How To Survive The New Customer-Centric Real Estate Market
How can real estate businesses survive the new customer-centric marketplace?
The business world and real estate industry are changing. They are becoming much more customer focused. Those that don’t keep up could feel the pinch in their revenues. So how do real estate professionals and companies realign their systems and brands to stay ahead of the curve?
Much like banks, many real estate businesses and individuals have operated with a gatekeeper mentality. It has been the “he who holds the gold makes the rules,” mindset. They have seen little need for great service. In fact, great service has been neglected by some of the biggest companies out there Everyone talks about it, but doing is something completely foreign to some. The banking industry has already seen a big shift towards social finance, which has been empowered by financial technology or ‘fintech’. And we’ve been seeing the role of real estate agents, and their need change gradually as well.
There are some, however, who are getting back to focusing on serving consumers and delivering a better experience. A new bar is being set in customer expectations among home buyers, sellers, renters, investors, and even other real estate related companies. To stay in the game, and on top, real estate leaders have to recognize this, and make adjustments. So what does that look like?
Competing for Advocates
With advertising getting more expensive, and consumers becoming increasingly immune to marketing messages, the race is on for more influence and peer advocates. These are those brand ambassadors and raving fans that will promote on your real estate company’s behalf. However, there is going to be increasing competition for these individuals and partner companies. The first to claim this space will have a superior advantage.
Developing & Mobilizing Advocates
What are you doing to make others fall in love with your brand and company mission? Don’t expect it to happen automatically. Even those that want to get engaged often aren’t given the chance. Or they aren’t empowered to do so. Are you telling them how they can participate? There isn’t much more damaging in this new environment than when someone reaches out to your brand, and then gets blown off.
Your Best Employees
In this new era, some of your best ‘employees’ won’t even work for your real estate company: they will be your virtual assistants or VAs. How are you rewarding them? What is the competition offering them? This also applies to vendors and other companies that you do business with, as well as independent contractors and freelancers that are constantly in contact with the world outside your office walls.
Happy & Engaged Employees
It’s hard to create active advocates if your own team isn’t happy and engaged. If this is a channel that you want to develop, you may need to take inventory of your team, and find ways to re-calibrate.
Building community around your real estate brand, and integrating your brand in the physical and online community around you is a critical part of this new environment. It’s hard to develop loyalty without a sense of community, much less have hordes of self-motivated advocates out there promoting on your behalf.
Whether it is raising funds for a real estate startup, building a stronger brand, energizing employees, or recruiting advocates, it is all about storytelling today. If you don’t feel like a great story teller, or are finding it difficult to put your story into compelling words, try bringing in a writer in to help.
A big part of success in this area is about owning your ‘why’ with authenticity. If you don’t do that, you risk dumping money into more poor marketing strategies.
Flipping the Funnel
Where is your primary business focus? Is it on the product, sales, clients, or client experience? Typically, wowing clients, and turning them into referral machines has been an afterthought, once the initial transaction is done. What if that was turned around? What if going above and beyond to wow consumers was the primary mission, and then the rest flowed from there?
A huge part of this is listening and understanding your clients and potential advocates. What do they really want? What is really driving them? What it their ‘why’? How about answering them, versus just talking to them? What is driving consumer’s interest in action? What is driving advocates to action for other brands?
This is also time to rethink your marketing mix, funnel, and direction. Is it time for more offline interaction? Once you’ve connected offline, how do you get them online to automate follow up and improve service? If you first connect online, should you try to take the conversation and relationship offline where there may be less distraction and competition?