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Tara Christianson – realestate.com.au [Transcript]

Kylie Davis: (00:01)

Welcome to the Proptech podcast. It's Kylie Davis here, and I'm delighted to be your host as we explore the brave new world where technology and real estate collide. I passionately believe we need to create and grow a sense of community between the innovators and real estate agents, and sharing our stories is a great way to do that. Now the aim of each episode is to introduce business to a Proptech innovator who is pushing the boundaries of what's possible and explore the issues and challenges raised by the tech and how they can create amazing property experiences. My guest in this episode is the fabulous Tara Christianson, digital strategist at realestate.com.au, and a self confessed nerd girl when it comes to real estate content and digital marketing. Now Tara helps real estate agents understand and navigate digital marketing. She's also a long time Inman ambassador, and she's a fantastic presenter if you've ever seen her on stage.


Kylie Davis: (00:58)

Now, after the conversation with Damian Merchan from Spoke last week, I wanted to get Tara on the show to continue with the theme of digital marketing in real estate. In this discussion, we unpack further, how do you actually do this digital marketing thing? And we add some more meat to the bones of understanding how all the different elements of digital marketing work together. Now, it's a topic that Tara and I could and have been known to talk about for hours together, often with wine involved, but in the interest of public safety, we've kept this one shorter. Now Tara at the Proptech podcast, we always ask our guests to start with their elevator pitch. Now, I know you're not a Proptech as such, but as an intro, what's your elevator pitch? Bust it out.


Tara Christianson: (01:43)

What's my elevator pitch? That's probably, my name is Tara Christianson, I'm digital strategist at realestate.com.au. In that role, I introduce real estate professionals and businesses to the branding opportunities in both paid and unpaid spaces in the online world, helping them understand which audiences are where, most effective content to use, identify new and future technologies that can help them increase online profiles and create lead generation, which should be part and parcel of every business's digital strategy. As a nerd, I use my background as a real estate agent in the United States and experience as a consultant for different agencies and agents in all sorts of countries, and my innate desire for searching out solutions to problems with my relationships and familiarity with the real estate business in general, to best identify what will and won't work for your business. With that in mind, how well do you and your real estate business really understand the marketing and branding opportunities of the online world? If you can't answer that question or you're afraid of the answer, we should talk.


Kylie Davis: (02:43)

That was extremely thorough and very awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. Tara, tell me, what's your role at REA, and what do you do?


Tara Christianson: (02:54)

I've just transitioned into being a digital strategist within realestate.com.au. And what that really means is that, that allows me now to expand beyond the residential side of things and explore more of the commercial and developer side of things as well. Those lines of business. Within that, I'm basically melding marketing with sales. It's really especially exploring that digital landscape more, digital strategies within that landscape and how it applies basically to our customers and ensuring that they feel supported and that they understand basically how best to brand themselves and get themselves out there in that online space.


Kylie Davis: (03:36)

Awesome. Look, realestate.com.au is one of the first projects here in Australia. What? 15, almost 20 years ago now.


Tara Christianson: (03:44)

Wasn't it?


Kylie Davis: (03:46)

85, 87, something like that. It signalled the start of innovation in real estate. How has the digital landscape changed since then? To summarise that, in less than 50 words, in the next few minutes.


Tara Christianson: (04:00)

Do you want that in one sentence or two? I think it's really been an interesting progression basically of people understanding or companies understanding that online space and the opportunities that that online space offers, from just profiling perspectives and then into content creation, the search capabilities when it comes to that, selling of products in that online space, gaining a wider audience, and then of course the advertising side of things. Even from gaining blog audiences and really understanding those people, all the way to then, well wait, there's actually metrics that are behind that as well that's going to tell us more about those audiences in that data that's there as well. Okay, well, what can we do with all of that? It really is a marketer's dream, isn't it? That online world, especially when you don't have privacy laws that prevent you from gaining access to all this information.


Tara Christianson: (04:58)

Of course, unfortunately the countries have cracked down since then, but you really get this richer idea that a lot of times people were either throwing darts at dartboards and hoping that it connected or calling or going door to door to try to understand people better and try to really gain that perspective better. Now they just sit at computers and have other computers basically tell them what that is. It's been a really fascinating progression in that space. From an individual perspective, as well as from a company perspective, I think it's really shown us the importance of very good content, a very personalised and tailored content to be able to cut through that increasing noise that's in that online space, but then also understanding that data that's being given to us and understanding what to do with that next, because that truly, I think, is the currency right now of the online world. If you don't know what to do with it, you're basically just throwing money out the window.


