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Check Your Position Lately?

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Does your positioning need to change?  

Everything is different:  the market, real estate’s perceived value and customer confidence.  Based on this new reality, you’ve probably changed your marketing efforts, perhaps you’ve incorporated some niche marketing efforts .  But have you thought about your positioning?

The recent boom years had many people jumping on the agent bandwagon.  As a result, veterans probably added awards/designations, years of experience and/or number of homes sold to business cards, flyers and other marketing communication pieces to create a position of expertise and experience. 

Does the F word matter?

Would a potential buyer would want to know how many of the homes an agent sold in the recent boom years have gone into foreclosure.  How do you prove your competency in a skeptical environment?  What is the most effective position these days?   The short answer is I don’t know.  I haven’t conducted any surveys.  But I did reach out to a few folks I’ve met via Twitter from different areas of the RE industry who were kind enough to give me their thoughts on the matter.  (Twitter names included, though you probably follow them)  

Pearls of wisdom

Ginger Wilcox (@GingerW) – a top producing Broker Associate at Alain Pinel, a San Francisco Bay Area luxury real estate firm commented “For me personally, my positioning has not changed.  I don’t think my clients have ever really cared if I am #1 in my office or in my cubicle, or on my block.  My clients have always wanted to know that I have the knowledge and expertise to sell their home.  They don’t want me to TELL them this, talk is cheap–they want me to show them.  When I meet with potential sellers, I talk very little about me.  If I am sitting down in front of them, they already know enough about me to feel comfortable interviewing me.  At that point, it is no longer about me- it is about the client and their needs.  Instead of focusing on my accomplishments, I talk about what is happening in the market, with concrete statistics to back it up.  I show them my marketing plan, with samples of how I have marketed homes online.   Sellers want to know they are getting the maximum exposure possible.  The best way to demonstrate this is not to tell them, it is to show them.”

Rob Hahn (@RobHahn) – VP of Marketing at Onboard Informatics, a data and technology provider to the real estate industry (his Notorious Rob Blog is awesome) made some provocative statements from a savvy consumer point of view:  “Designations are meaningless, as unfortunately are Brands.  Volume is more or less meaningless – unless they are somehow guaranteeing performance …   If I were selling my house today, what I would care about over everything else is performance over baseline – the standard lift over control.  Mutual funds measure themselves vs. the S&P 500.  I want the selling agent who can say, ‘My track record is 10% over the baseline CMA.’  Or ‘My DOM is 5 days less than average DOM’ and back it up with stats.  If buying, I want the reverse: ‘My buyers save 11% on average over the baseline CMA.’ ”

In answer to my positioning against foreclosures, Rob commented:  “I don’t know that I would care what % of homes sold by the agent went into foreclosure.  How much of that do I attribute to the agent vs. the folks who bought a place they couldn’t afford?”

Louis Cammarosano (@LCammarosa) – General Manager, HomeGain shared with me insights from a Buyer/Seller survey his company published last year.  “We sent the survey to 14,000 of our AgentEvaluator home buyers and sellers broken into two customer groups: those who bought or sold a home using a HomeGain real estate agent, and those who failed to select one of our agents.  The biggest takeaways were clients wanted a fast response to their inquiry, and one that is based on the their individual needs.  By personalizing the proposal, an agent is able to prove relevant experience as it pertains to the client’s needs.   That makes sense.  If an agent meets or exceeds expectations in the proposal phase, they are setting the tone for the transaction.  In fact, the most critical factor in their decision to not select a HomeGain agent was the lack of a personalized proposal.  Based on that information, I would say an agent’s position is something that should be demonstrated, and not just a catchy tag line. And, further polling of consumers showed that experience was considered more important than commission rate.”  Louis did say to bear in mind participants in this survey plan to use the services of a realtor, so it can be assumed they value a realtor’s services more perhaps than the generic internet user.

What’s your position?

Have you made any changes to address the concerns in this market?

photo credit

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Jack Leblond

    March 5, 2009 at 9:58 am

    As a non-realtor, I want to echo Ginger’s comments. I have bought & sold a few times and nothing turned me off faster – NOTHING – than when the agent we were meeting felt the need to tell us that they were in the “million collar club” or some other variation because they had sold so many houses. I (and most others I’m sure) did not pick them by throwing a dart at a list of local agents – we asked our friends and neighbors.

  2. Ken Brand

    March 5, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    Great stuff all
    I would share/echo/reinforce the idea that past performance doesn’t mean Jack Shine. People want you to SHOW THEM, not tell them. Who cares what you DID, I want to know what you’re DOING to help people NOW.

    Therefore, social proof demonstrating that you’re thriving and fighting, loving and laughing and winning is more important than ever. – Social Media is great for this. Broadcast marketing/conversation/chit/chat with Direct Mail, Phone Calls, Emails, Announcements, market stats, community events, etc., shows your engaged, busy and working. Agents who go silent go hungry and long forgotten.

    Thank to you and your contributors. Cool.

  3. Brandie Young

    March 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    Hi Jack – so true. Do you think that applies to any service provider? The service is for me, so how about we talk about me now??

    Ken – yes. Telling tales of years gone by seems particularly irrelevant these days! Great thoughts on reinforcing that using SM tools.

  4. pat vedder

    August 31, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    This was great to read as a new person in RE. so complicated and every buyer is different.
    But with the internet now dominating buyers requests I think things have changed

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Business Marketing

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.

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Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

This story was first published in January 2020.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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