Technology

Brokerage relevancy starts with technology, ends with the consumer

Mark McLaughlin: Investment in digital, mobile tech serves agents, consumers

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What consumers need, want and expect drives how Mark McLaughlin, CEO of Pacific Union International Inc., leads his firm into the digital future. That’s the message he shared today in a segment on Inman Select Live.

Based in the land of Silicon Valley, McLaughlin’s San Francisco Bay Area-based luxury real estate brokerage firm must walk technology’s cutting edge to stay relevant with consumers and agents, he explained. That means his firm must be digital, mobile-first and flexible, and the firm launched a five-year plan in 2012 to do just that, he said.

“Millennials give you eight seconds,” McLaughlin said.

So when the firm went to revamp its website in 2014, it started with mobile and made sure to implement a series of one-touch actions: one-touch text, one-touch phone call, one-touch listing access, he said.

Almost all of the brokerage’s 675 agents have set up their own version of the mobile site, showing that by serving consumers, the firm’s No. 1 client — agents — buy in, he said.

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And to empower agents’ communication with their spheres, the firm adopted an innovative system to master social media. In 2012, it launched what McLaughlin called a journalism wing of the company.

Three full-time journalists produce 12 blog posts each week on a variety of real estate-related topics, including mortgage and lifestyle news. They produce rich, company-branded fodder for agents to share on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels.

The blog currently attracts 5,800 unique visitors each month and, given that the firm helped sell about that many homes in 2014, leads McLaughlin to conclude that its audience is focused, consisting of engaged consumers who are ready to transact.

It’s not only about giving agents and consumers high-tech tools to interact with each other and the brokerage, but it’s also important to listen to consumers and have the tools in place to communicate with them in the ways they prefer, whether it be print or the latest communication platform (Meerkat?), McLaughlin said.

One takeaway McLaughlin left Select Live viewers with? Take risks: Meet the tech demands of consumers to ensure relevancy.

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Email Paul Hagey.