Metrics, Branding and Intuition Oh MY!

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Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
@darrinfrie You should ask @professionalone @1000wattmarc @tericonrad & @chris_smth about this: (cc @david_marine)

And this is what started the WHOLE discussion! Trust Matthew for stirring the pot and getting us all thinking this morning!  Watch the video ~ Darrin Friedman presents a bit of a controversial opinion on the concept of Agent Centric Branding… and earlier this year Matthew and I played with this idea briefly when he moderated my panel with Michael McClure and Debra Trappen at Inman Connect in New York. (Jan. 2012)

ProfessionalOneMichael McClure – @ProfessionalOne
@TeriConrad What’s their “why?” It’s that simple, IMO. #BRANDING

TeriConradTeri Conrad – @TeriConrad
Do they inspire? #brands @corcoran_group @darrinfrie @ProfessionalOne @1000wattmarc @Chris_Smth @david_marine

Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
@ProfessionalOne @TeriConrad @GoodLifeTeam The issue is that saying ‘we’re an agent-centric brand’ is completely redundant. All RE firms are

seancarpsean carpenter – @seancarp
RT @TeriConrad: Value led story is what inspires. I DO think new CB campaign is on right track. @professionalone @Corcoran_Group @GoodLi …

TeriConradTeri Conrad – @TeriConrad
BUT do consumers really shop agents or neighbourhoods? @david_marine @Corcoran_Group @darrinfrie @ProfessionalOne @1000wattmarc @Chris_Smth

And here where it gets a little interesting…. So David Marine (Senior Director of Consumer Engagement for Coldwell Banker) and Matthew Shadbolt (Director of Interactive Product and Marketing for Corcoron Group) both come from the corporate marketing world. Each incredibly experienced and well respected.  I would argue they both do a fabulous job for their respective brands in terms of ‘inspiring’ and creating ‘value’ for both agent and consumer.  But we veered off the path a little and began to discuss the value and importance of metrics….

Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
+100 RT @david_marine: @TeriConrad key word there is shop. they don’t shop agents as research shows they go w/ 1st agent majority of time.

david_marineDavid Marine – @david_marine
@TeriConrad @Corcoran_Group every agent has a dif reason for choosing a brand. splits/tools/recognition but it all goes bak to brand value

Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
@TeriConrad @david_marine I think that @darrinfrie’s video is a classic example of why people go with the first agent that calls them back

Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
@1000wattmarc @TeriConrad @david_marine @darrinfrie @professionalone @chris_smth Our web, mobile & customer data tells us the same thing

1000wattmarcMarc Davison – @1000wattmarc
@TeriConrad @david_marine @corcoran_group @darrinfrie @professionalone @chris_smth —> our research says Neighborhoods.

At this point I suggested that data is often so skewed and that I would like to see more common sense utilized….do we REALLY need the data to tell us this stuff because I’m thinking most of us know this intuitively.

david_marineDavid Marine – @david_marine
“@Corcoran_Group: @TeriConrad Data always beats opinion :-)” (agreed but pundits often like to overlook it)

Corcoran_GroupMatthew Shadbolt – @Corcoran_Group
@TeriConrad @david_marine @billublin “Data is the soil in which ideas grow”

TeriConradTeri Conrad – @TeriConrad
@corcoran_group You have a strong sense of what will work – you develop a ‘hypothesis’ and then stats back it up. @david_marine

billlublinbilllublin – @billlublin
@tericonrad You know what Disraeli said about statistics cc: @Corcoran_Group @david_marine

And here’s the quote by British Statesman Disraeli (And NO – I had no idea Bill! ;))

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. ~ Benjamin Disraeli


In my humble ‘non quantified’ opinion I believe that there is some common sense here… Ask the ‘Consumer’ what they care about it, and whether its been statistically proven or not I believe they just want solid service and faith that they’re getting a good deal.  Where the ‘Brand’ may come into play is in the ‘perception’ that they’ve had the best and herin lies the opportunity.

Consumer behaviour is based on psychology and we know that people are ‘justifiers’ and will find a way to convince themselves that they’ve chosen well, even if they’ve hardly made any effort at all to ‘shop around’.  What Corcoran Group does exceptionally well is create a ‘customer experience’ that INSPIRES and is generous with information that consumers want like ‘best restaurants’ and ‘places to shop’ and how to avoid lines etc…all the while carving out mind share and elevating their brand status with scrumptious pictures and defining ‘what’s COOL in Manhatten’! What Consumer OR Agent wouldn’t want to brand align with that?

