EP.40: Interview With Chris Smith

Early in his career, Chris Smith worked for Lou Pearlman (of the Backstreet Boys, N*SYNC, and other major acts) and Dan Gilbert (founder and creator of Quicken Loans) and notes those mentors as the ones that taught him everything he needed to know about phone sales. Smith then went on to work for Top Producer and Realtor.com selling the crm and online advertising services respectively. While in those roles, Smith decided to start a blog, Tech Savvy Agent, where his career really took off. He kept adding new media outlets to his repertoire and his name grew. While the blog grew, Smith worked with Dotloop through their acquisition by Zillow, and through that process, started his company Curaytor. Smith now has two offices and several employees that help him execute marketing for their thousand clients they actively work with.

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Smith goes on to say that he feels Curaytor fills a gap in real estate marketing because of concerns he has with current coaching practices in the industry. He fears that coaching is purely accountability, not any radical new, magical processes (mostly). The new stuff (Facebook marketing, etc.) is more fun and exciting, he notes, and agents can enjoy doing it. He likens the old processes of knocking doors and sending mailers as easy to get bored with, but with Facebook marketing, agents get the “fun and shiny” they are interested in, but are still accomplishing the same tasks they’ve been told to complete in their businesses for years.

“The message is the same, the methods have just changed,” he says. “Don’t be romantic about the method.”

Turning to new methods means new tactics, and Smith notes several off-hand. “News-jacking” he calls it, is a great way to stay relevant and get good engagement. He mentions lacing correspondence with Super Bowl themes or other hot topics of the day. Smith goes on to talk about Facebook’s follies over the last year and how, as a business, they are steering more in the direction of engaging content than anything that requires an opt-in, especially on a third party site.

To those who struggle with consistency in marketing, Smith offers some advice. “It’s challenging to track and trace your marketing as you’re doing it. It’s hard for big businesses and small,” he agrees. “You have to ask yourself is my business better off with or without marketing?“ He urges agents to redefine what they mean when they talk about marketing success. Every marketer would agree: repeated actions over time create sustainable success.

Prospects get bored with opt-in requests. Agents should start treating engagement as leads instead of names and phone numbers as the only value coming from marketing. In practice, getting the most out of an audience is called retargeting. It’s easy to get an opt-in, but business is happening in the communication phase where they get to know the agent and the service. Lastly, Chris hits on the importance of expectations in Facebook marketing efforts. Grant and Chris both agree that out of one hundred Facebook leads, an agent should plan to convert only a handful immediately. Marketing is an every day, long-term need in a business, not a one-time solution to overcoming unsteadiness in a market or business.

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