Virtual reality, big data, Facebook advertising, marketing automation…

Those are just a few of the new marketing trends emerging in today’s wildly competitive real estate landscape. If your brand is going to stay relevant, your marketing strategies and processes need to adapt accordingly.

One broker owner aptly sums up the need for innovation (in our recent Real Estate Thought Leader survey): “My top concern is ensuring we remain relevant to our agents and that we’re leading them toward the future, rather than having the future ‘happen’ and we weren’t prepared.”

Here are two ways to help initiate and manage marketing change effectively:

Position the change in a positive way when rolling out to agents.

Let’s say you’re going to roll out a new technology service to agents. How you message the service is incredibly important; like your brand marketing, messaging can make or break the new service’s success.

For example, what sounds better?

    A. “We’re going to completely change the way we market our listings.”
    B. “We’re going to make fulfilling your marketing promise to clients easier and more efficient.”

I’m guessing you chose B. “Easier” and “more efficient” sound much less scary than “change.” Plus, you immediately zero in on the benefit of the new service that’s about to launch, rather than focusing on the new process itself.

In your first communications to agents, share how the new service is going to make them more successful (and hopefully their life easier) before diving into the details of how you’re going to roll it out.

Also, it’s incredibly important to show leadership support for the upcoming change. Try something simple like making a 60-second video to share why you’re excited about the new service, and how your agents will benefit. Agents will feel more comfortable with the new service if they know that brokerage leaders are confident that it will bring everyone greater success.

Create a detailed plan for the change.

Detailed doesn’t mean you need a 50-page document—what it means is that you can clearly state four things:

  • What the roll-out process looks like—It can be as simple or as complex as you’d like; just ensure there are defined steps!
  • Who’s going to lead the process—Make sure there’s a strong leader from beginning to end, whether that’s you or you need to appoint someone.
  • Your goals for the change—What are the anticipated benefits for agents or your brokerage in general?
  • What success looks like—The Key Performance Indicators you’ll be measuring against and the success time frame.

If you have more than three offices, consider implementing in phases. Stages allow you to take a test-and-learn approach with one office, then use your learnings to launch a new technology or strategy in the rest of the offices more effectively. Plus, this approach helps you build “champions” among the first agents to help sell the change to the rest of the agent population.

Don’t Let Change Scare You

Not everyone will change—even when they’re handed a blueprint to success. Consider the case of Umpqua Bank. They revolutionized their customer experience and reaped years of dividends from the successful changes. But even though the president of Umpqua bank, Ray Davis, openly shares strategies for success with his peers, few banks have followed Umpqua’s example. In a Harvard Business Review article, Davis said, “‘I recently had a CEO visit and tell me, ‘This has been a terrific two days, I can’t believe what you’ve done.’ So I asked, ‘How will you apply this to your bank?’ And he said, ‘Oh, we won’t do any of this, it’s way too hard.'”

Don’t let the perception (and reality) that change is difficult stop you from implementing relevant marketing strategies. If you’re looking to continue building a real estate brand that will exist 5, even 10, years from now, change is a must. Whether or not the competition follows, the fact remains that you’re going to pull away from the crowd first…and that’s called leading your brokerage into the future.

Meghan Cheeney, Director of Marketing at Imprev, Inc.

ROI-driven B2B marketer with a strong background in content, messaging, and sales enablement.