Leaders really need to step up to lead their teams through change.
Topic – The challenges are the same
Kevin: This week we’ll feature more of the interviews we conducted when we were at Inman Connect in New York recently. This morning it’s Gina McCartney from REA Group talking to Sherrie Storor.
Sherrie: I’m Sherrie Storor and I’m here with Gina McCartney who is the Executive Manager of all events and marketing at Residential and realestate.com.au. So Gina thank you so much for joining us today.
Gina: Thank you for having me.
Sherrie: So listen why don’t you fill us in on a little bit of your journey on how you got to be where you are, because of course your role is a pretty big one at REA.
Gina: Yeah, so my past sort of 16 years of my life, I suppose as a professional, have been filled with developing digital and [inaudible 00:00:35] in strategies for local Australian black brands and global brands. That brings me a lot of joy, ’cause really it’s about helping businesses connect with consumers better. Leads me to where I am today and really, really passionate about what we do, and essentially helping agents and agencies be their best in market to do what they do even better. So we do a number of events throughout the year, communications and helping educate, inspire and really help our industry do better together.
Sherrie: Well of course that’s really important because agents are wanting to get better, so they can be better for their buyers and sellers. I think that’s why conferences such as Inman are so incredibly important, because it’s about becoming more educated in today’s market. So tell me what have you taken from the event so far?
Gina: Yeah a lot of takeaways from a very big week, all the way over here in New York. I think the first is that despite being so far away we share a lot of the same challenges. Brad Inman spoke about the supernova and how that’s really an opportunity for stars to dwindle or really flourish, and I think Australia’s going through its own supernova. So I think that’s probably my first piece, and there’s some comfort in knowing that we’re going through similar challenges, but also what can we learn from each other? The second was about leadership and how leaders really need to step up to lead their teams through change.
Gina: If we don’t have that resilience and leadership, and willingness to lead really no ones going to get anywhere. The third was around community and I think there’s some really beautiful messages and stories coming through the week, where realtors locally are doing so much in their communities to really embed in local activities, partnerships with schools, clubs and really how it’s helped them flourish through challenging times. So yeah that would be top three.
Sherrie: Yeah, well it’s interesting because for a long time the real estate agents kind of been that money hungry individual, who doesn’t really give back to the community. But we are seeing a change, and it has been a gradual change but now it seems to be like it’s really supersonic, and if you’re not in your community and giving back to your community your kind of getting left right out.
Sherrie: One of the other topics that you mentioned there is change, and I think all of us we don’t like change, but it’s happening so quickly and so fast, and it’s about embracing that, don’t you agree?
Gina: Yeah, totally.
Gina: I think a really big theme of change that’s also come through the conference is tech, and how AI is really, there’s a huge opportunity for technology to support agents. Agents aren’t willing to work with technology, it will take over.
Gina: I think that piece around change really accepting it for the better not for the threat, and really yeah, rising above, yup.
Sherrie: Well I think change and technology, and particularly AI it sort of comes across like it’s a little scary. In this industry I think for a long time we’ve sort of been told, okay just head down bum up, and you don’t really need to pop your head up and see what’s going on, because it’s been the same. Whereas it’s no longer that way, and so if you’re not popping your head up and seeing what’s out there and implementing these new changes, you’re just simply gonna be left behind. So it’s one of the things that we really need to do. So what’s REA actually doing to help agents sort of create change in their business, and upgrade?
Gina: Yeah, it’s a really good question. I think one is becoming more familiar with technology, so a lot of the education seminars and conferences, and even just day to day interactions with our sales team. It’s really about enabling and empowering them to understand what technology looks like, and also not being afraid to work with consumers the way consumers expect. I think a great example is turn around time and response time to vendors. There used to be a time when responding to someone within three days was okay. If you’re any longer than three minutes now we know the consumers start to get really peeved off. So helping educate them on what the expectations are, and how technology can really support and assist them. To start, to your point, really leveraging that rather than running a far from it.
Sherrie: So what are the things that you’re really doing to help understand consumers more and deliver that message through to real estate agents?
Gina: Yeah, look so we have obviously the number one volume of consumers and access to consumers in Australia. I think aside from actual site activity and what we see them doing every day with listings, we do a number of research pieces. So we’ve just recently run some research in the lounge room research, where we’ve asked agents and vendors exactly the same questions to understand tension points.
Sherrie: The same questions?
Gina: Yeah, the same questions.
