#383 – Mail-Right Show: Is The Death of Traditional Real Estate Branding Here?
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Is The Death of Traditional Real Estate Branding Here?
Are you a real estate professional wondering if traditional branding is still relevant? This show will help explain the shift in real estate marketing and explore how digital tools reshape the industry. Learn how to stay ahead of the competition and build a successful business by understanding what consumers want from their real estate agents. Discover why traditional methods may no longer be enough to succeed in today’s market and see which strategies are proving most effective.
Episode Full Show Notes
[00:00:10.880] – Jonathan Denwood
Back, folks, to the Mail-Right Show. This is Episode 383. It’s me, Jonathan Denwood, and my co-host, Robert Newman. I’m doing the lead this week. We will discuss a great subject that Robert did a great video on, the death of traditional real estate branding. It’s a great subject. It was a great video. It’s going to be a great discussion. Before we go into the meat and potatoes of it, let me introduce my great co-host, Robert. Robert, would you like to introduce yourself to the new listeners and viewers?
[00:00:46.640] – Robert Newman
I’d love to. My name is Robert Newman. I founded Inbound Real Estate Marketing, better known as InboundREM. I talk about real estate marketing, SEO, inbound marketing, and real estate lead generation, and have a company that builds done-for-you marketing campaigns in those categories. Over to you, Jon.
[00:01:11.000] – Jonathan Denwood
Thanks, Rob. I’m the joint founder of Mail Hyphen. You get the power of real geeks with the flexibility and branding power of WordPress with Mail Write. So go over there, look at what we have to offer, and book a demo. I’m sure you’re going to be blown away. So Robert, the death of traditional real estate branding. You could give us a quick synopsis of this video that you did recently and some of your key thoughts on the subject.
[00:01:49.900] – Robert Newman
Yeah. I added this excitement, the really like, silly title to it because a day doesn’t go by, and you know this, Jon, where a realtor doesn’t call in and talk about branding. And then, when they start talking about branding, they talk about a traditional brand identity package. For those of you listening to the show that may not know what that is, that’s the letterhead, business cards, maybe throwing a sign on your car license plate, basically things that barely even move the needle in the digital age, things that are almost practically irrelevant and were almost entirely irrelevant during the pandemic. Because who is out there handing out business cards? Who is out there handing out letterhead? Who is out there doing any of that? So it got me to think that real estate branding has changed and hasn’t changed a little bit. It has changed 100 degrees. What people believe branding to be and what it actually is are two different things in my opinion. Now, you already know you’ve read the cliff notes, so I will ask you a loaded question here, John. Do you agree?
[00:03:13.940] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I totally understand where you’re coming from. I think I do. There might be a slight disagreement on the fringes, but the fundamental to noxious, which you’re trying to outline, is. But it is tricky because some traditional marketing methodologies still really work very effectively in real estate, whereas others… Business cards, I still have some, and I still hand them out at local events. It’s more habit than anything. Many young entrepreneurs and business owners don’t have them at all. So it’s a tricky strange era that we’re in, isn’t it, really, in some ways?
[00:04:03.010] – Robert Newman
Very much so. And so to go to your point about business cards, the only people that I’ve met or talked to recently are doing digital business cards, this metal card that you slap up against your phone and automatically downloads your information into somebody’s contact list. That’s what I’ve seen. I haven’t even seen traditional business cards. I have like 250 that I printed out when I started inbound rem, of which I’ve got about 50 left. And honest God, I think I’ve mostly lost the remaining 200. I think I may have handed out 25 business cards in seven years. But that’s not necessarily true of a salesperson selling real estate. But before we dive into that, I will give everybody the bullet points because I did this on a board where everybody could see it. I want to do the same thing in our podcast. So for those of you listening, here are the five points that comprise branding.
[00:05:08.800] – Jonathan Denwood
[00:05:09.390] – Robert Newman
Today’s age is in the 2020s of the modern real estate marketing era. Social proof is more important than visually based branding elements. Social proof reviews, what people say about you, what past clients say, and sold homes. Knowledge is more important than glad-handing or charisma. Proof is more important than Well, proof is just more important than word of mouth or buzz these days. That used to be the way it used to work. But I’m going to get into that a little bit. Personal brand, personal brand. This is one of the huge ones I’ve watched in real estate. Specifically, big brands have lost almost all of their cash. There are a few exceptions in specific markets, but most of the time, big brands have almost no authority anymore, and they don’t move the needle in how people choose their vendors. And this is one of my favorites because nobody ever knows what I’m talking about. A mission is more important than a mandate. Now, to go back to the beginning, John, social proof. When I talk to people about how they’re making decisions, and I talk to them, I am still making two or three sales calls a day with actual real estate agents, and I’ve been doing that for 14 years.