Kylie Davis: (06:03)

Because we've seen a real progression, haven't we? 15, 20 years ago everyone was advertising in print, REA and domain started up and basically created the advertising market online. We kept paying to reach the audience through online. The metric started to build up, but we realised that we're still wanting that passive audience, that print was able to get, and that's when the sort of blogs and not necessarily paid, but earned audience started to come into it. And now we're in having the whole conversation around, data and intent and understanding that from a marketing point of view.


Tara Christianson: (06:44)

Absolutely. I think it's a really interesting progression, but at the same time, I almost sometimes feel we're going in circles. It's just that, as those circles continue, certain things get thrown out. Print becomes less, but it's interesting because, you would say that radio advertising has gone down, but hasn't necessarily, if we have more people or more consumers that are stuck in cars again, or when we're talking about electric cars and the unmanned cars, those kinds of things. Well, then what are people going to do with their spare time, right? If they're not actively thinking and focusing on driving and they've just become passive consumers again, they've just become passive people. How are you going to capture that area in marketing? Is it going to be then through something that's an audio experience, whether it's a podcast or whether it's a radio commercial or whatever? Or is it going to be on that online space, because people are using one screen or two screens or even three screens, while they're sitting there?


Kylie Davis: (07:56)

That's you at a conference.


Tara Christianson: (07:59)

Exactly. You think about all of those things and you go, wow, there's just a lot that's out there. I think too, people get mistaken when they think about that online experience from, I think they don't fully understand all the times their audience journey, and I don't think they fully understand exactly how each part of that funnel basically works, whether it's just that specific capturing and gaining that interest in gaining their attention, and how many times the things need to get repeated as they move down into that lead generation funnel and start to be there. And then once you've captured them, that nurturing aspect that's there too. And that especially comes into play in real estate, is oftentimes they're very good at the leads, but not so good at the nurture.


Kylie Davis: (08:49)

Very, very true. Look, REA has always focused on listings, but that's not the only things that agents need to do now to market themselves. We've already covered a whole gamut of things that they should be doing, but how does it all fit together? If we maybe start off at the listings because listings is what everyone's familiar and comfortable with, build us from the bottom up to the top of the funnel.


Tara Christianson: (09:15)

Listings are fine, but listings is a very specific product, isn't it? So really it's going to be tailored to a specific buyer set that's there through it. That house sits in a specific neighbourhood, and sometimes that house is not exactly what people are looking for. They're going to be looking within a neighbourhood section instead to find what are the other choices that might be the possibilities within that. They're trying to understand, because you don't just buy a house and go, here, I'm here. They buy into communities. You buy into a community that's there instead. That's the extra level that's on top of that. People are looking at suburbs and looking outside of suburbs. It's interesting because if you look at some of the statistics that are out there, first time home buyers often look at satellite suburbs, trying to get a better understanding of those areas and trying to understand, is this really, really where we want to be.


Tara Christianson: (10:13)

Are we really certain about this, versus experienced buyers who are going to be a little bit more specific about, nope, we are just looking here and we're just looking here, and these are the only parameters that we have. Then you've got to understand the segmentation basically of the audience that's there. And then you build it up, right? Well, then, obviously here is different than in the States, with buyer agents versus not buyer agents, but even just trying to understand as a vendor. If you are going to be selling your home in those areas, then you're not just going to be looking at, well, let's look at the past sales and those metrics that are there. That's important, but you're also going to be looking not just at quantitative, but at qualitative stuff as well.


Tara Christianson: (10:56)

You're going to be looking at reviews and what it's like to work with this person. Depending on what your needs are as a specific seller, you're going to be looking to see, is it price? Can they sell very quickly? Is it going to be commissioned thing? Is it going to be friendliness? Are you just looking for somebody who just seems to be a good person at the end of the day? Easy to work with, those kinds of things, somebody who maybe who's a great negotiator, because you're worried maybe about a pest inspection or a building inspection, you're going to be looking at those kinds of things. You're going to be looking or listening to other people, telling you about what it's to work with that person. That's where that review side comes in.


Tara Christianson: (11:32)

That's why REA changed and is continuing to make some changes to its search, just in general, because it's not going to be based just off of that quantitative number of sales and that sort of stuff in an area, but also number of reviews and the ratings of that agent within that. Because we realised that people are at that specifically as well, and trying to understand more about that agent as a person. And sometimes it's just also an agency then too, right? It's the agency profiling the agency branding, and that fits into the developer world and the commercial world as well, to some extent, but it's less people, specific agent oriented necessarily, and a little bit more about the brand itself. Are they environmentally friendly? Do they have great quality control when it comes to these kinds of things? There's a whole number of different aspects that they may be focused on when it comes to making those choices and making specific choices.


