August 25, 2016 by Jeff Lowen
A savvy real estate agent will read and be in the know of current trends, technologies, as well as legal and administrative updates within the industry. So, as I peruse through the myriad of real estate articles embedded in countless sources, something hit me that was a little sobering. It was plain as day, blatant, even sort of a slap in the face. Although, many articles have good topics, reasonable subject matter, too; most of them appear to be cleverly disguised as nothing more than an advertisement.
I wondered how much thought goes into crafting the point toward how “you too…” Could benefit from our software program, CRM, lead service, etc. Rather disappointing, but I understand. As a business, you may attempt to convey a message that promotes how it benefits your clients, solves or fills a need that many have ~ Noble quests indeed. Yet, the bottom line is that a business must make money to survive. If you aren’t making money or at least to some degree profit driven, well… Then you’re just a government, right?
Maybe this is why socialism is appealing to so many. Me? I like free enterprise. I like it even better with an educated consumer. However, since we don’t really teach and ready our children to thrive in the world of consumerism, it’s almost an unfair advantage to the science of advertisers. And, it’s a serious science.
According to Jay Walker-Smith, President of the Marketing Firm Yankelovich, says we’ve gone from being exposed to about 500 ads a day back in the 1970’s to as many as 5,000 a day today, and growing fast. I agree, it’s noise to most, and advertisers are becoming more and more creative to capture our attention. Yet, it appears to be digitally creative only.
Which brings us back to the savvy real estate agent. It’s somewhat of an accepted practice to advertise as an agent. It can be expensive, too. If you’re with a larger brokerage with a heavier commission split, you might have some tools that are available to you that can provide these services for you, as opposed to the ‘out-trending discount’ brokerage or the virtual brokerages on the rise today. Either way, as an agent, you’re paying for it.
Questions like, “how do you rise above the noise and differentiate yourself?” Or, “What is the latest web advertising algorithm technology that can get me front of more targeted consumers on Facebook and Google search results?”
This is our way of life these days, and as consumers are spending a little more time to get educated. More often than not, their decisions are all but made by the time they begin to do their research. That’s why if you are an agent that is building a business, your best approach is two-fold.
First of all, have you decided who your client is? Where is your target? Have you decided on a niche? If the answer to this is anything but a resounding, “yes!” then read this.
Secondly, you should be focused on how you can be of value and service to your niche. What can you bring to them that they want and need? This, of course, will begin to build relationships with the people that fall into your specialty or niche. Then what? How do you keep in touch? How often? What method or venue? Electronically, face to face, phone conversations, snail mail… The answer, in addition to the fact you should know how your prospects-soon-to-be-deeper-relationships WANT to be contacted; is yes to all the above.
How you build that trust and respectability takes a little time. I know, you wanted something that you could post on Instagram and be flooded with calls tomorrow, didn’t you? However you secure your business, few will be blown over by your ad, your picture (Yes, agents believe that their face is brand recognition), or your clever quip to influence the consumer. It’s what you do with that person when you’ve made contact. You MUST make contact.
Now this is the ultimate oxymoron: The real estate industry is leading edge in business digital technology and communication, yet does not want to dissolve the actual agent like expedia.com did to travel agents. Hmmm… There are countless articles on approaching real estate digitally and few with a more grassroots, face to face approach. At some point, you’re going to have a conversation with them.
So, now that you’ve made contact with a prospect and want to turn that person into a life-long client, raving fan, biggest cheerleader, etc. (All of which have absolutely ZERO to do with the prospective client themselves), what do you do? First of all, you take your focus OFF what that person can do for you and your business and put your focus ON what you can do for them. The only way you are going to find out is to ask.
The life-long client, raving fan, biggest cheerleader comes as a result of the attention you pay. The valuable services you provide, and your curiosity of their life and situation and how you can help them reach their goals, dreams and solve their problems. Not yours.
So you send them homes for sale, offer market analyses, recipes (?? I don’t get recipes from my attorney!), tell them you have a vast resource of contractors, know a good lender, etc. Important as these may be, what do you know about your client (or soon-to-be-client) and how much time do you spend finding out? Your clients are talking, pay attention!
Do you know what experiences they’ve had with real estate agents in the past? Are they involved with any community organizations that you can help with? What’s their hometown and where did they grow up? Do they like it here? How long do they think they want to live in this area? What’s their birthday? When they got married, if they are. What’s the purpose of the move?
Yes, some of these are basic questions and for the rest, you’re wondering, “why do I need to know that?” The answer is, you don’t. Yet, if your goal is to turn them into life-long clients, raving fans, biggest cheerleaders and cultivate a relationship that’s beneficial for both of you, your thoughts on this have to change. By the way, according to researchers at Columbia, the average person knows 600 people. And, these people want to be heard, paid attention to and feel like they are the most important person in the world. That’s pretty evident and more so with younger generations. Just look at how many articles that cover getting more likes and comments and best practices for posts, etc. We are all jockeying for attention.
That’s what you will be good at giving. Attention. Everything else will follow.
You see, marketers and real estate agents alike have found a way to use parking stripes, postage stamps, floors, even buses, buildings, shopping carts and those little cart dividers at checkout like a laser sharp target ad which practically engulfs entire city blocks and everywhere we go. It’s all an all-out assault on the senses and a complete misdirection of what the consumer wants. Advertising is a one-way street, and you’re banking on the fact that your prospect needs the one thing that you’re soliciting.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t advertise. Just to recognize it for what it is, and it’s one method to grow your sphere of influence. The people in your circle, your sphere, close friends, and clients past and present deserve and desire your attention. Give it to them.
I have a list of forty things you should know about your clients, prospects, and friends that will help you pay attention. Contact me if you’d like it.