Quite a few years ago, as I completed the Real Estate Licensing course in Abbotsford, I was sent into the Vancouver regional office for orientation and training.
One of the things our instructor covered was the stiff competition we would face as new agents: seasoned heavy hitters with an established reputation, a formidable network of referrals and contacts, and efficient systems and workflows fine-tuned over decades. He warned us of the folly of believing youthful energy, and the willingness to work ridiculous hours, would magically enable us to overtake these seasoned pros.
He produced dismal statistics for the failure rate among new agents, and urged us to find a way to stand out. Specializing by market and/or geographic area, and finding a way to be truly unique would be our salvation. He warned us against blending in, becoming just like a successful agent we admired, or trying to become all things to all people.
I made a sketch of the Pareto Principle triangle our instructor put on the overhead projector that day, and have made some tweaks to it over the years. Real estate is no different from other careers: 20% of the agents will make 80% of the money. If they don't quit, most will fall into the dreaded comfort trap. They make just enough to cover the bills, perhaps finance the token Mercedes and take a vacation every year.
Most real estate agents will never muster the courage to specialize in one type of property or 'farm' area; and they will never really "buy in" to their career, investing in "what it takes" marketing, coaching or shadowing the very top experts. He warned us about a minimal investment / minimal return mindset. (Been there, done that... more concerned about holding onto every penny of a small income, than investing a designated percentage back in to secure a much larger one.)
I'm sure similar speeches have been delivered to new agents across the country. So why is it that when I check out website after website, almost every real estate agent is doing the very same thing? Same About Me, Buyers and Sellers pages, IDX feed... clones. Monkey see, monkey do. There's no personality!
- Steve Jobs introduced the slogan at MacWorld 2002 just months after returning to Apple as interim CEO. That philosophy became the turning point, and Apple Inc (AAPL) rose to become the most valuable publicly traded company in the world.
In my real estate coaching, I often ask new agents how they arrived at their online strategy. I quickly discover that there actually is no strategy. They looked at the sites of a few of the better known agents and brokers in the area, then found a solution provider or web designer to essentially duplicate what the others had. If the established agent doesn't use social media or blog, and says it's stupid, they avoid the content marketing approach as well. "Do what the other guys are doing," is the strategy.
This internet-averse solution generally includes an ultra-cheap rent-a-site SaaS solution, at under fifty bucks a month. (Some of the vendors promise your do-it-yourself cookie cutter website will be online in minutes. A lot of research and planning goes into these 'easiest and cheapest' marketing solutions... not. ) A template is chosen, an About Me page is hastily written, a few standard Buyer and Seller pages are selected and the rest of the content comes from IDX (MLS Reciprocity in BC). Ta da!... another live 'cookie cutter' website. And now all they have to do is wait for the leads to flood the inbox, kick some serious ass and take names. And they wait... then wait some more...
Does this no-brainer / no effort / no investment / no originality solution actually work? Unfortunately, for the old school agents that are already well established and connected: sometimes. Why? Because people already know them by name and reputation, and will search for these agents in Google directly with something like, "john smith north vancouver realtor." They don't have to be great content creators or active in social media. All they have to is rank for their name. They don't require any help in getting up to speed with current marketing trends. In fact, their rankings on Google can be shit (page 50 or worse), and they'll still get customers by reputation alone.
But will this work for a new agent, when someone looks for "condos in vancouver?" Not a chance in hell! People will only click on MLS Reciprocity listings on your site, or contact you, if they visit your site. You need traffic firsts, before IDX works. So what do you do, when you haven't established your "mega closer" reputation yet, and you're not connected with the right people?
If someone searches for the type of property you specialize in, in your 'farm' area, you need to come up in the top 5 results on Google, Bing, Yahoo!, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter. #1 would be better.
And that's what I'll talk about in the next post: How do you become findable?
Cole Wiebe helps brands and professionals grow their influence and value online; so they can “out content”™ their competition. Cole is a content strategist, content writer, conversion copywriter and online marketing coach.
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