Tara Christianson: (12:28)

And that's when you're starting to get to that higher level stuff up the funnel, where people are just trying to get some better understanding and just some idea in general of what is it, where is it that I even want to be? Why is it that I want to be there? And then once I figure that out, who is it that I really want to work with, or try to work with when I'm there? When you're a buyer it's a little bit less easy because of choices, obviously, but when you're a seller especially, that's when you're going to be starting to make a lot of those decisions.


Kylie Davis: (12:59)

Typically real estate marketing is just focused on that bottom end of the funnel. How do you see it, from listings going up, what are the different channels or elements that you would be layering on to what you're doing?


Tara Christianson: (13:14)

Listings specifically, but then there's reviews, there's community information and suburb information. There's suburb profiling that you'd be doing as well. Saying, I am the expert in this area, and you can do that through advertising, and you can do that through content creation as well, and social proof. Providing that with interviews and those kinds of things, with business owners, showcasing that you're a member of that community, an active member of that community, perhaps you sponsor certain things within that community, so you'd be showcasing some of those. Above that, then it's also then, it's, what it's like to work with you. That's where those reviews also come in, from that seller side, that's what you want to be providing, that information for is, what's it like to work with this specific agent, above that you'd have that agency brand.


Tara Christianson: (14:08)

You'd be really explaining more. What does the agency stand for? What are the missions? What's the values? What are those statements that are there? How do your agents basically show that or live that every day in their experiences? That's bringing in the aggregate information of those reviews, of some of those testimonials, of some of those experiences and telling the stories that are behind them. And then on top of that, then you're starting to really just get into championing your area. It's really starting to say, Brisbane's best and here's why. Sorry, the Maroons do play tonight, so I have to.


Kylie Davis: (14:53)

Please, please please.


Tara Christianson: (14:59)

You have to think about then, what is it that you're really showcasing in that aspect? And so that's that really broad thing, but it's also just staying top of mind with people as well, within some of that branding. That's that profiling piece where you're just going, I'm also an expert in this, let me just teach you some things. Here's what it's like to buy a house. Here's some of the journey parts that you're going to go on. Here's some of the biggest questions people have. Here's how you actually bid at an auction. Here's some of the differences, if you're coming in from interstate, here's the difference between Victoria real estate and Queensland real estate or New South Wales and Victoria. Because there are a lot of differences with their forms, with the way it progresses, with who you're going to be dealing with. Sometimes how quickly the transaction goes through, finances, it's introducing people then as well to people who can start to help them in their journey.


Tara Christianson: (15:58)

Also explaining to them, you think that you want to sell next year and that's fine, but you've actually should be starting now with some of the things that you need to be doing. Here, let me help you start to get to that point. It's interesting, because I think a lot of real estate people or professionals in general feel very proprietary about that information. Well, you can't know that unless you specifically want to work with me, but the thing is, nobody knows that they want to work with you.


Kylie Davis: (16:25)

No they don't, two way.


Tara Christianson: (16:27)

You're going to keep that secret squirrel information, as long as you really want, because nobody's ever going to come find you for it. That's been part of what I've been trying to do, is reeducate people on, you do actually have to let go of some of that information earlier on in the journey than you think it's going to be released, and then figure out what other specific things that you can deliver along the way, that's going to keep people with you and also keeps telling them, this is why I'm different and this is why you want to continue to work with me.


Kylie Davis: (17:03)

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Kylie Davis: (17:53)

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Kylie Davis: (18:16)

On your LinkedIn page, you've got a great quote, that there's no digital strategy anymore. Just strategy in a digital world. What does that mean? Explain that.


Tara Christianson: (18:28)

Well, thankfully it wasn't me that said that in the first place, it was Burd Cuttle, I think, who said that. The real big thing and the reason I really liked it, is because, I think a lot of times people say, well, here's our strategy and then here's our digital strategy. The thing is, it shouldn't be separated. Those two should not be separated. Digital strategy is going to be part and parcel of what you should be doing as a strategy, as a business strategy moving forward. And you shouldn't be thinking, separate, let's just make a whole separate part of the company for that or a separate piece of it. It really is incorporating, or your strategy should be incorporating digital choices alongside those traditional choices that you may feel more comfortable with. And you should be thinking about, if I do this in an offline space, how can I mirror this then, in that online space as well? What would be the same thing that I could be doing here? That can be everything from letterbox drops, I tell people, you don't expect to get tonnes of lead generation out of it.