Of course there is a need for Branding. Of course there is a need for Metrics.  But I love what Gary Vaynerchuck says: “What’s the ROI of your Mother?” There are certain impossible-to-measure intangibles that must not be ignored.  In fact I’ll go further….I think that’s where it gets REALLY interesting and juicy!

Thanks for the great discussion and mind stir this morning Matthew and David :)

****For further reading on the psychology of Social Business read @briansolis (Principle at Altimeter Group) latest article: The 6 Pillars of Social Commerce: Understanding the Psychology of Social Engagement


About Teri Conrad

Social Marketing Consultant. Brand & Social Biz Strategist. Community Outreach. Real Estate. Embracing the shift in communications and passionate about connection and engaging in #ConversationsThatMatter. Infuse with a little wine!


  1. Of course brand matters. If it didn’t there would be more Mom & Pop hamburger joins at every exit on US interstates. Good or bad, there is something nice about “knowing what you’re going to get.”

    Great brands bring tremendous relevance to a product, service or perhaps an entire industry. Nike, Apple, Ralph Lauren and Mercedes are just a few iconic brands that don’t need much introduction. Are they the only game in town? Not even close. There’s Adidas, HP, Tommy Hilfiger and BMW but those are also “brands.” You would have to go pretty deep into the sports, computer, clothing or automobile industry to find a product or service that people would respect and give their loyalty to that weren’t at some level, a “brand.”

    Of course there are some smaller ticket items that a “brand” doesn’t matter as much. Could some people prefer a local IGA grocer vs. a WalMart or target? Sure. But there’s more than the shelves, grocery carts, checkout aisles and even price that might drive that decision such as “local pride”, family tradition or convenience.

    The neat thing about America (and Canada) is there is plenty of room for all types – brands, franchises and independents. The consumer may come because of the brand name but will only return because the service or product delivered what they were expecting…and then some.

    • Great response Sean and I can tell you’re PASSIONATE about your brand! Why is that do you think?

      • Well, which “brand” are you talking about? Coldwell Banker? Coldwell Banker King Thompson and Coldwell Banker West Shell or Sean Carpenter?

        I just really believe in our 5 T’s – Tradition, Teamwork, Tools, Technololgy and Training. I don’t know of another brokerage in our area that has anything better that what we do in all of these areas. To be fair, I have never worked for another brokerage but perhaps that’s because I never had to look elsewhere?

        As for the “Sean Carpenter” brand, I believe that you have to be passionate about your product and in my role, my product is 80% me and 20% the real estate stuff I teach. That’s why my mission statement is “To teach with passion and enthusiasm, instilling confidence and excitement in my students.”

        • Love the 5 T’s! Love that you can recite them at will and ADORE your mission statement and I can testify that you oooozze the passion and enthusiasm! :) The “Sean Carpenter” Brand is a favorite of mine ;)
          Your company is so lucky to have you!

  2. As for this issue of a real estate company being “agent centric” or not, I’ll just offer this.

    If a company focuses on delivering great services & systems, tools, training and traditions that focus on getting the CONSUMER what they want, need and expect, then they are by default “agent centric.” But if they focus only on the agent/sales person and feel that somehow that the consumer will get great results by osmosis, I think there will be a failure in the system.

    If I knew that a company or brand that I supported was more focused on it’s employees or staff than me as the consumer, I might need to rethink my choice of patronage. Could it be equal to my needs? Yes. Just not more or I will take my time, effort and loyalty to another provider who puts me first.

    In the words of Dennis Miller, “Then again, I could be wrong.”

    • Haha – LOVE Dennis Miller ;)
      So when we talk about ‘BRAND’ in the Real Estate space I think many get confused. After all… who is the consumer? Is the consumer – Mr. Lister or Mrs. Buyer? OR is the consumer the Agent? In my opinion its both ~ but how do you effectively service both? It’s a tough mission. That’s why I believe that the RE Industry is so unique and that there is no right answer. My heart belongs to the Agent who wants desperately to have a company culture that inspires them and empowers them to create a business they can be proud of but that isn’t always an option. Proximity is often a challenge. Not every agent has access to a spectacular inspiring brand. It’s then that I completely advocate creating your own value based brand that has meaning to the agent and their clients.

  3. I see your ppint about “who is our client” but I think it always has to be the end user who pays the bills and makes it possible to open the doors each day. Does McDonald’s respect and appreciate their employees? Of course. Could Ford or Chrysler sell as many cars as they do with out their factory workers, car salespeople and executives? No way.

