Who’s missing from today’s real estate marketing department

Something Brian wrote yesterday really resonated with me:

This also begs the question: why doesn’t a major real estate brand have a Chief Economist?

No brainer really. They should. But it also got me thinking… who else is missing?

Web/Rails developer

Brokerage IT operations seem woefully out-of-date these days. Typically, they’ve been structured to handle basic network administration and PC support duties. In today’s world, where “the Cloud” reigns and the devices agents use get simpler and more user friendly (think smartphones and tablets) who needs this all this infrastructure and headache anymore?

Instead, hire a kick-ass developer — someone familiar with the new frameworks powering the web (Rails, HTML5, etc). I’d listen to my agents’ needs and have this person start churning out great tools for them. Heck, I’d even start listening to consumers and start banging out great apps for them too.

mRealty is doing this. I find it staggering so few others are.

Oh, and yes, this person should be part of the marketing department. All of this needs to be driven by the brand.

Online video producer

Video. Another hot buzzword right now. So far, it seems, the discussion has revolved around agents arming themselves with a Flip camera and taking to the streets. But I’m gonna come right out and say it…

Most of this is garbage.

Your agents shouldn’t be shooting video. You need one guy or gal with a film school degree, a HD camera, a (legit) copy of Final Cut, a Macbook Pro, some chops and an imagination. Set them free and have them start shooting every angle of the community you live and work in. Demand a video a week from them.

Flood your Vimeo channel.

Take a look at what Houlihan Lawrence has done with their community video series. Rinse. Repeat.

Social media producer

Ooh boy. Tough one here. The mere mention of these words is enough to send any sane broker into synaptic paroxysms. So much snake oil has been tossed so flagrantly across this space that it’s doused sensible strategy.

But it can be done. Even a century old brand like Ford, parked in the middle of the rust belt, can summon some social media mojo. First, you need someone who can write. Then they need to come up with a content strategy and find a voice that fits with your brand.

Start by mining the depths of real estate for content. Look what Zillow does with their blog. Or Realtor.com does with theirs. This isn’t rocket science, folks.

If you can tough it out, you can begin to build an audience and start to imbue some deeper meaning to your brand.

Art director/graphic designer

Hire someone who truly gets great design. Require they have a gorgeous portfolio before they even step through the door. Reign in the Wild West of agent-produced marketing materials and start enforcing fanatical brand standards. Make sure everything gets run through this individual.

When I worked in the design department at Nike, there was one individual whose sole responsibility was ensuring that the Swoosh size and placement was correct. On everything. Hanger tags, Powerpoint presentations, t-shirt and apparel designs. Everything had to have his sign-off.

It sounds crazy. But there is a very real reason that the Nike mark has so much brand value.

Email marketing specialist

Take all the content your new Chief Economist and marketing team are developing and tell the world. Don’t be shy.

Hire someone who knows what list segmentation, A/B split testing and open rates really mean. Set up a coordinated schedule of email blasts to different types of readers. Run a mix of content and seasonal promotional emails. Obsess over the results. Never stop fiddling and testing.

Redfin does this probably better than anyone else in the space with their Sweet Digs newsletter. Sign up yourself and see what I’m talking about.

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Five people. And hey, if you’re really lucky, you might fight someone who straddles a couple of these roles.

Five people. People who could make an immediate difference in your organization and set you on a path where real brand value begins to get communicated to the real estate consumers in your market.

Five people.