Most agents know it can be a fine line between using technology to reach more clients and aid productivity and that which stifles personalisation and nullifies the human touch. In Transform XII, we explored the possibility of using technology to personalise communication, build strong relationships and keep it low cost. Here are some of the takeaways.
On the surface, mass personalisation is a juxtaposition.
Think about it. When you consider something personalised, you think it’s unique to you, a one-off, and a good or service that no one else has.
So how can you have mass personalisation? Surely the two don’t fit together. On the surface, it appears impossible.
But if you shift your thinking a little, you’ll discover it’s not.
Take lego bricks for example. There are 400 billion of them in the world – they’re mass-produced.
But, they’re also personalised in that they come in different sets that appeal to a wide range of people’s interests – vet clinics, police cars, beach houses, dinosaurs and, for the big kid in all of us, Star Wars.
When it comes to real estate, mass personalisation works on the same principles.
Technology is just like the lego brick production line, equipping agents with an abundance of tools to automate communication.
Automation means agents are more efficient, more productive, can communicate with clients en masse, and usually do it more cost-effectively.
Where things get tricky with technology and mass communication is there’s the potential to amplify the wrong message.
What if the message you’re pushing out means nothing to your target market and doesn’t speak to what they need to know when searching for the right agent?
And you haven’t just told or sent it to one person but hundreds, or even thousands.
Transform speaker and Kolmeo Chief Executive Officer Scott Bateman says it’s one thing to know how to use technology’s smarts and low-cost benefits, but you also need to understand when the human touch is more important.
“A lot of the time, we are automating our way through an opportunity to be building a relationship with people, and we miss it because we’re relying on the system to do the heavy lifting to make it cheap to do,” he says.
If you think about the airline industry, the customer’s core need is to fly quickly and safely from A to B. All of the airlines do this and usually even fly the same plane.
The differentiation and personalisation come in the added services you can select at an extra fee – choosing your seat, checked baggage, wifi, extra legroom and a meal or snacks.
When it comes down to it, there’s no point lumping all of these things onto the cost of a ticket if your market doesn’t want them. It’s far better to strip the cost of an airfare back to the core need the traveller has and let them personalise their flight with the services they want.
“If you’re in property management, the core need that you serve is that someone has a property they want to earn money from,” Scott says.
“If you’re in sales, someone has a property that they want to get money for from selling. That, at its core, is pretty simplistic.
“But there’s a series of other things that we do that can shape how people feel. So this is the quality of your marketing, open for inspections, tenant selection, buyer management, negotiation and so on.
“What you need to work out is which things you should do in a personalised fashion or en masse.”
Another risk of relying on technology and mass communication is not just putting the wrong message out but the wrong message in the wrong place and at the wrong time.
Elite Agent Managing Editor Samantha McLean shared some marketing wisdom in Transform and says the big risk with using tech to mass communicate is that you’ll end up sounding just like every other agent.
This makes it difficult to build trust with the client, and when there are no differentiating factors, they will usually select their agent based on price.
“We all want to market ourselves and grow our business, but marketing often feels uncomfortable,” Samantha says.
“It has an ‘Ick’ factor about it at times.
“We know that agents follow other agents, and they see what they’re doing, and they think, ‘I should do that too’. But it doesn’t work, and that’s because they’re not talking to their market.”
Samantha says when agents enter this “echo chamber of uniformity”, their ability to personalise their marketing is severely limited.
When this happens, it can be tempting for agents to turn to more technology and more ‘tools’ to try and reach their market, but a scattergun approach rarely hits the desired target, and the risk is agents become distracted by the ‘many’ rather than striping their method back.
“That’s when agents start thinking, ‘This is all too hard’,” Samantha explains.
“They’ve flipped and flopped around with their strategies, and we know multitasking is not a strategy for success.”
A personalised marketing plan
Samantha says in Transform XII participants tackled these issues by creating a personalised marketing plan based on Elite Agent’s Sales Caffeine marketing module.
The module focuses on attracting, nurturing and converting leads with a three-pronged process known as RRP – Relevance, Relationships and Presence.
- Relevance is all about creating the right message for your target audience.
- Relationship focuses on building person-to-person connections.
- Presence is about being in many places at once and giving your prospects the content they want.
“RRP is something that’s meant to work together,” Samantha says.
“If you only have one of those things, if you only have one R or just the P, then, be warned, it’s not enough.”
Four key pillars form the bones of the personalised marketing plan, with Samantha emphasising it’s critical to start with a clear idea of who you are marketing to.
- Create an authentic plan that naturally correlates to who you are as an agent. This also helps you devise a plan you will stick to.
- Create a plan that is useful to your customer, regardless of whether you have done business with them before.
- Devise a plan that attracts and nurtures leads to progress to higher conversion rates when it comes time to do business. The aim is to generate high connect-through rates instead of just click-through rates. The difference is when a customer views your content, they don’t just click past it but click on it and engage with you.
- Make the plan systemised so it becomes repeatable, easy and effortless.
Now you know what you need to do; you need to work out how you’re going to achieve it.
Mapping your market
Scott says the first step in mass personalisation is mapping your market.
“You need to map out what other options your customers have at their discretion and what would be different if they went to one of those other options,” he says.
“What you need to work out is what things you should be doing digitally, what you should be doing in-person and what you should be doing in a personalised fashion but en masse.”
Scott says typically, things agents do in-person have a greater impact on the customer but are often more expensive to complete.
At the opposite end of the scale, things done digitally are usually cheaper but don’t have as much impact on the customer.
The four-box matrix
Scott has a four-box matrix that divides activities according to cost and impact level, to engage in activities that are cost-effective and highly impactful.
“There’s no right or wrong with any of this but I want agents to think about and interrogate the things they do and which ones they might want to do differently,” he says.
