STAND­ING OUT IN A DIG­I­TAL WORLD

SEIZ­ING OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES IN A PE­RIOD OF GREAT DIS­RUP­TION, Ste­fan Wil­liams ex­plains why cam­paign­track went allin on dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ‘be­fore the storm'.

Elite Agent - - CONTENTS - Ste­fan Wil­liams

Hands up if you’re a sheep and fol­low what ev­ery­one else does... Just kid­ding: sheep don’t have hands! The rel­e­vance of that bad joke is that if you just do what ev­ery­one else does all the time, you're not go­ing to stand out. It's a good segue to the story of our own dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing prod­uct.

Like many in the real es­tate in­dus­try, cam­paign­track has been around for a while. Our whole rea­son for ex­ist­ing was to give our clients an edge, en­sur­ing their ads looked bet­ter than their com­peti­tors’, their signs more at­trac­tive, their mar­ket­ing pro­cesses more stream­lined and their brands bet­ter ex­e­cuted. What got us out of bed, and still does, is a pas­sion for real es­tate mar­ket­ing.

Over the years we have seen, been part of and in some cases driven revo­lu­tion and change di­rectly – on­line art­work de­sign per­haps most no­tably. Process per­fected, job done, go home? Life is not that sim­ple, though, and the grind­ing of the Dar­winian wheel means change is al­ways upon us.

Tech­nol­ogy is speed­ing up the world as we know it, and I can hon­estly say that I have never seen such enor­mous change in such short time­frames as we have to­day.

The grind­ing of the Dar­winian wheel means change is al­ways upon us.

If you just do what ev­ery­one else does all the time, you're not go­ing to stand out.

This is both good and bad. Good if you are smart enough to take ad­van­tage of ma­jor shifts; bad if you don’t.

Two years back we had a good hard look at our­selves and re­alised that, while we had an in­dus­try-lead­ing busi­ness, noth­ing fun­da­men­tal had changed in a while. We needed to mix things up, chal­lenge our­selves and lead in new di­rec­tions. That was the rea­son that we cre­ated our Ad­vanced In­ter­net Mar­ket­ing (AIM) di­vi­sion back then and in­vested mil­lions into de­vel­op­ing some­thing new. A leap of faith or cal­cu­lated fu­tur­ism? How about a dash of both.

Dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing was, and still is, dom­i­nated by tra­di­tional real es­tate por­tals. These very clever com­pa­nies had been in the right place at the right time and es­sen­tially owned the dig­i­tal prop­erty mar­ket­ing space, pric­ing their prod­uct ac­cord­ingly. The rise of Google and Face­book, and ad­vances in our own tech­nol­ogy, cre­ated an op­por­tu­nity to pro­duce an en­tirely dif­fer­ent way to ad­ver­tise to buy­ers and sell­ers – one that wasn't de­pen­dent on the por­tals and that also pre­sented a mas­sive brand­ing op­por­tu­nity for our clients.

In our eyes it was a no-brainer, and we felt cer­tain that so­lu­tions like ours would be­come as ubiq­ui­tous as the real es­tate sign­board – every prop­erty would have it. Of course we saw an op­por­tu­nity for our­selves but also for the in­dus­try, in a time of com­ing dis­rup­tion.

The in­vest­ment was a hard sell to our share­hold­ers: place a bet on some­thing that was, at the time, over the hori­zon. I was asked why, and my an­swer was this: Ex­cep­tion­ally well-branded mar­ket­ing has built many suc­cess­ful real es­tate busi­nesses, at­tract­ing bet­ter agents and get­ting higher com­mis­sions – and bet­ter sell­ing prices, too. We can de­liver this ex­act thing into the new dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing us­ing plat­forms like Google and Face­book.

The de­vel­op­ment jour­ney has been in equal parts ex­cit­ing and chal­leng­ing. Aside from the enor­mous R&D project, the big­gest chal­lenge so far has come from an un­likely place. The in­dus­try it­self is change-re­sis­tant – at its peril.

