What will it take for agents to work successfully with the Gen Y buyers and sellers of tomorrow? Jimmy Mackin, the 25-year-old co-founder of the Tech Support Group for Real Estate Agents as well as TheMLSapp.com, reveals the secrets of what it takes to be successful when working with Gen Y.
I recently interviewed Jimmy Mackin for my "Real Estate Coach Radio" show. His insights about how to best work with his generation are important to anyone who wants to do business with this huge age cohort that is just now entering its peak buying years. Here are a number of the key do’s and don’ts.
1. Don’t waste your money on print advertising
When Mackin was growing up, he and his friends would never go to a movie without checking what their peers had to say about it first.
Gen Yers trust each other; they don’t trust traditional advertising or marketing messages from companies. The idea that a buyer or seller would contact an agent based upon a newspaper, television, or other print marketing ad is completely foreign to Gen Y. In support of this fact, Mackin referenced an article on Forbes.com:
"Peer influence analysis shows that American consumers generate 500 billion impressions on one another regarding products and services every year. That’s a big number, so let’s put that in perspective. That’s 2,841 impressions per online consumer per year that they’re making on each other.
"You, on the other hand, are buying online advertising and generating just a shade under 2 trillion impressions, according to Nielsen Online (that was for the 12 months ending in September 2009). So you’re delivering four online impressions for every one people make on each other.
"Which ones do you think they believe?"
In fact, Mackin asked, "Does anyone really buy products from ads?" The nonstop lineup of television infomercials says that they do; however, most of those sales are obviously not coming from Gen Y.
2. Fans and followers don’t buy homes — people do
Mackin said older, more experienced agents fail to understand that Gen Y craves great content. Gen Yers are looking for a solution to their problems. Mackin believes that too many experienced agents have been caught in the insanity of chasing how many friends and followers they can accumulate on the various social media sites.
Social media works when you take time to actually get to know people. In other words, it’s better to interact with 100 people who would do business with you as opposed to having 2,000 friends or followers with whom you have no real relationship. Approach social media as real networking, not "fake" networking dedicated to seeing how many names you can collect.
As business management expert Tom Peters puts it, "The business of business is relationships."
3. Don’t fall victim to the shiny-object syndrome
Mackin cited the release of Google Plus as an example of this phenomenon. Millions of people rushed to sign up; however, how many of their clients are actually using this tool? Mackin argues, "Being first is overrated. Doing it right is what matters."
Mackin just started blogging about six months ago and has already generated a sizable following.
4. We get information from each other
While many agents fail to see the value of Twitter, many members of Gen Y rely on it heavily. For example, Mackin received a text from his sister asking if there had been an earthquake in New Hampshire. Mackin searched "earthquake" on Twitter and quickly discovered the widespread nature of the quake long before any news of it appeared on TV or online.
Gen Y relies on the immediacy that sites like Twitter provide. Take advantage of it.
5. People share awesome content
When you create awesome, compelling content, Gen Y will share it. As Mackin puts it, "Good stuff rises to the top." Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, in their two books, "Groundswell" and "Empowered," say that we have shifted from the Age of Information to the Age of the Consumer. During the Age of Information, companies broadcasted what they wanted consumers to know.
In the Age of the Consumer, companies’ messages matter little. Instead, what consumers say about those companies is what matters. As a real estate agent, your role is to do such a great job that others say how good you are rather than you tooting your own horn.
As Mackin puts it, "Technology is not a marketing strategy." Real estate success has always been tied to personal connection and to the level of customer experience that the agent provides.
In that respect, Gen Y is really no different than preceding generations. They want a competent agent — someone who is committed to helping them meet the challenges they face when buying or selling a property, and someone who truly cares about who they are as a person.