Tara Christianson: (19:31)

Most of the reason that you do it is for profiling, it's for a specific area profiling. Well, you can also do that with profiling in the online space using advertising on different channels to do that. That will get you the profiling that digital letterbox drop basically that you're looking for. And so, thinking about how you can translate that, or use that from one space to the other, it's just an example of that. And that's why digital strategy, it's almost a misnomer, because it's really not. It just should be a strategy with some digital stuff that's in there, and I think that's the really important piece.


Kylie Davis: (20:11)

We are in a digital world now, aren't we? Our mobile phones are not the grooviest piece of tech we have. You're looking at tech all the time. What is your standard toolkit of tech that agents should be using right now?


Tara Christianson: (20:28)

I think they really, really, really should be really embracing video if they haven't already. I think COVID really pushed that issue for people a lot. I know that doesn't sound super sexy and I know we've been harping about this for years, but with the ability with your cameras, with people also with your viewers not going, we expect this whole movie, thing to happen. We're okay with even experiences like Zooms and something that's been recorded like that. I tell people all the time, we're used to having cats, bats, go across the screen and toddler scream in the back. We're used to that now, and that actually adds a personalization and a familiarity and allows people to even see within homes and see that, people have homes and they do live in places that aren't just real estate offices or commercial offices and commercial spaces all the time.


Tara Christianson: (21:30)

I think video is one of the strongest pieces that people can use for communication. But I think also, and the thing is, it's really easy to do that, but I think you also need to remember when there's a time and place for the professional side of those videos and when there's a time and place for the less professional side of things. And so, making sure that you also incorporate a good mix of that and being able to invest in that. Do they really need to have a huge toolkit? No, not necessarily, because there's companies out there that will do a lot of that stuff for them. If you don't feel comfortable in that technology space, as such, but you at least have come to the realisation that it is important to be embracing some of this, then it's time to hire people and it's time to utilise even people like me, because people can bring me on for free to talk to their office through their REA rep.


Tara Christianson: (22:26)

It's using that knowledge and then going, okay, now I can find then the company that's going to help me achieve what it is that I want to achieve. But the first is that realisation piece of, actually we're not doing so well in that space. The next step is then, okay, what is it that we're going to need to do to be better in that space? And then from there they can basically start to make some choices. That's the coolest part about real estate in general, is that, there's a lot of times a company to fill that space.


Kylie Davis: (23:02)

It's very true, isn't it? Especially in the marketing space, because marketing was the original place where we started to innovate in real estate.


Tara Christianson: (23:10)

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis: (23:12)

Do you think we should be chasing shiny buttons or should we be looking to solve real problems in our business and how do we differentiate? That might've been a slightly loaded question.


Tara Christianson: (23:26)

Funny things. What are you saying? It's funny because, yes, I love, love, love, love, shiny things. You know me, we will probably buy the, well, I've got an Oculus sitting behind me, we will buy. [crosstalk 00:23:43]. That's shiny. But part of the reason I personally invest in a lot of that stuff, is so that I can better understand it and then understand whether or not this actually is going to make a difference in a real estate agent's life or not. And if not, especially right now, it might download line and that's good to start to understand how that's going to work. When it comes to digital transformation, it's not the digital part, it's the transformation part that's important. Right? It's just transforming a piece of your business, either to make it easier, to make it more efficient, to make it faster, to maybe take something off the table that you don't necessarily want to deal with, whether that could be accounting or whether that could be cold calls or whatever that is.


Tara Christianson: (24:33)

And that's where, it's not the shiny buttons part, it's the business part. I think one of the things, the strongest things that any real estate business can do, is to take a really long, hard look at what they really actually need or want to achieve, whether it's in an online space, whether it's lead generation or profiling, or just some aspect of the business that needs to run better. And then being open then to the people who approach them with whether or not their solution matches the problem that you have, because there is a solution out there for everything. I think we both know for problems that don't even exist. We've talked about that before. It's really making sure that you don't invent another problem in your business for that solution, just so that you can say that, I've got this now.


Tara Christianson: (25:34)

Instead, it's really saying, what makes sense, not just for my business, but also for the other people were part of my business, which is of course the clients. If it makes things easier or better or faster for them, then they're going to reward you by continuing to work with you. That's a really important thing.


Kylie Davis: (26:01)

You're originally from the US obviously, I noticed. Do you think there are any differences between the way Aussies and US agents, their attitude to tech and to transformation?


