Embargoed til September REIQ Journal release.
As a proud Aussie, I was honoured to be in Washington recently speaking to a large group of local realtors.
During my presentation I asked them to answer one poignant question: “What’s your wow? What sets you apart from the guy down the road?
What’s your wow?”
Pretty simple question I thought. I mean, we’re in show business. Shouldn’t we have a wow, a point of difference? Something that defines a reason or number of reasons why those who ask us to audition for a role working for them should actually choose us for the lead role?
On average every five to seven years most people have to deal with a real estate agent. Whether they’re upsizing, downsizing, moving closer to a new job or new school, looking for a sea change or heading for the bright lights.
Sadly, to many consumers we real estate agents are often perceived as a necessary evil. We’re often perceived as the guy or girl in the Flash Harry suit that does very little in the transaction, clips the seller for 2.5 per cent commission of their hard-earned dollar, before jumping into our shiny Mercedes and disappearing off into the sunset, waving “Thanks for the money honey, I’ll catch ya later”.
Harsh? Is it? No doubt it’s the perception of many. Whether it’s fair is a question for another article.
Back to my original question. What’s your wow?
Let me dig in further. If I was to invite your competitor into my home at 1pm today and you at 2pm, what would you do/offer/say to convince me that you’re different? What would your ‘wow’ be? The ‘wow’ that sets you apart from the pack?
You’d better be good at answering this. The stake is a $10,000, $20,000 or $30,000 fee for service.
In that room full of realtors in Washington not one of them could explain to me their POD (Point of difference). Not one. A six per cent fee available and not one of these people could elicit anything that set them apart from the guy down the road.
I didn’t think my question was an unreasonable one to ask. I mean, if I’m asking it, then I’m damn sure plenty of sellers are asking it too.
So what could your “wow” be? Maybe social media?
In 2013, I find it staggering how few real estate agents actually effectively use the vast array of social media tools available.
Now, is social media going to solve all of your problems? No. Will new clients come banging your door down the minute you create a Facebook account? Unlikely. So what’s the benefit I hear you ask?
The benefit of adding social media to your tool-kit is that you’re adding another layer to your marketing and networking. You’re hymning ‘Brand You’. You’re adding a very contemporary method of communication being used by an increasingly larger number of people in today’s society to your tool-kit.
These people are your clients/customers, and more and more of them are converting to this media as their way of life. Social media is a tool, just like the hammer you use to bang in the sign-board on a front fence.
The important thing to remember is that the tools are there to be used to your advantage – so be sure to indulge in social networking, not social NOTworking. There’s a very big difference between investing time in social media to build relationships and growing ‘Brand You’ rather than sitting at your desk for eight hours chatting to mates on Facebook and following the Broncos or Lions latest antics on your Twitter feed. Don’t get confused! And for goodness sakes don’t get me started on agents who push links to their latest listings through their Facebook feed.
When we think of social media, most people’s minds race straight to Facebook and Twitter. Of course these are a part of it, and quite a big part, but social media encompasses so much more. If we delve a little deeper into these social media tools of our trade, something incredibly useful and effective in the real estate industry is video. Studies show that 77 per cent of consumers expect to see a video when they head online to view properties, yet less than 1 per cent of real estate agents actually use them on every property. Could this be your ‘Wow’?
Are you in possession of an iPhone, iPad, or similar device that allows you to take a quick 60 second video of you, a short video showcasing a property, 60 seconds of you giving a local market update, a snapshot of the attractions in your patch? Honestly the sky is the limit when it comes to your capacity to wow with a recording. If the answer is no, then why the hell aren’t you doing it?
When less than 1 per cent of agents are using video and 77 per cent of consumers expecting to see them, what are you waiting for? Could this be the one quantifiable thing that sets you apart from the pack? Could this be what you become famous for in your patch? Are you the agent wowing your community with videos, or are you still perceived as the agent jumping into that shiny Mercedes.
What would it take to get you to be that real estate agent guy/girl who does lots of video? Maybe you’re just waiting for the agent down the road to do it first? To let it be their wow. Perhaps you’ll be the agent who actually cares about your community. Not the one who says they care, who sticks a ‘we care for you’ type slogan on their business card hoping this will be enough to bluff their way into the community’s heart. I’m talking about the agent who actually shows and displays they care for their local community.
There’s an old saying used in our family that goes: “People don’t care how much you know, til they know how much you care”. Do you show that you care about the community you work in? Do you run a blog with information that’s relevant to the people in your area? Does your blog support local businesses, sporting clubs and events? Could this be what starts to humanise ‘Brand You?’ Could this be an opportunity to create an online brand you can be proud of, that wows your community, rather than just being the agent banking their 2.5 per cent commission, jumping into the shiny Mercedes and disappearing off into the sunset.
Now that you’ve had a chance to think, have you worked out what you are famous for? Have you identified your wow yet? Let’s dig a bit deeper shall we?
What’s the current marketing plan for your business?
Maybe you stuff what I affectionately call ‘10,000 bits of crap’ into people’s letterboxes each time you’re short of listings. You know the crap I mean. A fancy flyer with your latest banana cake recipe? Is that what sets you apart – the density of your banana cake?