    But if there weren’t hungry patrons or people needing transportation, their might not be a need for the company in the first place.

    After all, Woolworth & Wilco probabloy loved their employees but once the customer stopped patronizing their store, all that “love” got the employees was a “thanks for your help.”

    • Could not agree more Sean….NOW how can we make it a more optimized experience for everyone? If the Agent is inspired and supported it stands to reason that its passed on to the consumer. Win/Win.

  4. David Wyrsch, Jr says:

    I was lurking for this twitter conversation because my thoughts would have take up more than 140 spaces. :-)

    As you, Debra and Micheal talked about on your panel at ICNY, ideally there is strong company/broker brand AND strong agent brand, but the two have different purposes. I agree that consumers are drawn to an agent brand not a company brand. However, I believe that agents are drawn to company brands. So having a strong company brand attracts strong agents who are either building or have all ready built their own brand. Now the broker has agents who consumers are drawn to, and who will further cement the brokers brand. It’s important for the company to build a brand that will attract agents who will in turn draw consumers to the agents. Kind of a vicious cycle.

    As far as agent-centric or not, I think it is hard to attract agents if you are not somewhat agent centric. However, this can’t be the sole focus of the broker. Like Sean said, if a broker offers their agents training, services, etc, they are agent-centric, but the key is to marry this with a strong customer service culture.

    So a broker should be agent an customer centric, if that’s possible, which I believe it is.

    • Hey David! I believe we’ve had a variation of this conversation before ;) LOVE what you said about having a strong company brand that attracts the right agents who in turn attract the right clients and of course the Brokerage needs to be appreciated for the support that they offer….I think you nailed it when you mentioned ‘strong customer service culture’. How can a Brokerage facilitate that?

      • David – I agree with almost all of your statement except when you say “consumers are drawn to an agent brand not a company brand.” That isn’t always true.

        Many times we will get customers who come to town and say they have worked with a Coldwell Banker agent in their last city (or on a previous tranasction) so they really feel they want to stay with the CB brand. Sure, if they’re moving locally then it probably is the relationship with the individual more than the brand – I get that.
        But just like a consumer who chooses a Marriott hotel when they travel (because of trust, loyalty points, previous experience, etc.) or visits a chain restuarant because they know what to expect, I think that happens a lot with agent “brands.”

        Of course, that can really work for or against an individual if the client had great (or poor) service in their last location. Maybe someone would say “I definitely will be using a _____________ agent” or “There’s no way in hell I would ever use a ______________ again.” That’s all the power of the “brand.”

        • David Wyrsch, Jr says:

          Sean, I should not have used an absolute in my comment. I more accurately think that customers are more often drawn to an agent rather than a company. I have only started to feel this way within the past year.

          We are independant company with 3 offices, have been in business for 65 years, and have a very strong local brand. We also see the same kind of thing, people have used a Van Dyk agent in the past and have had a good experience, so they come back. What has changed my views a little is that I have seen strong agents with weak local brands succeed in this market. I have also seen strong agents open their own agency, meaning the brokerage doesn’t really have a brand built yet, also succeed.

          This is why I think it’s imperative to have both a strong Company brand and agents with strong personal brands. If the two are compatible, it’s a home run.

    • David Wyrsch, Jr says:

      Teri, we have talked about this before :-). First, a brokerage must have leadership that emulates the mission of putting customer service first. They must then hire or recruit agents who share those customer service values. Then they should have systems and tools in place that almost force agents to focus on the customer’s wants and needs. An example, one of our policies is to make sure the customers always get a same day call back, whether there is an answer to their question or not. We also have a CRM program that works in a similar way. If an agent takes too long to respond to a new online lead, that lead is automatically given to another agent. If its a lead that supplies a phone number, the next agent in the rotation will get a call, and if they cannot take that lead then and there it goes to the next agent. If an agent takes too long to respond to a customers inquiry, it will take them out of the rotation until they have responded. This all may be a little extreme, but it’s a very effective way to make sure leads and customers are followed up with in the timeframe that we expect. We have had a variation of this kind of system for almost ten years with very minimal complaints from our agents because they know upfront what we expect.


  1. […] off by @darrinfrie and quickly turned into a debate with @david_marine and @corcoran_group, with a post by @TeriConrad recapping some of the discussion. "Have you met Coldwell […]

  2. […] off by @darrinfrie and quickly turned into a debate with @david_marine and @corcoran_group, with a post by @TeriConrad recapping some of the […]

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    Metrics, Branding and Intuition Oh MY! – Teri Conrad

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