Got Proof?

I think Pat Kitano at TransparentRE is one of those guys who has brilliant and useful insights to anyone interested in exploring what Real Estate 2.0 might look like.  And despite disagreeing with him on a specific thing here or there in the past, I continue to think his blog is valuable and his insights invaluable.  His latest is no exception:

Blogging is currently touted as real estate marketing’s magic bullet, but many new real estate bloggers don’t realize that the impact of blogging lies in its ability to build a social and informative relationship with its readers. Simply put, the consumer wants a social relationship with no tit-for-tat, not a business relationship in which the agent shares their expertise in exchange for the implicit obligation that the consumer owes them. This is one major difference between soft sell and hard sell… the hard sell obligation seeds the “call for action”, and  consumers cringe from this arm-twisting implication.

The brand new real estate blogger, knowing nothing about blogging culture, often uses the blog construct as a kind of daily loudspeaker trumpeting their business prowess. Every article is another opportunity to present various aspects of their business (see these two example blogs ) – foreclosure help, requesting referrals from other agents, their property listings, success stories – and are peppered with links to call and email them at the end of every single article. Almost all of the blogs I see that do this only last a few months if that long, and then these bloggers complain that blogging doesn’t work. Of course not, their blogs reinforce everything the consumer doesn’t want to see – a self aggrandizing sales person intent on bugging them as a component of their “contact database”.

That sound you hear is me standing up yelling, “Hear hear!”  And “preach it brotha!”  And so forth.

Here’s the thing, though, for both Pat and myself and other cheerleaders of the new Real Estate 2.0 paradigm.  Pat writes:

And best of all, the enlightened blogging agent doesn’t need to rely upon all those resource intensive, intrusive consumer reach out tactics to win business, he/she becomes the recipient of the “out of the blue” phone call when one of their blog readers decides to explore becoming a client.

Any proof to this claim?

In other words, what evidence is there that this “new marketing” works better for agents than the “old marketing”?  And I include myself in this challenge.  I advocate a Cluetrain method of marketing, but can’t show you any ROI comparing the non-Cluetrain companies to Cluetrained companies.  In fact, there is some evidence that suggests that the Old Way is very much alive and well, even in an industry as “clued-in” as computer hardware and software.  Apple is the furthest thing from Cluetrain or New Marketing, but their success speaks for itself.

Anecdote is not the plural of evidence.  That one agent here or there claims that blogging has completedly changed her business around is not evidence that the new non-intrusive marketing approach yields a better return on investment than the old-school hard-sell method.

What data, what metrics are available to show that in fact those agents who practice the non-intrustive New Marketing are more successful in dollars and cents terms than those who do not?  Is there any data from ActiveRain or one of the blog-focused realty companies or blogging coaches to show that the social-network marketing, soft-sell method is more effective?  I’m looking for classic lift-over-control metrics here.

If such data does not exist, then we need a marketing firm or a smart market researcher to do a comprehensive, statistically valid study on this topic.  If we’re going to advocate a New Marketing for real estate, and advocate a Real Estate 2.0, then we have to be able to prove that our method in fact works to make more money for its practitioners than the Old School hard-sell method.

Of course… as a blogger just opining away, I reserve the right not to undertake such an expensive, time-consuming study before opening my virtual yap.  But we have to have proof that what we advocate works.

-rsh

  • http://blogfiesta.mariah.com/ Todd Carpenter

    You can ask most longer term Re bloggers, and they will simply tell you that they get leads in just such a way. I think the best best way though is to ask for business. Maybe not as in the face as a traditional website, but ask just the same. A call to action at the end of a great post post is one way, lead generation tools are another.

    Unsolicited leads are the best, but some people are out there just waiting for you to ask them for your business.

  • http://blogfiesta.mariah.com Todd Carpenter

    You can ask most longer term Re bloggers, and they will simply tell you that they get leads in just such a way. I think the best best way though is to ask for business. Maybe not as in the face as a traditional website, but ask just the same. A call to action at the end of a great post post is one way, lead generation tools are another.

