Real Estate Martech: More Than Just Lead Gen
During the last month, our team had the opportunity to demonstrate key elements of our new digital marketing platform to a host of MLS and brokerage company executives, first at the NAR NXT conference in Orlando (where our team braved a hurricane) and in various meetings since.
Introducing a new product is always challenging. You never have it quite right and there are a lot of learnings in early days. As someone who has demoed a host of new ideas and products to many people in my career, I was cautiously optimistic about how our audience would react. While we are captivated by the new addition to our family, I was prepared for some to take a peek into the baby carrier and find her not quite as beautiful as we do. My sincere hope was that we would get a few people who would enthusiastically nod their head up and down when we took them through our vision and how we will bring this to market. And for the rest, I figured they would be interested but skeptical for one reason or another.
As it turned out, the reception to our new product has exceeded these expectations with a consensus validation of our vision, the unmet industry need, and our approach to solving it. And, the common response from nearly every listener – we want to explore how we might bring this to our organization.
All of this for a product that we believe will help real estate professionals become better marketers and build their digital sphere of influence. In an industry already littered with inventions aimed at solving the insatiable need for sales tools, some super creative and well-designed and many others late-night “infomercial-ish”, what led us to this place?
Martech. It is a term that is not used much, or understood, in residential real estate. When real estate folks hear it, they usually think of one thing. Lead-gen. And while lead-gen certainly is a part of the Martech movement, it goes well beyond.
Martech, short for marketing technology, is defined by Gartner as the set of software solutions used by marketers to support mission-critical business objectives and drive innovation within their organizations. Martech solutions focus on content and customer experience, advertising, direct marketing, marketing management and marketing data and analytics. Globally, martech companies have grown from 150 in 2011 to nearly 10,000 today. Martech is a really big “thing”, generating nearly $350 billion in revenue globally in 2021 and $20 billion in the United States alone. Despite these numbers, sophisticated “business to consumer” martech, the kind that powers many well-known non-real estate brands, is absent from real estate.
The residential real estate’s version of martech has been primarily relegated to a host of lead-gen and CRM solutions. Residential real estate has been and probably always will be a sales-focused business where belly-to-belly interactions are critical to generating client relationships and closing deals. While lead-gen and CRM certainly have value in that sales process, we know that marketing and sales are different disciplines in most organizations and we believe that martech can be leveraged to make real estate professionals better marketers.
There is more competition in the industry than ever before. Today, there are 60% more REALTORS in the United States than a decade ago and yet the number of existing homes sold in 2023 will be consistent with some of the lowest numbers this century. Adding to the increased competition are well-funded, non-traditional players who understand the opportunity to get a piece of the industry’s $100 billion commission prize.
And that is where we started when we began ideating around how we could bring some elements of this sophisticated martech to real estate, tailoring it in a way that is easily digestible by the traditional real estate professional. Automation, data, analytics, insights, all of which will conspire to help the real estate professional better market, build brand, create sales opportunities and generally build their sphere.
We have a vision. We are close to rolling out a new product. The early returns tell us we are spot on with this direction. No doubt, there is a ton of work yet to do as is the case with any new product launch. And while we are far from declaring success, we could not be more energized about the opportunity to bring something truly new to our industry. 2023 is going to be fun!
Be the first to know when we launch: sphereindex.com.