[00:06:53.430] – Robert Newman
And one of the things that really seems to have changed is that my dad, everybody I know who’s buying a home, everybody who’s buying anything, they seem to check out reviews. So my first question, before I even ask you what you think, when you go out and make a decision about, let’s just say you’re going to spend more than $100, maybe more than 200 on something, and you’re looking at a local service provider, whether that be a mechanic or a restaurant, you’re going to go eat out, you’re going to take somebody out on date, whatever it is. Jim, you’re going to sign up for do you read reviews?
[00:07:27.350] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I do. It’s a it depends on the amount of money, obviously. The more the ticket price of the purchase, probably the more research I do on that front, basically.
[00:07:47.520] – Robert Newman
Okay. So you look at social proof. When you read reviews, does it make a difference to your end decision?
[00:07:59.760] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s easily, well, obviously, if there’s a lot of bad reviews and they seem to be reasonably sane people. Being that both of us are service providers in the business to business sector. I’m not being flippant here. There are a minority of people that are unpleasable. Whatever you do, they will find some fault in it. And there’s a very small minority that I even question their sanity. So we’ve all been there. But if the reviews or the bad reviews are there’s a consistent pattern and they seem reasonable people, yes, it would influence me. Okay.
[00:09:01.800] – Robert Newman
You’re not alone. When I talk to people buying and selling real estate, when I talk to realtors buying and selling real estate, when I’ve designed my marketing campaigns, the clothes that I have, John, is mostly on the About page where we install Social Proof. These days, when we talk to a realtor who’s doing a lot of business out of a specific neighborhood or building, we make sure to get that sold home data on the web page to show, to start to demonstrate their expertise. And we find that it makes a very big difference in the performance of the page and registrations on the page and things of that nature. So I believe that social proof is more important than what we used to acknowledge as branding. The proof is in the pudding. And I believe, personally, and I feel like I have a lot of data to point in the direction. Now, what do you think, though? Because I feel like you’re saying, I agree, but with qualifiers.
[00:10:10.770] – Jonathan Denwood
Well, it’s just there are a lot of reviews aren’t really legitimate, are they? Depending on different platforms, utilize technology to stop orchestrated reviews. In some ways, Yelp’s policies are quite annoying when it comes to your ability to leave a review. But in some ways, you understand why their platform has got some loops that you got to jump through. So do Google, to some extent, a lot of these platforms because a lot of these reviews are semi orchestrated, aren’t they?
[00:11:01.660] – Robert Newman
Very much so. Now, 20 years ago, for those of you who are listening to the show who’ve been around that long, Century 21 was a dominant player because they had all these people in gold jackets that were on TV and all those…
[00:11:17.720] – Jonathan Denwood
Do you think I should get a gold jacket, Robert?
[00:11:20.720] – Robert Newman
I definitely think you should not, Jon. I do not think that either you or I are fitted out for the old style of branding. Do you remember back in the day, IBM had uniforms? Nobody remembers this anymore, but they did. Ibm had uniforms, Century 21 had uniforms. The big way to establish brand was to get all your people like soldiers running around in similar clothing and selling your service. And you did national advertising campaigns on radio and TV and newspapers. And that was the way that people used to do branding. That’s what a lot of Realtors still think that branding is. And I’m saying branding doesn’t work that way anymore. These days that branding is much more about informational intelligence. In other words, how can we prove that you, John, are an expert in your category of business that you say you’re good at? Let’s just say that you do do a TV ad. It’s no longer enough that you have an ad. You will not get conversions off that ad. You will get traffic back to a destination. That’s what you’ll get. You will not get your phone ringing. And I’ve done a lot of TV advertising when I was I used to work for Girls Gone Wild.
[00:12:31.410] – Robert Newman
We did about $7 million a month, and that made our phones ring off the hook. It was other things, though, that actually got people to sign up for continuity programs. So I speak from a relative level of experience in this category. Knowledge is the new branding. That’s what this whole video is about. It’s basically how do you prove that you know what you’re talking about? Social proof is certainly one way. Video is another way, which you and I seem to talk about almost every show at this point.
[00:13:09.930] – Jonathan Denwood
It does, doesn’t it?
