Do you have a strategy to meet buyers and sellers in today’s market? With technology and now brokerages offering more of the services that agents used to provide, it’s more critical than ever to have a plan in place to establish your value in the market.
The world’s largest brokers, tech CEOs, advisors, marketers and industry insiders gather together at Inman Connect. It’s an unique opportunity to join with the brightest minds in the industry all in one place over the course of a week. During the conference one thing is clear, change is afoot – and the agents that adapt will thrive.
Here’s a curated overview of the conference insights and what you can learn from them.
What does the future of real estate look like?
The world of real estate has continued to adapt over the past 60 years. The next few years is no different.
Brad Inman, Clelia Peters, Jeremy Wacksman, Mike DelPrete, and VijaWilliams formed a round panel discussion to paint a picture of the future of real estate. What they had to say may surprise, shock or reassure you. Wacksman is the president of Zillow, Peters is with Walburg Realty and runs a 40 million dollar venture fund, DelPrete is a strategic advisor, and Williams ranks in the top 1% of Keller Williams worldwide.
In 2013 I wrote a piece for Real Estate Magazine, highlighting an unseen trend – consumer demand for Realtors was increasing. This was at a time when fear-mongering was alive and well in real estate with talk of the demise of real estate due to the the so-called democratization of information. The truth turned out to be the opposite. The most tech savvy consumers were also the most likely to use an agent. “91 per cent of home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent, as did 71 per cent of non-Internet users.”
Today evidence points to a new story emerging.
Currently the majority of home buyers and sellers choose to work with a real estate agent. This is known as a single tier of service. However, on stage at Inman prominent real estate broker and investor Clelia Peters described a world where 3 tiers will exist in real estate service. At the very bottom she sees tech services like Zillow powered by admins serving the industry. Above that she sees a hybrid model where real estate agents are employees, similar to Redfin. And at the top she sees boutique agencies servicing clients in a high value way. Not all the panel agreed on exactly what the future will look like, however they all agreed it will look different.
When asked in a poll, over 90% of the audience thought this would be the future of real estate too.
It was clear that consumers will have more choice than ever before in the coming years. “This is about consumer power,” stated Williams. So how will the agent thrive in this new world? DelPrete argued that it will come down to the way Realtors are making their client feel, “It’s about providing superior experience.”
Peters furthered that and stated that the Brokerage model will continue to thrive in a, “High value, high volume, high complexity market.”
So how do you as the agent stay competitive in a changing landscape?
To stay competitive and relevant today’s Realtor is going to need to be good at building relationships with others, good at providing a customer-first experience, and good at connecting with their community.
We’ve all heard of those agents that are killing it on stage. The ones doing 3000 transactions and are proud of their volume. Well, according to DelPrete and Peters those agents are building a business on sinking sand, so to speak. Unless agents are able to provide relationship-first value where they are caring for the needs of their client, transactional agents are going the way of the dinosaurs.
“They don’t want how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
It’s about going above and beyond, providing new levels of value and establishing your brand
In a panel of three guests, rock star agents spoke on Relationship Marketing. A consistent narrative shared by all was that agents need to continually look for new and innovative ways to tailor their value. One of the agents, Mark Slade, went from being on the streets to a millionaire, he said today’s client isn’t impressed when an agent does the minimum. “You do your job? Oh that’s great, I do my job too and I bet you get paid a lot to do it.”
“Your brand is how people feel about you.” Meeting new clients today happens when you have a holistic approach, one where you stay true to who you are, and remain consistent with your marketing. Lead generation is just one part of the overall experience.
“Your brand is how people feel about you.”
The agent that grows in this changing landscape will have found a way to stand out and remain relevant. And the best way to do that is to build your brand.
So how do you do that? If there was one word that was repeated by nearly every speaker, agent or attendee it was consistency. Being consistent with one’s marketing, that is.
Are you communicating at the right level?
Consistency starts by having the right psychology and a long-term mindset. If a person expects to get something in return, and they don’t get it, what will they do? A sane person will stop. Yet, in the words of Slade, relationship marketing is a 2 year gig, at the very least. Laura Monroe shared from the stage that tomorrow’s marketer gives without any expectation in return. As a result they will remain consistent and their brand will actually grow. It’s an inverse effect, but the result will follow. Here’s why.
One quote at Inman that really stood out was this, “You don’t have a relationship with someone you don’t trust.” So why are you expecting people to have a relationship with you if you haven’t first invested in establishing trust with them? You could hear the “ahhhh’s” across the room as the speaker’s words left their mouth.
