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Power Brokers Discuss Consumer Engagement Strategies at RISMedia Forum

When it comes to keeping today’s consumers engaged, for real estate professionals willing to put in the time and effort, the sky’s the limit.

“Consumer success strategies are always changing; however, what never changes is the need for unique and efficient ways to keep the customer engaged,” said John Featherston, founder, president and CEO of RISMedia, who served as co-moderator—along with Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC—of RISMedia’s 22nd Annual Power Broker Forum.

Held on Nov. 3 in conjunction with the REALTORS® Conference & Expo in Chicago, Ill., Featherston kicked off the discussion by sharing a list of tried-and-true engagement strategies with the crowd of nearly 800 real estate professionals:

  • Personalize customer communications
  • Create useful content
  • Listen to what others are telling you
  • Share customer reviews on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Connect customers through social Q&A
  • Leverage and utilize predictive analytics to your advantage
  • Be the source, be relevant, be engaged and connect

“We all train on the same currency, which is attention,” added Blefari, underscoring the importance of establishing an effective strategy for reaching and engaging consumers.

Featherston and Blefari were joined on the Forum’s panel by: Paul Wells, broker/owner, RE/MAX of Barrington; Felicia Hengle, president of Ohio Operations, Coldwell Banker Schmidt Family of Companies; John Murray, managing broker/president, Key Realty, Inc., and president and co-owner, Realty Pilot; Helen Hanna Casey, CEO, Howard Hanna Real Estate Services; and Steve Baird, president and CEO, Baird & Warner.

For Casey, laying a solid foundation begins with taking old-fashioned communication and follow-up programs and adding to them. Part of the firm’s strategy involves taking a step back, analyzing company data and looking at all they have.

“None of us follow through as much as we think we can, so we’ve started to go back to the people already in our system who know, love and trust our agents,” said Casey, who went on to explain that social media is not only a boon for going after new clients, but past clients, as well.

While a real estate professional’s job centers around communication, Wells noted that this is the biggest weakness in the industry.

“Seventy percent of the business we close this year will come from people we already know, yet we’re reaching out to people we don’t know and not keeping in touch with those we do know,” explained Wells, whose firm is tackling this challenge head-on by incorporating automation into the mix through RISMedia’s Automated Content Engagement (ACE) platform.

“If you’re doing something that’s working, keep working it, but if you’re doing something that’s not working, stop doing it. And watch that you don’t get sucked into the bright, shiny object,” added Wells, who explained that we’re getting lost in technology and forgetting to hold people’s hands.

For Hengle, with so many tools, systems and technologies that are changing the way we engage with customers, engaging early on in the process is the name of the game.

“Consumer engagement studies tell us that consumers are far down the process online before engaging with us, yet they still want our professional advocacy, and for us to be their trusted advisor to help them transact,” said Hengle. “The key is to determine how we engage early in the process in a meaningful and relevant way that adds value to the brokerage and agents so that the consumer is drawn to us. From there, it’s all about inserting yourself into the transaction early enough to stay connected throughout,” added Hengle, as the conversation turned to predictive analytics—a buzzword in the industry right now.

“At some point, if you aren’t using predictive tools to engage the customer upstream before they even realize they’re a customer, others will be, and they’re going to be working with the customer before you,” explained Murray.

As consumers continue to become increasingly savvy and the tools, technologies and systems real estate professionals have access to proliferate, Forum panelists agreed that now’s the time to secure the future of the real estate business.

“We need to make things easier,” said Baird, who noted that the process of buying a home from the consumer’s point of view is not good. “If we’re simply automating a process that’s not very good and making it a bit better, we run the risk of being disintermediated by another entity.”

Because people are so important to the real estate business, community outreach is another area that can up the ante when it comes to engaging with consumers well into the future.

“We earn our living by serving the community, so we must create ways to give back to that very same community,” noted Blefari.

For Featherston, remaining complacent is not an option when it comes to consumer engagement.

“We always have to be looking at what we can do better,” concluded Featherston.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more from this year’s REALTORS® Conference & Expo.

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at

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