Mary McIntosh, GRI, AHWD, is associate broker at ProSmart Realty in Gilbert, Ariz., and has been selling real estate since 2002. Her motto is: "Always look for ways to better serve your clients and keep them laughing throughout the process."
You're Never Too Old for Real Estate
I’m not the quickest adapter to change in the industry, and I’m still learning things younger agents have already mastered. Here’s how I power forward, even if I’m behind the times.
December 1, 2016
As you get older, avenues for drumming up business sometimes change, and it can be difficult to choose the next route. I’ve been in the business for 15 years, and when my kids were younger, I could chat up their friends’ parents at school or sports practices and games. But now that they’ve turned into surly teenagers and don’t want me around as much, my tried and true avenue for finding new clients is reaching a dead end. Past clients and referrals are still good sources for me, but I would like to bump things up a notch. So I’m faced with the age-old question: How?
Door knocking, calling on expired listings, advertising on third-party sites, farming: With commitment and consistency, any method for generating new leads can work. But with my nest getting emptier and my kids becoming more independent, I feel ready to take on a challenge and learn something new. None of the typical tactics appeal to me for one reason or another, so I decided to take on social media.
I’ve been on Facebook for years, but mostly to keep track of my kids and communicate with friends. I took classes online about how to leverage social media platforms for my business and learned more than I think I ever have in a few short months. I focused on building SEO and using keywords, and I started blogging. I run Facebook ads and promote my blogs like crazy. I stalk other agents on social media, too, analyzing the imagery they use in their ads and their calls to action.
I try to be patient because I don’t know what the secret is to social media yet. I provide content I think is valuable, funny, and important locally. I engage with people and try to start conversations. But I don’t have leads wanting to hire me yet. I try to believe that will come later.
I aim to have a presence on all social media platforms, though Snapchat makes me want to take a nap. If I am going to be creative and funny, I want it to last forever—not just 24 hours. I’m supposed to make a new Snapchat story every 24 hours? How is that even possible? What about the days I don’t wear make-up or my kids are being obnoxious? Do I make my story about my cat?
Snapchat users often turn the camera on themselves; they’re cute and witty, and they share who they are with the world. I don’t know if it’s my age (I’m 46), insecurity, or just a lack of practice that makes the thought of turning the camera on myself zero fun. I end up so horrified with my neck or the scar on my face — or is that food in my teeth??? — that my mood is gone, the jokes in my head are gone, and I really just want to throw the phone out my car window, turn up the Beastie Boys, and bang my head like I did back when I was cool.
Many people in my office are killing it on social media — some who still seem young enough to be children are selling homes left and right and even some experienced (read: older) agents have mastered social media.
Now the secret sauce, I’m told — other than Snapchat — is video. I just learned how to talk naturally to people in a blog, but now I have to do it in a video? My wedding was videotaped, and I was interviewed on TV news once — but I never even saw that because I couldn’t figure out how to set the VCR. I bought a video camera when my kids were young but hardly used it. Video wasn’t common in everyday life until recently, and it’s a world I’ve spent very little time exploring.
I know I’m not the only one who’s struggling with the breakneck speed at which things are changing in real estate and the world. I was already old by the time “selfie” became a word. I didn’t think a selfie was something that applied to me. I make fun of the “duck face” and the amusing expressions kids make. But I’ve never picked up my phone to see what I look like making those faces … because I don’t care.
But now with video being the big thing, I have to force myself to care. I think it’s impossible. I hear Snapchat is the perfect way to practice; the more you do it, the more comfortable you become with it. Why does the new and awesome way to market myself always have to be so difficult to learn? It makes me long for the days of sitting and waiting for walk-ins to the office. Well, not really. I actually never experienced that. But I have thought about borrowing a couple of kids and taking them to a soccer game so I can chat up the moms.
OK, what do you think of my first attempt at video (below)?
Updated: September 30, 2022