Blinded by the shine

It’s easy to come back from a conference and be convinced you need to dive head first into Snapchat and Periscope, deck out your office with a state-of-the-art podcast studio, write a book, and invest a nice chunk of money outfitting agents with drones and VR technology.

I’ve been there.

Not as a broker or vendor. But I’ve been to a few real estate and technology conferences as a journalist and marketer (over 25, I think).

I also spent a portion of my career doing PR for early-stage tech startups in San Francisco – where shiny objects are so bright they’ve been known to cloud people’s vision.

It’s easy to get caught up chasing technology and marketing trends. It’s fun. And it’s fast-paced.

Each new app – each new toy – promises a new possibility. A way to get new clients. Make business and life easier. Track freaking everything. Make us slimmer, smarter, and more attractive with zen-like qualities. Get us a faster ride, dinner and laundry detergent.

But what interests me lately in marketing are the non-shiny objects. The words. The voice. A damn good email. A well-written headline. An enticing Facebook ad. The simple visuals that stop me and demand attention.

Time for these “dull” things often gets steamrolled by the procession of shiny objects, leaving them tossed together at the last second like a salad to fill a template at the marketing table. Sad. As they are critical to differentiation.

Missing the point

In the course of client work over the years, we’ve asked hundreds of agents to tell us why they chose their broker over another. In many cases, it comes down to people. Lots of agents like to work for companies that have great people who share their values and vision. They like brokerages they can be proud of. But a lot of times, the broker has overlooked the significance of this.

There’s a story in there somewhere. There’s a clue about what it is that makes a company special upon which they can build a fresh message.

We’ve also talked with brokers around the country about their thoughts on technology. What do they need? Not need? What do they value in a technology partner? To what degree do they want or require technology from their franchisor? Again, the people make a difference. 

The team behind the technology product is a factor for many brokers.

Of course, there are always other things at play. But this is such a big theme in real estate. It pays to think it through in your marketing – whether you’re a broker or a vendor. Are you missing what it is that really makes you special because you’re too busy trying to stay ahead of marketing trends?

Are you missing the non-replicable affinity you could be building with your agents and the public through consistent, sincere communications – your message?

It’s worth slowing down to question what really works. Hitting people with a distinct message over and over works – it’s the engine that fuels the $500+ billion advertising industry.

Look, shiny is cool

I’m not saying ignore shiny objects altogether. There’s a time and place for experimenting with the new. There’s business to be had, value to be added through some of these things.

Just take off your sunglasses from time to time. Focus on the things you know work. Write an amazing email. Reimagine your recruiting brochure. Create a set of well executed Facebook ads, run them and contrast their results. Rethink your website copy.

These things may not be sexy. But they present countless opportunities to stand out. And they are really hard to do well, which makes them even more attractive to master.

Non-shiny objects. Take time out for them today. It’s not ________ marketing. It’s just marketing.

And that’s OK.

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