Editor’s note: Inman News posed a set of questions to our readers as a part of the Roadmap to Recovery editorial project, which is charting a course forward for the real estate industry.
There are a lot of ways I think the real estate industry will look different after the "down-cline." One area with a lot of room for improvement is the use of technology beyond lead generation — generating satisfied customers, for example.
The penetration of technology beyond the lead generation and lead qualifying tools of today into the customer service and satisfaction generation tools of tomorrow will require, once again, new skills from real estate pros. Luckily, good customer service is something the best real estate agents and brokers already understand and I think they’ll do well with more responsive and direct technologies.
The following is an Inman News Q&A with Gahlord Dewald, director of Web strategy at Union Street Media:
Q: What technology trends will change the industry in the future?
A: At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s about technology trends. It’s about examining the core business and making decisions about what kind of business real estate is going to be, and then applying technologies that are in line with those decisions. If business owners aren’t proactive about understanding their audience, online as well as offline, then they will be susceptible to the same pressures exerted on the "star-bellied Sneeches."
That said, I think decision-makers should be participating in conversations about content creation, "local" and "mobile." Those three areas should be enough to keep a business owner awake for the next year. There are great resources online and offline for understanding how these conversations can improve business.
Q: What skills will the real estate agent of the future require?
A: The same as today: flexible and engaged mind; comfort with technology; customer service. What’s really nice is that these are all skills. You can acquire them if you don’t have them already.
Q: How will real estate advertising dollars be spent in the future? How will real estate marketing be different?
A: I’m hopeful that people will stop bragging about how little they spend on advertising while at the same time spending countless hours trying to get to page one on Google. I’m also hopeful that more attention will be paid to using online tools to measure offline actions (like print campaigns, etc).
The big shift will be in the method by which advertising decisions are made, not necessarily the channels used to deliver the messages. Instead of advertising somewhere because the competition does or because it is a traditional place to advertise, marketing budgets will be spent to achieve measurable business objectives.
The market research and intelligence derived from marketing activities will also be recognized. The strategy, tactics and tools to collect and act on this sort of thing continues to filter into smaller and smaller organizations. We already have access to excellent free or inexpensive tools.
I guess I’m hopeful that advertising will shift from a tactical "promote a house" activity into a more strategic "deploy message/widget/content/advertising on relevant channel to sell a house to a satisfied customer quickly in my market" process.
Gahlord Dewald is director of Web strategy for Union Street Media, a company that creates real estate Web sites for agents and brokers that are integrated with property-search and lead-management tools.
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