Research from National Association of Realtors (NAR) has shown that over 90% of home buyers are looking online these days. So, whether you’re a real estate professional or in other related fields, it is recommended that you embrace these new technology territories. You might ask why. In this article, we’ll uncover what’s been happening in this industry and why it’s important to prepare for future digital success.
Table of Contents:
1. The Past
While the tried-and-true methods of mailing postcards, printing flyers, door knocking and open houses still work, you might have noticed that they are used sparingly. Don’t get me wrong. There are agents who still use these methods, and they still work for them, especially when combined into a larger marketing plan. Unquestionably, I’ve noticed that most sales professionals these days are leveraging digital practices more and more to find new pipelines, leads and clients.
Unless you are a real estate professional who doesn’t need or want to grow your business, I’m sure you’ve also given much thought to marketing options that will best serve you. Those who have embraced the innovative digital technologies and what they have to offer are raising the bar on visibility, credibility and relationship building.
If you’ve been paying attention, Wall Street investors has shifted their focus a bit in the past few years. In 2017 venture capitalists Softbank launched the Vision Fund for nearly $100 billion with a mission to solve the world’s most focal challenges and revolutionize the real estate technology sector. The funds have invested billions to change the way people work, how construction is managed, how people buy and sell homes and how home insurance is purchased.
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That’s a prime example of how the real estate tech world is truly moving at a super-charged speed. We are in a territory where simply moving faster won’t be enough anymore. It’s more like we need to move at lightning speed these days.
Over the past generation, designs and products were created to stand alone as if existing on their own island. They operated well, independently, and only worked with their own components, rather than being compatible with others. For example, if you were to take IBM and Microsoft products, they can operate very well on their own but will likely have trouble if you were to combine components from a competitive producer.
In fact, that’s the way companies preferred it in the old days. They wanted to lock the customer in to generate revenue and growth. In this new era, businesses compete based on mass production that increases efficiencies, capabilities and performance—and collaboration plays a key role.
Chicago is known as a city with big city vibes while still maintaining its Midwest personality. The home of deep-dish pizza, Wrigley Field, and sprawling Lake Michigan, it’s a clean, friendly and vibrant city. The third-most-populated city in the US, Chicago is home to nearly 3 million residents spread across its 237 square miles…
2. The Present
Times have changed and new strategies have emerged. A competitive product or service is no longer enough. The need to have a universal platform is preferred by far. A good example is Elon Musk’s decision to open all patents for electric cars in June 2014, and then in 2015, Toyota decided to do the same for their hydrogen cars. The concept of open and accessible has replaced closed and proprietary.
Today, the objective is no longer to claw your way to the top of the chain, but rather, to create an ecosystem so you can find your way to the center of the network. Proven players are companies like Apple which allows thousands of developers to tap in and help them create product enhancements in the Apple App store. This new strategy brings in billions in revenues for Apple.
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When Jeff Bezos started Amazon, he had a desire to navigate away from the traditional book selling model like Barnes & Noble. From there, Amazon nudged its way to the center of the retailer market. And, as Amazon expands its connections into new areas, it deepens capabilities at its core. Since then, Amazon has become more than a retailer. They now offer cloud computing services to enterprises, and as such, are a direct competitor to firms like Microsoft, Walmart and Netflix.
Yet, Apple and Amazon are not alone. Other firms are following suit. Marketo built a platform for marketing software, as has Xero for accounting, Tidemark for ERP software, Kareo for medical applications and IBM for artificial intelligence. The list goes on.
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3. Bridging the Gap
Now, after a glimpse of the past and its rather simple model where every business had various cost centers and revenue streams, let’s circle back to today’s real estate market. Brace yourself as our industry is about to get a wake-up call.
You’re probably aware of the mass collaboration in the real estate industry taking place in the past few years. At the brokerage level, how can you lead so the firm can constantly move toward greener pastures while still serving with a distinct set of capabilities. The central challenge for a brokerage will be how to stay ahead of the game in order to become a dominant player in this market.
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Accomplishing that might be easier said than done while many of us are still struggling to leverage technologies that we do not fully understand. The truth is that there are so many cutting-edge innovations at our disposal. It’s hard to keep up. It’s not easy to identify which technologies would be best for the brokerage’s future success but if you’re able to locate the right technology to enable your agents, the better position you will be.
Clearly, this trend will only broaden as technologies become more and more complex. New economic development, technology innovations and globalization will require leaders to re-examine old rules, processes and practices. Those who want to lead their team successfully will have to shift their focus from assets and capabilities to empathy, design and networked organizations. Great leaders will learn, adapt and create an ecosystem that includes partners, affiliates, consumers and resources that bring value to the firm.