[00:13:11.580] – Robert Newman
Yeah, that’s another way. Demonstrating through video that you know what you’re talking about. And you know how you do that. You just put a video on a web page and start talking about what you’re good at doing. That will come across as more authoritative than a newspaper article that somebody else has written about you. Now, that is a huge, massive change. I’m not saying that a newspaper article that somebody has written about you is a bad way to advertise yourself at all. It’s a good way to advertise yourself, but it isn’t necessarily going to get you the same amount of calls that it used to. It’s not enough to get somebody to pick up the phone. What I’m suggesting here, John, is that what it would be enough to do is send somebody to a website or Google My Business page or Zillow profile and open up somebody’s mind to the idea that they’re going to research you. And they might read your bio and they might look at your reviews, and then they might also look at your past sales. And if all those things were online, they would then call you. What do you think about that?
[00:14:26.500] – Jonathan Denwood
Yeah, I think you’re spot on. It’s the buyer’s journey. People pre qualify themselves to a much higher extent they used to. I wouldn’t say it’s totally, but depending on the price point, they do do a lot more pre research and pre qualify the vendor that they’re going to approach than they used to. And that process has only got more and more evident. And I think COVID even increased that, didn’t it? Because people just couldn’t went out there. They were at home and they were looking online, weren’t they?
[00:15:14.770] – Robert Newman
Yes, definitely. Now, everything that I’ve said to you, if all of you followed our shows, so far, I haven’t said anything new. We’ve said this a few different times. Now, the last thing, the closer to this subject, it’s something that a long ass time ago, like two years ago, a couple of other branding gurus came on the show and they surprised me. I think, John, that I voted for them to be one of my top 10 shows when you and I were doing top 10 podcast. It was like this man and woman who were not husband and wife, but they were really witty and sharp and they were branding experts. T hey’re the only other people that’s ever mentioned this last line item in connection to brand. The mission is more critical than mandate. This is your extra credit. This is what everybody should be tuning into the show for. This is the gem in the content that we’re providing the thing that will really move the needle that not that many people have talked to you about. And that is, okay, so, John, let’s pretend that you have 100 great reviews online about you.
[00:16:27.140] – Robert Newman
Let’s pretend that you’ve got a pipeline of way to drive people into those reviews. People are looking at them, so on and so forth. You’ve got somehow the reading them. You’re ranking organically. You’re driving them into paid advertising. Word of mouth, one way or the other, they’re arriving there. So all of that’s in place. But the person doing the reading has a friend, a brother, an aunt, an uncle, a sister who is in the same business as the one that they’re reviewing. They’re just trying to be polite and do their due diligence. They’re saying to themselves, Well, I’m about ready to spend $10,000 or $12,000. I should probably look around and make sure I’m finding somebody good. And they look and they go, Okay, this is great reviews. The pricing is a little high, but about in line with what my cousins is. Now, in that circumstance between those two people, I would submit that most likely the cousin is still going to get the business. But there is a way for you to tip the tip, the scales in your favor, and that is the following. It is something that Gary Vee and Chuck talks about a lot and does incredibly well.
[00:17:44.680] – Robert Newman
Your personal mission, who you are as a human being and what you believe in. If you’re thinking that this is the only thing that’s going to really move the needle or sell you 100 homes, I would be the first to say no, probably not. But if you are in a very competitive market with a lot of other people doing a lot of what you’re doing and a lot of other really qualified professionals coming up against you, which happens a lot in the luxury space and to some degree in the upper middle class space as well, then what sets you each? What makes everybody different? Well, at that point, it comes down to do you have a mission or something relatable to these people? That’s what really can create a difference, such as… Christophe Chew’s mission is he sleeps on the streets with homeless people once a year, every year. He does a huge drive about it. Post the content all over his sites. He has his dogs. He has his favorite luxury causes that he supports, and he’s extremely vocal about all of them. Joyce Ray has her set also. So does Jade Mills. She supports the arts.
[00:19:01.440] – Robert Newman
Christoff does the homeless thing. And guess what? I know from talking to all three of these people, or actually not Joyce Ray, I have not heard directly, that they end up doing business with people that also support the arts, that also believe that there’s a homeless crisis in LA. It’s not coincidental, John. I think that all things being equal when you measure two incredibly competent professionals who both have great reviews and you’re looking for something that may be the deciding factor, I think its mission is going to be more important. The mission more important, critical than mandate is what is the corporate mandate? The corporate mandate from Coldwell Banker is their tag line and things like that. And to be honest, I think that most people that are in the real estate business laugh at that shit. I think the prospects laugh at it. I think the people shopping for the homes. I just did this huge… What do you think, Jon? Do you think I’m out to lunch full of bologna, don’t know what I’m talking about?
