Top takeaways from AREC 2023 – Day 1

More than 4000 real estate professionals packed the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre for Day 1 of AREC 2023. This year’s headline speaker was Oscar-winner and Hello Sunshine Founder, Reese Witherspoon, who revealed storytelling and connecting with people is the most powerful marketing tool of all, whether you’re in movies or real estate. Here are all of our Day 1 highlights….

Reese Witherspoon – The power of storytelling

Star actress and Hello Sunshine Founder Reese Witherspoon says the strategy for long-term success is to put the client or, in her case, the audience, at the heart of every story you tell.

The Oscar winner told a full AREC crowd that ego is the antidote to creativity and does not create a recipe for longevity.

“I’ve been in this business for 34 years now, I’ve seen people come and go and ego is the death of creativity,” Reese said.

“My business is very collaborative, but ego will stop every collaboration.

“I’ve seen some of the most high ego people who, they succeed, they really do, they peak, but they don’t have longevity.

“Why? Because it’s all about them.  It goes back to how they’re making the client feel.

“If you’re looking only at yourself in the mirror, that might be good, it might last a minute, but it is not a strategy for the long-term.”

Reese said storytelling was one of the most important skills you can develop, with the most critical element being having a clear view of your end viewer or client.

She said when she created Hello Sunshine, she did so knowing it was to be a multi-platform media company that put female filmmakers and storytellers at the centre of each production, knowing that the core audience would also be females. 

She said storytelling was the way to connect with people.

“There’s nothing more powerful as a sales tool than understanding there’s a beginning, a middle and an end to every story and the result you’re trying to produce,” Reese said.

“But the one thing I tell everyone in my company is, rather than the story you’re trying to tell for yourself, is how does it make people feel? 

“So before you tell the story, have an idea of what response you want to elicit.

“With every Instagram post you make, with every movie, with every piece of copy that you’re writing, with every picture that you’re taking, think about what it is that you want to make people feel.”

Ryan Serhant – Big money energy

Australian real estate agents can “control the market” and forge their best year ever despite tougher market conditions, according to the biggest agent in the world, Ryan Serhant.

The founder of SERHANT. and star of Million Dollar Listing New York said it all comes down to mindset and your ability to present yourself with ‘big money energy’.

“You can have the worst year of all time if you allow the market to happen to you versus you happening to the market,” Ryan said.

Ryan said the market is tough at the moment, with lower than normal stock levels, higher interest rates, but that doesn’t mean success is not within reach.

“You can actually control the market and have the greatest year ever right now because volatility creates opportunity,” he said. 

Ryan said the secret is to act and operate as if you have already made it because “success begets success”.

He says when he applied to be on Million Dollar Listing 13 years ago, he was living in a tiny apartment that saw him share a bathroom with 17 other people.

But when he went into the audition he acted as though he was already highly successful and he won the roles despite his relative lack of experience. 

“There is one unique quality that all ultra successful people share, and it completely unlocked the way I think about this business,” Ryan noted.

“It set me up on a rocketship of success and it’s what’s carrying me in this market today.

“It’s big money energy.”

Ryan said at that point in time he couldn’t control how good his suit was or where he was from, but he could change his energy and that could change his life, the kind of deals he made and the kind of money he could make.

“I could control the image I presented to other people,” he said.

“I remember thinking to myself, ‘If I walk into a room where no one knows me, do I want to present low rent Ryan in a $50 suit, or kickass Ryan, who’s successful?

“I’m going to be that person, so why don’t I start acting like it now.”

Madison Sutton – Mastering social media

Don’t let the pursuit of perfection stand in the way of engaging an audience on social media.

That’s the message from Madison Sutton, one of SERHANT’S young guns, who is well known as The NYC Agent across multiple online platforms.

Madison said it “breaks her heart” when she hears agents say things like “no one wants to see me on social media” because, contrary to popular belief, platforms such as Instagram and Facebook aren’t about perfection but about letting people in on who you are.

“Real estate is no longer just about the man in a big suit with a red tie,” she said.

“It’s about the mum, it’s about the runner, it’s about the foodie, it’s you.

“Stop thinking, no one wants to see my type of personality online, because your clients come to you for that exact reason.”

Madison said to combat this fear you need to understand your why and to realise you won’t master something perfectly straight away, but you will with time and experience.

For example, Madison says she’s training to run the New York City marathon.

“My goal is to run the New York City Marathon, but that’s not my ‘why’,” she said.

“My ‘why’ is to get fitter, it’s to build mental toughness… but if I go out on Day 1 and try and run a marathon, I will fail because it’s not how things work.

