The problem is that the quality of marketing matters so much and some of the best marketing is extremely niche focused and doesn’t necessarily scale or translate in other locations well.
Of course there are examples of people doing extremely well with hard-sell techniques and people doing extremely well with soft-sell techniques. But the reality is that most agents using either of these techniques (or some hybrid) are largely failing to get a good return on the money they spend on marketing.
My take is that the most important improvement that many agents could make to their marketing is simply to learn to do a better job creating, measuring, tracking and tweaking their marketing plans. In other words, some people will do much better at soft-sell techniques, while others will thrive in hard-sell situations…
And while it would be possible to show individual cases where people using either a hard-sell or soft-sell strategy was able to outshine and dominate their competition, in practice, ROI is not measured at an industry-wide level. Rather marketing ROI for agents is measured at the individual level and needs to answer basic questions like “Did I optimize my marketing time/dollars to achieve my desired objective?”
After last Thursday’s event, Jim and I took the weekend to relax and digest what we learned. The break was nice, but now we’re ready to hit the next event up harder than ever! 😉
Here are some of the things that I learned from our first event:
The people in the audience seemed to respond really well to the entire program, with almost everyone telling me the course was a great value (including agents who I’d consider to be quite internet savvy!). However, in marketing it to brokers and agents, many felt that the price ($149) and the time (8 hours) were too much.
The enthusiasm of the sponsors and the ability for us to get exactly the sponsors we wanted was a pleasant surprise.
The audience really responded well to Jim’s presentation on measuring and tracking ROI. There’s obviously a lot of pent-up demand for this kind of extremely practical, nuts-and-bolts, education.
The most effective marketing was when brokerages/sponsors recommended that their agents/clients take part.
Based on what we learned, here are the changes we’re making to our next event in Orange County:
We’re dropping the price to $49 per person!
This can only be done because of the awesome sponsorships we’ve been able to get from companies like Altos Research, Inman News, Zillow, Top Producer and Diverse Solutions. The willingness of the sponsors to support our effort to spread quality internet marketing education to agents is the ONLY reason we can drop this price so darn low!
We’re going to squeeze all of our content into 4 hours
This will let us start at 9am and end at 1pm. To make this work, here is our new schedule:
9am to 9:15: Intro (by Dustin)
9:15 to 10:15: Creating a performance based website (by Jim)
10:15: 10:30: 1st break
10:30 to 10:45: Effectively engaging in social networks (see change #3)
10:45 to 11:45: Creating local communities with blogs
11:45 to noon: 2nd break
Noon to 1pm: Measuring and tracking your marketing ROI
The things we have to cut to make this work are lunch (1 hour), my discussion on social networking (from 1.5 hours to only 15 minutes), one break (15 min) and each presentation by 15 minutes.
We will offer all attendees a free, 90-day, follow up course tentatively called Get 4RealzEd with 15 minutes a day
I’m more convinced than ever that the best way to get people knowledgeable on how to be effective within the various social networks is NOT to lecture on them, but to simply walk agents through a variety of social networks in simple steps.
At least for the first round, I’m going to keep this simple and send out a daily email with a simple (~15 min) social networking, blogging and/or ROI activity.
Attendees seemed to really respond well to this idea, so I’m quite excited about it going forward!
Our next event will be in Orange County on April 17th
We’ve pushed back the dates on both the Orange County and San Diego events. We’re quite fortunate that some of our sponsors we’ve brought on in the past few weeks have shown an interest in helping us promote these events, so rather than rush things, we want to give them enough time to work their magic!
I really want to thank everyone for helping make the 4RealzEd event in LA such a success. I learned a tremendous amount from the first event and feel more confident than ever that I’m on to something really big! Because we’re still in the early stages of this roadshow (we haven’t even announced any events outside of southern California yet!), I expect we’ll continue to tweak things based on feedback we get from attendees and non-attendees alike, so please feel free to fire away with ideas, tips, critiques, and/or feedback… We’re listening!
So, to say it started rough would be an understatement… But once it started, things seem to get on a roll quickly.
I started with an overview of consumers expectations in a web2.0 world to set expectations for the day… Jim followed up with presentation on optimal features and design for a real estate website. Then it turned back to me for a presentation on social networking… lunch… then another presentation by me on creating value through blogging about communities. And we returned for the day’s finally with Jim giving a engaging presentation on measuring and tracking marketing results to ensure a positive ROI.
All around, it was a wonderful day! And, maybe they were just being nice, but the attendees who talked with me said only good things about the education.
Because I promised attendees I would give them a list of all the sites I mentioned in my presentations (so that they wouldn’t have to ask me to spell out each URL), here is the list for everyone’s benefit.
I wasn’t tracking the sites that Jim mentioned, but there were not nearly as many of them in his presentations…
And thanks again to all the bloggers who have helped spread the word about the event, the sponsors who helped us keep the price low and all the attendees who made the day possible!
I received some incredible feedback from all three groups, which is going to lead me to make some changes to the upcoming events (I’ll announce those early next week!). Great stuff all around. Thanks again to everyone!
The main requirement that we have for our sponsors is that they’re able to demonstrate that they provide a product that offers a real value to their clients. Based on the positive feedback I’ve heard over the past few years from Altos Research clients, I’m positive they fit the bill!
Why are sponsors important?
They help drive down the cost for agents to attend tremendously! To be quite honest, there is no way we could make it work to provide a full-day course (with food!) for only $149 if it wasn’t for the number of sponsors that have shown a great interest in helping us pull the events off!
What do sponsors get out of the deal?
Each sponsors will get one table/booth at the event. If the results are anything like the educational events I gave last year with the Top Producer team, then the sponsors will find our presentations a great way to reach a local audience of tech-interested agents who are interested in improving their internet marketing.
Even without the extra incentives we’re giving to attendees to spend money on our sponsors, we’d expect our sponsors to get involved because they are looking to get a good ROI from the event. Period.
With all that said, Jim and I are committed to creating a solid wall between the content we present at the seminars and the people who sponsor our event. Don’t expect us to give a sales pitch for any of our sponsors, but don’t expect us to be silent about them either. Since we’ve only been inviting companies to sponsor who we think provide a good value to the agent community, it turns out that we’ve included many of our sponsors in our presentation before we even reached out to them!
(Also of interest is that Mike mentions I talked about Altos Research during my Top Producer seminars, even though Altos wasn’t sponsoring the event. If you provide a quality product to the agent community, don’t be surprised if we mention your name regardless if you sponsor! 😉 )
We cover two things… The genesis of RCG and my time at Move (you’ve probably heard all this before) and two things I think many brokers could do a better job of going forward: 1) Understanding the impact of social networking on their industry and 2) Getting a better handle on the ROI of their marketing dollars.