Tips to Vamp Up Consumer Engagement

Improving old processes while keeping a human connection in real estate was a common theme during the REALTORS® Conference & Expo session “New Strategies for Engaging Consumers” on Friday in Chicago.

The conversation—moderated by John Featherston, president and CEO of RISMedia, and Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC—focused on ways real estate professionals can make buying and selling easier for consumers. Panelists examined their own engagement methods more closely, stating their goals and pinpointing areas where new technologies have helped their own businesses.

“Are we automating a not-very-good process?” asked panelist Steve Baird, president and CEO of Baird & Warner. “All the consumer wants is to buy or sell a house. We have to get to a place with our process so that consumers will love the process.”

Although most consumers use the internet as a resource, panelist Helen Hanna Casey, CEO of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, noted that most still rely on the guiding expertise of real estate pros when it comes to a home transaction. She stressed the importance of early-on consumer engagement.

Echoing those sentiments, panelist Felicia Hengle, president of Ohio Operations at Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies, cautioned against losing the human touch. “We need to find different ways of giving consumers relevant information that adds value back to us and [isn’t] in the sea of white noise they’re getting bombarded with on all levels,” Hengle said.

For Casey, it’s about engaging with consumers so they want to continue to work with you. To do that, she says it’s important to “push out content that makes them want to follow up and pay attention.”

Automation can help with that. Panelist John Murray, president of Realty Pilot and Key Realty, said brokerages are better off funneling their entire workflow into a single system. “I think it’s good to have an entire company aligned in one direction—you all need to be on the same page,” Murray said. “Get everyone’s feedback and buy-in when it comes to developing a [strategic] plan.”

With the emergence of predictive software, Murray suggested real estate pros jump in and start using the tools sooner rather than later if they don’t want to be left behind.

“If you’re only using old school approaches, that consumer will be picked up by another company that’s targeting them and helping them out before you’re even aware they’re a client,” Murray said.