Eating lunch and something caught my eye - a flash of some kind. I looked up as a young lady walked past, the phone in her jeans pocket merrily taking shots as she walked.
I’m not sure why this amused me but it did.
I received another email from a real estate agent yesterday. It was full of his latest listings. Oh, except for a “lead” “article” that was actually nothing more than a headline and a link to a website that wasn’t his.
What’s the problem here?
Well, the problem is I never asked to receive his emails. I suspect that he got my email address from LinkedIn or Facebook. Wherever it came from I didn’t give it to him.
Nor, for that matter, did I ask him to send me his latest listings. That was HIS decision, not mine. He was the one who decided that I’d be interested in his listings, not me.
About now you might be thinking: Peter, stop complaining. Just hit the unsubscribe button. Well, yes, I could do that - at least the email ticks that box. But that misses the point.
And the point is this. Most agents look at email through the metaphor of a letterbox drop. If I stuff enough letter boxes with my flyers sooner or later someone will call me in to appraise their home. If it works with letterbox drops, it’ll work for emails.
And that thinking is right. It does work that way. Sadly, though, the letter box drop is the worst metaphor for email marketing.
For a starter, sending emails to people without their explicit permission makes you look like a spammer, and because most agents are doing it, it makes you look like most agents. When you look like everyone else you have no point of difference, nothing to distinguish you from the next guy.
In the end you end up competing on price. That’s a race to the bottom with no winners.
The other problem with the metaphor is that it robs the agent of the best that email has to offer. As Abraham Maslow said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.”
For agents that have only pamphlets,everything looks like a letterbox. That’s sad because it robs them of having cafe conversations, of having real relationships, ones that lead to repeat and referral business.
The opportunity here is for agents to redefine themselves as community reporters, as non-elected representatives, as concierges. Sure, there’ll still be people who want your latest listings. But for others not in the market to buy - and that’s me - being my concierge or reporter is far more valuable.
Your tips, your local knowledge, your advice about living well in your patch - my patch - would endear me to you, would make me want to get to know you more, and would give me a reason to tell all my friends about you.
Sound like better fun than doing letterbox drops?
Word of mouth doesn’t need Facebook to make it happen, any more than the sun needs the Earth to orbit around it. People have always realied on their social networks for ideas and news and information about products. Facebook is an important channel, but it’s not the center of the word-of-mouth universe. Facebook is just one channel among many where that conversation goes on.
My wife plays soccer. Every Sunday she runs onto the pitch and plays against other girls, in many cases 30 years younger than her. This is her seventh season.
One of the legends of AFL is John Worsfold. By his own admission he had white line fever. When he ran onto the field he became a different person to the mild-mannered pharmacist he was during the week. He was a tough, hard, uncompromising player.
Rita’s just like John Worsfold. When she runs onto the pitch there’s no more laughter and smiles. It’s serious business! She runs in straight lines. If someone gets in her road they get knocked over. Often they get hurt. I’ve seen Rita hit players so hard they’ve gone straight off the field winded, shaken up and with their confidence shattered.
She’s as tough as nails.
But what’s also amazing is her intention around the ball. She has a burning desire to win, to make things happen and to be the best player she can be.
At 49, I’m not sure how much longer she’ll play on. One thing I know is that whenever she steps onto the pitch her team mates will play stronger and the opposition will feel fear.