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For those who lead in this new era, especially in the service industry, it’s essential to focus on a network rather than leading with tunnel vision. Building boundaries and controlling what’s inside will not get you very far going forward. It’s not about what you can own or control. It’s more about what you can access. If you can create links and form a large ecosystem in a networked world, you have not only become a dominant player, but you also become an indispensable partner.
People will continue to buy and sell property as their personal circumstances change throughout their lifetime, and they’ll still need services of real estate brokers and real estate professionals. So, how do you set yourself apart as a brokerage while still being able to serve and leave no one behind? Today’s leaders will be at the center of the circle, inspiring and guiding their clients. So, how can we embrace it all? We must continually brainstorm and collaborate as we lead.
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5. Agents! Gear Up and Get Digital Smart!
Are you gasping for air while trying to process it all? It can be disheartening for those professionals with years of experience to see newcomers’ close transactions left and right just because they know how to leverage technology as a competitive advantage. Are you asking yourself, “How can I ever catch up with all this innovative technology so I can compete with the rookies who don’t have nearly the real-life experiences I have acquired?”
Don’t we all agree that a good majority of real estate professionals have historically focused on the here and now? Not many really bother to think about the future of their real estate business. Why bother when we have sales to chase, right? How many real estate professionals out there are still using the firm’s webpage (given to them after signing that independent contractor agreement) as their main—or only—web presence? How many are using the firm’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, to help manage, attract and retain clients, streamline transactions and close deals? If this sounds like you, you might be missing the boat on building your own business and securing your future.
Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great that your firm provides wonderful tools to help you grow. They are there to give you the support you need to be successful. Your success is their success. Your firm might give you adequate training tools such as a training manual, tutorial videos, classroom training, group coaching, seminars or mentors along with some of the latest digital technology to allow you to gain more business. If you currently represent a firm that provides all the above, you’re in good hands.
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However, let’s not forget that, as an independent contractor, you are working for yourself. Don’t lean too heavily on what’s being handed to you because circumstances might change in the future. For that reason alone, you might want to spend some time to discover and build you own collaborative platform. The work you do for yourself today could become a powerful arsenal in growing your business, personally and professionally.
I would recommend that you be open to opportunities that help you understand and learn how to work with the new technology—whether it’s social media, marketing yourself more effectively online, learning successful strategies or how to build trust and gain business through building timeless materials. As a real estate professional, you need to recognize the current trends and adapt quickly to make yourself more valuable to your potential market.
So, how do you plan to interface with all users, products and services to give yourself the competitive advantage you’re looking for? By embracing technology innovations, especially those with an ecosystem. Look for platforms that come with an innovative design that allow you to bring out your expertise and showcase it like no other.
From there, you can plant your roots and build your evergreen landing page to showcase all your professional activities. Whether it’s a great article you’ve written, a video you made, awesome testimonials from clients you’ve served or an achievement you earned, you can bring all your marketing activity together and highlight it on one landing page.
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6. Invest in Yourself—Invest in Your OWN System
These days, many of us have come to take it for granted that we live in a connected age; yet the truth is that it still largely remains separate and isolated. Take advantage of what’s available out there and focus on where it matters rather than spreading yourself too thin or focusing on outdated methods. After all, you only have 8-14 hours a day max to prioritize what’s important to you and what matters most—whether it’s family or business or both.
How do you go about finding a balance without completely sacrificing one for the other? For that, you need to come up with a game plan, especially for your professional business. Invest your time in some research. Look for options to help you build a system that can cover you while you’re temporary unavailable or while you’re asleep. Whether your prospect discovered you on your firm’s website, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Zillow, Homes, etc., you have the option of offering them “one click” to a main landing page with you in the spotlight. If they are intrigued and want to check you out, they can be redirected to your page immediately.
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You have the option of creating a link on all your media profiles that will direct all prospects to your main landing page. This is where they will learn what you have to offer and will decide to give you their time or not. If you’re able to do that, you’ve just freed up at a minimum of one-third of your time while ensuring a strong, consistent message for all your inquisitive observers—on a page that remains yours, no matter what changes you make in your employment. (see the infographic below)
Now the real question is whether you will ride the wave and take advantage of technology or be swept away in a cloud of irrelevance. Clearly, technology is here to stay. As a working professional in a networked world, how will you utilize the technology’s competitive advantage to build connections? That would be up to you.