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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

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines

    Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?

    If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.

    The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.

  2. Nail the Intro

    Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.

    It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!

  3. Use Video

    Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.

    According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”

    This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.

  4. Keep Eyes Moving

    The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.

    One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.

    One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.

  5. Don’t Ask Too Much

    It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.

    Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Restaurant chains are using COVID to masquerade as indie food pop ups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese appear on delivery apps under aliases. Is this a shifty marketing scheme or a legitimate practice?

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chuck e cheese pizza

Restaurants have pivoted hard to stay alive during dine-in shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are selling grocery items like eggs, flour, and yeast (check out the pantry section at the Brewtorium!) while others have created meal kits so families can cook up their restaurant favorites at home.

Meanwhile, a few large chains have been busted for re-branding their kitchens to sell more meals. A reddit user in Philadelphia reported that they ordered pizza from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings thinking it was a local business they had yet to try, only to learn it shared a kitchen with Chuck E. Cheese. As it turns out, Pasqually is a member of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the terrifying mascot band led by murine bad body Chuck E. Cheese. Pasqually is the confusingly human drummer (and Italian pizza chef?), joined by lead canine guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, sweetheart chicken Helen Henny on the tambourine and vocals, and the dinosaur? Closet monster? D-list muppet? Mr. Munch on the keys.

Though this inter-species band should be disturbing enough for us all to rethink our childhood memories of Chuck E. Cheese (let’s be honest, Disney World should be the only place allowed to have adults parading around in giant mouse costumes) what’s more upsetting is the competition it creates with locally owned restaurants. In West Philadelphia, there is another restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza.

Chuck E. Cheese is not the only restaurant re-branding to save their hides. Applebee’s has launched a “brand extension” called Neighborhood Wings. Customers can order larger quantities of wings (up to 60!) from Neighborhood Wings, but not Applebee’s. You know, for all of the large parties people have been hosting lately (thanks COVID-19).

This restaurant run-around is further evidence of the noise created by third party delivery apps. GrubHub, Postmates, and others have been criticized for taking huge commissions from already low-margin restaurants, and providing little added value to profitability and industry worker wages. Using these platforms as a means to build shell restaurants for large national chains is just another example of third party apps doing a disservice to both its clients and customers.

Of course, Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese are franchises. If one wanted to go out on a limb for these brands, it could be argued that they are indeed ‘local’ businesses if their owners are local franchisees. The third party apps are simply another platform for businesses to gain a competitive edge against one another within a specific customer segment. Furthermore, consumers should hold themselves accountable for their patronage choices and doing their due diligence when investigating new pizza and wings options.

Nonetheless, it behooves all of us in this pandemic to get to know our neighbors, and build relationships with the small businesses that are the lifeblood of a community. Restaurants exist thanks to local customers. Try placing your order directly on their website, or give them a call. I am a restaurant worker, and I truly am happy to take your order.

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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grubhub site

If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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