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Opt-out era will lead back to traditional methods of marcom

If you were a follower of the hipster tech crowd that once said drop all traditional methods of reaching your audience and did so, you may find yourself voiceless in the very near future.

Smartphone adoption is steadily changing the way consumers opt in and out of advertising and it’s damn cheap to do so. An example of such an opt service is Pandora. For 10 hours on the road yesterday, we enjoyed our drive advertisement free. Interestingly enough, this was done via our EVO tapped into our car stereo system and a paid subscription of $3. On the return trip, my daughter’s iPod took over (again, ad free) playing her top 100 list of songs she’s painstakingly collected over the past several years.

What I observed as we drove were blank highway signs along IH-35 from Dallas to Austin, TX. Surreal to say the least, it was a ghost drive bouncing from one blank sign to the next- not an ad in sight. If you’ve never made this drive yourself, what is unusual about this connecting stretch of highway is that IH-35 is lined with cities- local economies where we once saw builder signs and local real estate brokerage signs.  Obviously, they’ve opted for an online spend as opposed to a traditional messaging platform- and that’s fine, but in 2011 and 2012 one wonders if those businesses could be impacting their total market share by not spending in a more diversified capacity in a way where the consumer has a tougher time opting out.

There’s a rub here though. Recently, we (our household) got in a bit of trouble because we’re an online bill pay family. Thus, the mail had maybe gone ignored a little longer than it should have. What happened as a result was quite the pain as trusted mail was returned and suddenly our service providers questioned whether we still lived at the same address as a full mail box means returned to sender. Oops. Our “everything” online life bit us in the ass, when the intention was simply to opt out of spam. In fact, ultimately, it was spam that filled our mailbox, and very few service providers were actually impacted.

Email is another issue altogether. I now have many email boxes, some important, some not, and few that shouldn’t be important but somehow make it to circulation – hence something important is bound to be missed as we’ve become skimmers at best of really great subject lines- similar to headlines, if it ain’t breaking news, I’m probably skipping it!

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All of this has me wondering about the brokerage of the future, and the one of the past, and it also has me concerned for the independent agent.

The answer lies in diversification, and what those methods look like depend a lot upon your location, your local community, and how it opts to hear your corporate messaging. In your planning for 2011, something you should certainly consider is PPC for digital, and I say this with a certain disdain, but let’s face it, if a car’s music is piped via Pandora opt-in advertising (free) via a laptop or tablet (which we also use), geo aware cookies via their laptop may pull the appropriate messaging for that market. I would also recommend taking a look at some of the cost saving tactics you took in 2005 and possibly resurrect those that worked for you.

One of the things I looked for and found in local shops were thin and abandoned home finder magazines. This may be a more effective method versus a billboard, especially combined with “text” for more info for direct lead opportunities. I would suggest in all cases of traditional methods combining them with your digital tools- texting is so much more powerful than the 1-800 contact systems of the past. Another inventive way of advertising for title, inspectors, and other home improvement businesses may look local to some of the hyper-local blogs and for advertising relationships to share costs. However,  in most cases, I suspect traditional media may be available at basement pricing, so look into both options. One thing we learned on our journey was once off the beaten path of IH-35, our internet wasn’t so great and our phones seemed useless at times- another reason to look more deeply at traditional or no option advertising.

I see all of this much the same way I see myself in a department store- when I don’t need help, there were three people here, but now that I need help, where in the hell did they go? We’ve all been there.

As times change, they remain the same, but one thing is for sure, the way we as real estate professionals reinvent ourselves in our marketplaces continues to evolve with new and interesting hurdles, and opt-out is certainly one of those hurdles.

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Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network. Before AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation has received the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular offline events. He does not venture into the spotlight often, rather he believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits and develops, so he gives all credit to those he's empowered.



  1. Brandon

    November 24, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    Great post, Benn …

  2. Coleen DeGroff

    November 25, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Hi Benn,
    The real estate industry has undergone such a paradigm shift in the past few years that sometimes it is difficult to know what the best strategy is for finding customers….or, more importantly, what the best strategy is for having customers find you. Sticking with JUST internet advertising (PPC, blogging, etc). is not a good idea, just as sticking with JUST “old” forms of advertising (home magazines, newspapers, etc) is a mistake as well. Here in Gainesville FL I am looking for a balance between the two, as I am sure most real estate professionals are…..finding the perfect balance of the two types of marketing is the real estate professional’s new Holy Grail. Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Ken Brand

    November 26, 2010 at 7:39 am

    That’s the key isn’t it. To embrace new things, experiment, Frankenstein new tools with old rules, be sure not be blinded by the shiny or swayed by crowds. If we can remember to focus on what we want our outcome to be and the best way to create it, instead of too much on the new how or the new what, everyone wins faster and better.

    Personally, I struggle with keeping the outcome of my goal in mind and I wonder. Thanks for reminding me. Happy Thanksgiving Benn.

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