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Franchisees of the nation's No. 4 realty turn to mobile for property sales

Franchisees of Keller Williams Realty Inc. are using text messaging and mobile Web sites to sell properties in the Washington, DC, metro area.

Using Proteus' Swift mobile Internet publishing platform, Keller Williams franchisees in Alexandria, VA, are using SMS messages and mobile sites and landing pages to woo homebuyers in a sluggish housing market.

"Specifically in a weak market, the marketing spend of any Realtor needs to be as optimized as possible, and this type of initiative provides the greatest return on investment in targeting potential homebuyers," said Guy Vidra, president of Proteus, Arlington, VA.

The mobile marketing effort works on any mobile phone that can send and receive text messages as well as access WAP sites.

Once a prospect sees the property in a print, online or on-site poster ad, he or she can send a property-specific keyword to a short code for requesting more information.

Proteus' auto-responder technology immediately sends the property data to the prospect. That message contains vital property information along with a link to a customized WAP site with photos, Realtor information and lead-capture tools.

Keller Williams Realtors can also contact the prospect since he or she has opted in to receive the information and communications.

Streaming video is planned for down the road.

"I believe it's very critical in the home-selling process to engage with as many leads and, most specifically, qualified leads in order to drive home sales," Mr. Vidra said. "And the critical difference between the mobile medium and other mediums is the immediacy of interaction.

"It's analogous to walking down the supermarket aisle and you get that impulse to immediately buy and that's what this does for home-sellers," he said. "It provides them key information they need exactly at the time they want it."

Keller Williams, Austin, TX, is the nation's fourth-largest real estate franchise in North America. The 25-year-old company has more than 650 offices and 77,000-plus associates in the United States and Canada.

Proteus runs SMS messaging campaigns for clients such as Fox, NBC Universal, Disney, HBO, Scripps Networks, The Washington Post, ABC, National Geographic, AT&T, Motorola and MasterCard.

The Keller Williams campaign comes at an opportune time for the firm.

"We're in the midst of the spring market and, statistically speaking, it is the strongest market," said Bryan Taylor, agent at Keller Williams.

The type of mobile marketing is also geared to the new homebuyer profile.

"We've noticed a trend [in that] there's a lot of first-time homebuyers in their 20s and 30s and they're used to instant gratification," said Allison Jensen, agent at Keller Williams. "They're used to instant information. It really helps expand our service, being able to provide that instant information."