    Unsolicited leads are the best, but some people are out there just waiting for you to ask them for your business.

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  • http://transparentre.com/ Pat Kitano

    As usual, you make a great point Rob… there is a balance / fine line between laying back for the lead and assertively closing on one. The fine line is in the actual interactive contact that Web 2.0/blogs facilitate. There’s a lot of proof that this consumer initiated contact does occur through a blog, and salesmanship takes over at that point. Like Todd says previously, asking for the business is definitely not pushing it in context if the contact was initiated by the consumer.

    And you’re right, anecdotes and testimonials seem to be the only current proof blogging works, and it would be great if a research firm (Swanepoel?) or trade publication (Inman?) conducted a more rigorous poll.

  • http://transparentre.com Pat Kitano

    As usual, you make a great point Rob… there is a balance / fine line between laying back for the lead and assertively closing on one. The fine line is in the actual interactive contact that Web 2.0/blogs facilitate. There’s a lot of proof that this consumer initiated contact does occur through a blog, and salesmanship takes over at that point. Like Todd says previously, asking for the business is definitely not pushing it in context if the contact was initiated by the consumer.

    And you’re right, anecdotes and testimonials seem to be the only current proof blogging works, and it would be great if a research firm (Swanepoel?) or trade publication (Inman?) conducted a more rigorous poll.

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  • http://www.myleavenworth.com/ Geordie Romer

    I find it hard to believe you will get meaningful data on ROI. Whether you are discussing web 2.0 or old school marketing, I think the quality of the implementation and the quality of the product makes a huge difference. The bad blog doesn’t work any better or any worse than the bad print ad. Similarly, the underpriced house brings phone calls no matter how bad the marketing while the overpriced and overbuilt house won’t even with great exposure.

    I know that web 2.0 has given me enough anecdotal evidence to be convinced and it is a nice fit with the clientele I am trying to attract.

  • http://www.myleavenworth.com Geordie Romer

    I find it hard to believe you will get meaningful data on ROI. Whether you are discussing web 2.0 or old school marketing, I think the quality of the implementation and the quality of the product makes a huge difference. The bad blog doesn’t work any better or any worse than the bad print ad. Similarly, the underpriced house brings phone calls no matter how bad the marketing while the overpriced and overbuilt house won’t even with great exposure.

    I know that web 2.0 has given me enough anecdotal evidence to be convinced and it is a nice fit with the clientele I am trying to attract.

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com/ -Rob

    Geordie –

    Hmm… perhaps you’re right. But I don’t think it would be that difficult to provide some evidence.

    For example, take two similarly sized brokerages. There’s bound to be one that isn’t doing the whole soft-sell via blogs and social networks in America. And one that is. See what their revenue/agent, revenue/marketing dollar, total revenues, and profitability all come out to.

    See if there’s a measurable gap. I don’t mean 3% differentials — those can be statistical noise or attributable to implementation. But if you’re seeing like 30% differential, then you’ve got something real.

    I believe in Real Estate 2.0, I do. I just wish I had more proof.

    -rsh

  • http://robhahn.wordpress.com -Rob

    Geordie –

    Hmm… perhaps you’re right. But I don’t think it would be that difficult to provide some evidence.

    For example, take two similarly sized brokerages. There’s bound to be one that isn’t doing the whole soft-sell via blogs and social networks in America. And one that is. See what their revenue/agent, revenue/marketing dollar, total revenues, and profitability all come out to.

    See if there’s a measurable gap. I don’t mean 3% differentials — those can be statistical noise or attributable to implementation. But if you’re seeing like 30% differential, then you’ve got something real.

    I believe in Real Estate 2.0, I do. I just wish I had more proof.

    -rsh

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com/ Jay Thompson

    I struggle with defining a “hard” ROI from my blog. Oh, I can fill you up on anecdotal “evidence”.

