Why we are failing the people we serve!

by Conrad Zurini

I travel a fair bit and I’m baffled by the lack of technology which could make the experience that much better.  Imagine a world where you enter the airport and an app would geolocate you and welcome you to the airport and tell you to turn right or left to check-in.  It would know if you are a ‘known traveller’ because it would have your entire travel history and access to your Nexus/passport information.  As a mater of fact, you would earn points for how quickly you go through security and there would be a separate line for you, with less staff like at self checkout. There would be a line for novice travellers, families with small children, elderly, etc., with more attendants to help.  Once through security the app would say, “you have plenty of time to get to your gate, would you like to do some shopping or have a meal? What do you feel like?”  It would serve you a list and locations of where you can get a pizza or Starbucks along with the restaurants ratings.  The app would give you a polite nudge that your plane is boarding in 30 minutes, with a countdown of the time, and how long it takes to walk to your gate. When you get to your gate instead of those announcements that no one can understand, the app would tell you when your group is being called.  

I recently was on a flight to Argentina and because I booked last minute with an airline I had no status with, I was at the front of the plane, very close to the serving area. It was evident by the banter in the serving area that there was one particular steward named Karen (the name says it all) who seemed to be the busy body of the group.  She made her displeasure known if you had to use the restroom minutes before takeoff. 

What I always find remarkable is the lack of awareness stewards have when they are in their domain (the servery) and we so obviously have to pass through the servery to get to the bathroom. It’s unnerving how they all remain congregated deep in a conversation about how much they hate the passengers.  It’s uncomfortable and you feel odd interrupting their conversation to get them to move out of your way, then they leer at you like ‘what’s your problem? Why didn’t you use the bathroom before you got on the plane?’  

Karen’s task on this flight was to get the entree orders, to which she did with great intention. 

The airlines all have this perk, so to speak, for customers with status. They usually have a few entrees to choose from so the stewards go up and down the aisle criss-crossing with a piece of paper that was printed on a dot matrix printer, with all of our names and our level of status, or lack thereof, and the ones with the greatest status get their choice first.  It is weird when everyone around you gets asked their choice except you (Karen passed me by at least 6 times to go to the other side of the plane).  It was like I was invisible. I even waived her down while she was passing to give her my choice, to which she replied with the sternest of voices, “it’s not your turn yet!”  So you can imagine I was the very last to order my entree, I think even a dead head pilot got to order before me. By the time she would make her way to me I knew I would be getting either baked turbot with a celery purée or the vegetarian tortellini stuffed with sweet potato in a tomato ginger sauce - the least appetizing and the ones no one else wanted.

I kept looking at Karen with angst because I knew the chicken dish I wanted was going to be a sell out. Sure enough Karen came to me to ask for my choice, and with a satisfying grin she said, we ran out of that and we ran out of your second choice too!!  I could see her mind working, “Why don’t you stop being such a promiscuous traveller and be loyal to one airline. Then you would get your choice!”  

Where I feel the airline totally missed the mark, not only with me (a potential frequent flyer member), but with the other passengers as well - they should do away with the piece of paper and replace it with an iPad.  As the iPad is at the front of the row, all the peoples names and photos should auto populate the seat map. Information about the passenger’s last flight and their status should pop up.  A dialogue could go like this, “Mr. Zurini, how was your last flight to London with us? You ordered the beef last time, how was it? Do you want something different this time?“ They would enter it on an iPad in real time to a central database, this information could provide them with a whole slew of data points.  The flyer would in turn feel that they aren’t just a number and that they are truly a valued customer.  Also, they never give you insight into what the meals are like, they just plunk them down and run away. 

How do you fix this in the current environment? For starters, passengers should be chosing their meals when they check-in, or maybe they should sit all the status people together so that they can gawk at us non-status people (kidding). Maybe they do it because they want us non-status people to feel bad, and this is how they showcase a differentiated experience. But is it really??!!

Hmmmmm, a differentiated experience?  Unlike a real-time visual group experience like being on a plane, social media is the vehicle by which we showcase what we do when it comes to our customer’s journey. Our consumers can watch videos, see posts in real time on how we market our listings, how we acknowledge our clients and how we build relationships.  What is uncanny to me is that all of this content is the same.  It’s like we as Realtors think that only we have the privilege of seeing this content, not our clients. But that isn’t true, they see it as well.  So the question remains, is it that we see other Realtors doing something and we duplicate it because we think that’s what our clients want too or do our clients see what our competitors do and they demand the same from us? 

Case in point -  do our customers see other buyer’s photos on instagram beside a sold sign and they want the same thing? Are we copying client appreciation events from each other because we think it’s a good idea or do our clients suffer FOMO and want the same type of event but from you?  Do our client’s demand we do that fast paced video tour of their home or do we think it’s cool. 

