By Maria Patterson
RD: Our biggest success is our global growth. Our growth strategy includes attracting the best and brightest real estate sales professionals to join the CENTURY 21 family. The results we’ve achieved recently are evidence that our “SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER.” campaign is making significant strides around the world. Our brand is coming to New Delhi, India; Tunis, Tunisia; Vienna, Austria; and the financial capital of the world, Manhattan, with CENTURY 21 Metropolitan, an exciting new franchisee in the Big Apple, New York City. Not only will you find our brokers and agents in 24/7 cities around the globe, but they are prominent in secondary and tertiary markets as well. This growth is affirmation of the positive impact we are having on our industry and for those who seek the dream of homeownership.
Our global growth comes at a very interesting inflection point in the real estate business. Our franchisees are strong and they come in all shapes and sizes. They understand that growth for this generation and generations to come will result from being more connected and collaborative with all partners in the real estate transaction, from buyers and sellers to lenders and insurers. It is critical that we continue to attract the best brokers and agents to our family, leverage our resources to expand our international footprint and move the company into a global leadership position.
MP: The challenges and the opportunities of creating a “connected experience” with real estate consumers are bigger than ever, in large part because of the digital age. What are you working on in this space to meet these challenges head-on?
RD: There’s no denying that digital media consumption is exploding. What we have done is cut through the clutter and brought to market technologies that are easier to learn and directly help to improve the productivity and profitability of our brokers and agents. For the consumer, we make sure the tools we create are enabled for smartphone and mobile devices—both phones and tablets. Today, all generations are media-hungry users, from tweeting to “snap chats” to text messaging, real estate consumers of all ages are enthusiastic media users. Now, agents must not only provide immediate feedback to consumers, but also deliver access to information on mobile devices, tablets and smartphones. If not, consumers will tune out, and seek a real estate professional or organization that understands this reality.
Meeting the needs of the mobile consumer is a must. Time spent on digital media is growing exponentially, led by gains in smartphone and tablet activity. Our marketing team has been on top of this trend for some time. In fact, from the day we introduced our unique property websites, we made certain they would be optimized for mobile use to help drive website traffic, and we made sure they also included built-in social sharing tools, too, to maximize visibility. In March 2013, we went even further by providing every CENTURY 21 office with customizable, personalized mobile apps. Each office, at no additional cost to them, receives a unique App downloader and text codes. Consumer downloads are approaching 1 million, and year to date, they have completed more than 10 million searches on these mobile applications alone. Our website traffic has increased 53 percent year over year. Traffic from mobile devices now accounts for about 33 percent of all century21.com site traffic.
BT: It all boils down to two words: “marketing convergence.” We are balancing traditional and digital-age strategies, in collaboration with key third-party service providers, to help us transform the way we connect, engage and deepen our customer relationships, and drive market differentiation. Marketing convergence, therefore, means that we create messaging not only around our iconic events and advertising campaigns like our Indy car, USA Soccer and Bobsled sponsorships, but we also maximize “real-time” marketing around trends, holidays, and pop-culture events. This combination of traditional and digital-age strategies helps to position our agents as “SMARTER. BOLDER. FASTER.”, and keeps our brand in front of homebuyers and sellers at the point of consideration.
Timing is critical and real-time marketing enables us to stay front-of-mind in the industry and with real estate consumers. For example, we released our “Tryptophan Slow Jam” song at Thanksgiving as a download for our philanthropic partner, Easter Seals. The song is available on iTunes. We also shared a corresponding music video on YouTube and Vimeo. Consumers shared holiday photos and comments about the song using the hashtag #Tryptophan as they recovered from their own turkey-dinner comas. The “Tryptophan Slow Jam” came on the heels of three other successful real-time marketing campaigns:
1) Our Facebook post with a message for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge about their expanding family and their need to upgrade to a bigger place after the birth of their son;
2) A video we shared across our social media channels offering the President and Speaker of the House a central location for a fireside chat during the government shutdown, and;
3) The C21® Delivery Landing Pad, designed to accommodate package deliveries via flying bots to homeowners across the globe.
The bottom line: we are always pursuing opportunities to surprise and delight consumers on a moment’s notice.
MP: Looking further down the road, what is the biggest technology or consumer shift that will alter the way you approach your role at CENTURY 21?
BT: Our goal is to be at the forefront of any application that has the potential to enhance the way we interact with each other to build, nurture and strengthen relationships. That says, the technology that shows the most promise of creating a paradigm shift is known as “wearable technologies.” Wearable devices could have a lasting impact on engaging and connecting with our customers and our customer’s customer just like mobile applications are having today. Not only from the ability to seamlessly sync a wireless Bluetooth product to a tablet or smartphone, but also as implanted medical sensors inside your body to e-commerce down payments on a home. Innovation is driving us more toward a Star Wars reality than we could have possibly imagined a few short years ago. Researchers from around the world and at some of the largest multi-nationals—Apple, Microsoft, Android, Google and Samsung—to name a few—are working diligently to create the next “big thing.” It’s our job to make certain we deliver purposeful technologies that will help our brokers and agents successfully build sustainable relationships.