[00:20:05.500] – Jonathan Denwood
No, not at all, Robert. But before we go for our break, I just want to comment about, which is true, a lot of people, I suppose it depends on where the market is at the moment. A lot of people, they do give themselves their home to either a relative or to a friend. And I would be totally the opposite, because employing a relative to sell your home initially might seem a good idea if it all pans out. But if it doesn’t, you’re in a really tricky situation. And it’s the same if you employed a reasonably close friend, it’s great. You want to be supportive, you want to that person, you want to be generous. But if it doesn’t pan out very well, you’re going to lose a friend. And business partnerships are totally different. I think a good business partnership can be very beneficial, but it could also be a nightmare. But it’s a totally different thing than employing a relative or a friend, because I think I would be reluctant to do it actually based on experience. I’d be happier just choosing somebody that I think is effective, that knows what they were doing, because if it doesn’t pan out, I’m going to have to get somebody else.
[00:21:45.840] – Jonathan Denwood
And that’s tricky if it’s a relative or friend.
[00:21:49.620] – Robert Newman
I don’t disagree with any of that you’re saying. But, John, why don’t you take us to break and we’ll be back. But I do have to tell you and everybody else listening to the show tonight that I only have the 30 minutes allotted for the show. So that’s probably 10 more minutes after we come back from break.
[00:22:03.630] – Jonathan Denwood
Right, that’s great. We’re going for a break, folks. We’ll be back in a few moments.
[00:22:08.430] – Robert Newman
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[00:22:34.210] – Jonathan Denwood
Back, folks. We’ve had a big dive about this traditional real estate marketing dine or is dead. Robert said some great thoughts. We’re going to go back into it. So Robert, on we go. So what’s your next thought about this fantastic subject?
[00:22:53.640] – Robert Newman
Well, so I do want to clarify, since we have a little bit of extra time and like my original video that I did on this, John, was 23 minutes and 21 seconds. And so we’re already 20 minutes into this one. And I really said what I wanted to say about the distinction between the two. But having said that, I do want to embellish so that people can get a full scope of what traditional real estate marketing used to look like. Bus b inches, geographic farming. There’s little elements here and there of traditional real estate marketing, traditional real estate branding that still work. Geographic farming, as far as I know, has worked about the same five years ago, 10 years ago. And what that looks like, so that everybody knows, you got to spend five or six years building up a reputation with the audience that you’re sending these postcards to. There’s no trackability, nothing like digital. You don’t know if you’re getting a visit or somebody’s looked at your card a hundred times or throwing away a hundred times. You don’t know until the phone call comes in. And so geographic farming is marketing in the dark is what I like to call it.
[00:24:00.760] – Robert Newman
And so you don’t know for sure if you’re establishing your brand or not, which is probably why it’s one of the least popular types of marketing that there is. But it also seems to be pretty consistent from what I can gather from the people that I’ve talked to about it. So there’s that. There’s radio, which still is a thing that I’ve heard agents do. J ade Mills still advertises in the back of the opera digest. Places that she feels that really high net worth individuals spend their time, she still advertises directly and in print and does full page. The advertisements I’ve seen from her are full bios of her accomplishments as a real estate agent, along with a phone number to say, Would you like to have a consultation? That’s it. Full on, This is who I am, and she sponsors a lot of different stuff, a lot of the arts. S he is a very prolific human. If you’re enjoying the stage or a theater or opera, that’s where I’ve seen Joyce or Jade a lot. Those are traditional forms of marketing. I feel like what that does for you is it gets somebody to pick up their phone when they’re reading the magazine and Google you.
[00:25:30.550] – Robert Newman
That’s because that’s what I did. I watched a couple of other people do the same thing. So likely, Jade Mills is in conjunction with this advertising, is getting a lot of direct traffic back to her website. That’s how it’s going to be identified. And now people are really starting to say, Let’s do the deep dive. Do I think anybody’s calling her off the back of those opera magazines? No, I really don’t. Do you have an opinion about that, John?
[00:25:58.100] – Jonathan Denwood
I’m not thinking. I’m doing it’s a branding exercise. And like all branding exercises, it’s hard to measure.
[00:26:07.440] – Robert Newman
Fair enough. And my supposition here, one of the suppositions I’m going to make is, ladies and gentlemen, given the trend, all the branding that we used to do back in the day was branding in the dark. We didn’t know how many people watched our television. We were told by the Nielsen people, you’re going to be in 7 million households. Did we ever know for sure? No, we really didn’t. What I love about digital, and the reason I am a digital and the reason I am a digital market, it’s all trackable. If I spend $1,000 online, I get to see at least, did those people go anywhere? Did I get an impression? I may not get calls, but at least I know it happened. Do you understand what I’m saying? So one of the reasons I think that real estate marketing is legitimately slowly dying is as a newer generation takes up the mantle, they’re realizing some of these elements that I’m talking to you about, John. They’re realizing that marketing in the dark is a little harder to quantify your dollars spent. You just don’t know if they’re working for you or not. That’s the same problem that a lot of people have had.