Tara Christianson: (26:20)

In the past, especially I think United States agents tend to be more open to trying pretty much anything in their business. And so they're just more open to technology and those kinds of changes. They tend to accept it more with open arms and then they'll decide later whether or not it actually works or does it work in their business. That's that trying and failing, trying and failing, trying and failing. Part of it is because there are so many agents in the United States in general, finding your specific point of difference is very difficult. Also because you don't get vendor paid advertising most of the time. You are investing as much in your own marketing, basically, as you are into marketing a specific product. The listing, right? You're always thinking about, what does this do for me? How does this reflect back on me?


Tara Christianson: (27:17)

Whereas here, I think sometimes because there's vendor paid advertising, people feel either, I want to be very cautious about how I pose this, but I think sometimes people feel they are confined within the parameters of whatever it is that the vendor ultimately agrees to, when it comes to the price that they're willing to pay for that marketing. Some of that may come from confidence or lack thereof of the agent in presenting it. Some of it of course, is going to be from the vendors needs and understandings, as well as what their actual ability to invest in that marketing is going to be. When you're solely relying on that as your marketing or as a majority of your marketing, and then of course, relying on your principal for some of the profiling aspect of it, you're going to have a different attitude towards how technology and how the digital world necessarily fit.


Tara Christianson: (28:16)

It's just been trying to better understand and also empower agents so that they feel more confident in the tools that are out there. I also do think in some ways it's good, because of that natural reluctance, I think sometimes to embrace everything that's thrown at them. Aussies don't fall into the traps that Americans do a lot of times of just investing in the newest and the shiniest, and then losing money along the way on that, or getting themselves involved in something that they shouldn't necessarily be involved in. Right. And seizing to be real estate agents, because they're focusing so much on one thing or another thing instead.


Kylie Davis: (28:57)

We're a bit more likely to wait for version 2.1 or something.


Tara Christianson: (29:00)

Absolutely.


Kylie Davis: (29:01)

Let's see if this thing's really a thing, this internet, let's see if it will take off.


Tara Christianson: (29:06)

I don't think that that's a bad thing at all. I think that that is actually, it's not cynicism, it's a maybe scepticism. I think that that natural scepticism is actually a good thing, and can prevent some of those things from happening. The trap that you can fall into though, is that you continue to be completely sceptical of everything that's new, so you only rely on the older traditional methods that you've always done, not realising that as everything ages, right? Consumers, your clients are actually, they're ageing up from a different standpoint, they're ageing up from different behaviours and patterns in their lives of how they see information, consume information and understand information. And so you, you should have some strategies basically in place to make sure that you're capturing and continuing those, because that's the lifeline, that's the pipeline, that you really want to be tapping into as your real estate journey continues in your business as well.


Kylie Davis: (30:14)

In the U S the big portals like Zillow, they use the lead gen model rather than ad space. There's also a lot of talk about the moving into iBuying. The market in the US is very different, because some commissions are a lot higher. There's no vendor paid advertising as we've talked about. Do you think those iBuying and the lead gen models, are they things that we're going to see here in Australia?


Tara Christianson: (30:42)

Well, iBuying already exists in Australia. It's just, it's not really shouted from the rooftops. Part of it though is-


Kylie Davis: (30:53)

Who's doing it?


Tara Christianson: (30:56)

I'd have to get back to you, which would be, it's a company out of, I want to say Melbourne, there's at least one or two, and I've got the names somewhere, they're a proptech.


Kylie Davis: (31:08)

They're a proptech? Okay. All right. If it's you, reach out to us. If it's your business, please contact us, we'll big you up.


Tara Christianson: (31:17)

I was going to say, I can get you the names after this, I just don't have it straight in front of me right now. iBuying, if you look at where it's really most prevalent in the United States, it's in those lower income areas where it makes most sense to basically have those opportunities and to not take advantage of them per se, but give people another choice. And what it is, that choice is, hey, for less money, but a quicker transaction. And remember finances in the States, you can't close necessarily in a month. Some of the bigger banks, even if they say they're going to close in two months, don't. And then all of a sudden you've got that nightmare on your hands as an agent. And so when you're given that certainty of, no, we're going to close, we're going to close on time and we're going to close for this amount. That's not going to change.


Tara Christianson: (32:19)

You don't have to go through all that other marketing stuff of people jumping through your house, open for inspections or anything else. It's just going to be quick and easy. Sometimes people are just going to choose easy, because they don't necessarily want the money for the hassle, or they're willing to trade the money for what they perceive as the hassle. I think what's important for any agent to understand whether you're in Australia or anywhere else, is just, what does that look like? What could that mean? And are you in an area that might, especially you'd be looking at regional areas in places or specific suburbs, urban areas where that might make more sense for a company to come in and own some of those.


