Highlighting Strengths: An MLS Case Study

How one multiple listing service leveraged its existing value proposition in a rebranding effort.

July 11, 2013

When the large mid-Atlantic MLS, Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. (better known as MRIS), set out to enhance its Web and mobile capabilities, it discovered a branding advantage it didn’t even know it had. The company’s public-facing Web site, HomesDatabase.com, wasn’t its most well-known brand with consumers. Rather, “MRIS” itself had the highest consumer recognition and brand confidence. “MRIS was an established brand at the REALTOR® level,” says Andrew Strauch, director of marketing at MRIS. “And when we discovered that consumers knew MRIS, too, from seeing it repeatedly on photos and paperwork, we decided, why not leverage that core brand?” So HomesDatabase.com became 
MRISHomes.com, to take advantage of all those years of repeated consumer exposure.

At that point, the site and mobile app had a name but still needed a brand message. The company looked at a study published in April by The WAV Group in Seattle that showed various ways local sites outperform national real estate portals. For example, the WAV study found local brokerage sites display 100 percent of agent-listed homes for sale, compared to about 80 percent for third-party aggregators Trulia and Zillow. Local sites also show newly listed homes for sale seven to nine days earlier than national portals, and, unless there’s a glitch, local sites almost never list a home as “active” once it has been sold. Some 36 percent of listings that appear as active on the national portals are no longer for sale, the WAV study showed.

MRIS decided to highlight its strengths. “We are real-time local listings,” Strauch says. “We have the most accurate, up-to-date data. That’s our value proposition, and it’s what differentiates us.” MRIS also added a  feature for agents, which offers professionals enhanced services, such as the ability to update listing info over a mobile device. And it gave consumers the ability to search geographically by integrating a GPS search function—also mobile-friendly—into its search engine. The goal for the app, he said, was to be “clean and easy to use,” he says. “Those are our branding components, and we use them everywhere: radio, TV, outdoor, print.”

Strauch says it is “extraordinarily important” that the Web site be mobile-enabled and that the data be up-to-the-minute current. “That’s the value we offer and the message we send,” he says. If something proves those claims to be false, “we’ve lost our credibility with the consumer.”