Surf’s up, brokers

If a cab company launched today, its fleet would not include cigarette-stenched jalopies with no GPS and no digital payment app.

If a record label launched today, it would not sign undeveloped talent to multiple releases, offer hefty advances with full tour support and work FM radio.

If a new automobile brand launched today, its cars would not include Hemi engines, guzzle fossil fuel, or be without smart technology.

The artifacts of the past would thwart today’s objectives.

Manifest a new destiny

Likewise, things are changing with real estate brokerages launching today.

Many new brokers aren’t looking to invest millions into building proprietary technology or to buy tools to support agents who won’t use them or sell much real estate anyway.

Launch Real Estate in Scottsdale, Arizona, is less than a year old and already succeeded in recruiting a small battalion of highly productive agents that have significant market share. There is no tech offering. No back-end anything. The investments made were all focused on culture, environmental branding, advertising, marketing and PR.  

Many more brokerages today are cut from the same cloth – Living Room Realty in Portland is one example.

Rather than chase SEO and lead gen, these companies have chosen to build their brand, marketing, culture and presence. They’re focusing where they believe they can win.

This is not to say brokers can’t win at lead gen and SEO. We have many clients who are very successful with these tactics. But let’s face it, it’s a numbers game. And if you are just starting out, numbers games can be expensive and out of reach.

There’s a new type of broker who doesn’t care how high they rank in search. They’re investing in a new destiny and redefining their value for the agents they attract. They’re focusing on what they can own that others cannot.

The next wave

Last month, a new brokerage in Colorado called 1000WATT looking for design services. Our conversation took an interesting turn.

“Search portals dominate online,” he said. “Lead gen vendors capture leads at a much higher rate than I ever can. All my agents have their own tools that work for them. I’m focusing on the things I know I can win at that are unique to us.”

Sound logic. Not only for real estate. Smart brands don’t aim for parity or target 800-lb gorillas in their industries with dull arrows and blank bullets.

So what’s in the wheelhouse for this broker, and those like him?

Building a cultural fortress. Nailing the brand. Coming up with a highly creative marketing plan, and being really methodical in its deployment. Investing more in agent training. Crafting a menu of truly memorable customer experiences that embellish the agents and extend to their clients.

The great news here is that this isn’t a path open only to new brokerages. Consider this:

Windermere Real Estate just launched a new ultra luxury brand designed specifically for agents with high-end sellers. The forthcoming marketing campaign and client experience are going to be exceptional and ownable.

Turpin Realtors in New Jersey is in the throes of extending its brand into new markets and market segments with a new message, design and brand strategy that will help agents win more listings.

Change is looming. New brokers, experienced brokers. Large and tiny. Doing their own thing. Focusing on who they are, what they do best and putting that foot forward.

Is there still a place for big technology in brokerages? Of course. There’s room for certain brokerages to win here. Point is, though, that not every broker has to choose that route anymore. Not everyone has to compete on tools alone.

This is the next wave of American real estate brokerage. Surf’s up.

[Disclosure: Windermere Real Estate and Turpin Realtors are 1000WATT clients.]