Tara Christianson: (33:06)

The other thing you've got to think about is Airbnb buying up some of these as well. Right? Not so much right now. I don't know how much COVID has affected them as a company moving forward, but you have to really think about that Airbnb experience. Are they going to be taking advantage again moving forward, or are they not going to be taking advantage moving forward? Zillow too though, can't be the same thing that REA is here, because we have the multiple list service over there. Because of that, people already have access to some of that information. It's just that also Zillow has provided a user experience that more consumers, more people, the average of your buyer or your seller on the street wants to deal with versus some of the information in the way it's being presented by agents via the multiple list service, which now they're trying to change of course.


Kylie Davis: (34:04)

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Kylie Davis: (35:12)

Tell me me about lead buying. There's been a surge of lead generation businesses over the last sort of four or five years. Let's sort of just explore that a little bit. What are your thoughts in that space?


Tara Christianson: (35:30)

Lead generation models in general, what I think is interesting, is that, it can work for some people if they don't feel competent in that lead generation space. However it is that they don't understand how that, again, another funnel, how that works, whether or not they don't understand how specific platforms work. And remember those platforms are continuously changing their rules in the background, the Googles and the Facebooks and all of those, they keep moving the cheese, because they don't want you to fully understand it, because they want to keep making money off of people. But then you've also got to think about, it's not just the quality of the lead that comes through, but whether or not you're doing it because you need a sale yesterday or whether it's because you just want to grow your actual business and grow your pipeline.


Tara Christianson: (36:26)

And when you do that, when you actually bring the leads in, but then have things set into place, so that you can actually keep nurturing and moving those people along, that's what's really important. I think that's where, you can have as many lead generation models out there as you want. I think there will always be at least some agents or agencies or businesses that appreciate them or want to include them in their toolbox. That's absolutely fine. I think as long as you also then have in place that lead nurturing structure, that's there as well, so that you actually don't look at them as leads anymore, but you actually see them as people. And when you look at them as people, somebody with a need, somebody who may not have that need right now, but will have a need down the line, that's when that starts to be more beneficial.


Tara Christianson: (37:15)

You can't just look at your ROI as, well, we invested in it for a month or two months and nothing happened, you need to look at your own behaviours and also your own structure and the systems that you have put into place on how you're dealing with those and handling those.


Kylie Davis: (37:32)

Use them to compliment how you're nurturing leads generally in your business. Don't rely on them for your bread and butter, I guess.


Tara Christianson: (37:42)

Because I think the bread and butter really is still referrals, right? It's going to be fear of influence, and it's going to be people that you already know or who have worked with you, who are going to be providing that information for you. That's why reviews, ratings, testimonials, all of those things are strong. That's why leveraging those on your platforms and your content is really important, whether you decide to put some money behind them or not, that's up to you. If you're trying to grow, whether it's as an individual or a specific business or an agency, especially if you're new to an area or something like that, then that's okay. But as long as you've put that resource aside, so that they're going to be continuously talked to and nurtured and feeling loved along the way, to whatever place it is. And so you understand that you can't just dump them into one database and send them all the same material that you send every single other person on your database, which is pretty much what happens.


Kylie Davis: (38:46)

Or ring them and say, would you to sell your house? That the opener, maybe not so much, maybe that will scare lot of them up. I've had some fun conversations with agents since COVID. Now Tara, if you were setting up a proptech, what's your advice to proptechs? Because you've been a mentor in reach in the past. What's your key pieces about advice that you give to proptechs starting out?


Tara Christianson: (39:16)

First is being able to communicate what you do to the average person. It's all well and good to have your elevator pitch for VCs and things like that. But the average person who's going to be at some point, the people buying your product and showing that you're actually a viable product or a viable company, you need to be able to put that into plain language and you need to be able to explain it very quickly, especially in that real estate space, if you're a real estate proptech, because agents have less than a goldfish for memory span and attention span. Really capturing their imagination is really important. Storytelling, I think is really important, taking them on the journey with you, but doing it very carefully. Real estate also has influencers really. If you can get a few successful people or agencies that can back your product and will talk about your product, that really opens the door down the way for a number of other agencies or agents, because either they'll see them using your product and you go, ooh, mm-hmm (affirmative).


Tara Christianson: (40:26)

Or you can use them of courses as your case studies and say, here are the people who are successfully using this in their business and here's how they're doing it. The beauty is, then that gives you the sounding board too, is keeping those open lines of communication between you and those people, so that you are listening to some of the changes and being able to change that product as well, where it may actually go in a different direction than you ever imagined it to, or maybe it will have features that you never thought it would have. You wouldn't know anything about this Kylie.


