Small businesses are leaving money on the table because they aren’t producing authentic content and sharing it socially, according to speakers at an event for small and mid-sized marketers.
“If you don’t believe you’re a media company, you’re not understanding,”said Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VaynerMedia The digital agency hosted its first Agent2021 conference
to educate auto, insurance, real estate and travel professionals on how to significantly boost their revenue by using technology and content.
“Interview some guy in your community—the best high school basketball player—or offer advice, and you will become a local celebrity,” Vaynerchuk told the crowd
Speakers from across the country echoed his remarks, while attendees shared their personal stories of how content has helped them boost sales. But all admitted they should do more.
Emphasizing that Facebook ads are “stunningly underpriced,” Vaynerchuk said, “If you took half of your income and put it into Facebook and Instagram ads, you’d make three times what you made last year.”
Bridget Broders, who works in radio sales in Northeast Nebraska, is leaving her full-time job to focus on her travel business, Blue Water Destinations. With a $600 Facebook ad budget and 3,500 followers, she has made $173,000 in sales in the last three weeks, earning a commission of more than $16,000.
“Millennial customers want to know what they ‘re getting, want the best price, without having to research,” Broders said. She projects a net income of $100,000 this year, a hearty sum in a Midwest town of 26,000 people.
Porsches and passions
Robert S. Klinger, owner of Klinger Insurance group in Germantown, MD., said he has hired social media and branding experts and spent $40,000 on a video production studio. He advised insurance agents to use content, personal passions and philanthropy to build their clientele.
Klinger noted posting on Instagram about his interests in fine art and luxury cars also provides a sincere way to highlight insurable items. “A Porsche owner will say, ‘That’s passion,’ and that’s something GEICO or Progressive can’t give,” he said.
Likewise John Wilcher, a real estate agent near Sarasota, FL., uses a personal touch but at a much lower cost. He recently spent $175 to produce a selfie video in which he gave a tour of a $700,000 home, then sent the content via a text to an interested couple. Before they went into the house, the wife hugged him saying, “I feel like I already know you.” He earned a $30,000 commission.
A major theme of the conference’s real estate track was the massive disruption driving profound changes within five years.
Big brokers are “a dying breed,” Wilcher said: “Stats show they aren’t needed because of the Internet. They don’t provide leads anymore so independent guys like me are gaining market share,” he said. “I can target a Facebook ad to a female who likes cats in (New) Jersey and likes condos, instead of just mailing out something and hoping they will bite on it. It’s amazing, the tools we have to target a certain audience.”
Meanwhile, Stephanie Sisson, whose husband owns a RE/MAX franchise in Myrtle Beach, S.C., said she and her husband are using all the tools at their disposal to succeed. She said she uses her visibility as a freelance broadcast journalist to keep them in the public eye.
While business opportunities are at “an all-time high,” if conditions change, her husband would still be committed to contracts with third-party advertisers such as Zillow, she said: “Personal branding is a low-cost insurance policy.”
“Gen Z doesn’t know brands”
For the auto vertical, sales-boosting technologies include AI-powered bots and augmented reality providing true-to-life driving experiences from the living room.
GoGo Car, an event sponsor, demonstrated a conversation-based virtual agent that can understand and respond to any consumer query using voice and text. GoGo sells directly online to consumers while selling dealers digital storefronts with transactional websites, Facebook DM capabilities and other services.
“We trained three receptionists who sold 89 cars in one month, whereas the average car guy sells 15 a month,” said GoGo CEO Tony Urrutia. In three months, consumers will be able to click on a picture of the exact car they want to get an AR tour. Later this year, Gogo Car will enable the public to “AirBnB your car,” said Urrutia.
Indeed, speakers said, professionals in all verticals must constantly update their skills and keep up with trends, whether it’s new destinations or new generations.
“Gen Z doesn’t know brands,” said Vaynerchuk. “They are so disconnected from the establishment because they are 100% on their phones. You don’t exist if you are not on Snapchat.”
Vaynerchuk predicts that this young group of consumers will destroy 40% of businesses, but that is good news for small companies that can easily adapt to cultural changes and new technologies.
“Venmo and Waze were built on the iPhone, but billion dollar companies are being built on top of Alexa and Google Home,” he said. “Voice is huge.”