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Bye Bye Twinkie: What Real Estate Agents Can Learn From Twinkie

No More Twinkies

Seems like everywhere I’ve looked over the last week I heard about Hostess, the makers of the iconic Twinkie, filing for bankruptcy. Growing up in Upstate New York, I remember Twinkles fondly from my youth. Walking to the corner store, lawn mowing or snow shoveling money in hand, with my best friend Benny and coming back with Now and Laters and yes, Twinkies. Twinkies were ingrained in the American lexicon. There was even a defense based upon it {Google it}.  Notice I said “was”. While many are shocked, even outraged that the Twinkie is going “the way of the dodo” ask yourself this: aside from this week, when is the last time you bought a Twinkie? As I hear of the stories of opportunists buying up Twinkies only to put them on eBay I wonder – how many real estate agents will be going the way of the Twinkie.

Things have Changed

Twinkies were the victim of a changing world, of our changing habits, as consumers. Everywhere we look today we see examples,  attempts at healthier lifestyles. This year restaurants with a certain number of locations were required to list the calorie count on their menus and the New York City Board of Health approved a ban on the sale of large sugary-sweetened beverages.  Things are changing, the Twinkie – once said to survive a nuclear war is no more – not because of a bomb, but the shift in our behavior.

Mark my words – there will be many real estate agents that find themselves irrelevant and thus out of the business, victims, like the Twinkie of a changing world; “going the way of the dodo” or the Twinkie as I say.  Here are some ways to tell if you could be one of them.

1.) You Think You’re The Product- you believe you are the product and your real estate marketing shows it. Everything, from your “For Sale” signs to your business newsletter is all about you. Your business card features a large glamour shot of you – some time ago and likely much skinnier, leaning on a photoshopped “for sale” or “SOLD” sign. Below your picture is your phone number and fax {yes I said fax} and below this are your designations: ABR, CRS, GRI, CDPE, ePRO etc and then a clever tagline.  One thing is clearly missing though – value.

2.) Social Media – you have it, Facebook, maybe even Pinterest but it is for entertainment as you do not know how to use it for business. You have 800 facebook friends and over 80% of them are other real estate agents; many in your geographic area. If you are on Twitter, likely only a username reserved; you haven’t touched it at all and insist “Twitter is Dumb”. Like your other real estate marketing you use social media as a sounding board to talk about yourself or announce your latest “Not REO” listing or talk about why every consumer should have a real estate agent and of course – why that agent should be you.

3.) Website – like most real estate agents, you have one and like most real estate agents, you don’t own it –  it was provided to you by your real estate company. It, like your other marketing is all about you, only your website also features information about your company, how consumers recognize and trust that brand and national awards to that effect. Your website has an IDX allowing consumers to search for homes but you have no clue how to get them there to do it.

4.) SEO – you don’t know what it is. You have heard of it, possibly thought it was another designation like the ones you proudly showcase on your  wrapped Hummer, social media channels, Arizona Cardinals sports schedules and calendars. You have NO CLUE how someone could find you on the Internet if they didn’t know you personally.

5.) Sales Training – you have little to none. Everything you know is about your company. You don’t know how to overcome objections and your sales skills are reduced to 5 or 10 choice “one liners” you picked up  at the latest and greatest national sales convention or trainer that stopped in your area. The same one liners the other 1000 real estate agents in attendance use as well.  “Searching for homes is like an iceberg….”

6.) Video – You watch it constantly, even prefer it yourself as do your kids or grandkids. They borrow your iPhone, iPads or other mobile devices to watch videos yet you have not thought deeper as to why that might be. You are not using video in your real estate business to market your real estate listings or creating screencasts to explain the buying or selling process, purchase contract, listing or marketing presentation or housing market information. If you have a video on your website or custom facebook page it is likely about why consumers prefer or trust your national franchise or how much real estate your company sells.

7.) No USP. You don’t know what it means or even why you should have one. A USP or Unique Selling Proposition is what makes you unique, different, decidedly better than your competition. What is so special about you? Why should a consumer choose to work with you? What problem are you the solution to? If you don’t know these answers don’t expect the consumer to know them either.

It’s NOT About You

There was a time when the real estate agent was the product. A time when any information about a property for sale passed through you. The clock started ticking when homes for sale were readily available on the Internet. Consumers are looking {in part} for homes for sale online; marketing yourself and how great you are is a sure fire way not to help them find you. In the old days, a consumer would come to you and tell you what kind of home they were looking for, today more and more are saying “these are the 5 homes I want to see”.  We, as a society have never been closer to each other than we are today. “6 degrees of separation” is now more like 4 because of tools like social media. 98% of consumers are starting their home search on the Internet and 80% will choose the first real estate agent they find, this makes having a website that works, that YOU own – imperative. A website on its face is not good enough, you can’t “set it and forget it” and expect consumers to find you online, you will need to have a healthy understanding of Search Engine Optimization or SEO.  People do not like to be SOLD to, sales people get a bad rap because there are so many bad ones. This is where a sales strategy or sales training routed in the Consultative Sales Approach, where the sales person, through consultation and a series of questions, helps the  consumer discover their needs. Humans retain 58% more information which shown HOW to do something, lack of communication is the #1 complaint in the real estate industry, to many consumers a real estate agent is a commodity – VIDEO can help you convey value, get found online and de commoditize yourself.

Takeaway

There are many real estate agents that will go the way of the Twinkie. The real estate agents that don’t want to be one of them will start learning HOW consumers gather information, WHERE they go to do it and WHAT they do when they find it. They will learn how to get found online by creating the content consumers look for, not about themselves – the real estate agent, but content that makes consumers smarter of helps them solve a problem. Phoenix real estate agents can start learning how to leverage technology to grow their business, convey value and get found online by coming to Grand Canyon Title’s real estate marketing classes

Consumers will not care about you until YOU give them a reason to. Stop talking about yourself and start talking about things consumers actually care about or you could be going the way of the Twinkie too.  Today, leads go to the best marketers not necessarily the best real estate agents

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Stephen

Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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