Kylie Davis: (40:59)

No. Never heard of it, probably like a good pivot.


Tara Christianson: (41:05)

Let's pivot again. But you have to be willing to do that and willing to adapt. There's obviously certain times that you're going to hold firm on some things, but sometimes if you've got a lot of people who are saying, look, I'd love this product if it had this and you've got 10, then 20, 30 people telling you, you might want to revisit that.


Kylie Davis: (41:27)

That sounds like something should go on the roadmap.


Tara Christianson: (41:31)

Exactly. I think those things are really important for proptechs, and just really being open. Also I think, it's interesting, because I've talked to proptechs who work in parking garages and things, and it was exploring, well, how would that work? And then the real estate space, is this something that makes sense in a real estate space? Or it doesn't make sense. It doesn't in residential per se, but it might for commercial or for developer. And so, okay, let's explore then that aspect of it. Also you might think that you might fit just into one aspect of an industry, but you may actually find if you start to expand your ideas or your view of things, that there might actually be some other applications that may hold better. I think too with the world getting smaller every single day, is also thinking about, well, this doesn't necessarily fit within the traditional real estate or whatever industry in this country, but it very well could fit better into an industry across the water and whether that's Asia or Europe or North America or South America, that's also understanding or being open to that. Really understanding that wider worldview, I think is really important.


Kylie Davis: (42:58)

What sort of technology do you think agents need next? Is there any? Do we still need any more listing websites?


Tara Christianson: (43:09)

I think they should understand what the heck they've got.


Kylie Davis: (43:15)

By holding a moratorium on any new development? Well, people get their brains around what's going on right now.


Tara Christianson: (43:20)

Contact management system, when you're not using the features of the current contact management system. And don't tell me that you need to offshore something that you don't even understand yourself. Some of the most successful agencies I've seen, especially over here, in the States as well, are the ones that are run by people who have been participants in different parts of the business. They worked on the admin desk for a while, and they also worked as a sales person. They've done the marketing side of things. They've done this part of thing. I think that's really important, so that you do understand better, especially from that business head aspect. Then what components, either could be replaced or do we need to maybe help them understand better?


Tara Christianson: (44:11)

And the thing is, look, and I speak from experience, you will teach them over and over and over again, the same thing, over and over again. And then you'll bring in different people to tell them the same thing that you've told them about a hundred times, but maybe in a different accent or different perspective. And the thing is, you've just got to know, when do you feel you finally may cut through, is it 20% adoption rate? Is it 30% adoption rate? Is it 50% adoption rate? Where do you think that then you can move on to start to expand that toolbox? Because before you start seeking out the newest thing that's out there, you really should be focusing on what you've already got in place right now, that people already feel somewhat comfortable with, before you start throwing new things at them.


Tara Christianson: (45:02)

Because they're only going to start accepting the new things if you're able to really say, nope, this is going to make your job easier or faster, or give you more time with your family or do whatever it is. That's when they're going to start to try to give it a chance, because otherwise, they're going to say, well, we already have a CRM. Why do we need another CRM?


Kylie Davis: (45:25)

But I don't that CRM, I like the old one.


Tara Christianson: (45:28)

Yes, exactly. That lovely old one where we had triplicate and we had to press really hard.


Kylie Davis: (45:35)

Three copies, press here, sign here, press hard. Cool. What do you think is coming up next in proptech? What's your crystal ball, five years? What's going to happen to us over the next five years?


Tara Christianson: (45:51)

[inaudible 00:45:51] next week anymore.


Kylie Davis: (45:53)

The same as this week?


Tara Christianson: (45:57)

I don't know. It's interesting, because you were kind enough to ask me this before I joined you, and I couldn't begin to tell you honestly, because I know that they're really focusing more on how you can make things more believable and achievable in the online space, whether that's through augmented reality or virtual reality, I think it's getting smarter. I think it's getting faster with 5G being introduced. Information is going to be passing a lot faster and machine learning is going to get a lot better. It's going to become scarier a lot of times, because either there's going to be deep fakes that people are going to be able to tell whether or not you're talking to a real human or a robot or a computer, and some of that will be to our benefit.


