By Jesse McCarl
Agents who have been in real estate for a while have methods that are tried and true. The agents newer to the scene have technology that makes them more efficient than ever.
So what is better for business?
In the battle of the “old school” versus “new school” way of thinking about real estate, who proves most effective? What can each camp learn from the other?
There are two primary consumer-facing aspects of real estate for any agent: marketing and customer service. We will look at these two facets through the lens of classic versus contemporary methods to determine where each shines and what’s best for YOU!
The old school method to marketing was often summarized in the Four P’s: Product, Price, Placement and Promotion. These are measurable factors used to determine the success of a good or service. What you may also notice about the Four P’s is that they are focused on the company. These are things determined solely by the person offering the product or service.
In terms of advertising and brand awareness, the old school methods were great for being conveniently tracked and organized. If something didn’t work, it was easy to pinpoint the weak link and remedy it.
Unfortunately, the old methods relied heavily on interruption. You would get the attention of the prospective client regardless of where they were or what they were up to. This concept is demonstrated in something like the door-to-door process. There’s perhaps no more effective way to raise awareness of your presence in the community than door-to-door meet and greets, but they are not always well received. Anyone who has tried to sell anything door-to-door or with cold calls knows that it often annoys the target market.
The new school method of marketing is based around the Six C’s: Contact, Connection, Conversation, Consideration, Consumption, and Community. These things are not business centric, but rather consumer focused. They don’t simply push the message of your product on the people within earshot. These words emphasize the idea of building a relationship with people so that maybe someday they’ll use your product or service.
The more modern Six C’s method is not “interruption based” like the old school advertising, but rather “permission based.” Marketing guru Seth Godin defines permission marketing as, “the privilege…of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them.”
The average American sees over 1,000 commercial messages a day. It’s more than your brain could possibly process. It’s not enough anymore to simply let people know you exist as a real estate agent. You have to be a constant resource to people.
Real estate tends to be a more socially outgoing profession, so the idea of building relationships probably doesn’t intimidate you. You obviously have people skills and love to help others. So you could, for example, set up a website or blog that answers questions about mortgage, escrow, and other elements of realty that your constituents may not understand.
But how do you let people know about something like your super helpful blog? No matter how innovative you are in marketing with the Six C’s, you are still going to have to use the old-school means to get the word out initially.
The art of your marketing strategy is to find a balance between the old school fundamentals and the new school efficiency. Simple brochures or flyers borrowed from yesteryear could be all you need to propel your website awareness and be considered the real estate authority of your community.
Your goal is to be the first name that comes to mind when someone is getting ready to buy or sell their home. You can’t do this without incorporating old fundamentals into new systems.
After you draw a customer in, you must have the customer service skills to keep their momentum through the entire real estate transaction.
The methods behind the customer service aspect of real estate haven’t really changed in the “new school” mentality. Only the mediums have changed.
Now, instead of hounding your clients with phone calls, you can communicate over texts and emails, allowing consumers to have power over when and how they are able to give you their full attention.
The primary drawback of new technology being utilized in customer service is that there are so many platforms you can be available on. Most agents are taught not to go to bed with messages in your voicemail; you want to be constantly responsive to client needs. But now you can’t go to bed with messages on your voicemail, text message inbox, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The many ways to reach a client is a great aspect of the digital age, but therein also lies one of the key arguments against the new school mentality: It’s not personal anymore!
If you’re constantly replying with 160-character text messages, are you ever really connecting? Maybe you should just pick up the phone and give them a call! There’s no point in investing so much in building relationships and then never showing genuine care for a client.
With old school methods, you have to weigh the pros and cons. Sure, you’re subject to annoy a few people whom you’ve interrupted with a phone call or by showing up on their doorstep. But the others will be grateful for the human interaction. When younger agents rely solely on digital communication, many prospective clients will be thrilled for your genuine attempt to make contact.
Whatever mediums by which you make yourself available, you must stay active on. You should rarely be automated. Make your connection personal. You’ll receive many referrals because you go out of your way to be available for customers. That has always been the mark of a good agent, old school or not.
One thing should be made clear: new methods of advertising and engaging are not a product of the new methods of marketing. The new marketing comes from a need to shift methods of advertising and engaging.
This means that, for the most part, the new way of going about real estate is going to be more beneficial for the customer – but only because it was built upon the old way of doing things. It should not be viewed as a battle of old school vs new school in real estate, but rather how the two can work together.
It’s like the saying; you have to know the rules to break them. Some Realtors may think the young kids are breaking the rules. But be open-minded to the idea that maybe they just knew what rules to break.
What do you think? Did the new school mentality simply expound upon what was working well for agents in the past? Or do young agents seem to be disregarding the key elements of marketing and customer service set by older agents? Let us know in the comments!