Friday Flash: Talking it out

This is hard. But I am finding that this crisis is bringing out the best in most people, and the worst in just a few. My relationships are becoming stronger during this time as a result. I hope that’s true for you, and that you remain healthy. 

Let’s get to it…

We sent an email to all of you last week offering help in the form of 1-hour brainstorming sessions. We got tons of responses. We did a bunch of one-on-one meetings with companies, and some group sessions too. 

We learned as much as we advised. We listened, then talked things out. 

Here are some memorable insights/questions/answers:

A smart big brokerage leader said something that is at once obvious and easy to forget: “When the sky falls, everyone gets whacked in the head.”

His point: right now, everyone is heads-down. Cutting costs. Working to survive. Of course we are. But we often forget that all of our competitors are in the same place. This is an extraordinary competitive moment

That’s hard to think about when we’re surrounded by suffering, but it is true. 

If you have the intellectual or financial capital to make any sort of forward or strategic move, it will be magnified 10x right now, and pay dividends well beyond the crisis. Because a lot of your competitors aren’t able to move at all. 

A marketer at a proptech company said, “We are checking all the boxes in terms of communicating to our customers, but this is going to last a while and we don’t know what to do next.” 

Our suggestions:

  • 1. Stay in your lane. Answer the questions your company is uniquely prepared to address for customers, and keep at it. Because most of those answers are changing daily.
  • 2. Relatedly, stay inside your customer’s head. What is she worrying about at 3:00 a.m. that you are prepared to support her on? If you ever developed good customer personas, now’s the time to totally inhabit them.
  • 3. People seem to want both diversion and facts. We are all binging on Tiger King and hanging on Dr. Fauci’s every word right now. So, yeah, stay in your lane, but don’t go all-virus, all the time. Show your customers that you are still able to satisfy their need for something normal (like a documentary about crazy people). 

Zillow’s home page offers a good example on this last point: you can still search/dream as usual, but there’s also a clear call-out to a thorough, on-point real estate FAQ section right there. 

A broker said, “If I’m gonna make it, I can’t stop recruiting now.”

Tough spot to be in. You have to survive, but don’t want to dishonor the moment by selling.

Our take:

Don’t sell. But any outward communication you do now is perhaps the most important “recruiting” you’ve ever done. Agents are paying attention to anyone – even competing brokers – who are leading, informing, or helping. If you can do those things, do them. You’ll realize the benefit in a few months, when you need it even more than you do now. 

Treat every agent in your market as if they are your agent right now. Help, share, support. It’s the right thing to do, and also smart. 

Several people brought up iBuyers, wondering what was going to happen. Will they be taken out? Will consumers be more or less receptive to their proposition on the other side of this? 

Our answer: We don’t know. 

But… remember the “sky falling” wisdom above. iBuyers have been whacked just like everyone else. They have more capital, but they are new businesses. They’re like a rocket that stalls out 1,000 feet off of the launch pad. Not a lot of time or room to figure out what to do next. It’s not a bad time to be old and familiar (if you’re also good). 

Another question from a tech company: “We had a product launch scheduled next week. Should we announce it?”

Our take: Yes, but it’s got to be framed right. This isn’t time for self-celebration or proclaiming an “innovative solution that will revolutionize real estate.” It’s more like, “We’ve been working on this product for months and have brought it to market now because it’s more important than ever that our customers have the very best we can give them.”

In fact, that’s a better way to frame something like this at any time.

There was a lot more. We’ll keep talking, and keep sharing.