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81: Josh Cobb: Real Estate With A Side of Truth For Industry Professionals

By |June 3, 2016| No Comments

Every year, Roy Morgan Research produce a study called the Image of Trusted Professions where they ask Australia’s who they trust. According to the 2016 results, real estate agents are ranked 28 out of 30 when it comes to trustworthiness – the same result for the past four years in a row.

Instinctively, we’re all aware of the public perception of people in real estate but every year this report comes out, we’re reminded yet again of what the Australia public thinks of our industry professionals. Agent review platforms are now front and center of the real estate conversation in this country and whether you like it or not, we as real estate professionals let this happen.

In this episode of Real Estate Pros, we’ll look at one stunning marketing example that fundamentally changed the perception of another industry heavyweight and the lessons for us as real estate professionals.


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Every year, Roy Morgan Research produce a study called the Image of Trusted Professions where they ask Australia’s who they trust. According to the 2016 results, real estate agents are ranked 28 out of 30 when it comes to trustworthiness – the same result for the past four years in a row. On the other end of spectrum you’ll find nurses, doctors, pharmacists and engineers consistently rated the most trusted professions. No surprise there really.

Instinctively, we’re all aware of the public perception of people in real estate but every year this report comes out, we’re reminded yet again of what the Australia public thinks of our industry professionals and I believe it’s given rise to the reality we’re faced with in real estate today – I’m talking about the rise of online review sites and agent comparison platforms.

No more prevalent than in the last six months, sites like openagent.com.au, ratemyagent.com.au, localagentfinder.com.au or any of our major portals are all allocating huge amounts of their advertising budgets to mass media attention. It used to be that these sites would only use digital media for gaining awareness but more often than not today, you’ll find one of their ads on tv – somewhere between the evening news and Masterchef.

These platforms are now front and center of the real estate conversation in this country and whether you like it or not, we as real estate professionals let it happen.

With these agent review websites now playing a major part in the decision-making process when someone is thinking about selecting an agent, it’s forcing agents to either join in or be left out. I’ve heard stories from some agents who thought they had a listing sewn up, only for the potential vendor to stumble upon a review by a disgruntled ex-client and chose to look elsewhere.

Conversations about real estate agents are happening on these platforms whether those agents are part of the conversion or not and this is the reality for agents today – they simply can’t ignore it.

Conversations about you are happening online, whether you’re a part of them or not.

But like I said, we as real estate professionals have let this happen. As every year goes by and yet another survey comes out on the perception of real estate agents telling us the same thing every year, we simply brush it aside. It’s an afterthought for most agents – especially when the market is up and houses are practically selling themselves.

So how do we turn this perception around? Firstly, we have to want to. Secondly, let’s look outside the industry for clues.

One industry that knows all about negative press and poor perceptions is the fast food business. One company that knows this more than most is the biggest of them all. You guess it – McDonalds.

Back in June 2012, McDonalds in Canada embarked on a mission to change their public perception with a project they called ‘Our Food, Your Questions’.

McDonalds gave the public a chance to ask the company anything about its food. Absolutely anything – there were no restrictions or censored questions.

Real Estate With A Side Of Truth For Industry Professionals

McDonalds recognized that there were certain myths and misconceptions surrounding its packaging, product launches, the quality of its food, and the way in which that food was prepared.

Their research found that a lot of these myths were seeded and growing within social media so for that reason McDonalds decided to launch a social media marketing campaign to tackle these misconceptions head on and use transparency to put any negative rumors to rest.

The campaign launched in May 2012 with a YouTube video directing visitors to a dedicated website where they could submit questions about the brand by logging in through their Twitter or Facebook account. The questions on the site ranged from “How is it that a McDonald’s burger does not rot?” to “Does your Egg McMuffin use real eggs? They look too perfect.” Or “what’s really in your chicken McNuggets.”

But the most popular video by far, features Hope Bagozzi, creative and national marketing director at McDonalds Canada, explaining why a hamburger looks different in advertising than it does when purchased from the restaurant. That video from behind the scenes at a McDonald’s photo shoot currently has more than 10.3 million views, 27,000 YouTube likes, 91,000 Facebook shares, and 21,000 tweets.

A few months later in August 2012, the company promoted the Q&A campaign with a four-week “offline” advertising campaign that included a 30-second television commercial, video projections on buildings, and transit advertising in key markets across Canada.

In November of the same year, McDonalds Australia launched its version of ‘Our Food, Your Questions’.

Marketing professionals from all around the world believe this campaign by McDonalds has fundamentally changed the hearts and minds of consumers – and their numbers don’t lie.

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Source: Consumer Business Insights Fast Track Results

In Canada alone, where the campaign started, they’ve had more than 13 million video views, 132 million media impressions, 2.3 billion social media impressions, they’ve answered more than 20,000 questions and most notably, their food quality perception scores increased by an average of 54% across all key measures. As their video on YouTube says, McDonalds Canada made McDonalds somewhere they everyone could be proud to love.

Now McDonalds isn’t for everyone, no less me. But the message from their wildly successful ‘Our Food, Your Questions’ has to be admired.

For many years, real estate agents have been picked on, poked at, discussed and dissected. Lately, you can’t go to any conference without hearing the ‘D’ word – disruption. But quite frankly, we as real estate agents have let this happen.

Change in our industry is happening faster today than ever before and it’s my belief that our industry won’t necessarily be disrupted by technology, but rather new business models.

Business models that embrace the fact people value experiences more than discounts. Business models that embrace transparency over hiding behind legislation or some poor excuse as to why they can’t answer a particular question that a real estate consumer has asked.

I truly believe that transparency, honesty and inherently helpful information is what real estate businesses in future will use to keep playing the game. It’s how marketing is already done in many other industries.

Let’s see if we can’t start moving up that list when it comes to the Image of Trusted Professions.

Good luck.

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