[00:27:12.910] – Robert Newman
So when you start being faced with two different types of marketing, one that has a big buzz like digital, plus it’s trackable like digital, I feel like traditional is becoming a smaller and smaller bucket, and it’s going to continue to be that way until it becomes 100 % niche. What do you think?
[00:27:32.880] – Jonathan Denwood
I totally agree with you. I just think it’s a really fascinating industry because all the data that seems, some level legitimate, is the appalling inability of most agents to keep in contact with their customer base to regularly continue any relationship. I can’t remember off my head what the figure is that most people selling the house don’t utilize the same age. And obviously, that’s down to between five and seven years before somebody buys or sells their house again. But the total lack of follow through and keeping any relationship going, which is easy to say, harder to do, but some attempt. And also a lot of people, and this can be down to totally unrealistic expectations, but it does also see that a lot of people’s actual experience of their real estate professional, a lot of them don’t have a great experience, basically. So I think there’s some fundamental problems. But if you can develop the skills, the service skills, and the internal processes, it’s going to reap rewards around having those reviews, having that relationship and reputation that I think you’ve expressed so well in the first half and in the second half, Robert.
[00:29:42.130] – Robert Newman
Well, I think we’re in a court. So for those of you listening to the show, listen, we could just keep going on and on and on about traditional branding. So here’s what my overall 10,000 foot view, probably not going to change. Traditional branding used to be enough to get you a call on a deal. It really did. See your picture on the Coke can or bus bench enough times, somebody might call you and be ready to do a deal. I really think that 98 % of the business that’s out there has gone away from that. What you should expect is that they’re going to go to someplace else and research you. Maybe they Google your name, maybe they go to a website. So the close for me, if anybody was going to say, Well, Robert, how would you do traditional branding? I’d say I’d send them someplace digital. Zillow Profile at worst, my own website at best, and probably very specifically, my About page or our landing page designed to tell a story and try to make a connection the very minute they visited that space. That’s what I would do. And then once that was established, I’d send them someplace else in the site, or then I would go for my call to action, such as, are you ready to have a consultation or carry on the discussion?
[00:31:06.390] – Robert Newman
Go down to the bottom of the website, use my calendar link. That’s how I would do it.
[00:31:13.660] – Jonathan Denwood
I think there’s just a misconception. I think obviously you’re in the content area of providing great educational content that you, with your clients and your team, you produce really quality content for their websites and attract people to the website through organic search. The thing with duck mail, we focus on paid Facebook, Google, on WordPress with our CRM and our email and text trips campaigns. But what a lot of people, I feel, don’t understand is that even if you’re utilizing paid advertising to drive traffic to that website, if they’re really serious, they’re going to look over that website. They’re going to have a good look over the website that they’ve been driven to by paid advertising. And you got to have all the things. You got to have reviews, you got to have video, you got to have a message that resonates with the audience. I think just driving them to the landing page, you’re going to, yes, get them, hopefully get their email or their phone number and you’d be able to make a call. But I think you also need some content, some branding, and some materials on your website, even if you’re mostly using paid traffic.
[00:33:03.410] – Jonathan Denwood
I think the most effective is a hybrid. But for various reasons, a lot of agents can’t. But that’s my big picture of the situation in a way. Hopefully, I’m not waffling, Robert.
[00:33:23.950] – Robert Newman
Well said as usual, a little bit. But we both waffled. So people have made it this far into the show, they know that. John, I must go. So why don’t you sign up?
[00:33:35.660] – Jonathan Denwood
Yes, I’ll wrap it up.
[00:33:37.120] – Robert Newman
Sign up. Yeah, sure.
[00:33:39.870] – Jonathan Denwood
Robert, what’s the best way for people to find out more about your thoughts and your insights, Robert? So if.
[00:33:47.180] – Robert Newman
Anybody is interested in learning more about me or the company that I founded, go to inboundrem. Com. Just inboundrem. Com, look at the services page or the About page. Either way, you’ll learn a lot about me and what we do.
[00:34:01.110] – Jonathan Denwood
That’s great. And if you want to learn more about MelWright and how we give you the power of real geeks, but the branding ability and ownership that you can only get from WordPress, go over to Mel hyphenWright. Com. We’ll be back next week with a great either guest interview or another great topic. We’ll see you soon, folks. Bye.
[00:34:23.190] – Robert Newman
The Hosts of The Mail-Right Show
Jonathan Denwood & Robert Newman