During a virtual Inman Town Hall session Thursday, 8z Real Estate CEO Lane Hornung advised all agents to make sure their messaging isn’t tone deaf.

Lane Hornung, the CEO and founder of 8z Real Estate, founded his company in 2009 at the height of the Great Recession so he’s no stranger to tweaking his company to address the times while coming out stronger on the other side.

“What I learned from that time is, one, to run lean you had to be lean and mean just coming out of the gate Hornung told 1000watt CEO Brian Boero during Thursday’s Inman Town Hall. “And I think that’s served us well.” 

Lane Hornung | Photo credit: 8z Real Estate

“Everybody who makes it past the COVID-19 downturn will be running lean and mean and sharp,” he added.

Speaking in a virtual session titled “How To Think About Your Brand Now,” Hornung said he built his company around three “C’s” — clarity, control and confidence. But at a time when the nation is facing significant casualties and mass economic disruption due to COVID-19, Hornung and his team is making a slight tweak to those principals to better assist clients. 

“In this time of COVID-19 you don’t want to reinvent yourself and reinvent your brand,” Honung said. “It doesn’t matter whether your an individual agent or a company, you want to build on what you have.”

“For us, we look at the environment we find ourselves in and extend the brand and tweak it a little bit for the COVID environment.”

Clarity, for example, is a tenet that has to do with transparency in the process. Now, it’s even more important for the company and its agents to tell clients that they do have a process to keep them safe when buying or selling a home.

Confidence is a principal that has to do with arming buyers and sellers with knowledge so they can be confident in their decision-making. 8z Real Estate usually sends out monthly market reports, but has begun sending them out weekly to their entire client base, sometimes even more frequently than that.

“We really modified each of our brand principals to be relevant in COVID-19,” Hornung said.

Hornung advised all businesses and agents to do a quick brand inventory of all of their marketing collateral, drip campaigns, website bios, social media profiles, etc. The stuff you often overlook but the client sees every day.

“Do a quick inventory and say, ‘is there anything in my inventory that is a little tone-deaf, a little out of place right now with COVID-19?'” Hornung asked.

“You don’t want to be seen as tone-deaf or even worse, opportunistic,” Hornung added. “Some of the language that we had pre-COVID-19 might come across that way.”

Agents and brokers should also take a second to find out exactly what their point of view on the entire crisis is, according to Hornung. Do you think this is just a short disruption, a major recession? Then take that point of view and update your brand to communicate that point of view.

That’s taken the form of the “Always Here” campaign, at 8z. Real Estate, which greets consumers on 8z’s home page and sends them to a landing page with services the company is offering, including weekly market data, and messages from Hornung. It’s the center point of everything the company is doing in response to COVID-19.

“We packaged that up and we realized that what we’re really doing is just being here,” Hornung said. “We’re kind of meeting our clients where they’re at.” 

Email Patrick Kearns

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