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Part II

RISMEDIA, Oct. 18, 2008-Last week, we began our three-part Viewpoints series with Laurie Keenan, president, Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc., who gave a nod to the importance the Internet will play in home searches both today, and moving forward. Even at a time when brokers are concerned with spending in the right places, and the right places only, good investments in technology are still readily available. The problem is figuring out what the right spend is for your company. Here, SharperAgent’s Founder and President Brian Wildermuth offers his take, saying “With the large number of available solutions, and the necessity to reduce costs in today’s market, these selections are more critical than ever.”

Brian Wildermuth
Founder and President

Providing your agents with business-critical technology is one of the only ways you can help your company stay competitive and retain the best agents. With the large number of available solutions, and the necessity to reduce costs in today’s market, these selections are more critical than ever.

As you search for the right vendor, I suggest keeping one thing in mind. There is not one product or service in the marketplace that will effectively meet all the needs an agent has when trying to run a real estate business. Evaluate vendors on their ability and willingness to integrate their applications with other solutions and create synergy in an agent’s toolset. Ideally, technology solutions selected by a brokerage should be able to be incorporated into an agent’s dashboard to create a seamless business center.

As a broker, you should cut through the clutter of products that can overwhelm an agent and ensure that everything your associates need to demonstrate expertise and consistency to consumers can be accessed in a central location you provide.

Moreover, try and eliminate redundancy within those toolsets. Lost time is a lost opportunity, and neither you nor your agents can afford that kind of inefficiency any longer. The real estate industry tends to get caught up in obsessing after the latest and greatest gimmick. But tell me-how will adding the latest blogging technology help your agents if they don’t have a solid eCRM or e-mail campaign tool? Eliminate the bells and whistles that will distract most agents from running the basics of their business.

Here’s a cheat sheet. Your agents need to have:

-A strong agent website that ties to the corporate site
-A virtual tour or slideshow tool
-An eCRM
-A marketing suite with multiple distribution options (e-mail, direct mail, and Web posting)
-A versatile handheld device
-A laptop

If any of those components are missing, it’s time to go shopping. The kinds of tools that agents need most in today’s market are the ones that will help them stay out in front of consumers.

Last month, I had the opportunity to facilitate a discussion at RISMedia’s 19th Annual Leadership Conference with some of the brightest marketing minds in real estate. The overwhelming takeaway from that panel was simple: Content is king.

In order to be visible in today’s market, your agents must find ways to reach consumers on a consistent basis with information that is relevant and valuable. Now is not the time to retreat from marketing.

Seek out technologies that help your agents send out campaigns, and make sure those campaigns express clear messages. Invest in content that effectively demonstrates the benefits of working with your agent and expresses details of how your company or brand will support the consumer through the home-buying process.

The days when an agent could send out a recipe card and hope to impress their clients and consumers are over. To win business in this challenging climate, agents must have the means to differentiate themselves in the marketplace and instill confidence in the consumers who seek their services.

Next week, Rob Murry, chief marketing officer for The Personal Marketing Company, concludes this series, saying, “In today’s market, technology tools must deliver a two-fold return on your investment. First, they must drive sales in the door and second, they must increase the efficiency of your current business.”