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Part of the reason the media companies are so successful marketing to real estate agents is because real estate agents believe in magic. Just sign up for a premium account, buy a ZIP code, and you will get “leads.”

To many, being a real estate agent seems to be all about lead capture and buying leads.

I remember back a few years ago the common wisdom was that the lead aggregators would go out of business. I guess some of them did, but lead capture isn’t all that different. Instead of buying the leads that the aggregator captures, agents capture their own.

Agents like to be able to have automated processes so they can capture leads and send out canned marketing emails. It doesn’t cost much or take a lot of time to send out a zillion email messages to thousands of leads.

When Facebook and Twitter first came on the scene, some real estate agents and experts viewed social media as the new way to get lots of leads cheap. A Facebook page was like magic. Some agents took marketing to a new level, putting automated tweeting properties on the Internet to drum up some business for themselves.

Sure, we would all like to just put our feet up and let the business roll in. We can automate and can every task using the wonderful technology that we have.

Each time something new comes on the scene, it’s treated as if it were invented just for real estate agents. We can just put pictures of our listings on Instagram and the business will come in. I remember reading articles about how you could use Vine to market real estate. Apparently short looping video of stationary houses was the next big thing.

 

“Each time something new comes on the scene, it’s treated as if it were invented just for real estate agents.”

When Instagram rolled out its time-lapse video stabilization tool “Hyperlapse,” right on cue an industry expert wrote about how it can be used for marketing homes for sale. Super-fast videos of homes for sale and of everything else are apparently the next big marketing tool.

 

This year drones are magical. We can throw a drone at a property for sale and apparently it doesn’t matter what the video looks like or what it shows. It just needs to be taken by a drone.

 

When I started my blog, it seemed like blogs were considered magical, too. Agents would start a blog and then post some statistics every other day and pictures of their listings and wait for the good times to roll.

 

Then, agents discovered that writing blog posts is work. It takes time, and is not a path to instant success. So agents gave up on the idea of blogging — unless they could do it on a platform where they got lots of comments and plenty of praise from other real estate agents.

It is work to tweet in person instead of just using auto tweets. It’s harder to write a separate email tailored to each situation, instead of using canned messages. And it is working to publish unique content on a blog that is about local real estate.

Sometimes it is even all right to pick up the phone and have a conversation that isn’t scripted, but where we listen and respond.

The spam that hits my inbox is often from companies offering magical solutions that will easily lead to unimaginable wealth. If I were selling products or services to real estate agents I would use the same type of sales pitch, because it works. Many real estate agents believe there are easy magical ways to use technology to make a lot of money with little effort.

Sometimes we lose touch with the fact that real estate is still a relationship-based business. It doesn’t matter if we build relationships by direct mail or through Twitter. It’s the relationships themselves that bring us business. Those relationships are not generic or magical. They take time and effort and are usually built one at a time.

Successful agents who have been successful for longer than a few days or years all tell me the same thing: They work hard. When they have been working hard for many years, then the magic happens.

I rise at 3 AM almost every morning-I go to bed early, but I get a TON of work done before anyone gets out of bed!  This is the way I like to work. I do use all the current media tools to do my job, but I firmly believe that picking up a phone or better yet meeting in person is the way to establish a relationship.  My Clients absolutely know that I want a long-term relationship not a one-off deal.

Today I am packing to go to Toronto for CoStar. Out of 65,000 Commercial Brokers I am privileged to have been asked to this meeting. As I understand this there is only 13 Brokers going to Toronto.  CoStar is bringing their video team from London to shoot videos-stay tuned for more!!!

Listen to Learn

I had a very trying week, and yet I’m glad it was. The problems that arose helped teach me that I still have some work to do on my listening skills. I’m betting that you might too, so I’m sharing. Building and selling Real Estate for the most part is pretty rewarding. Everyday the team at my company interacts with clients who use our tools to be more productive. The goal is to maximize the technology so folks can either make more money or save time. So it’s really rewarding for us. Now that doesn’t mean that it’s always a ball of fun anymore than your work is, but for the most part what we do is really rewarding. And when things get troubling or difficult, I try to step back and find the cause. Not always easy. And while I hate to admit it, problems arise most often because of poor communication. Communication can be internal or customer facing, it doesn’t matter, the outcome is the same – someone’s upset or at minimum, not delighted.
I didn’t tell you anything new did I? Communication has always been hard and it’s getting harder because printed words – emails and texts, aren’t very conveying. Come on, can you really tell my mood right now? Of course not. So I’ve laid out a problem or issue. So how do we make progress towards something different? How do we improve communication? Simplistically we know the answer. Listen more and speak less. Easy to say. Hard to do. I have an idea. How about we all act like 3 or 4-year olds and ask question, after question, after question? That way we put ourselves in a position where we can actually spend more time listening and less time talking. And guess what? It’s almost impossible to ask questions via email. It’s too tedious – all that Send/Receive, Send/Receive, Send/Receive!
Here’s the catch. You have to really be curious and want to know the answers. You have to really want to hear the other person’s answer or point of view. You can’t be contrite. And while you may be reading this thinking that I’m talking about the people we work and interact with frequently, it’s just as valuable or even most valuable to have conversations with your customers. The satisfied ones are full of advice and knowledge they can share and the unhappy ones can give you direction.
Today I often hear that people don’t want to call or stop in to see someone, because they feel they are being intrusive. A “pre-email” or text is thought of as polite; maybe. But if what you want to learn holds value for all parties, I find a call or in-person meeting is welcome. Problem is people on the calling side are many times acting in a self-serving way. Bad, very bad. I talk to a lot of people about communication and connections. I’ve learned so much. It takes a lot of practice. It isn’t always easy for sure. I’m convinced we can do better. We can be “connected” AND benefit from the amazing tools we have to share and connect. Remember the ice bucket challenge? How about we come up with a challenge for people to listen more than they speak? I have no idea what that might look like as a “game” or “challenge,” and I’m hoping all you smart folks might. I ask you. Am I off base? Is communication just fine? I’m anxious to listen. You can even call me if you like. 602-688-9379. Oh my! How novel. I ANSWER my phone.

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