The Cool Kids
As we covered in the last post regarding the continually changing world of business generation online we will be doing some experimentation into self-promotion and shameless plugs on social media in order to determine if we get blown up with hate mail or if we turn off the entire world.
The idea is to see if social media has gotten to the point where we can promote ourselves within reason on social platforms. Common knowledge and the collective group think tells us that we will be “unfriended” and become unpopular with the cool kids of social media. But wasn’t everything on the internet free at one point. Asking to charge for something was sooooo uncool that companies gave away color printers (if you bought their ink) and thousands of other items hoping to get enough traction to go public before they went out of business.
Now the thinking is we can’t self-promote or even pitch as I am doing here. Did I forget to mention that if you want to find homebuyer leads or mortgage leads that you can easily find them on Qazzoo. Qazzoo is another social media play with one major difference. There is a purpose and a focus for Qazzoo that we are not ashamed of. Qazzoo connects homebuyers and home sellers with local real estate professionals. So there is my plug and let’s get back to the next major shift for real estate pros that is going to really be a shift and not just a platform or a new super duper search engine.
That trend is mobile and it is going to kill you if you are not prepared for it.
Mobile is much bigger than Facebook or Google or anything else that has come before it since the web itself. Mobile users are projected to surpass desk top users by 2014 and less than 1% of real estate agents or lenders have a mobile compatible site or application. This means that when and if a user on their smart phone or tablet hits your site they will get the full version while they are holding a miniature device. That doesn’t work and they will bounce and you are already having a hard time.
This is going to kick us right in the behind when we find ourselves way behind a real power curve in about 12 to 18 months. If the average consumer is not willing to wait for your website to download and then provide you their information today….what happens when they are on their phones and doing searches and your site isn’t compatible? So what is your answer?
Sites such as Trulia, Zillow and USHUD all have mobile sites that are highly rated but how much is branding worth when your photo, logo and contact information appear on a screen that is about as big as a playing card?
Less than branding is worth now on someone’s desktop which I think is fairly worthless right now. If the site is generating you actual real estate leads that is a different story but if it is all about the branding…we are sunk.
So we have to look at mobile with serious consideration. Unlike many of the changes we have written about, mobile is going to truly change things for Real Estate professionals. The good news is that there are positives as well. Ease of use, trans-portability, convenience, seamless transition from search to call, but overall we have some challenges that we will address in a future post. For now let’s continue with what doesn’t work.
So we have had: (to name only a few)
Poorly performing websites
Zero performing social media pages (It doesn’t matter how many friends you have or likes you get. The only thing that matters is how many homes you sell balanced against the effort you expended)
Twitter (Just scream something witty out of your window and see what happens…chirp… chirp…chirp. (whatever crickets say?)
As real estate professionals we can’t sit on the sidelines and watch as people, good people are sold the magic potion every couple of months or years. Here are some myths that should be ignored.
Just stop wondering what works and fiddling around with all the fun and shiny new toys and let the rest of the world and your competition fall victim to the next sales pitch for the next fad. You don’t have too because you took the time to read this post.
Starting with the first myth:
You need a website to brand yourself. Does anyone realize that this branding idea has been pitched to people for centuries and it doesn’t work unless you do something truly outrageous (think Kim Kardashian). The only other option is to spend an enormous amount of money to “Brand” yourself which has been covered in depth in books such as “Permission Based Marketing” by Yahoo exec Seth Godin and “I Want the World to Buy Coke” by Roberto Goizueta former CEO of Coca Cola. In both of their books they discuss at length the cost of branding and maintaining that brand. Seth reports in his book (circa 2000) that it costs $300,000,000 to brand a company in the United States. Sure you don’t need to be branded in the entire country but the math is the math.
One county would cost $56,000 each year to “brand” yourself in that county as a Real Estate pro. Now here is the next rub. People don’t buy brands as much as they buy what is convenient or when they want it and it happens to be convenient. Sure there are people who don’t go to McDonalds because they don’t sell Pepsi, but they are few and far between (ask McDonalds). People normally buy what we make easy for them to buy and being branded only tells them that you do something.
So how does this relate to your desire to discover how to find real estate leads?
Branding will be sold to you over and over again and you will sometimes buy it and sometimes not buy it. The only reason you will buy it is that you are desperate and they know it. The reason they keep selling branding is that branding is completely, one hundred percent un-quantifiable. So they can never be wrong and the bills keep coming in and you keep paying as if it were doing something.
And this brings us back to the value of branding.Look at some of the most visited online Real Estate sites. What do they sell? You guessed it…Branding. They don’t sell Real Estate leads or promise to show you how to find Real Estate leads. They sell you that (X) thousands of people will see your face and associate you with Real Estate in their area.
The commercial that every American over the age of 30 has seen is “Taste Great- Less Filling” from Miller Light back in the seventies. The reason we still know about it is for two very different reasons.
To demonstrate how unsuccessful it was Miller Lite ran the commercial for two weeks and dropped it. They realized too late that what was missing was a call to action. Hell, just having John Madden say “Buy this beer” would have been a better commercial but they got caught up with branding and forgot the most important part of any advertising investment. There must be a call to action or “CTA” if you are one of the cool kids.
Matt Steinmuller is an experienced copywriter with a passion for great content, real estate, and fantasy football. He is a Towson University graduate with a degree in Marketing.