Skip to main content

98: Josh Cobb: Real Estate & The Public Perception: Who Cares?

By |September 28, 2016| No Comments


Marketing, and winning attention as a real estate professional, is harder than ever. It’s harder than it was yesterday, way harder than a year ago and ridiculously harder than five years ago.

One major contributing factor is the public perception of our industry. Real estate professionals, in the eyes of many, are simply not trustworthy. That makes getting someone to pay attention to our marketing extremely difficult.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we discuss and dissect a marketing strategy that fundamentally changed public perception of a worldwide brand and why many industries have since followed their lead.


Last week, I was honoured to be a part of Elite Agent Magazine’s Transform program – a coming together of real estate professionals from around the country who had won the opportunity to be part of the 12-week program featuring industry coaches on a range of topics.

For my session, I gave a presentation called the ‘Social Property Manager’.

A little-known fact about me is that I started my career in real estate as a property manager many years ago, so this presentation has always been quite close to my heart.

I’ve always believed that one of the biggest challenges facing real estate professionals, when it comes to winning attention in their community, is the public perception of our industry.

The ‘Social Property Manager’ is someone I believe has changed public perception in their community by delivering inherently useful and radically transparent marketing. One of the examples I often use in my presentations, of a brand who fundamentally changed its perception by doing as I’ve just described, is McDonalds.

Starting in Canada in 2012, McDonalds launched “Our Food, Your Questions”, where they set out to answer any question people had about their food.

Questions they receive include:

  • Is it really 100% pure beef?
  • What’s really in the chicken McNuggets? Or,
  • Do you use pig fat in your soft serve ice-cream?

Nothing is left off the table – pun intended.

McDonalds opened up their website for anyone to freely ask any question they could think of. McDonalds then responded with videos and infographics answering the questions that people had asked.
Josh Cobb: Real Estate & The Public Perception: Who Cares?They also posted the questions and answers on colourful billboards throughout multiple cities with the name of the person who asked the question beside McDonald’s response.

By April 2013 the chain had answered 20,000 questions.

The “Our Food, Your Questions” part of McDonald’s website had gathered more than two million hits and McDonald’s said visitors were spending an average of four and a half minutes engaging with the site and reading approximately 12 questions each.

The campaign has since launched in other countries including North America and here in Australia, and according to the Consumer and Business Insights Fast Track Results, McDonalds have improved food quality perception scores across all key measures – including a 46% increase in brand trust.

When I was kindly asked by Elite Agent Magazine to deliver this presentation for their Transform program last week, I was thrilled to have countless real estate specific examples of companies who, since 2014 when I gave this same presentation for the first time, have been fully committed to changing public perception and are now winning the game of attention within their own communities.

After my presentation and when the cameras stopped rolling, the discussion in the room led to why the perception of our industry is at the level that it is and someone asked me what I believe needs to be done to move the needle.

My response was simply this: Our conversations need to change.

In real estate, we spend an enormous amount of time talking about our listings, our experience, our reviews and our awards. It certainly doesn’t help that the content at some of our major industry events is, for the most part, focused on improving the numbers on only these areas of a real estate business. Whether that be through new marketing tactics, short-term lead generation strategies or some campaign that landed one agent a few potential leads once.

The more we as real estate professionals keep speaking about ourselves in our marketing, the more platforms that will continue to emerge that allow consumers to rate, review and select their agent – basically picking from a list instead of having only one agent in mind.

Agents who go all-in with transparency aren’t one of three agents called into a listing presentation. They don’t need to rely on ratings and reviews to win new business, because, in addition to all of their other marketing and lead generation strategies, they are delivering information that people actually want. Instead of what we typically do in real estate which is deliver marketing that people mildly tolerate.

You don’t need me to remind you of Roy Morgan’s Image of Trusted Professions, CoreLogic’s Perceptions of Real Estate Agents and Edelman’s Trust Barometer – surveys which all show an unwavering low level of trust for real estate professionals.

Instinctively, despite all surveys, we all know what the public thinks of real estate agents.

So how do we change it?

Is it by constantly interrupting people with our listings, reviews, awards and results?

Or, just like McDonalds, is it by delivering inherently useful, radically transparent information

It’s time for you to decide.

Good luck.

Help Us Spread the Word

If you enjoyed this episode of the Real Estate Pros podcast, please head over to iTunes, leave us a review and subscribe. If you have any feedback for us on how we can improve, we would love to hear from you because this show is all about helping you, the real estate pro. Please email us at

Close Menu