottom line. Traditionally, this was done through word of mouth, print marketing, postcards, phone calls, networking, and door-knocking, but this isn’t enough anymore. There’s a lot more to it now.”

This is another area where old-fashioned marketing methods don’t really cut it, especially considering the ways in which people look for their next home.  

Fortunately, Labidi has found effective ways to target the people who are ready to make a move. 

“80% of people start their search for a property online. So I’ve developed a digital marketing strategy that targets an existing network of buyers and sellers.” 

Labidi captures leads through digital ads on Instagram, Facebook, Google ads, YouTube ads, and SEO, but there are also opportunities for organic leads via social networks like Instagram and Facebook.

Based on the results, it’s definitely working. 

“These are people who follow and interact with our content online. I’ve helped generate over $80 million worth of business in the past two years just through digital marketing.”

Room for improvement?

So we know that Labidi’s efforts in the real estate marketing space have been extremely successful, but does she feel that there’s still room for further improvement? Are there other ways in which real estate marketing can evolve?

“Yes, there’s no question. Digital marketing is constantly evolving, especially with regard to real estate, and we’re consistently looking for better ways to generate quality leads, and I don’t think that’s ever going to change! There’s always more room for improvement, especially as privacy laws evolve around social and data collection.”

So what does Labidi see in the future of real estate marketing? How exactly will it change? 

“I definitely see more video in the future. I predict that more teams will either outsource marketing or build their in-house ‘agency’ with a marketing director, creative, graphic designers, videographers, and more. It’s so important to be able to survive in an ever-changing competitive market.”

And thrive is exactly what Labidi and her teams have been able to do, breaking into a novel marketing sector that delivers results. 

Best of all, effective real estate marketing also means that it will only get easier to find your next home. Say goodbye to those old fridge magnets: the digital age is here to stay. 

About the author

Mike Thompson

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