“You don’t have a relationship with someone you don’t trust.”
The leaders of today’s marketplace are creating relationships by establishing trust. More importantly, they will be the winners of tomorrow’s emerging marketplace.
Communicating at the right level is also about communicating in an authentic and genuine way. That’s how trust is developed. Inman speaker and Real Estate Brand/Marketing Strategist, Laura Monroe said, It’s time to get intentional with content, “Their shouldn’t be an untruth in there.” Untruths erode trust, as do mediocre posts.
To put the nail on the coffin, Molly McKinley says, “The age of mediocre posts is over. Better to delete it than push it.” Another speaker Katie Lance agreed, “It’s not about increase frequency, its about making those posts really count in terms of quality.” Remember your posts reflect on your brand – how are you making people feel is how they feel about you.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
“Think of getting more customers as chocolate cake.”
David Greenspan, author and entrepreneur spoke of the Know You, Like You, Trust You factor. He says, “Think of getting more customers as chocolate cake.” To get more customers you need more people to know you, like you and trust you – these are the ingredients.
Know you: It’s about building people’s awareness of you (marketing, paid ads, community events).
Like you: It’s about building your brand (again how people feel about you)
Trust you: It’s about being authentic, building your voice and building your systems to stay in touch.
Stacie Staub, founder of West+Main Homes and real estate marketer offered brilliant advice on building the brand of the future today. She agrees that it’s essential to own your brand and to create exceptional value. She says to ask yourself before posting something, “If it’s not interesting or valuable and if you’re just trying to get it done? That’s when you know it’s time to pull it back.”
The digital marketing age is upon us.
Renee DiResta of Haven asked, “How many of you are on Facebook? I imagine everybody, especially if you are running a business as it’s a phenomenal way of meeting people.”
But Facebook ads are not going to solve all your problems. You have to combine it with a value-first approach. Use ads to grow your reach, build your audience, and increase your business. “If you are spending more than 10% off your gross commission on your leads then your spending too much,” Garry keller.
“I run Facebook ads, they are remarkably effective,” shared Renee.
Ultimately, it’s important to make sure you aren’t creating experiences that frustrate your potential customers. “The golden rule for marketing – how would I like to be treated”
The digital age represents a golden opportunity – truly an opportunity of a generation. When it comes to marketing, humans alone doing it is inefficient. Technology alone is inauthentic. The key is bridging humans and tech to create real conversations that develop into real relationships.
So what can you outsource and what should you do in-house?
Barbara Betts, a long-time agent shared that she’s had 97 referrals this year, and has done about 60 transactions from them. That’s incredible. Her secret? “Organize so you can execute,” shared Barbara.
“Own the brand, outsource the rest.”
She follows a simple system. She prioritizes her key clients, ensures she sends them birthday cards, and stays current in their lives on Facebook. She also runs community events such as a yogurt party. Where families with children swing by a home for a few minutes to share yogurt. It takes 2 hours of her day and it’s a great way to be part of the community. This is something she owns.
Her take away, own building your relationships, “Start by going to people you already know and who like you.” Outsource the rest.
For example, Stacie Staub shared this advice, “I will outsource facebook ad testing.” Essentially, any marketing activity that is not critical to your voice is something you can outsource.
Summary and Conclusion
The landscape is changing and that will likely include how products and services are offered to the consumer. However, the future is a bright place for agents that continue to increase the value they provide for their clients. Vija Williams shared that since moving to a menu of options for her clients she’s actually increase the overall commission she receives. Go for the entire experience. Love ’em or hate ’em, think of how Starbucks makes you feel when you step inside their store. Create a welcoming and comfortable environment for your “guests”.
Secondly, it’s about marketing. Great marketing starts by caring first and foremost about the needs of the audience. Own your brand, this is how people feel about you. You get to influence your brand with your social posts, your crafted emails, and your office experience. This is your voice. Leverage your strengths and find the tools that you love to use. Outsource the rest.
The world is changing, but the truth is you are the disruptor. You can make the industry however you want it to be. As you continue to innovate how you provide world-class service to your clients, it becomes increasingly difficult for others to compete against that. In the word’s of Steve Jobs, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.”
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Passionate about helping leaders grow their business, Jonathan Whiting is co-founder of StreetText. In addition to StreetText Hub, Jonathan has written for TechVibes and REM Magazine.