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On day two of BeCorcoran 2023, Corcoran Group’s second annual gathering as a firm, brokers and agents dove into a full day of networking, keynotes, panels and breakout sessions to discuss topics like the shifting market, marketing strategies and differentiating oneself in a market.
Over the course of the day, Inman caught up with three Corcoran panelists to learn about some of the highlights of their sessions and their key takeaways. From developing a strategy based on one’s strengths to merging digital and in-person connections, the firm’s agents and marketing professionals had plenty of knowledge to impart.
“Something that’s really unique about this conference is there are a lot of agents coming together across the network and they’re so willing to share,” Katie LoGatto, Corcoran’s vice president of marketing and advertising, told Inman. “I’ve worked for other brands before and something that I really feel is unique about Corcoran is the community and the culture and how giving so many of the agents are.”
Read on for more expert tips that came out of BeCorcoran’s second day of programming.
Inman: What were some of the biggest takeaways from your panel today?
Hannah Sirois: I found our panel offering really sage advice that ranged from ‘Up your Communication’ from Susan Breitenbach from the Hamptons, and then of course, Asaf Bar-Lev speaking from his hedge fund background, which I found fascinating where he basically distills any market down to the salient financial points.
Then the woman sitting next to me, Lesly Simon from Alys Beach, Florida, stated that she defines her niche and expands her service. For her, that means she accompanies her business with a design background.
[When I began my career in the ’80s] I defaulted back to my competitive tennis training. [Sirois’ father, John W. Somerville, was a Hawaii Realtor and tennis legend.] I used three fundamental skills throughout my career so that I never have to panic — I don’t have to react [to the market], I can respond.
First, you have to know yourself. Going back to tennis, I had to physically prepare, I had to mentally prepare. In real estate, I look at that differently. You have to put in the time. You have to invest in yourself.
The second truth for me is strength. You have to clearly know what your strengths are, you have to build upon them and gain additional strengths. It takes dedication, and of course, there’s a discipline.
Then thirdly, I dropped in strategy because there’s always a strategy. If you have the first two — if you know self and if you know your strengths, you are able to develop a strategy that can adjust to any market.
What are some strategies you’ve used in your career?
When I got into the business, I realized very quickly I wanted to be one who controlled and produced the inventory. So I wanted listings, and I wanted listings as a plethora. So what I did is, I moved into the development arena. I’ve been known in my market to do the original dirt acquisition to the lifecycle financial plan to development programming to marketing and then ultimately to sales. There are efficiencies there that I appreciate, because I can control my input and the output can be tremendous.
The second is, don’t be afraid of being an innovator in our business. We always think we have no time at all, but you have to be restrictive. You have to learn to say no. And you have to treat time as your primary commodity that you have to distribute.
Being an innovator means paying attention, and in 2017, the U.S. Treasury rolled out as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act opportunity zones. Opportunity zones are all throughout the whole country and they are a fantastic vehicle both for our clients and our industry. We all thought that 1031 exchanges were home runs, but paying attention to, understanding, selling and advising your clients in opportunity fund purchases with opportunity zones is a game-changer for the industry.
Any other takeaways so far?
The culture of the company is really important to me. Coming from Hawaii, culture is everything. If the culture is good, then you can be a lifer and feel that you can thrive. That’s one thing that I feel throughout this past day-and-a-half, that the culture of this company is solid and leadership is strong. The sensibility within the room is that this company can thrive despite the market conditions.
Inman: What are some of your go-to marketing strategies?
Nick Hovsepian: I think what makes my marketing unique is the property video tours that I do that are pretty theatrical. They’re very funny, I run around the space doing things that are maybe a little bit weird, but keep the audience engaged. So that was really what I talked about [during the panel], creating a video that shows the agent as someone who’s genuine and relatable while in the setting of a really beautiful listing.
That has become a big ice-breaker when meeting new clients who are maybe culturally very different from myself, because a lot of my clients are developers who do not come from the same world that I do.
