A real estate agent who’s in business in the northern Cincinnati suburbs asked if we could talk about ways to improve his web site.
My response surprised him.
“Don’t do anything to your web site now,” I said. Instead, “Let’s talk about what you want to accomplish.”
And, by the way, how much time are you willing to invest to get it done?
The Realtor didn’t have his answers right away. I didn’t expect him, too. But I wanted him to understand that our conversation should not be about whether the design of his web site is dated or whether he should be Twittering or expanding his use of Linkedin and other social media sites.
The more important questions in my mind need answers first:
• Who are his customers and where are they?
• What web sites and social media do they use?
• How are they finding and then using his existing web site?
• How do they search for and find other real estate agents, listings and information about neighborhoods and schools?
• How are other real estate agents — his competitors — using web tools to communicate with customers?
• How much time does he spend now on networking, on meeting and attracting potential home buyers and sellers? What methods work best now?
• How much time is he able to spend on other methods for meeting and attracting potential buyers and sellers?
• Was he willing to learn how to listen to existing conversations online and spend the time necessary to join the conversations, make connections and start networking online?
The real estate agent’s answers are critical because he should not expect to increase his listings or home sales by using social networking web sites if that’s not where customers in northern Cincinnati are looking.
He also should not expect to start Twittering and adding a couple of other social media tools and being able to do a good job of all this new networking or sustain it.
Most of all, he should not expect to grow his business without first doing online what he does in person in his neighborhood, at his church and in the community groups in which he volunteers — get to know people and share his time and ideas with them.
Social media are perfect for this and can help the real estate agent — once he decides what he wants to get done.