At the Coldwell Banker Generation Blue Conference, a “smackdown” was staged between Mike Ferry and Matthew Ferrara, silk robes, gloves, and all. The merits of social media were the key takeaway for those of us willing to stomach the entire presentation.
In the spirit of debate, we reached out to Mike Ferry (via email 03.17.11, 5:04pm CST) offering him an opportunity to write a rebuttal article but he has declined.
This isn’t the first time Mike Ferry has come under fire, especially here at AG, but don’t worry- he’ll tell you on stage that it is because he is controversial and he’ll spin it into some scenario that makes him look so hip and edgy. At the Gen Blue smackdown, long time real estate coach and speaker Mike Ferry started the debate and reminded the attendees that he was super controversial in 1985 and in 1995 and was even “banned” from presenting at NAR conventions once upon a time (which he so cleverly said stands for “non active realtors” and that the R stood for “retard”) for undermining NAR programs. Umm, so? I was banned from IHOP in college because my idiot friend got in a fight, does that make me edgy?
We agree with Ferry wholeheartedly that productivity per agent is ridiculously low and survival rates are dismal, but when talking about being banned from NAR in the Cretaceous Period, he went into some bit about “truth is the discovery of reality” and told everyone to get naked and look in the mirror- “that is reality.” Simon Cowell would have called this oddly placed, possibly recycled joke “self indulgent” for sure.
Where I really take issue with Ferry:
Besides his air of self importance, I was really irked that Ferry claimed that he works with “every top producer” in America (except maybe that old Russell Shaw who is one of the nation’s top producers yet seems to be… oh, what is the word is opposite of fan? Yeah, that.)
Where I really take issue with Ferry is that he had this clever bit where he held up a copy of USA Today from January 1st that called 2010 the “year that no one talked” and he emphatically said that of course Realtors aren’t talking, they’re all tweeting and facebooking.
My favorite line that sums up Ferry’s position is “your only job is being in front of people because people don’t buy a home off Facebook, they don’t buy a home off YouTube, they don’t buy a home off what you twittered to them, they buy a home in face to face conversation because selling requires communication, communication requires conversation, conversation requires people talking to each other.”
Ferry repeats an old talking point that all agents are looking for a magic bullet, and his solution is “just talk to people.” Then he poo poos social media.
Dear Mike Ferry, WTF do you think Facebook, Twitter, Quora and the like are? It’s a fancy new fangled type of talking called TYPING. It’s more than picking up the phone to cold call that old lady up the street, it’s wide spread simultaneous communication, and social media is the ability to communicate and CONVERSE on a massive scale. How ignorant that you don’t understand this very basic technology?
With social media, I can talk to thousands of people simultaneously in an effort to gather those people offline. And I do. I’m really good at getting people offline to get to those conversations you covet, but most people I know would never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever take a cold call (unknown number on smartphone’s caller ID = voicemail for you), nor would they want a Realtor they’ve already closed with to call them on that dreaded phone (welcome to Gen Y, bro). Deal done = go away, I’ll call you when I need you.
Ferry talks about people not buying homes on Facebook and he’s right, but his delivery asserts that this point means Facebook is ineffective which is where he is wrong. I know hundreds of Realtors who garner and retain clients exclusively through social networking and hell, *I* refer out five to six hot referrals to Realtor friends online each week and that’s not even my job!
Even Realtor.com Sales Manager Chris Smith disagrees with the Ferry assertions. “The social graph is a marketers dream and if pounding the phones is the approach that you are going to use I think the access to information about people’s real life makes the calls convert at a higher rate.”
“Social media is stupid.” Uh no, YOU are stupid.
I’m sure the old Ferry camp saw the printing of the Gutenberg bible as a threat they didn’t understand, rather crap talked. I’m sure the phone was scary and seen as an ineffective tool once upon a time, followed by the fax machine. This mentality is a major disservice to Ferry clients and to the industry- go out and find out for yourself what works for you instead of blindly following someone who clearly has no grasp on the reality of the modern marketplace (try telling your listing client their home will not be online, I dare you).
I’m not here to sell anyone social media, but I would (and billions of dollars spent in 2010 alone) argue that social networks are not stupid, but for those like Ferry that believe they are, please, for the love of God, stay away. Please stay off of Twitter and Facebook because it will be obvious your ignorance of web culture where the hard sale is not welcome and you’ll make the industry appear smarmier than you already do.