Focus: Targeting Niches with Multibranded Web Sites

Once you have one successful targeted site up and running, you can think about adding more URLs to your online repertoire.

August 1, 1999

Dear Mr. Internet,
Will having more than one Web site increase the amount of business I do online?—Jane M. Dittmar, broker, Ogden Co. Inc., Milwaukee

Dear Jane,
At first blush, it would seem that the more hooks you have in the water, the more likely you are to catch cyberfish. But online business doesn't follow the same rationale. Online success depends on what you use for bait and the kind of fish you seek.

In my experience speaking to thousands of real estate professionals around the country, I've found that many see little business coming through their existing Web sites because the sites aren't targeted to a particular group. So adding more Web sites to your arsenal won't draw more business. Instead, additional sites increase your costs, maintenance time, and aggravation.

That being said, if you're ready for the extra work, having multiple Web sites—multibranding—can be a powerful way to broaden your online reach. But before you consider multibranding, you must develop one highly targeted Web site that consistently brings business.

Web sites that don't focus on a specific audience are likely to fail. You work with a fairly broad market (that is, buyers and sellers). But that definition of a target market doesn't translate well to online business. When you try to speak to everyone on the Web, you speak to no one because you dilute your message.

Instead, identify submarkets or niches for your Web site, whose content is written for specific groups, such as high-tech relocators, people seeking exclusive buyer's agents, first-time buyers, or people seeking--or living in--a particular neighborhood.

Specifically, a good target market:

  • Is composed of a niche that's readily and easily identified
  • Has specific, well-defined needs, which you address with the content at your Web site
  • Is reachable through your promotions; that is, using search engines, links from other sites, and traditional marketing, you should be able to direct targeted users to your Web site

Once you've established a successful Web site for one target market, you can think about multibranding. Each of your sites should display unique content and design. Give each one a different domain name—miamifirsthome.com, miamibuyeragent.com, for example—to reflect the needs of the specific market it targets.

The secret to effective multibranded sites is that they share a consistent thread; they can be viewed as integral parts of a whole. Just as you might brand all your promotions with a signature look, do the same with the design of your various Web sites. And since you're the brand promoted by your online efforts, the personality of each multibranded site should reflect who you are in a way that's consistent with the target market of each site. (That doesn't mean that the site should be about you. But rather that it should reflect your personality.)

Once you drop each of the targeted Web site hooks into the Internet waters, you'll be primed to reel in new business.

Michael Russer, a.k.a. Mr. Internet®, is CEO of Russer Communications. He is a leading speaker and author in the real estate industry and has been writing about Internet marketing and virtual outsourcing since the dawn of the commercial Internet.

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