Source: LPHR Group via Flickr Creative Commons.

Whether you’re a marketing guru or just figuring out this “social media thing,” it can be challenging to come up with wildly creative ways to make your marketing efforts stand out while still being effective in lead generation and sales.

Here are six innovative real estate marketing ideas for 2015:

1. Amp up your SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is probably the primary way people find you online. When a person looks on the Web for a real estate agent, search engines scour billions of stored, digital documents and then return results that are relevant to the query. Those results are ranked by how important or useful the search engine believes them to be, so if you want contacts to find you online, you must make yourself more relevant — and therefore visible — to search engines. You start by creating a website with useful and well-written content, easy navigation, and keyword-rich URLs and text. Here are some ideas:

  • Want to become the neighborhood expert? Start a blog that focuses exclusively on your ZIP codes. Provide your readers with the inside scoop on what it’s like to live, dine, raise children, shop, socialize, work and play in your area. Not every post has to be a real estate push; engaging content both entertains and educates.
  • Focus on content marketing, which is providing non-sales information today that can lead to sales tomorrow: Shoot some videos and upload them to your website. Offer tips and tricks for navigating the buying or selling process or interpreting a credit report. Write a lively review of your favorite local cafes or neighborhood walking trails. Answer the questions clients most often ask you.

~Kristine’s Tip: Add in the cities & neighborhoods you cover as well as #Hashtags. Videos are great – keep them to about 2 minutes & post them to your blog/social media networks.

2. Groupon yourself

Make an annual limited-time offer to potential clients to reduce your commission, stage their home for free, or upgrade their open house to a gala affair. By making the offer time-based, you play on the exclusivity of your services — and the fear of missing out on something valuable — which might attract a ton of new leads.

~Kristine’s Tip: A handful of my clients tried this & it turned out to be a huge success for each them. Bonus: included referrals!

3. Make your giveaways count

Make sure your promotional items are doing everything they can to keep you top of mind with the recipient. People typically have plenty of pens or multi-tools, so take a look at other clever gifts you can brand and give away. Choosing items that people use around the house every day — kitchen gadgets, smartphone accessories, workplace tools — can increase your memorability factor and keep it high for years to come.

~Kristine’s Tip: A House Warming gift is the most memorable. Choose something you know your clients will love – you know them best. Consider the color of their kitchen décor & the type of gift they’ll truly treasure.

4. Overhaul your open houses

Change up your approach to open houses so that you get more buyers in the door. Consider holding weekday evening events to catch commuters, or late morning brunches on the weekends. Think about the less mainstream places where people spend their time — for example, the gym, specialty food websites, clubs or forums — and post your open house information there. What’s one of the key features of the home? If it’s the fireplace, set up a cocoa-and-s’mores station nearby. If the gourmet kitchen is your trump card, hire a chef to create made-to-order omelets or crepes during the event.

~Kristine’s Tip: Above all make sure the house is staged & completely has that livable clean-fresh readiness that’s inviting (that goes for the yard all the way around house too). Spring and Summer are approaching – consider homes that have pools, and host a sunset dinner party poolside. Make sure guests arrive before the sunset to enjoy their food, walk thru the home, then out to the poolside for a great view (maybe overlooking that golf course, or coastline, mountains, etc…) These work great for homes that have outdoor fireplaces.

5. Host a great annual party

A customer appreciation event is a great way to thank past clients or reconnect with them, and to cultivate new clients. Craft your party around a theme — superhero characters, the Oscars, Halloween — and offer snacks, activities and giveaways so that everyone remembers what a good time they had with you. Keep any selling messages under the radar: A welcome or thank you speech, and branded décor and goodie bags should be all the stumping you do at your annual event.

~Kristine’s Tip: Don’t forget to have someone video during this. Then post it to your website, blog & social media networks, thanking those that came. It’s also enjoyable to those who may not have been able to come.

6. Invest in your community

Nothing says you know and care about your community like getting in the trenches to improve it. Local charities always need donors and volunteers, so consider organizing a community service event — for example, cleaning up a park, sponsoring a book drive or volunteering at a food bank — and invite your clients and leads to donate or otherwise participate. Make it a yearly event and become a recognized affiliate of the host organization.

Take a look at your current marketing activities and ask yourself how effectively they’re generating leads. Try something new and innovative. Nothing says you have to stay with it forever; if it doesn’t work, tweak it or drop it and try something else. Be fearless: Standing out from the competition is a surefire way to attract leads’ attention.

~Kristine’s Tip: This is what will make you your area’s Lifestyle Real Estate Agent, because you’re not just selling real estate, your giving your new buyers the lifestyle they want.