The On-line Quandary

26 Oct
October 26, 2010

A lot of attention is being given to on-line in Real Estate right now. It’s the topic of conversation that dominates Real Estate blogs and twitter streams. You won’t hear much of an argument from anybody if you assert that maintaining on-line assets are critically important for the long-term prospects of any business, not just Real Estate.

Yet, for many folks in our industry, it is still a big mystery on what “On-Line” means, let alone how to facilitate seamless integration of “On-Line” into their personal business model(s). Based on the electronic flotsam that gets delivered to my once sacrosanct inbox, I can see why. These are just three of the “invitations” I received this past week:

  • Learn the 3 Most Effective Real Estate Ads to Run on Craigslist
  • The Missing Piece of Your Social Media Strategy
  • Welcome to the world of YouTube and Video on the Internet.

And this is just a tiny sampling of the dozens upon dozens of solicitations delivered to me every single week. A business could create a full-time position dedicated to just reading the solicitations and watching the webinars, implementation notwithstanding. There is just too much “On-Line” thrown at Real Estate practitioners on a daily basis. Too much from too many vendors selling too many products for any of it to make sense. It’s almost as if we are being force-fed On-Line “stuff” from a never-ending buffet of technological mediocrity. A buffet that satiates our social media appetite while leaving our Real Estate larder empty.

Lessons Learned from another Small Business

When not making me delicious double chocolate chip cookies and homemade minestrone, my mother-in-law Nancy spends her time running a successful small business. Much like many Real Estate agents she is a sole practitioner. Much like many Real Estate agents, she is fully dependent on herself to generate leads, service clients and generate revenue. While her business is one of database creation and administration on the FileMaker platform, she faces many of the same challenges we do in Real Estate; marketing and lead generation being one of them. So how does she do it? How was this woman able to raise 3 children, be a sole-supporter, and maintain a successful business for many, many years? It’s because she doesn’t watch webinars, read e-mail solicitations or depend on questionable third-party vendors to help define her business’ growth strategy. She has a plan and she sticks to it.

The Plan

  1. Be the Expert: This is the most critically important part of Nancy’s business plan. Know her business inside out. Be able to talk FileMaker in her sleep. Attend training seminars and conferences dedicated specifically to improving her FileMaker skill set. And let me tell you, this woman IS an expert. I am of the mind if FileMaker did not exist, she would invent it. That’s how good she is.
  2. Service Clients IMPECCABLY: Nancy’s clients LOVE her. Absolutely LOVE her. Even the difficult ones. Nancy makes sure that she doesn’t just have satisfied clients, she has clients that rave about her – clients that refer her additional business and new clients.
  3. Have a Website: Nancy has a website, and it’s mostly there to deliver information to people who are interested in FileMaker. There isn’t any forced registration or fancy capture form – there is just a site that tells the visitor about the company, what they do, clients they service and how to get in touch with her should they want some more information. It’s not even a particularly good website, but it works. It works because a) Nancy is an expert and b) Nancy’s clients love her.

And this plan is working for her. Last week, over a meal of minestrone, sourdough and double-chocolate chip cookies, I recall Nancy sharing with me how someone contacted her while standing in the Apple store. This gentleman found her website (why it is so important to have a website), scanned her services and client list, and contacted her to discuss whether or not FileMaker would be a good fit for his company before he purchased it. After speaking with Nancy, he purchased it. And hired her. Why? Not because she had a sweet social media campaign, posted videos to YouTube and tweeted uncontrollably (in fact, she does none of that). It’s because she a) is an expert and b) her clients love her.

The Real Estate Takeaway

Instead of focusing on becoming Social Media “experts” (What does that mean anyway? Are we also experts at breathing and walking?), or Craigslist junkies, we as Real Estate practitioners should focus our energies and efforts on improving our core skill sets. Contracts. Negotiations. Valuations. Then we can can use messaging platforms such as a website, a blog, or Social Media to share our expertise with our clients and consumers as a whole.

Don’t get me wrong, I think on-line is important in Real Estate. Very important. Social Media can be VERY effective and great for your business growth. But losing sight of what it is that we truly deliver to our clients and consumers can be disastrous.

Remember, all the “On-Line” in the world won’t matter if a) you are not an expert and b) your clients do not love you.

-Amit

Find Your Home. Plan Your Life: www.averyhess.com

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