6 Tips to Launch a Tech Offering

From safety apps to transaction management systems, the membership benefits you offer can fall flat without a finely tuned launch plan for maximum member adoption.
Illustration of two people launching a rocket on laptop

Tip 1: Make sure you’re launching the right product

Months before the TransactionDesk platform launched to members of Arizona REALTORS® as their newest membership benefit in March, committee members were busy evaluating scores of products looking for the right fit.

“The ease of use, the integrated pieces of the platform, and the 24/7 support were some of the factors that led the committees to their conclusion,” says Matt Roberts, the association’s communications manager.

Although staff was included in the evaluation process, they did not have any say in the selection of the new platform, says Roberts. The association’s Business Services & Technology and Risk Management committees conducted the reviews and focus-group testing to ensure it was a member-led decision.

Now, Roberts’ job is to make sure every member not only knows about Transaction Desk but learns how to make the most of it in their business.

“After the initial announcement, we began a soft launch introducing the program via our e-newsletter to our members, supporting it with social media and a couple of static webpages that go into detail about the program,” he says.

Live training at the association’s state convention, bolstered by a series of webinars, more live classes, and short videos, are expected to further drive product adoption.

So far, the rollout has been a success, says Roberts. “The soft launch prompted about 400 members to access the system and we have not had any negative responses from those who have logged in and played with the system.”

Tip 2. Draw out the suspense for as long as you can

After her board of directors approved the safety and lead intelligence app Forewarn as a new membership benefit in February, Meagan O’Leary, communications and member services director at the Northwest Montana Association of REALTORS®, had only a month to come up with a plan to launch the product to members.

“To create a buzz, we started a campaign using our Facebook page, Instagram, and e-newsletter, that told members a major benefit was launching soon and to stay tuned for an email from our executive officer,” says O’Leary.

The tactic has been seen in nearly every successful Apple product launch; you drop clues about how your product will dramatically benefit members’ business but be sure not to disclose complete spoilers. Give them just enough information to want more and pay attention.

“Later, we announced that the benefit was Forewarn, and within the first nine days, we had 18.2 percent of our members set up their Forewarn account — we were anticipating around 15 percent,” says O’Leary.

Tip 3. Put the focus on the members, not the products

O’Leary not only shared videos, photos, and text with details about the benefits of the product, she also formulated her communications to highlight why the association and its leaders were excited to provide this membership benefit, which was clearly to keep members safe.

Rather than focus on the product and its features—or how great the association was to deliver this valuable benefit—O’Leary kept the focus on the members and how this new product could make their lives better.

“We hope this product’s adoption continues to grow through consistent communications and answering inquiries about the app,” she says.

Tip 4. Turn your product launch into an event

Columbus REALTORS® primed members for the release of its newest tech membership benefit, Homesnap, a national home search platform, by launching a contest that culminated in mass live-training events. “The Columbus Homesnap Challenge” was designed to build excitement about the launch and get members to sign up for the training events by earning points and chances to win prizes,” says Marqué Bressler, the association’s communication director.

To boost the excitement over the event, the association took to Facebook to live-stream one of the training sessions and recorded several video testimonials to post on social media.

Bressler and her team crafted a comprehensive Homesnap communication strategy detailing which channel would deliver which message and when. “We determined that it was critical to get Homesnap up and running with member buy-in quickly,” she says. And it worked. More than 1,800 members signed up for the Homesnap training events, and 27.7 percent of members registered on the platform in the first week.

Tip 5: Get opinion leaders on board early to support your product

The early adopters of your tech products set the stage for more members to follow. Ask the savviest and most admired tech users within your membership to not only contribute to the selection of new technology-based member services but also help promote them. A confident and adept user will blaze the trail for other members to follow — especially when it comes to using a tool that’s unfamiliar and may change the way members operate.

Tip 6: Create a product explainer video

Video messages are more popular today than ever, so a video how-to is a great idea to boost adoption—especially with new technology tools that can often be hard to explain. To boost member understanding of Realtors Property Resource® when it launched—and still today—the National Association of REALTORS® relied on ­videos. From explainer videos and tutorials to video testimonials and recorded webinars, how to use RPR’s features and functions and its overall business value are said best with video.

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New Real Estate Tech on the Horizon

To keep up with the cutting-edge products, services, and concepts in real estate technology, look no further than the National Association of REALTORS® technology incubator, REach®, which is backed by Second Century Ventures, NAR’s strategic investment arm.

“Through NAR’s Second Century Ventures and REach® investments, we are able to leverage world-class technology and resources that help us keep pace with evolving technology but also stay focused on what we do best—helping make REALTORS® more successful and profitable,” says NAR CEO Bob Goldberg. The REach class of 2018 included technology innovators looking to fine-tune products that automate email marketing, virtually stage homes, streamline transaction coordination, track agents’ financial performance, and aggregate ibuyer offers.

New for 2019, NAR launched REach® Commercial, a commercial real estate technology accelerator. Learn more about the tech companies selected to participate at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., this May.