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RISMEDIA, June 6, 2009-Twenty years ago, I didn’t imagine that terms such as “text,” “tweet” or “flicker” would hold so much meaning and operational significance for businesses or for people in their everyday lives.

I’ve heard these buzzwords compared to the sounds of a child’s secret language, and in exciting ways they do represent a new way of communicating. Agents who fluently speak the expanding wireless and online languages are seeing client relationships, business and success from a different vantage point than colleagues with a more limited understanding of the exploding technology trends.
I understand that, for some agents, resistance to the latest gadgets and tech fads often is more about feeling intimidated and less about true lack of interest. It’s a simple matter of knowing where to start.

Because consumers drive new trends, think first about their evolving demands. Then choose a new method of trying to meet them.

Instant Access

Cell phone capabilities are evolving at astonishing rates, and devices such as smartphones pose an opportunity to provide a new level of service on the go. Your customers not only can speak with you instantly, they now can send and receive information via e-mail, text message or on the Web to keep a home search or sale moving. Visit Realtor.org to learn more about popular mobile devices and their advancing capabilities, such as GPS, MLS access and video sharing. Find out how you might use the tools to streamline and expand your business.

Online Options

Many consumers are turning to the Internet to see what’s out there about you and your skills, services and listings. It’s important to make sure they can find what they’re looking for, as well as connect with you on their terms. Consider boosting buyer and seller resources on your website and discussing topics on your blog that tell them something about you and your expertise: market data, community events, your agent activities. Incorporating live chat sessions on your website is another great option to offer hesitant consumers. It’s a non-threatening way for them to benefit from your knowledge and understand that you’re committed to providing comprehensive service, whether online or in person.

Variety of Formats

Think about expanding your marketing into new formats to pique the interest of consumers who prefer information delivered through streaming video, virtual tours, podcasts, e-newsletters, photo galleries or other multimedia platforms. You can begin presenting revamped promotional materials, listing information, buyer and seller tips and more, in many cases, in just 10 minutes with an online tutorial. There is a growing number of user-friendly multimedia services available on the Internet to help you get started. High-quality and diverse materials lend even more credibility to your experience and a solid resume.

Incorporating new technology into your business practices doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing endeavor, but it’s important for customers to see that meeting their needs is your priority-even if it means trying something new.

Margaret Kelly, CRB, is chief executive officer of RE/MAX International, Inc.

For more information, visit www.remax.com.