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The Future of the Real Estate Industry – Part Two

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It’s obvious that the real estate industry is changing. And it’s changing more rapidly than ever before. But where is it going? And where does it need to go?

I touched upon things such as Barrier To Entry, Oversight and Enforcement in part one of this three part series. Here’s part two…

Technology

Emerging technologies, social media and social networking are just some of the things that have and are continuing to change the way consumers interact with agents and conduct their real estate business. Most “old timers” either don’t get it or don’t want to get it. They have plenty of referral business built up over the years and they’ll do just fine without doing anything differently. That’s ok! I applaud them and hope I can say the same for my referral business 20 years down the road.

But what about all the first and second time home buyers and tech-savvy consumers who want an agent who speaks the same language as them? Their reliance on the internet and technology for research and purchasing goods is unprecedented. Just look at CarMax, Zappos, eBay, Amazon, Overstock, CarFax and the thousands of on-line forums about various products and services.

Though we’ve come a long way, we haven’t quite figured it out (yet). The technology companies who happen to focus on the real estate commodity don’t get real estate. And the organizations and associations within the real estate industry don’t get technology. There needs to be a healthy and good marriage of the two for it to work.

We need to educate and promote technology and current trends to agents and brokers. We need to stop calling everything new “mumbo jumbo” or a “fad”. Perhaps it is a temporary thing, but it works because it’s what consumers want and need right now. Will it change down the road? Absolutely. But more than likely, it will involve some sort of new technology so the RE industry better get used to staying on top of technology whether they like it or not.

We have to realize and come to terms with the technological and social needs and savvy of today’s (and tomorrow’s) consumers. We have to communicate with them on their level and give them what they want otherwise our value proposition and relationship with them will erode like an unkept beachfront.

Marketing

DISCLAIMER: Not all markets are the same so the “new” type of marketing and advertising that works in metro areas such as mine (DC/MD/VA) may not be as effective as traditional marketing in other, smaller towns/areas. The DC metro area is fairly tech-savvy and local statistics show that 49 percent of consumers found the house they ultimately bought online, 32 percent found it through their agent, 15 found it by seeing the yard sign, 3 percent found it through print media and 1 percent found it through an open house.

Marketing is becoming synomymous with technology because technology has dramatically changed the way marketing is done and its cost. The ROI on traditional marketing such as print advertising, post cards, billboards and grocery cart ads is dwindling while the ROI on “new” forms of advertising and marketing such as social networks, social media, property web sites, virtual tours, slideshows and blogging is increasing dramatically. As Inman News said, “The dependency on print ads is unquestionably over.”

If you are to have an effective marketing campaign, you have to reach out to your target audience and then engage them. If over 85 percent of buyers and sellers are going online for information about real estate and 49 percent of buyers found the house they bought online, then you should be focusing your personal branding/marketing and listing marketing efforts online. That’s how you target them.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the dependance of the internet by real estate consumers and if you’re late to the party, you may miss a large chunk of current and future business. One big part of that is Google. Google rewards those who have been focused on their online presence longer and “who have done no evil” and they’re not quick to elevate newcomers to the first page of results. There’s more to SEO than that, but that’s one important piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting in the game early and being ahead of the competition in the future.

How do you engage them? Be yourself and don’t try to sell them, definitely not on a social media, social networking or blogging platform. You can have your “salesy” static web site, but save that for other uses. Your marketing efforts should be focused on “engaging” consumers, not “selling” them. And if you really want to know the ins and outs of how to engage consumers, there are plenty of excellent people to learn from right here on AG as well as across the rest of the “RE.net”.

(Part three coming after Turkey Day)

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Chuck G

    November 24, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Danilo,

    Standing ovation here for your insight on technology. It’s clearly not a fad — it has changed the RE industry permanently, and for the better. Just as it did the way we buy books and get restaurant ratings.

    Most important, your points on blogging are spot-on: Educate, engage, but don’t hard-sell. Technology gives us the perfect pulpit to show what we know, NOT that we haven’t learned anything at all.

    great stuff…

  2. Jim Duncan

    November 24, 2008 at 8:31 am

    The one point I would raise is one of possible semantics. Internet advertising is “traditional marketing” – there are just different varieties/flavors of tradition, depending on the market.

  3. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    November 24, 2008 at 9:05 am

    I’m with Jim – we keep calling other methods “traditional”, but how much longer will we do that just to discriminate both methods?

    I personally do a combination of print ads and most is Internet Marketing – I think the combination of the two will be the “norm” for those of us that are still alive in the industry.

  4. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 24, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Jim, Ines – I agree that the term “traditional” now includes online/internet methods and most of those that read AG/blogs would probably agree. But there are many agents and brokers that would still disagree or not agree with the importance of online marketing.

    And thank you Chuck!

  5. George McCumiskey

    November 24, 2008 at 9:41 am

    You’re absolutely right about the need for AGENTS to conform to what the potential home buyers want and how they prefer to do business. It’s a real timesaver to wade through the preliminaries online and then connect irl.

  6. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    November 24, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Danilo – you are definitely right, the way I look at it is this: the more agents that don’t see the importance of online marketing, the bigger the share for us (I know….a bit selfish….but it works in business) 😉

  7. Danilo Bogdanovic

    November 24, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Ines – Not selfish…just smart business.

    George – Great point about making things more efficient, but not replacing real life interaction.

  8. Anthony Longo

    November 24, 2008 at 10:22 am

    Awesome Post!!!

    The disclaimer under your marketing headline is unreal. We are excited to have launched the DC marketplace and really look to ‘turn it on’ tech-wise Dec 1. (Baltimore to launch this week). Looks like if these stats are accurate, with out biz model, this will be a hot market for us!

  9. bryanslist

    November 24, 2008 at 10:31 am

    Great information.

    Couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of engaging consumers.

    Reading through all of this information about SEO, online RE advertising, etc. this same message echos true in the majority, which is to provide a service to the greater majority/greater good and you thus reap your own ROI.

    Keep up the good work!

  10. Vicki Moore

    November 24, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Every field – including law – has idiots. As a professional organization or as individuals pushing our organization – we have to do something to give the consumer reason to believe that we’re not all bumbling idiots.

    One bad apple and all that. When one agent screws up that story gets told a thousand times and now we all look like money-hungry jerks.

    You can’t educate someone into being ethical and moral. It’s inherent. We need that kind of test.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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