RISMEDIA, April 5, 2010—There’s an awful lot of noise out there today. To rise above the din, Realtors and brokers must take a look at the consumers in their marketplace, while reviewing the various technologies available, merging both into a sound business practice that applies time-tested principles with the realities of new media.
So how does one connect with today’s clients? How can technology be harnessed to communicate with them on their terms?
In the real estate business–and in any industry, for that matter–the challenge is to cut through the clutter, reduce the racket and convert the clamor of commerce into a symphony of sales.
Your ability to overcome the chatter of the crowd and differentiate your product/service will determine whether you sink or swim.
But first things first: how connected are you?
Connect yourself first
Let’s not take anything for granted. There are various levels of connectivity, so the concept of “being connected” varies between professionals, but suffice it to say you need a smartphone to get started. Says who?
According to the National Association of Realtors, in 2009, almost 25% more agents worked with a smartphone, i.e., a mobile device equipped with wireless e-mail and Internet capabilities, than in 2008.
Technology grows quickly, so buy something hip, like an iPhone, Droid or BlackBerry. When television was introduced to mainstream America, it took 13 years to get 50 million viewers. The iPod accomplished that in three years, and it took Facebook all of nine months to hit 100 million users.
Determine your audience
Where are today’s buyers? Let’s review some relevant statistics.
Two-thirds of Americans use the Web daily, an amazing stat, but not when considering the next one: An estimated 95% of Generation Y do the same, the profile most conspicuously associated with the first-time home buyer (median age: 30). About half of today’s buyers are first-timers. Do the math.
To reach today’s home buyers – i.e., Gen Y – you have to connect with them on their turf, and that’s the Web. Smartphones and Internet access are no longer considered perks, they are standard, essential devices that Gen Y buyers grew up with. The attitude of the Gen Y buyer – and I count myself, an entrepreneur at 24, amongst this crowd – is laidback, almost to the point of brazen laziness.
Despite our nation suffering through its worst recession since the Great Depression, mobile device sales increased last year by 41%. What does this tell us?
Today’s buyers will not come looking for you. They expect you to come to them. Everything they have ever wanted has seemingly been at their fingertips, from day one. Which brings us to solutions.
Find a solution
In the midst of closing a deal with a large Midwestern broker, I found myself at an impasse. My contact wasn’t returning phone calls, messages left with his assistant were fruitless, and my trail of e-mails had gone cold. Game over?
I then did the unthinkable, just a few years back: I sent him a text message. He replied instantly, was effusively apologetic, and told me to call in five minutes. Within 10 minutes, our deal was back on. Why the breakthrough?
Sending a text requires moxie. It also has to be brief, to the point, and not mince words. Mine covered all bases, and my contact responded because the technology was literally at his fingerprints. There was no need to draft a formal e-mail or update some proposal, and he didn’t even have to use perfect grammar.
In fact, the text-messaging world places greater gravitas on shortened words, abbreviated terms and brief, declarative sentences. Brevity and pithiness are as essential as content.
In conclusion, keep these three things in mind to most effectively communicate with today’s clients:
1. Be Visible All The Time: Pick a platform that works for you and stick with it, whether it’s LinkedIn, FourSquare, Twitter, Gist, Batchbook or good ‘ole Facebook. The key is repetition and mastery of the medium, especially considering the average attention span for an individual is 20 seconds;
2. Engage the Client On His/Her Terms: Identify your target. If it’s first-time home buyers, for instance, find out where they play on the Web, and go hang out there. The concept of social media is only as effective as you make it;
3. Embrace Text Messaging: This powerful tool has long transcended its roots in teenage social circles. E-mail is highly inefficient and outdated; when the time comes for actual action items, e-mail trails, comments and updates have to be printed out and consolidated.
G. Austin Allison is the co-founder and CEO of DotLoop, one of the first online collaborative environments for the real estate industry, embracing a wholly Web-based platform with a paperless approach.