Box 1: Not impactful and expensive
An agent gives a client a $300 bottle of wine as a gift, but the client doesn’t drink wine and doesn’t know it has cost a lot.
“So you’ve just spent a huge amount of time and money on something that has had zero impact,” Scott says.
Box 2: Impactful but expensive
The alternative is that through chatting with the vendor, the agent knows they love white wine, and their favourite is one from Margaret River.
“So this time you get a bottle of that wine, and while it’s only $40, you’ve handwritten a note saying you loved hearing their story about their trip to Margaret River, and you hope this brings back some fond memories of their time there,” Scott explains.
Box 3: Cheap but not impactful
The benefit of using technology is that it’s usually much more cost-effective, such as sending an email to clients to wish them a happy birthday. You can even schedule the email ahead of time.
Box 4: Cheap and highly impactful
Scott says this is what you’re aiming for – the best of both worlds.
Instead of sending a birthday email, record a 10-second personalised birthday message to clients. It’s quick to do, low cost and very personalised.
“There is a case for each of these, just as there is a time to go and spend big on what you do for someone but you’ve got to weigh it up against whether you’re getting the return from that investment,” Scott says.
The other cornerstones
Once you know your market and what is important to them, use this to create one piece of pillar marketing content a week.
It might be answering a commonly asked question or creating a market update via video or Instagram carousels.
Video is better as it’s more personal, but it’s also more daunting, so you can warm up to standing in front of the camera if you prefer.
Once you have this content, you can repurpose it across multiple online platforms to reach more people.
While Facebook may suit covering your business history, Instagram might be better suited to establishing your personal brand and personality, while LinkedIn is ideal for offering a professional tone of voice.
From funnel to flywheel
The sales funnel has been a cornerstone of marketing strategy for more than 100 years and while it has stood the test of time, Samantha says it’s time for it to step aside in favour of a more well-rounded approach – the flywheel.
Samantha says the funnel strategy, where a pool of potential customers flood in at the top of the funnel and a smaller number are converted to clients at the bottom, is faulty.
“There’s something wrong with this funnel, and it’s the assumption that the nurture process only occurs in that middle section,” she explains.
“So you don’t want to stop the nurture process when people become customers; you want to keep it going.”
You can do this by shifting your marketing strategy to a circular flywheel, where potential clients start as strangers and progress to becoming prospects, customers and promoters, with those promoters then attracting the next batch of strangers.
Unlike the funnel, you continue to nurture your past clients through social media, newsletters and video messages.
“In real estate, your flywheel, if you’re in sales, is past clients,” Samantha explains.
“It’s hard to get the flywheel going, but once you’ve done one client, you can afford to do more marketing, and when you do more marketing, you can bring in more clients and the flywheel keeps going.
“That’s how you end up with the growth, or the ‘kaboom’.
Tech tools to deliver mass personalisation
So, now that you know you need to provide relevant messages to your customers and be present through every stage of their journey, you need to work out how to use technology to deliver mass personalisation.
Personalisation builds trust with clients, and it’s possible to do this online and offline.
Every time you learn something new about a customer, note it down in your database. It might be what wine they like, or that they’ve just got a new puppy, along with their property details.
Whatever it is, keep a record so that you can use that information later to surprise and delight them, just as an online personal styling service called Stitch Fix did when they found out a client was in remission from cancer and was heading to the beach to celebrate.
With her next clothing delivery, they sent her a beach towel and a card congratulating her on the good news.
“These are the moments that matter,” Scott says.
“These are the moments that really connect a customer to you forever.”
Gartland sales agent and former head of training and growth at Openn, Will Ainsworth, told Transform he used a telemarketing company to do his open home callbacks on a Saturday.
To personalise the call, the telemarketer would say they were calling on behalf of Will and ask about the property they had inspected.
The telemarketers would then categorise the buyers into those that were interested in the property, a potential appraisal or listing and those that were not interested in the property.
Once a customer was filtered into the category where they were selling in the next 12 months, Will would contact them personally.
The telemarketing team also made notes on each customer so that when they called again, or Will did, they could start the conversation on a personal note, such as how their new grandchild was doing.
Will also uses WhatsApp groups as a way of keeping multiple vendors in the loop on important information, including a video the day before an open home and one immediately after it.
The video the day before to set the vendors up for the open doesn’t use names and is sent en masse, however, Will says it still feels personalised as clients can see him.
The post open home video is personalised with names and how the open went, including the numbers through, and it only takes a few seconds to film and send.
“As soon as I get in the car (after the open) I record the video message saying, ‘G’day Brock, it’s Will here. We had a really good open for inspection today…,” Will says.
Will’s third tool for mass personalisation is a nifty little trick where you record a voicemail, and a third party provider sends it to your database.
It’s known as ghost voicemail, and it means the recipient’s phone doesn’t ring – a missed call and a voicemail message simply appear.
Will says it’s the perfect tool for sending Christmas messages en masse.
“On Christmas Day, I do a pre-recorded voicemail that is sent to my entire database saying, ‘G’Day, it’s Will here. I just wanted to wish you and the family a very Merry Christmas. I hope you have a wonderful day’,” he says.
Final piece of the puzzle
Now that you know who your market is, what messages they want to hear, have created the right content and understand how to use tech tools to deliver it, you need to create a marketing calendar to push that content out.
Every day you should push out one piece of content using different platforms and mediums. Stay consistent so that you’re delivering the same type of content in the same way time after time.
“If you can systemise something, then it becomes repeatable, it becomes easy, and it becomes effortless,” Samantha says.
The Transform XII replays covering all of the concepts and platforms mentioned here (plus much more) are available to purchase in the Elite Agent App for $197.