Sherrie: What was the answers like?
Gina: Yeah. Its safe to say that there was a little bit of disparity between the responses. But I think the really, I suppose, exciting thing for us is there’s an opportunity to bring the two worlds together. What often drives great fear in an agent, and great fear in a vendor can be solved, it’s just about facing into that. So in a few months time we’ll be releasing more insights to the market about what those key learnings were. But it’s really encouraging to see it’s not like it’s not unsolvable. It’s actually about people stepping up and acknowledging each side of the story, and I’m excited what it means for agents. Because if they just heard about what vendors are thinking, it’s almost like that movie, What Woman Want, you know getting inside the minds. Like what vendors want, getting inside their heads.
Sherrie: I think there’s a What Men Want actually coming out soon.
Gina: It’s just been released.
Gina: I’m excited about that.
Sherrie: So we need one for real estate agents.
Sherrie: What sellers want, what buyers want.
Gina: Version three, yeah.
Sherrie: I love it. So in terms of this year and new and exciting things that are happening from REA, because I’ve seen that there has been quite a significant change in mentality over the last few years. What does 2019 bring for REA?
Gina: Yeah, I think 2019 is going to be a really interesting year for the industry. We know that there’s a lot of change taking place, much like we’ve heard about the change taking place over here in the States. So we’ll be really bedding down and focusing on how can we provide more insights, data and research to agents. Helping them feel ready, confident and secure in what they’re doing it’s the time to be an agent, you know?
Gina: Helping them flourish through change. The other piece is really providing them with the tools to help them with their personal branding, helping them get their name out there. Interesting fact that I heard before is about how people switch off personal branding in tough times. Whereas that’s actually the time for you to be branding up.
Sherrie: That’s the time to actually gain market share.
Gina: Yeah, get your game on. Things like ratings and reviews, which has been many, many concerns about us doing that. But that’s gonna all of a sudden help agents really surface when they’re doing awesome work. So the people who were doing really great things out there were really being celebrated in the right way. Hugely focusing on helping agents who are doing the right thing be seen, and noticed out in market. So yeah.
Sherrie: Well it’s an interesting point that you bring there, because we are now in the era of the celebrity agent. We now see agents that have larger profiles than the brands that they work for. So if you’re an agent who wants to get the cut through in this particular way, like what sort of things would you be suggesting that they do in order to get this cut through?
Gina: Something that I always talk about with agents having cut through is that be true to who you are, and what you represent. Don’t try to alienate your audience and be something that isn’t relevant. Be really, really clear on who your target audience is. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole, it’s probably a really obvious and old statement, but be really clear about what your value prop is and be consistent when you’re communicating that.
Sherrie: Yeah, consistency is very much, it’s key.
Gina: Yeah, so key, yup.
Sherrie: Well look we’re gonna quickly run through some rapid fire questions. We are a tech conference so get ready, they’re tech orientated.
Sherrie: First of all structure or chaos?
Sherrie: Chaos, love it. Favourite Instagram filter?
Gina: The Venetian.
Sherrie: Love that you know that, no one else really-
Gina: Oh no.
Sherrie: So I love that. Now what makes you want to swipe up? So is there something that like engages your interest?
Gina: You know funnily enough lead capture forms to find out more.
Sherrie: Oh cool, perfect ’cause I run those all the time, and I tell agents, you need to have lead capture pages, so awesome. What’s your favourite time wasting app?
Gina: Oh, Pinterest?
Sherrie: Windows or Apple?
Sherrie: Windows. What’s the one tech gadget that totally transformed your life?
Gina: My watch.
Sherrie: Your watch, yup. What was the last thing you Googled?
Gina: Where to eat dinner tonight.
Sherrie: Favourite emoji?
Gina: The crazy laughing one.
Sherrie: Tell me what is your one guilty follow? Somebody from outside the industry that you love following, that you find totally entertaining.
Gina: The Fat Jewish.
Sherrie: The Fat Jewish?
Sherrie: Awesome. Gina McCartney thank you so much for joining us today.
Gina: Thank you.
Sherrie: It’s been absolutely wonderful, and learnt lots and lots of gold in this interview today. Thank you so much.
Gina: Great to see you.
Kevin: And tomorrows show will be hosted by Kylie Davis, she’ll talk about a new product that you’re going to be fascinated to hear about I’m sure, it tells us a lot of what we don’t know about photographs. That’s coming up tomorrow with Kylie Davis, join us then.