Up For The Challenge

Erica Turner named Director of Marketing at HomeServices of Iowa.

Homes may be selling as fast as they appear on the MLS, but that has only put a bigger spotlight on the marketing challenges real estate agents and their customers are facing. Fortunately, Erica Turner loves marketing—and also loves a challenge.

In April Turner left a longtime marketing agency career to become the new Director of Marketing for HomeServices of Iowa, a division of HomeServices America. The full-service brokerage includes Iowa Realty, Iowa Realty Commercial, BHHS First Realty, Midland Title & Escrow, and Iowa Title Company.

Together with executive leadership, Turner and her marketing team are responsible for the development and execution of multichannel marketing and communication programs, including digital marketing and paid media strategies. Areas of focus range from executive communications to company initiatives, as well as digital marketing and content creation that tell great stories, generate listings, sell homes, and support the agent base with other one-off needs.

“I loved my previous job and the talented client and agency team I was part of,” Turner says. “But I was interested in a corporate environment and ready for a change. My client base, largely industrial manufacturing companies, was out of state. We were doing incredible work that I really enjoyed, but I was looking to create deeper connections with local organizations while continuing to challenge myself to grow both personally and professionally.”

Her travel schedule may have lightened, but the projects, messages, and audiences she’s balancing in her new role are just as delicate.

“I’m new to real estate, but I understand strategic marketing. Oddly enough, having previously supported clients in the construction segment has served me well in this role. From understanding the new construction and build time lines to being aware of supply chain and workforce issues and just generally the importance of building authentic relationships with customers and project stakeholders, it all relates,” she says.

“And then you keep learning and dig in deeper. I’m excited to continue to expand my knowledge of this evolving industry while bringing new tools and digital strategies into play for the brokerage and its sales associates.”

The marketing team’s goal, she says, is to empower sales associates with marketing support and resources while providing value to home buyers and sellers through a full-service approach, from listing to closing and beyond. Turner’s team oversees marketing for a large variety of HomeServices of Iowa initiatives.

That means print and digital marketing, the weekly Iowa Realty television program, a luxury virtual tour system, foundation support, online and collateral content, and execution of corporate meetings and branding, signage, and strategic planning.

“For every project, every communication, we’re constantly asking ourselves, ‘Who is our target audience? How do we reach them? What matters to them? What tools do we have at our disposal to do our best work?’ We have to balance all of that—the right message, at the right time, both offline and online,” she explains.

Even in a market where inventory is low and demand is high, Turner emphasizes the importance of supporting agents’ efforts by providing ongoing and visible value while nurturing relationships internally and externally.

She says a differentiator for the brokerage is the level of support it provides for its agents and their listings, from training and tech support to marketing, including signage and professional photography. But her team sees part of its role as coming alongside those agents to help them develop additional marketing skills and utilize resources that work uniquely for them. “Ultimately, we want our agents armed with tools and material to highlight and differentiate our core service offering while communicating their individual strengths as agents in the best way possible,” she says.

Those same goals apply to how Turner envisions relationship building with each agent the marketing team reaches within the company.

“We can’t manage every marketing touch point an agent has with their sphere,” she says. “But we can create scalable content and consult at an individual level. This means thinking outside the box, brainstorming creative marketing ideas, exploring targeting methods for niche listings, and maximizing use of their own social media channels with engaging, video-rich content and helpful tips.” In the end, she says the focus is to improve the level of support and access agents have to new ideas that will drive their individual business forward.

With multiple companies, a large agent base, statewide presence, and direction coming from a real estate powerhouse like HomeServices of America, that can be an overwhelming prospect. Add to that the rapidly changing worlds of real estate and marketing combined, and Turner’s team has a lot to balance, too. “These brands, Iowa Realty in particular, have real history and presence in the market,” she says. “Long-standing marketing efforts and the brand heritage are a large part of who we are and how we came to be.”

As the organization looks to reach a diverse group of home buyers, including an increase in millennials wanting and buying homes in the coming years, she says it must find the right balance of traditional and digital communication tools and tactics. “We’ll continue to highlight our core values and bring those to life through a balance of authentic storytelling, support for local events and nonprofits, and traditional marketing while also increasing our focus on website/user experience, with SEO (search engine optimization), Google campaigns, and lead generation,” she explains.

Ultimately, “balance” sums up the challenge for Turner as Director of Marketing: balancing the needs of the various internal clients, the messages for numerous external audiences, and the rapidly changing market. “To many, change can feel like loss,” she says. “But it’s also an opportunity. And we’re up for that challenge.”