What has sur­prised me is that dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing seems to come se­cond for so many peo­ple, es­pe­cially with the rapid de­cline of print ad­ver­tis­ing. Case in point: we do many re­brands for our clients and we are al­ways given art­work de­signs for print ads, brochures, signs, busi­ness cards, let­ter­heads and so on – but rarely are we given any dig­i­tal ad de­signs as part of any of this. Al­most never is a Google or Face­book ad tem­plate in­cluded in the de­signs.

How can this be? Is the in­dus­try re­ally happy to be re­duced to list­ings on por­tals, or ads that are branded with other busi­nesses’ lo­gos that di­rect traf­fic to web­sites you don't own? To put things into per­spec­tive with clients, I of­ten like to cite this ob­vi­ous fact. You rightly put a lot of time into en­sur­ing your sign looks good, and hun­dreds if not sev­eral thou­sand peo­ple will likely see each sign. But dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is far more vis­i­ble when done right.

We reg­u­larly de­liver hun­dreds of thou­sands of ads per prop­erty across Google and Face­book. This is the place your brand needs to look its best nowa­days; this is the place you want your brand to shine and im­press. With the help of clever ad tar­get­ing and re­tar­get­ing tech­nol­ogy, this is also the place you will find buy­ers and sell­ers who are not on the real es­tate por­tals. Oh, and it's kind of in­ex­pen­sive too. Why, then, doesn't every agent say they want to do some­thing along these lines for every list­ing? I won’t say I suf­fered any doubt about our di­rec­tion, but it be­came clear that we had a long way to go in terms of ed­u­cat­ing the mar­ket. Just be­cause I was a con­vert didn't mean ev­ery­one else was.

Proof of ef­fi­cacy is a great tool to have, and the great thing about dig­i­tal is you can mea­sure it. We know, for ex­am­ple, ex­actly how many peo­ple see each ad, how many click on it, how many then make an en­quiry or call. We know ex­actly how many peo­ple are in each client’s re­mar­ket­ing or re­tar­get­ing au­di­ence. We also know that com­mit­ting at scale, for most if not all of your list­ings, de­liv­ers far bet­ter re­sults on every level ver­sus ad-hoc use. We’re talk­ing not only more buyer in­ter­est in your list­ings but, crit­i­cally, more leads for sell­ers who see your shiny, beau­ti­ful brand on­line a lot.

We know it works, but how do you con­vince a po­ten­tial client of the ben­e­fits? Start with talk­ing to lead­ers wher­ever pos­si­ble.

So, talk­ing about lead­er­ship, this is where we have seen true vi­sion from some of our clients that has trans­formed their busi­nesses in won­der­ful ways. Take this quote from one of Ray White’s largest fran­chise groups:

“We have launched an AIM pack­age on every list­ing since Septem­ber last year, and our agents would never let us go back to a time without AIM. We are re­ceiv­ing more in­quiries on some prop­er­ties through AIM than we are get­ting through the tra­di­tional por­tals com­bined.” Ray White Lead­ers, Wellington, NZ

Feed­back like this is won­der­ful and helps re­in­force our con­vic­tion that we made the right in­vest­ment back then. Of course, there are other clients say­ing that they don’t think dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, be­yond the por­tals, is im­por­tant enough to put on every list­ing. This po­si­tion is not sup­ported by the facts, though. Based on tens of thou­sands of cam­paigns of data, we know that ven­dors like Google and Face­book as part of their mar­ket­ing cam­paign – ac­tual ads, not just posts on Face­book. In fact, smart agents are us­ing this to win busi­ness over agen­cies who have a more ‘steam age’ ap­proach.

Whether you’re a prin­ci­pal, an agent or a brand, you need to get se­ri­ous about dig­i­tal – and soon. It’s a time of fab­u­lous op­por­tu­nity for savvy peo­ple, and a time of in­evitable de­cline for oth­ers. Be a leader, em­brace dig­i­tal, own your on­line brand and data – it's easy, be­cause all the work is done for you. Lead or fol­low; it’s your choice.

Ste­fan Wil­liams is the co­founder of Cam­paign­track, the mar­ket­ing plat­form driv­ing prop­erty mar­ket­ing of agen­cies and agents na­tion­wide. For more in­for­ma­tion visit cam­paign­track.com.

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