I’ll admit it. Before I joined the Union Street Media team, I was hesitant to dive into the real estate industry. I came from the world of grocery e-commerce and international retail; I was convinced that due to the economic and regulatory challenges in real estate, meaningful change was going to take years.
I was wrong.
I recently learned that all it takes, is a village. The Inman community is that village, filled with like minded, bleeding-edge agents, brokers, entrepreneurs, techies (like me), and so many other talented individuals who understand that together, we can climb mountains. I feel grateful to have gotten to spend time with, learn from, and be empowered by the people I met at Inman NYC this year. Because of them, I am convinced that we have the momentum the industry needs to reduce friction within the complicated home buying process and leverage our ever-connected world to succeed in doing what we do best – adapt to change.
I wanted to summarize and share with you some of my top lessons from this year’s sessions. There were too many to recount in one post, so this is just a start. I hope you’ll find them valuable.
Embrace technology as part of your current system
As technology continues to become more sophisticated, many of you are probably wondering: how am I supposed to keep current and compete? Well, therein lies the problem: your perspective. The key to adapting to new technology is being proactive, not reactive. Over the next couple of years, the core technology we use will not change, but there will be new flavors of it. Learn how you can leverage these while being mindful that change is a slow process. Be aware of technology, and open to adopting the right tools, but do not fundamentally change your business model because of it. Know that all change starts small, but you do need to adapt. So, look for applications for technology to incrementally improve your workflow and start there.
To put it simply, if you’re not using technology today, you’re already behind. The most successful agents have already learned the best way to fully harness the power of technology: find the right partner to help you. Understand that your value lies in the time you spend with your customers. Good technology allows you more of this. Want to know why calling a person back first is still the single highest reason why an agent gets a listing? Because even in today’s disruptive marketplace, your service is what sets you apart.
Find your focus and stay consistent
You are a brand. You represent a core set of values. Knowing your audience means knowing how your values relate to them. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Seth Godin said it best, ‘while everyone else is fighting for that 95%, fight for that 5%’. You’ll have more success by focusing on a niche audience and strengthening the value you provide to them. At the end of the day, people only care about how you are going to help them and if you can astonish and delight them with your service, you’ll have created that ever so difficult thing to attain: loyalty.
Think about it like this: your website is about more than just your listings, it’s about the value you provide. It’s the “why trust me with the biggest decision you may ever make” answer. By staying consistent to your brand within the marketplace, you will earn loyalty and grow your business. Be humble, be appreciative. Let your users know that you understand them.
Having the right tools in place so that people can find you online is critical. However, being authentic and relentlessly helpful is how you win and retain business. Once you have identified your brand, go out and build your tribe. Where should you start? By communicating your values and business culture – if you stand for something, people will begin gravitating towards you.
Build your own community
A “tribe” is created from a mutual sharing of values and beliefs. Before the Internet, your tribe consisted of family, friends and neighbors. We relied on word of mouth to discover new people and grow our tribe. In this day and age, if you want to increase your business, person-to-person networking is no longer enough. The digital world today allows for free and immediate information flow; when used effectively, it’s the quickest way to grow awareness and consideration. Even someone who hears about you offline, will immediately seek information about you online. However, this requires knowing where your customers are and communicating with them in their channel of choice. For example, if your potential customers choose to engage through social media, they will expect you to have a social media presence. It is time to start welcoming the abundance of choice and learning how to leverage all engagement channels to communicate with your potential customers.
We may live in a fragmented world, but the power of personal connection is still incredibly important. The power of effective digital marketing lies in the communication of a message that, if compelling, will influence people to seek you out. Remember: it is easy to rely on digital to help you create relationships, but in the end, it is up to you to nurture them through personal attention.
We’re here to help
The real estate industry WANTS to change. Those who fear these changes will lose; those who incorporate them with an open mind have the opportunity to greatly succeed. Inman taught us that a combination of strategic thought, collaboration and willpower can and will propel your business to the next level. At Union Street Media, we are that relentlessly helpful partner. Let us worry about the technology so you can focus on what makes your business successful – you.