February 13, 2014 by Craig Pontey
While digital marketing is now the everyday media for any successful real estate group, I can still recall when over a decade ago Ray White Double Bay launched its ‘Sneak Preview Club’ a marketing innovation that was well ahead of Google, Facebook, Twitter and the entire idea of Email Marketing and Social Media. The idea was simple, it was a way for our agency to establish an ongoing and valued relationship with our clients, some clients were new and some we had know for many years, but still we wanted to cultivate each contact.
At around the same time the Harvard Business Review published an article ‘ Is Your Company Ready For One To One Marketing?’ – this was the dawn of a universal format of relationship marketing, where the role of mass media was set for a remarkable change and the real estate industry was one of the leaders in taking up this new idea.
Our ‘Sneak Preview Club’ was our offices first venture into what is now very familiar ‘relationship marketing’ and is today a common idea, it’s a marketing tool most of us use everyday. But despite having taken on this media so early, I do find myself asking if today there may be a creeping over reliance on what in some areas has turned from relationship marketing to automated marketing. It’s a subject I frequently think about and I can see both the very positive benefits of but also some dangers and pitfalls.
Real Estate Is About Relationships
Buying and selling your home, or an investment property is not something that you do everyday, it’s a big thing, and can involve complex choices, personal choices and so the idea of building a relationship with clients is a very sensible and logical idea. Everyone in my office wants to interact with every client, so that we get the best results and relationship marketing is now a key ‘touch point’. Technology has also evolved to help make the entire process easier and faster.
One big change came with the arrival of smart-phones, with the iPhone first released in 2007, now information of every kind can reach you in seconds, you can be at home, on a beach, on holidays, in a bus or car, almost anywhere.
If you have an interest in a particular property or a new project, then details can be sent to you on request because you are on a data-base. As soon as the property is set to go onto the market you get the news and if you are selling a home or taking a new project to market, we can broadcast that information to thousands of potential buyers.
The spread of technology never stops, there are now more than 800,000 www users of Google Maps, and in the very near future, wearing Google Glasses that message on your iPhone, will no longer be a text message, it will be a real time video right in front of your eyes.
This will be a new and possibly very powerful touch point that hopefully you will not be receiving while driving, but the automated message could take you right into the property with no waiting. But is this the best customer service we can offer?
The Sneak Preview Club that Ray White Double Bay started had a very clear intention of adding value, even the use of the word club – was intended to convey the idea of a special level of service. Not so much the idea of churning out endless information, with little or no thought as to how this would help market a property.
Today we have an almost endless flow of information about the real estate market being sent to or being available to consumers. Banks, mortgage brokers, research groups, real estate portals and agents, we are all doing this.
You might have frequently been asked to give permission to receive market information. With a request that goes something like this…”so tells us about you, where you are, what you’re after and we’ll send you details.”
Then via email, Twitter or Facebook etc that information is sent and soon with wearable technology you will not even have to click open an email or answer your mobile. And while automated marketing may have killed cold calling we still need to understand the need for personal service.
It’s Still About Relationships
Our industry has access to a great amount of very exciting technology, we can use this to build strong marketing campaigns, but we need to always keep in mind that the end result should be a valued touch point for everyone. So that buyers get help in finding their ideal home and that vendors sell for a price and in a timeframe that they desire.
Ours is still an industry driven by customer service, and being overly reliant on any sort of automated marketing is to my mind something we always need to be sensitive and sensible about.
From personal experience and from varied examples that have been re-counted to me by our sales team, many a sale has been secured by simply turning up at a client’s door holding a contract in hand ready to exchange or from taking the time to call by and drop of a brochure, because this shows we value the relationship, not just the idea of ‘relationship marketing’.
As a postscript: this week I noted that in a recent survey from Mindshare’s Cultural Vulture a study suggests that despite our continued love affair with new technology and social media, lots of people now think that the digital world makes their life more complex and difficult to navigate. So time for a little more face to face contact. Yes!