While it would be nice if consumers were willing to take our word for what our company’s brands stand for, in reality, their actual experiences with our brands have more impact than anything we tell them. Here are a few examples:
I travel a lot for work and often stay in popular national and international hotel chains such as The Westin. According to The Westin’s website, they have 201 properties around the world. While I’ve only stayed in a small fraction of their properties, based on my experiences to date, I’m confident that I’d have a positive stay at any of their properties worldwide. My confidence is based on the real-world experiences I’ve had interacting with this company one property at a time and one person at a time. My experiences with their brand have been so good, I’d be surprised to have a negative experience. That’s not to say that everything has always been perfect during my says. But they’ve always been polite and professional resolving unforeseen issues.
I’ve eaten more than my share of meals at McDonald’s over the years, but have barely made a dent in hitting all 31,000 restaurant locations. However, based on my experiences at the many McDonald’s I have been to, I expect I’d find hot fast food and relatively clean bathrooms at any McDonald’s I visited in the world. When I see the Golden Arches along a highway, I know what to expect.
When consumers visit real estate websites today they see the following:
– Listings with no photos
– Listings with few photos
– Agents with no photos
– Small photos
– Listings with no descriptions
– Agents with no personal information
– Minimal neighborhood information
– Minimal city information
– Minimal guidance for home buyers or sellers
If the consumer experience is the brand, the brand is stating that it’s inconsistent, which defeats the purpose of a brand.
Companies like Westin and McDonald’s have done a phenomenal job creating consistently positive consumer experiences regardless of which location consumers visit or which employee they interact with. Real estate, on the other hand, still has room for improvement. To me, property listings without photos are the equivalent of a visiting a Westin with unmade beds or a McDonald’s without fries. That rarely happens.
I’d like to see more real estate companies create a culture of online quality across their entire network similar to what brands like Westin and McDonald’s have managed to achieve. Put real estate marketing systems in place that make it easy for agents to create consistently great consumer experiences. Done right, this should create consistently better experiences for consumers, which will keep them coming back to interact with your website and do business with your network of agents.