- The short answer is that Real Estate 101 will not suffice on its own. The world has just been thrust into the “new normal” digital world, more than ever, because of the Corona virus pandemic and it has and is, rapidly changing behaviours. Estate Agents must adapt too.
“While a silver lining to all this pandemic turbulence may be finding hobbies or nurturing new skills, the stark reality is that the normal course of business and daily life is … well, no more. All organisations will be touched by this pandemic. Consumer behaviour is changing daily…” Read more
The world of Real Estate has changed for good! People have quickly learned to operate in the digital world more than ever and now expect to interact this way. If you as an estate agent are not plugged into the digital economy, you will be losing out to those who are. Agents must now adapt quickly to succeed and remain competitive.
“The Corona virus has made normal life anything but normal these days. With retailers adapting to delivery or online models, schools closing, and much of the workforce staying home, people are looking for clear, specific information about where, how, and when to get the things they need” “As routines and schedules change to meet the demands of isolation, so do people’s online habits and expectations” Read more.
Real Estate stakeholders have been driven into the digital economy, learnt new ways to digitally interact and will never, altogether, go back to their old ways again. They expect to find estate agents engaging digitally with them in every aspect of real estate, especially sellers.
The Digital Agent Assistant is a business created to partner with some estate agents (see the FAQ on “Is this for every estate agent?”) to coach them in building an integrated digital strategy around themselves so that they are plugged into the “new normal”. The modus operandi is to engage with these fast adapting estate agents, one-on-one, to develop a personal and bespoke digital real estate offering for their existing and future clients, who now expect this.
No, you cannot! Here’s why? The harsh reality is that whilst Agencies would like to assist all their agents in developing a personal digital strategy, they do not have the capacity, resources nor budget to do this, although they would undoubtedly acknowledge the benefit of doing so. The same is true of estate agent admin assistants. Agencies cannot afford to provide each estate agent with an admin. assistant, although they encourage estate agents to employ their own, because of the proven benefits.
Hiring or even keeping on admin. assistants is less likely now with the economy under duress and the real estate market having to recover in time. The appealing alternative is a digital agent assistant which is much less expensive and has no burden of providing an assistant’s salary every month. Once set up, the costs of a digital agent assistant are order of magnitudes smaller, and can easily be dialed down in really tough times. More importantly are the benefits of a digital assistant, automatically working for the agent, 24/7. It is a no-brainer, provided you as an agent are ready to invest in yourself and your business.
Once set up, the skills required are no different from those required to operate a social media page. The Digital Agent Assistant will do the setup for you and then coach you to eventually run it for yourself.
It is highly likely that this will give you a material advantage over your competitors who are not doing this, provided you move quickly. The key point to note here is that those who act quickly will have the benefit of “first-mover advantage”.
Reaching new clients through a digital strategy can be a powerful advantage over your competitors.
Also, like a social media following, it is almost impossible to catch up with those who set off on the digital journey first. Once your clients learn to interact with you digitally, they will inevitably be less inclined to switch to others if you are serving them professionally. Digital loyalty can be garnered as you are easily able to add value to your clients, repeatedly, through your digital strategy. Clients will expect this more and more from real estate agents now. Those who don’t adapt will undoubtedly begin to lose their grip.
Estate agents who don’t embrace the digital economy will no doubt slowly lose their relevance because clients expect them to engage through the digital channels. (See the FAQ ; “Will this give me an advantage over my competitors?)
Definitely not! The portals primary focus it to provide a platform for clients to find property to buy or rent. The leads they provide from sellers and landlords are few and far between compared with leads from buyers and tenants. The portals business models are built around monetising real estate needs to list the property and to differentiate brands. They certainly do not create digital strategies for agents on a personal level. The scope is just too large to do this and it is not their business model. They do offer some agent profiling, but at a cost which is not sustainable for long periods, unless the agency pays for this on behalf of the agent. Even so, this is unlikely to be for long stretches, because of the high cost.
Social proofing in its simplest form is the positive impact testimonials and reviews have on others who are considering using you as their agent of choice. It is a key component of any successful digital marketing strategy. Ok, so how does this affect an estate agent’s ability to secure a mandate over their competitors? The answer lies in the fact that an agent can provide the social proofing through their digital strategy which their competitors cannot do over the phone. Agents using Real Estate 101 and just telephone calling a new homeowner CANNOT communicate their pedigree as easily as an agent who can demonstrate social proofing through their digital strategy.
Here’s the Social Proof Theory, popularised by psychologist Robert Cialdini. “It maintains that a person who does not know what the proper behaviour for a certain situation is, will look to other people to imitate what they are doing and to provide guidance for their actions”. (Huh?)
Ok, so what does all that mean? This is especially important when a homeowner is entering the uncertain and scary world of selling a home, their most valuable asset. “Uncertainty is the fuel that activates and feeds the mechanisms of social proof“. When faced with an unfamiliar situation, (like selling your own home) an unsure homeowner would feel the need to refer to other people for guidance. That’s where the social proofing plays such a significant role and that’s why a digital strategy, which includes social proofing, can give an agent the edge in securing the mandate over an agent who does not have one. Read more.
An integrated digital strategy uses several tactics to market an estate agent. Not all clients operate the same way and so what works for one may not work for another. Having a range of tactics, allows an agent to reach a greater number of prospective clients than Real Estate 101 would provide. It has the added benefit of being able to analyse what is working and what is not, so that time, energy and money is not wasted on activities that are not working. More importantly, time, energy and money can then be directed at what is showing from the digital analysis, to be working. Real Estate 101 cannot do this!
A digital strategy is one that mostly operates in the vast digital universe, which is not as overt as advertising on a Portal, Billboard, Drop or Newspaper where your competitors can see what you are up to and easily copy you. So, your competitor would be largely unaware of your digital tactics “touching” your clients and therefore less likely to copy you.
In short, digital marketing appears directly in the view of your prospective seller like no listing portal, drop or newspaper can do. It saves them having to go looking for an agent when they want to sell or rent their property. See the discussion on social proofing covered in another FAQ which explains why there is an inevitable advantage to be gained and why a digital strategy can increase the likelihood of obtaining more seller leads.
This is definitely NOT for every estate agent. Whilst the theory would apply positively to every agent, it will not, in practice. This a strategy for agents who believe that they are running a business that they want to plug into the “new normal”, digital economy. It is clearly not for agents who are happy to just press on with Real Estate 101, using old activities, relying on their current reputations and believing this will carry them successfully into the future.
Change does not happen overnight. It takes time to design the digital strategy specific to a particular agent, as their circumstances are all different. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe. As a guide, it will take approximately 2-3 weeks to get started and then weeks to refine the tactics, measure the results and adapt accordingly. Thereafter an agent can begin to take over themselves. This is where the value of the partnership with The Digital Agent Assistant exists. Setting up, coaching and handing over is managed at a pace that each agent feels comfortable with. Support is provided in the future. This is why it is a one-on-one approach and not a mass-market product. The Digital Agent Assistant does not own the agent’s digital assets. These are paid for and belong to the agent. Developing, coaching and teaching agents to enter the digital economy for themselves is The Digital Agent Assistant business model.