Attending last week’s RISMedia Leadership Conference in New York gave me a much better understanding of the difficult position agents and brokers are in regarding making decisions on their marketing spend. New technology, although proving effective, has added increased complexity to the decision making process. How does an agent/broker know if a technology is worth the money and (sometimes more importantly) time investment in a new marketing technology?
The unfortunate thing is there really is no formula for determining whether a technology is going to be worth your while. As someone who has been in digital marketing for about 15 years I’ve certainly made my share of mistakes and think that I’ve learned from them.
Here are some very simple things to keep in mind when considering how to spend your time and money with marketing technology.
1. Get over the WOW factor – Many of us have that inner geek just waiting to grab on to the next coolest thing. It’s very easy to get enamored by a fancy technology that looks cool and does something that you’ve never seen before. But ask yourself these questions:
- Are my customers using this type of technology today?
- Will my customers find this useful?
- Will this help me better reach my customers on a level that they are comfortable?
2. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is – At the conference last week I spoke with a few technology company owners (and sat in a session that was literally just a poor sales pitch for one) that had products or services with all of the answers. Yes, technology can create a better user experience which can equal deeper engagement with your customers, but it’s rarely the panacea to a poor overall message.
- If you are considering a technology that promises to turn your business around with little work on your end be skeptical.
- Ensure that your overall marketing strategy and message is sound and can stand on it’s own. Use technology to amplify this message, not change it.
3. KIS (keep it simple) – This is probably the most important. I’ve seen countless over-developed, over-funded and over-priced technology products that are simply way too complex to be effective. The vicious cycle that I see in terms of this is that technology companies receive an infusion of investment capital and feel pressure to invest all of it in their product. As a result they over-develop and end up selling on the first two rules that I stated above.
I sat in a session at the RIS Media show (the sales pitch that I mentioned) where after 1.5 hours of talking about a product the audience (and myself) barely understood it. This is a definitely a red flag and a great example of what I’m talking about. Consider the following:
- Will my audience be able to use this technology and figure it out easily?
- Is the technology trying to accomplish more than what's needed, and is my message being clouded as a result? (example – if a buyer wants information on a specific property and dials an 800 number for the info, would it be a good idea to offer them them a search on the entire MLS for the area? Is this noise, clouding your message and the specific information requested? YES! Will a unanticipated complex phone system likely confuse the inquirer? YES!)
- Social Networks are simple, use them. It’s a serious time investment but is simple person to person communication.
In technology… simple works. Example – Google, arguably the most successful technology company today, started with just search. By internet standards search is very basic and simple. They understood their customer, mastered their product/message and delivered what was expected without clouding the customer experience.
There are more things to consider when choosing to move work with a new marketing technology but I tend to use these three rules in my initial approach.