When was the last time you asked your client what they want and what they would like to see when it comes to presenting their home? It’s time to dig deeper to differentiate yourself and your marketing.  Selling a two bedroom bungalow with techno music in the background and fast paced clips may not play to a senior audience. 

I get it, we are all trying to get our fair share of the consumer’s attention and we want to showcase the whole property in 90 seconds. Is that really doing it justice? Let’s be frank, unless you listed the White House with the Lincoln bedroom, secondary bedrooms are not going to wow anyone. So why do we have to do these compressed videos showing the two piece bathroom with a corner of the counter top? When you look at fashion advertising it is usually a single outfit or a great bag. Why don’t brands put photos of the entire line in an instagram ad or in a magazine? Not everything is going to grab your attention! A clothing line has basics which are not going to evoke an emotion. Have you ever seen a 2 page spread in a magazine of a wallet???  So why are we wasting precious attention grabbing time on a secondary bedroom or a laundry room or a 2 piece bath for that matter, unless it was Drake’s bathroom which is pretty spectacular! 


The Lost Art of a Great Newsletter

The cool thing about a newsletter is it stays within your tribe and it can be more personal and far more comprehensive than a social media post, and they are re-rising in popularity. But, they have to be really cleaver and to the point. It should be peppered with personal candid photos of your clients, gifs/memes, personal news about you and your team (your team can also include your real estate service partners) and your clients. It should showcase a client who works or owns a business which is in your trading area that you can highlight/promote.  There should be easy to read graphs, well explained statistics and market trends which you can present using short form videos.  It is a great way to spread the word about you, your service style, your knowledge and expertise.  Stop showing everything you do in social media - it’s not the ONLY way to reach your tribe and often it’s not even the best way.  

The Makings of a Great Newsletter

1. Come up with a really cool name which captures your culture and the essence of how you operate. Here are some titles from my AI assistant: Realty Rundown, Home Highlights, Property Pulse, Realty Review, Home Horizons, Market Movers, Property Perspective, Living Lowdown, Dwelling Digest, Market Metrics, Realty Recap. 

2. Don’t waste yours or your reader’s time. Make it really easy to put together, edit and curate content. Also be consistent with your wording. Most people can read between 250 and 300 words a minute so make sure its not a 1,000 word essay you did in high school to achieve the assignment’s word count. 

3. Your first headline should be click bait quality.  “Your Neighbourhood is Headed for a Boom: The Numbers You Just Cannot Ignore!”

4. Make it really eye catching but don’t overthink fonts, colours and layout, these can evolve over time. It shouldn’t be a word, graph and photo vomit. Number the sections and label them with clear titles.  Make sure your thumbnail image really is relevant.  Just around 200 words per section is perfect, embed links to allow your keener followers to go further. 

5. It must be mobile ready if you want it to be read and consumed with ease.  Embed some analytics (heat mapping) in it, so you can gather intel into what is being most viewed or shared. Realintro is a great platform for an e-newsletter which has all of this functionality within it already. 

6. This newsletter could be weekly or monthly and can be the impetus to a final yearbook which you can put together and mail a hard copy with a hand written note inside for all of your sphere of influence. 

Stop the Copy and Paste Statistics

If I see another so called market update with real estate board statistics, or a social post saying  “Bank of Canada holds rates”, without some sort of context, my head will explode!!!!!  Without context you are wasting your time, it is important to explain why this data, or this announcement matters to your buyers and sellers.   And more importantly, how it affects them positively or negatively, or not at all.   

It is time you offer your tribe personalized reports, you should incorporate more targeted information using various statistics and ask if your prospect/past client wants a deeper dive into more specific data that affects them directly. 

Break down complex data with step by step visuals, create comparison (Dare-to-Compare) maps which showcase what is happening geographically from area to area you serve.  Use comparative metrics on a national, provincial, regional, municipal and neighbourhood level.  I never met a line graph I did not like when it comes to visualizing and demonstrating a trend, make notes right on the graph, create videos incorporating real number examples not just percentages.  

The best way to explain numbers/statistics is by incorporating them in a relatable story, avoid industry jargon and remember to update a video or post when something dynamic happens, create a glossary of terms, and hyperlink those terms whenever you use them in a post/blog/email/newsletter.  

And remember to follow-up, and get feedback on information you are sharing, ask if they know someone else who could benefit from the same kind of information.  Don’t forget to always offer the personalized deeper dive into the numbers/statistics, and how they directly affect the individuals in your sphere. 

How Does Your Tribe Consistently See What You Are up To? 

The stuff you create isn’t always getting consumed by the people you are trying to reach.  You would nearly have to like and comment on everyone in your sphere of influence 5 times daily on all their social channels to ensure they are consuming your content. Why are we not creating marketing that is constantly being absorbed by the people who matter in our business.  It’s time you take a direct approach to distributing valuable content, text, email, newsletters, phone calls and addressed mail to name a few.  Take charge and give your past, current and future clients an experience which is customized to them, which is valuable, relatable, contextual, current, thoughtful.