TL;DR for all my family/friends/clients and anyone else who’s not involved in the real estate industry: future real estate agents will be much more marketing-savvy, and brokerages of the future will need to be set up to provide much more marketing support. I myself, am making a commitment to building a marketing team that will help me long into the future.
Whether it’s already been said aloud directly or not, I’m here to tell you about a shift in the real estate industry that’s more disruptive than a Zillow or a Trulia. Those companies, while enhancing the shopping experience for potential buyers, have done little to expand the sales-side of the industry. Even as of this writing, Zillow has not adapted Matterport 3D 360º tours into their listings, which is a technology almost ubiquitous in today’s listing market. Instead, their focus seems to have been solely on gathering buyers and delivering them to their paid advertisers. A focus that will be disrupted as more and more agents become marketing-savvy, and homebuyers & sellers discover their agents over other marketing methods like Instagram or Triller.
The traditional approach to acquiring and retaining clients
Don’t get me wrong, there are still valid uses for some of the traditional methods for acquiring and retaining clients in the next era of real estate. I, myself, still very much believe that the most effective way to get new clients is through referrals by my family/friends/clients. It’s tried-and-true, and I’ve seen how much more trust is built-in when someone comes to you from a third-party they trust. But as technology becomes more ubiquitous, those trusted third-parties are becoming less and less human-based. Technologies like Zillow, like NextDoor, like Instagram, become ways for an agent to develop relationships with potential clients.
But these technologies are not the end-game that everyone thought. They are actually just more tools available to agents that want to take advantage of them. They end up supporting an agent’s marketing effort, rather than replacing or consolidating them (like some have assumed in the past few years). In our brokerage alone, there are successful agents who spend marketing dollars in Zillow but not on Facebook, and other successful agents who do the opposite. There’s room for each approach, and each has their advantages and disadvantages.
How the brokerage will change
With all these new technologies available to individual agents, brokerages are going to take a bigger role in supporting an agent’s marketing efforts. In the past, a newspaper ad for their top salesperson might have been enough. Moving forward, brokerages need to provide their agents with support like infographics to post on Facebook, video studios to record footage, or even podcast booths to record content. Employed marketing officers and marketing consultants will become more prevelant as brokerages seek professional help and focus in on the marketing efforts of their agents.
Brokerages themselves will also need to be conscious of their own marketing presence, not only to support their agents but attract new ones as well. If effective marketing is the goal of an agent is to gain the trust of a new client, the brokerage needs to do the same to gain the trust of a new agent. Again, employing or contracting marketing professionals will be key as each brokerage navigates this new landscape.
Ryan Serhant is showing this to us already
As a real estate agent myself, I keep an eye on other big name agents and brokerages to see what they are doing in the marketplace. Ryan Serhant, one of the top agents nationwide and star of Million Dollar Listing New York, has recently started his own brokerage called “Serhant.” (with the period, and everything). An agent breaking out and starting their own agency wouldn’t normally be too big of a deal, but the brokerage model he’s set up is interesting. He’s set up his brokerage to be a marketing company that sells real estate. He’s partnered with the same producers of “Million Dollar Listing” to develop an entire YouTube network of several shows around real estate. His “brokerage team” consists of more marketing, branding, and PR professionals than brokers. His goal is to go nationwide and offer this marketing-first support to other agents who join his brokerage. Just look at the tag line:
SERHANT., a vertically-integrated mega brokerage comprising an in-house film studio, education arm, marketing division, and technology platform.
Does that sound like any traditional brokerage you’ve heard of before? It’s putting the emphasis on marketing, and I’ll be surprised if more brokerages don’t follow suit.
What does that mean for little-old Agent Oahu?
Kidding aside, this just validates what I’ve always known about real estate: it’s a marketing game, not a sales game. And if I’m going to keep building my business for the future, I need to stay committed to my marketing-first, service-based direction. Taking all the marketing education I’ve amassed over the years, staying curious about new technologies, and building an effective marketing team will be a key to my success. And whether you’re an agent in the business with me, or just a casual reader of my articles, be ready to see a whole new marketing-first approach to real estate across the industry.