But it has also helped me with some resale business in the last year and it makes buyers who come in to see my listings more comfortable because they know what to expect and that I’m going to be a good time. There’s no intimidation of ‘What do I expect?’ it just becomes a very positive showing, which I think has really helped sell the condos that I’ve sold.
What platforms do you typically use for those videos?
The videos are on Instagram and YouTube. [I use] YouTube because that’s the way I can post it to the Corcoran website and then on to other portals like StreetEasy, but what I really focus on is building an Instagram library of little commercials of me and my listing.
That makes sense. Were there any completely new-to-you insights that you learned from your fellow panelists today?
I was really inspired by Gentry [Todd Radwanski] who does these events where he’ll bring in catering or a food truck. He’s also now doing things where he buys season tickets to games and has extra tickets so he invites clients to come with him. It’s something he’s interested in doing and he likes organizing these events, but it keeps him connected to his clients from the past as well as his current community. I really think that’s so brilliant.
Absolutely. What are you looking forward to for the remainder of the conference?
I’m really excited about the breakout sessions, particularly “Differentiating Yourself in Your Marketplace,” which I think is really cool; I think there’s a lot to learn there. I’ve also enjoyed the networking events that we’ve done. We had a working breakfast yesterday before the whole event started — there was like a speed networking that was kind of like speed dating, so I got to meet agents all over the country and hear their perspectives on their markets and shifts there. I thought that was really valuable and great to make these sorts of connections.
Inman: What’s your top tip for how agents can differentiate themselves in their markets?
Katie LoGatto: I think the true takeaway of the session was understanding that business development happens when marketing and lead generation intersect and you create a habit.
In the session, we heard from different agents how they execute that concept. And really, they leaned into something that they love to do.
For example, some agents love events, some agents love personal outreach. And they created marketing and lead generation tasks out of what they love to do.
So through discovering that they could do that effortlessly, they have really shown their value and differentiated themselves to their clients.
The session then took it one step further to better explain that you may be doing this, but you don’t want to be a secret agent. So how do you show and do that storytelling to people that you maybe don’t know?
Using social media, using your newsletters as vehicles to show that concept and leaning into what you love, and having the ability to showcase your personality in a different way, it really helps build a deeper connection with the people that you know and people that maybe don’t know you so well.
That sounds great. Have there been any specific examples you can share of really outstanding ways that agents have differentiated themselves recently?
Yes. I think that the agents who really differentiate themselves well understand that this is a people business, and you’re going to connect well with people that you have a common interest with, and that it’s not about finding the silver bullet of ‘Here’s the right video that’s going to help differentiate myself.’ It’s not about the digital marketing strategy.
Real estate is a people business, so the agents who have found the most success have really taken connecting to people to a deeper level and use digital marketing to connect in a deeper way and stay in contact with their clients. But also, they take that outside of the digital world and connect with people in real life and participate in their community and do things in a different way. So, is there something new that’s happening that agents are doing so differently? I think that they’re just utilizing digital connections and in-person connections to strengthen their relationships.
What’s something you’ve learned over the last few days at BeCorcoran?
Agents are extremely busy. They are really conscious of what they are insecure about and they try to almost avoid doing the things that they know that they need to do, right? So what I’ve learned through this conference is that most agents know exactly what they need to do. They just need a really good plan to put it in place.
Through a lot of the sessions and panels that we’ve had, a lot of the agents were sharing that it’s really about creating a plan, whether it’s creating a storyboard for a video or just creating a better to-do list first thing in the morning and then sticking with that, and taking small goals and executing them and making them very actionable.
Sitting in a marketing seat and not being an agent (before, I was an agent for quite some time), it’s something that I even put into practice and something that I got value out of. I had that ‘aha’ moment like yes, I have to create my plan and I have to think about my day a little differently. I have to organize myself in probably a more efficient way so that I can accomplish my own goals.
So I feel like that was the common thread through a lot of agent advice that I took away to implement into my day-to-day.