Bev Thorne is the chief marketing officer of Century 21, overseeing an organization known for its prowess in real-time marketing and aligning the brand with the consumer trends that matter today.
At Real Estate Connect in July, Thorne will discuss whose brand really matters to consumers, and what that means for agents, brokers and franchisors. She’ll share her insights on how all parties can work together to create a brand that people trust, and one that remains relevant even as what matters to today’s buyers evolves. Don’t miss her session Thursday, July 17, at Real Estate Connect San Francisco.
Inman: What’s the most disruptive force changing the economy and consumer behavior and why?
BT: Mobile connectivity and location-based services are likely the most disruptive forces that are impacting consumer behavior today. The opportunities these technologies provide to companies that are able to translate their vision into an economically viable business plan to deliver customer touch points and productivity increases are extraordinary. I believe we are only beginning to scratch the surface in terms of what is possible in this space.
Inman: Every day there are more services described as “Uber for X.” Do you think this trend will continue? If so, what’s next? If no, why not?
BT: These are popular terms that connote superior or above-the-line service to today’s consumer. Whether they continue to be popular is not as important as whether they deliver on their value proposition. If they do not deliver on their value proposition, then they will not continue to be touted as such.
Inman: What’s the one trend you’re keeping an eye on for 2015 and why?
BT: In terms of real estate technologies, I see the competitive landscape continuing to expand as it relates to digital advertising. From large aggregators to niche products and services, the move toward digital advertising has, in my opinion, hit a tipping point. As a brand, we are encouraging our franchisees to take advantage of our exclusive agreement with Google Social tools to leverage localized content across their social networks and advertise on Google AdWords Express. Through our Showcase Advantage Listing Program, our Century 21 System members are able to take advantage of great savings on programs to showcase their listings on the five largest online aggregation sites. This type of program inspires confidence from both the agent and the seller when discussing the advantages of listing with a Century 21-affiliated professional.
Inman: What is the one thing real estate needs to do to innovate on the consumer experience?
BT: Digital transaction management and process tools are no longer a nice-to-have option for today’s homebuyers and sellers. This is where we as an industry can and must innovate on the consumer experience. Through initiatives like our marketing agreement with Doorsteps, which provides agents with significant discounts to enable a buyer-facing online workspace that allows agents to gain a deeper level of knowledge and relevant data about their buyer while empowering the buyer with insights to help them make the right choice, we are taking the steps necessary to ensure Century 21-affiliated professionals are ahead of the technology curve when it comes to customer service.
Inman: What’s the most important takeaway of your talk at Real Estate Connect?
BT: Today’s consumer is always on, always connected, and it’s important to “meet them” in order to nurture relationships. As a real estate brand and as a real estate professional, it is important to find ways to reach the consumer and better serve their needs. The things that we are doing as a brand are most definitely buzzworthy, but there is a science behind it. We don’t do things just for the write-up in Inman News (not that we don’t like the attention, we do!) but what is more important for our brand is that our system members understand and leverage our marketing and tools to reach their consumers, connect with their consumers, generate more conversations, and in turn, more fruitful leads and more opportunities to better serve their customers.