“So if you’re expecting to post magnificent content Day 1 and then you see it and it’s not that – don’t stop, you have to practise it, just like anything else in life.”

The GOAT (greatest of all time) panel – Alexander Philips, Marcus Chiminello, James Tostevin and Phil Harris

Four of Australia’s best agents shared their knowledge on the AREC stage, highlighting the importance of hard work, building relationships and continuing to learn despite their wealth of experience.

Marshall White’s James Tostevin said he’s still often reminded of advice a former boss gave him, that there’s nothing worse than unfulfilled potential.

He said there are some lazy agents who are not prepared to “do the grind” and despite being in the real estate industry for more than 30 years, he still has room to improve.

“It took me eight or nine years to have any success,” James said.

“I started learning from people around me … and I think by going to AREC each year, I can only get better. And I’m going to get better.

“I’m 56 years of age and I’m not done yet.”

Fellow Marshall White Director Marcus Chiminello explained that not all contacts in his database held the same value but that there were about 100 that were key people of influence. 

“I looked at what was relevant, who was relevant and I built really great connections with those people,” he said.

They, by default, became my market.

“People talk about real estate so frequently… So when I was spoken about, I wanted to be spoken about really positively by the most influential people in my market.”

PPD Real Estate’s Alexander Phillips said nurturing his database is what set him apart in writing between $10 million and $15 million GCI annually. 

He says he makes between 100 and 200 prospecting calls every week and he has been in touch with some former clients for 15 years or more.

“Want you want to become as an agent, I believe, is the agent where they feel obligated to use you because you’ve kept in touch for so long,” Alexander said.

“It’s uncontested real estate.”

Tom Ferry – Mindset, model and marketing

Real estate agents can’t afford to rely on myopic marketing in 2023, affording to top US coach Tom Ferry.

In part 1 of his Mindset, Model and Marketing presentation on Day 1 at AREC, Tom revealed many agents fall into the trap of sticking with what they’re good at, but in today’s market everyone needs to do everything – text, email, call, voicemail and direct mail.

“You cannot be myopic in 2023,” he said.

“You can’t say to yourself, ‘I’m really good at direct mail, so I’m only doing that’ or ‘I’m really good at phone calls, so I’m only doing that’.

“You need to do everything today to connect with consumers.”

Tom said about five per cent of the contacts in your database will sell in any one year and marketing to those contacts can be as simple as sending them a text message. 

He says a simple marketing strategy can be to take a screenshot from a listing portal of a property near your former client’s home, text it to them and say:

“Hey, I was thinking about you today, I saw this house, it’s near you and what do you think of the price? I’ve got my opinion, let me know yours,” Tom advised.

Tom said for every 500 texts you’ll list about 21 properties, but even more than that, the text is a personal way to start the journey.

“It starts the conversation,” he said.

“This one is so good, it’s so easy and so fast that most people say, ‘I do it from my car and I do it in the morning when I come out of the gym’.

“Every single person in your database wants to know how much their home is worth, they’re desperate to find that information, and you’re their agent of choice.

“If you’re not doing this are you saying it’s ok for them to find the information somewhere else?”

Sean Hughes – Marketing harder

If Sean Hughes was a new agent in today’s market he would push harder on marketing, including vendor paid advertising, and use iconic listings as a trampoline to build more traction in the market.

In a sit down interview with AREC MC Tom Panos, Sean said when businesses, such as Subway, opened a new store a marketing budget forms part of the known, upfront capital costs.

But he said real estate didn’t always operate in the same manner, despite the fact he believes it should.

Sean says if he was a new agent again, he’d treat setting up his agency with a business mindset, with marketing funds allocated as part of the capital expenditure associated with set-up.

He said one of the main areas he would leverage is big or iconic listings. 

“Aside from the time and energy we’d be giving we’d say, ‘how about we do the fee at ‘this’ but you stump in ‘that’ for marketing, and really make that statement in the marketplace,” Sean says.

“Some of the big springboards we’ve had in our careers have been in regards to getting really iconic homes and marketing them really well.

“We’ve generated a really long-standing butterfly effect off the back of that.”

Sean, who generates about $4.5 million GCI per year, also revealed that he generates listings through the understanding that buyers usually become sellers, through open homes and through “chasing” business, despite being an attraction agent.

He said he still makes an average of 80 calls every day, not to ‘get a sale’ but to continue building relationships that will pay off in the near or long-term.

“There’s a lot of chase in that and, while we have a great attraction business, which is a great world to live in because people come to you, there’s less competition in that,” Sean said

“But those phone calls, they’re not necessarily about having an outcome attached straight away.

“I’m just building those relationships.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.