There’s a reason why Aesop’s fables resonate today. They delve deep into the human condition with gentle songs of pin-pointed truth. Consider the fable of the North Wind and the Sun:
The North Wind and the Sun argue over which is stronger. A competition ensues to see who can make a passing traveler uncloak. The North Wind goes first. The harder it blows at the traveler, the tighter the traveler wraps himself. The Sun goes next. Its golden rays part the looming clouds. Its warmth reaches down in a gentle embrace. The traveler removes his cloak.
For me, this is now a real estate fable — a parable that explains the Web 2.0 flowering that took place last week at Real Estate Connect.
The North Winds of real estate
Saturday — After returning from Connect I sifted through e-mails, noting those sent in from non-attendees. They are all the same: “So tell me what’s hot and new for real estate?”
I didn’t answer. It was too soon. I was still comatose. This morning I had it sorted out. Here goes:
The North Winds of real estate have been blowing for years. Huffing and puffing. A tornado of insufferable narcissism. A hurricane of questionable value carrying the detritus of brand blunders. A blistering gust of fees that run afoul of consumers’ perception of what is fair.
What’s hot in real estate is the end of that nonsense and the beginning of a new industry. Here are some of the things that will define it:
Web 2.0: Everything that real estate will become revolves around this phenomenon. Web 2.0 is real estate gathering everything it ever was, every ounce of respectability it once possessed, every service proposition, every conversation and every bit of knowledge and taking it online. It’s about flushing the forms, the dubious propositions, the bait and switching and the ridiculous vanity marketing down the drain and getting back to what real estate is really about — welcoming people who are interested in real estate to become part of a conversation.
Death of lead “capture”: This frigid, useless, pointless residue of a really bad idea based on placing a headlock around an unsuspecting customer, flipping them onto the mat of bad service and pinning them with a ridiculous barrage of dripping nonsense is over. Fizzled. Goodbye.
Real Estate Connect: Real estate’s Fountain of Youth. It needs to last a week and more people need to attend.
Listings distribution: Sellers want their homes promoted everywhere. Agents and brokers, if they’re honest, want their listings promoted anywhere. Anything less is dramatically insane. That’s finally starting to sink in.
New role for “vendors”: Once upon a time, outside service providers groveled for business peddling donuts. The term “vendor” itself was an epithet in real estate. Those days are numbered. Real estate is now Web-based. Branding and differentiating require superior online marketing techniques and applications. I walked the corridors and met the innovators. Most are super bright with great products that can make a huge difference. Brokers, open your doors. This time, you buy the donuts.
The moment: Instant gratification. Instant knowledge. Instant access. Instant information. Quick ping. Blogging. Texting. Poking. Real estate companies are starting to get that catering to the individual needs of their customers — the moment they want something — is where it’s at.
Talent: We’re not all born to be rock stars or brain surgeons — or real estate practitioners. If you can’t blog, brand, market, list, text, multitask or partner, how will you compete against those who can? I suspect most brokers who attended Connect are going to have a hard time reconciling the crowd at their next sales meeting with what they saw in San Francisco.
The warmth of the Sun
I asked the speakers sitting on the social media session I moderated what doesn’t work in the Web 2.0 world. Each, without hesitation, said “the hard sell.”
That’s the wind. It was quelled at Connect and replaced by the warm sun of progressive thinking. The soft embrace replaced the headlock, the conversation supplanted the pitch.
You should have been in San Francisco. If you weren’t, sit tight. The 2,000 who were there are heading back to their corners of the world with their brand-new rays of sunshine.