The Video Brochure? The Digital PowerKard? One fundamental always applies in the ever changing world of real estate marketing and technological advancements.
By Dennis LeBlanc | Creative Director at Hobbs/Herder
If you are like me, you enjoy looking at old books and comics and seeing what people envisioned about the future and what technology looked like from their perspective so many years ago. It’s even more interesting to see how many things they envisioned that have come true in one form or another. From jet packs to wrist watch phones to electric cars, in our lifetime we’ve seen an incredible acceleration of new technologies once only dreamt about in comic books.
From the invention of the fax, the creation of email communication to the proliferation of cell phones, laptops, smart phones and tablets, it’s been interesting watching how technologies have entered the world of the real estate agents and have both liberated them and enslaved them. Some of you younger agents may find this incredible, but at one point in time, all new listings were published in a giant book that was printed at certain times. Can you imagine? Do you remember? The world is moving so fast, we can’t even imagine working as an agent under those conditions.
Greg Herder: Revolutionary
Let’s face it, it’s a full time job sorting through all the latest technologies and figuring out how to harness them to build and/or manage a real estate business. Back in the early 80’s, Greg Herder was a “revolutionary zealot” in the real estate industry as he preached the idea of a single real estate agent promoting him or herself with a personal brochure. He was literally kicked out of many offices for his (at the time) heretical ideas and suggestions.
Branding is Timeless
Flash forward almost 30 years and personal promotion is widely accepted practice for agents (though in our opinion, many agents are shorting themselves by using templated prospecting brochures from the many copycat “branding” companies that have sprung up over the years). Hobbs/Herder has built a nearly 30 year career teaching agents the art of correctly “branding” themselves, teaching agents that THEY are the product they need to promote. Not the house, not the office/company, but their unique, individual brand, life philosophy, your back story and style of service. You are the brand. Our clients who have embraced this and followed through know the power of a strong brand that consumers are attracted to, that they ask for by name, the consumers can see a difference between a branded agent and all the other seemingly identical professionals offering similar real estate services.
Student of the Game
With the goal of supporting the critical fundamental of branding as his guide, for over 30 years, Greg has carefully reviewed and studied the playing field as new technologies arise. He has built a nearly 30 year respected reputation for showing agents how to build their brand and how to HARNESS the new technologies to grow their business by expanding their brand. From personal brochures (radical at the time) to websites and social media and video and the world of online marketing and advertising, each step of the way, Greg has helped agents sort it all out and pointed them in the right direction to take each new marketing innovation, each new technology and maximize it to build an agents’ business and grow their brand.
My Futuristic Proclamation: Video IS the Future
When I first started at Hobbs/Herder, I always proclaimed to our new writers and designers that one day, our Personal Brochures and PowerKards would have active video playing on them when you opened them or viewed them. That they would play a recording or video image of the agent speaking directly to the reader. With the internet and tablets and smart phones already providing this, video has become one of the most powerful marketing tools of all time. All the Fortune 500 companies are embracing the power of video to build business, establish a rapport with a brand and communicate powerfully their marketing message. YouTube is proof of the power and reach of video.
Well, my prognostication about video and sound on our Personal Brochures has arrived. It’s still too cost prohibitive for the average agent or budget, but it’s here! There are a handful of companies who are adding screens on direct mail postcards and other printed pieces that will play a video, and there are companies who have added sound to the printed piece. The challenges in tapping into this technology are battery issues and per piece cost, but it is possible to mount a video screen on a printed piece of paper, or embed an audio player in a printed piece. But is it only a matter of time until they find a way to cheaply embed sound and audio into a printed piece? (I don’t want to get into the discussion about whether print is dead or not, that’s for a different blog post. Spoiler Alert: Print is NOT Dead. But the purveyors of digital marketing want you to believe that to help sell their services.)
Keep it Emotional
As we look forward into the future, what other technologies are headed our way? At Hobbs/Herder, the key is when you harness these technologies, you are looking for better and smarter ways to present and communicate your brand. Avoid slipping into the sins of the past where agents promote the house or the company and do not build an emotional based brand. Will your first printed brochure video attempt to make an emotional connection with the viewer, or will it be a shrill “I’m number one in service with such and such ABC Designation”? Will you use the new power of that innovation to try and close your prospect into submission, or will you build a rapport and an emotional connection that puts you on the menu as a potential agent they would feel comfortable calling (the true goal of an effective personal prospecting brochure)?
Greg Herder teaches that you must always be building and communicating your brand. As new technologies arise, it just presents more opportunity to communicate that brand to prospects, to make an emotional connection, to build rapport. It’s not an opportunity to clobber them over the head with what a great agent you are and how many designations you have achieved and how you (and only you) are number one in service. (Remember, the analogy is this: if you walk into a cocktail party, you don’t walk up to the first person you see and hand them your business card and proclaim what a great agent you are and ask them to list their house with you! That only scares people away and they consciously try to avoid you the rest of the party. Think about it, are you doing that with your unemotional, unbranded marketing you keep clobbering prospective home sellers and buyers with?)
So that is the moral of this technological parable that I have written. When sorting through the various technological innovations and new inventions, remember that one ageless fundamental will always apply (at least for the savvy agents who understand): build the brand and they will come.
Okay, so the video screen technology is not quite ready for the average direct mail postcard. But if you understand that direct mail is STILL one of the best ways to build a brand by reaching your prospective home owner RIGHT IN THEIR HANDS IN THEIR OWN HOME, you might want to read our new special report on Direct Mail.