I’d love to know how they’re working for you. Getting lots of business from them?
Or do you have a marketing plan that includes online as well as offline? Let’s deliver a bit deeper again. I think we’d all agree that consumers’ behaviour has changed significantly over recent years. Google is without doubt the new shopping list. Are you on it? If I Googled you today, what would I find? – Do you appear on page one like you own it? – Are there at least eight out of the first 10 search results pieces that you’ve managed to get published about you? – Are there streams of compelling testimonials from happy customers and clients? If someone who was looking to employ you searched your name would they find links to your Facebook profile, Twitter page, blog, market update videos, and relevant community information on a website hosted by you? – Or when I type in your name would I find myself scrolling past link after link to an irrelevant basketball player from Minneapolis with the same name in search of anything remotely related to you? The researchers tell us that 86 per cent of people trust social proof rather over glossy print. Is Page one of Google littered with such proof about ‘Brand You’?
Take this test if you dare. Google yourself. Then ask this question. If you were to Google you, would you employ you? It’s 2013, what’s your online brand? You do have one don’t you, because I guarantee there’s a guy or girl down the road working on building theirs every day, and I’m sure they’re doing cartwheels about the fact that you’re still on Page 23 of Google.
But don’t worry, all is not lost. If your marketing plan is solely based around stuffing 10,000 banana cake recipes to be eaten by snails in people’s letterboxes, I want to ask you to do one thing. Consider redeploying just 10 to 15 per cent of your marketing budget to an online plan so that you can get a taste of how online could work for you. I don’t mean buying banners on property listing websites. I don’t mean more feature properties or those ridiculously priced $3665.00 for 30 days mega-listings online. That’s unsustainable and has a measly 30-day shelf life. I mean starting to build a serious online ‘Brand You’ of outstanding community content and testimonials about your community and you.
The statistics are compelling, people are converging online now more than ever before – and it’s high time you were a part of it.
Once you understand the necessity of marketing ‘Brand You’, you’ll be amazed by the doors it will open if used effectively. Think of your online marketing as a way to build relationships, and to create a bloody great database. To do this the information you put out has to warrant it. If a buyer is looking for a $750,000 apartment in Kangaroo Point, please don’t send them new rental listings in Toowong. Just don’t. This won’t build a positive relationship; in fact, it’ll do little more than piss them off. It’s online spam, equivalent to the free yoga pass, carpet cleaning specials and lawn mowing service that gets stuffed in your letterbox every day and that you toss into the bin on your way back to the front door.
Make your database work for you. Make it awesome. In 2000, industry expert Robert Bevan said: “A well maintained up-to-date database will be the currency of the new millennium”. Bevan even suggested that an up-to-date database could be worth up to 30 per cent extra if you’re selling your business. So what’s yours worth? Could you do with another 30 per cent? Be known as a great communicator. Provide your community with relevant, interesting information, and enjoy seeing your database and bank account grow as more and more people tune in to your online space just because you are you.
So what’s it going to be? Assuming I could actually find you on Google. If I was to invite you to come to the listing audition and present ‘Brand You’ to me at 10am tomorrow, would you be ready with your ‘Wow?’
If you’ve already got all this stuff nailed – a blog that’s ranking its socks off, hundreds of subscribers, videos on the verge of going viral – congratulations! I would love for you to join me on stage to share your knowledge and expertise. If not, I say, ignore these changes in consumer behaviour at your own peril, because I promise you when the guy or girl down the road gets his or her online marketing plan up and running you’ll be saying: “Hooley Dooley Peter, how do I get started?”
Well here’s your opportunity. We’re in the people business, and people buy people. It’s no longer good enough to talk about or treat people like numbers, deals and leads. Why do we call them prospects? Why don’t we treat people like people? Another saying in my family: “Always spend two moons in the other man’s moccasins”. Look at the way you do business each day from your clients’ point of view. It’ll give you some great perspective. Ask yourself the question: “Are you treating people like a lead or number, or are you treating them like people?”
There’s no trick, no farce, no fraud to this new world. Just get online, communicate, and wow. Be famous for THAT!
If you’d like to get serious about ‘Brand You’ and developing some ‘Social Smarts’ you might enjoy joining me for a pretty intensive full day I’m presenting for the REIQ on October 24. We’ll be helping course participants to understand the online space. We’ll be helping agents from across Queensland to identify and develop their ‘Wow’. We’ll be making a difference to people’s lives and future-proofing their businesses.
So let me ask again. What’s your Wow? Do you have one? Do you need one? Or are you happy to continue to be perceived as that necessary evil? That guy or girl that comes along every five to seven years and clips the seller for $10 to $15k and jumps in the Merc and heads off into the sunset waving: ‘Thanks for the money honey, I’ll catch ya later’.
Ultimately it’s up to you. I’d love to hear from you. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d prefer to read something a little saucier and raunchier you might get a chuckle from my recent rant about Basil Ballsack the Proctologist here.
You might want to giggle along with me on the stupidity we see almost every day from Real Estate Agents in social media world here.