    I can define how many “contacts” I get through my blog, how many use the IDX search, etc. But how do you “dollarfy” a database of people on auto-listings that may (or may not) actually buy or sell a home? I’ve had people on auto-listings that “come out” after two years, finally ready to buy or sell.

    I always ask my clients how they found us. Typically the response is “on the Internet”. But was that my blog, another blog I contribute to, the static site, some comment I left on another blog, a forum post, a “social network” like site, or what?

    It’s a tricky problem. I suppose I could trash the static site, not comment or post anywhere else, or utilize any “social network” sites – and use Phoenix Real Estate Guy exclusively as a way for people to find me “on the Internet”.

    But that ain’t happening!

  • http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com Jay Thompson

    I struggle with defining a “hard” ROI from my blog. Oh, I can fill you up on anecdotal “evidence”.

    I can define how many “contacts” I get through my blog, how many use the IDX search, etc. But how do you “dollarfy” a database of people on auto-listings that may (or may not) actually buy or sell a home? I’ve had people on auto-listings that “come out” after two years, finally ready to buy or sell.

    I always ask my clients how they found us. Typically the response is “on the Internet”. But was that my blog, another blog I contribute to, the static site, some comment I left on another blog, a forum post, a “social network” like site, or what?

    It’s a tricky problem. I suppose I could trash the static site, not comment or post anywhere else, or utilize any “social network” sites – and use Phoenix Real Estate Guy exclusively as a way for people to find me “on the Internet”.

    But that ain’t happening!

  • http://www.bonzai.squarespace.com/blog Mike Farmer

    I would love to see a study done. For myself, I have had enough direct calls who have told me they read and liked my blog to determine for myself that it’s increasing business. I can’t give you a percent, but I’ll be analyzing my marketing efforts better with clients to gather this information

  • http://www.bonzai.squarespace.com/blog Mike Farmer

    I would love to see a study done. For myself, I have had enough direct calls who have told me they read and liked my blog to determine for myself that it’s increasing business. I can’t give you a percent, but I’ll be analyzing my marketing efforts better with clients to gather this information

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  • http://instamls.com/blog Andrew

    i have been blogging a long time and there is no doubt in my mind that the “old” approach brings in more leads. There is an easy way to figure this out: by asking yourself two simple questions. How many calls did you get when you listed your last home? How many calls did you receive from your most recent blog posts. Both will bring leads but which one increases your chances of success. RIght now, I say the old way but the new way also helps.

  • http://instamls.com/blog Andrew

    i have been blogging a long time and there is no doubt in my mind that the “old” approach brings in more leads. There is an easy way to figure this out: by asking yourself two simple questions. How many calls did you get when you listed your last home? How many calls did you receive from your most recent blog posts. Both will bring leads but which one increases your chances of success. RIght now, I say the old way but the new way also helps.

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  • http://www.longbeachrealestatehome.com/ Laurie Manny

    I have spoken with Realtors from many different parts of the country about just this subject. Basically each area has been having very different results. In some market areas traditional methods are only still working on a minimal basis while real estate blogs are blowing it out of the water and generating enough leads to run a successful real estate business. In other areas traditional methods are still thriving. Real estate blogging has not yet reached every market niche and will never be utilized by all.

    Currently only a very small percentage of real estate bloggers even have established blogs. Perhaps it is too early to asses it?

  • http://www.longbeachrealestatehome.com Laurie Manny

    I have spoken with Realtors from many different parts of the country about just this subject. Basically each area has been having very different results. In some market areas traditional methods are only still working on a minimal basis while real estate blogs are blowing it out of the water and generating enough leads to run a successful real estate business. In other areas traditional methods are still thriving. Real estate blogging has not yet reached every market niche and will never be utilized by all.

    Currently only a very small percentage of real estate bloggers even have established blogs. Perhaps it is too early to asses it?

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