Tara Christianson: (46:50)

And some of that will be to our detriment. We will keep the politics out of it. But, elections aside, I think even just in any industry or professional industry, you have to think about, well if we aren't spending 20% of our time doing this, what does that free us up to do instead? And how are we going to then use that? Are we going to use that to fulfil our personal life more? Because we're seeing more people during COVID really working on that balance a lot more, I think, and really possibly appreciating some of that personal time, as well as that work time. For some it's going to be that, hey, I can achieve more in four hours a day than I used to in eight hours a day. Do I necessarily need to fill up that other four hours a day with more work or should I be doing something else with that?


Tara Christianson: (47:43)

Can I be expanding into other hobbies or into other personal interests that are out there? I think that there's going to be the more, unless of course we have something serious that either takes down the net or electromagnetic warfare or storms or whatever that's out there, because there's always the chance of that. I read a lot of dystopian fiction, so that helps.


Kylie Davis: (48:07)

It doesn't help the paranoid much at all.


Tara Christianson: (48:09)

It's always sitting in the back of the brain, could happen. I think though people are becoming, from at least what I've seen, people are becoming more picky about what they consume and how they consume it. And so unless you were providing that personalised individualised tailored experience for people, whether it's in a communication or an ad or content that you're putting out there, just that spray and pray that you might've done before and it worked, isn't necessarily going to be working anymore. Because people are being trained by companies that have a lot more money to expect that experience, whether it's tailored feed on Facebook or tailored search when you go to Google, to just having that experience in real life as well. People gathering that information, that data, and then being able to transform people's experiences for that.


Tara Christianson: (49:10)

And so I think that that's what I see really happening more and more, is people's expectations are going to be there for that. On the flip side though, I do think that there will be some backlash as well to that online world and online space and that they will see it as a necessary tool for certain things, but then they will go to other offline experiences for other things. I think there will be a subsect of groups that will also do that as well. That will just say, I'm tired. I don't want to be on Zoom anymore. I don't want to look at another email. I don't want another meeting, I'm just done with the online space. I'm turning all of these things, these electronic things off, and I'm going to go do something in the offline space. And as marketers and advertisers, that's a scary thing, because that's a harder to measure, once they're not trackable. Again, then it's going to be, how do we start to gather that information, track that information? I don't know if that...


Kylie Davis: (50:11)

No, no, it would be fascinating. That's like, well, then we're going to have billboards in the woods, aren't we?


Tara Christianson: (50:16)

But the thing is, maybe instead you've got things that are on trees that have maps, that are built into them instead, digital maps that are built into them, and they're interactive and you can say, I want to take this trail and it actually lights up little arrows for you as you're going up the way, who knows. I could see that happening at some point because that's what people expect. They want to be led. Right? There's definitely the adventures out there that are like, please leave my woods alone and trust me, I'm with you. It's okay. But there's also the people who just want to be handheld through the whole experience, whether that's buying real estate or whether that's going for a walk in the woods, and they want to be very certain about what choices they're making while they're out there. And so technology can provide that. They will expect it, because they're going to be provided in other spaces, by other companies, by other experiences. And so they're going to want that experience all the time, no matter where they are.


Kylie Davis: (51:20)

That sounds a fantastic note to finish up on. Tara Christianson, thank you so much for your time today. It's been wonderful to talk to you and to start to pull apart these issues around digital marketing and proptech and where they all interact.


Tara Christianson: (51:36)

Yes, I think it's been a lot of fun. I've enjoyed hanging out. It's been enjoyable for me.


Kylie Davis: (51:43)

Thank you so much. That was my very dear friend, Tara Christianson from realestate.com.au, talking about digital marketing and how it is so much more than just property listings. Now, I know that realestate.com.au cops a lot of flack in the industry for being so big and omnipresent, but I am impressed at the level of help and support they provide agents in this space, by making the services of experts like Tara, available to coach and advise agents on the broader digital landscape. Tara's expertise is in analysing your digital marketing strategy and providing advice on how to get started or to amplify what you're doing. It's available as a resource for residential, commercial and develop customers of realestate.com.au.


Kylie Davis: (52:29)

If you're interested in learning more, reach out to your REA account manager and set up an appointment with Tara. Now, if you've enjoyed this episode of the Proptech podcast, I would love you to tell your friends or drop me a line either via email, LinkedIn or our Facebook page. You can follow this podcast on Spotify, Google podcasts, Encut and Apple iTunes. I'd like to thank my audio support, Charlie Collins and the fabulous [inaudible 00:52:55] Escudero, and our sponsors Smidge Wines, proud to be the official one of Australian Proptech. Direct Connect, making moving connections easy. And HomePrezzo now part of ActivePipe in turning your data into amazing marketing content. Check out the new market insights pages. They are awesome. Thanks everyone. Until next week, stay safe and keep on propteching.