When a real estate agent launches their business, building an online presence and generating leads is usually the first big hurdle they encounter. How do you choose a company that will have such a huge impact on your business? And then how do you afford it?
“Marketing and branding is absurdly expensive for Realtors,” said Michael Zobeck, one of the founders of Agent Brand, a Fort Worth-based automated marketing company. “If you put a real estate logo on a marketing piece, the cost doubles.”
But Zobeck and his team — which includes co-founder Justin Hammond and his wife, Ashley — has plenty of experience in vertical marketing. They’ve operated heavily in the franchise space, building websites that are mobile-ready platforms for retailers such as Dickeys BBQ, Menchies Yogurt, Medici Pizza, and more.
“I have been working with Realtors for years with a couple of different companies that I founded when I saw this platform,” he said. “I knew there was nothing like and jumped aboard immediately.”
Zobeck and the team at Agent Brand are all Aggies working out of the Foundry District in Fort Worth. Agent Brand brings a one-stop marketplace for Realtors to take care of everything they need to run their business. Yes, even social media.
“We give the agents access to marketing and wholesale pricing that they can’t get anywhere else while the brokers get a resource to help retain and recruit agents,” Zobeck said.
He says that Agent Brand saves their clients between 30 and 50 percent over competitors when it comes to print promotional materials, one-off branded apparel promotional items, and even yard signs.
Plus, Zobeck says that the company has the data, demographics, and exclusive marketing campaigns that agents can’t and won’t find anywhere else. That especially applies to social media marketing.
Last March, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook for engaging in housing discrimination by allowing agents and property owners to only show advertisements for their properties to those who fit certain metrics in regards to race, religion, and national origin.
“In addition to targeting Facebook’s advertising practices, the housing department, known as HUD, claims in its lawsuit that the company uses its data-mining practices to determine which of its users are able to view housing-related ads,” reads this March 28 story in The New York Times. “On both counts, the agency said, Facebook is in violation of the federal Fair Housing Act.”
For the uninitiated, remaining in compliance with these rules may be more problematic than they anticipated.
“Because of the recent Facebook lawsuit, Realtors have limited access to demographics they need to run their business — especially smaller agents,” Zobeck said. ” The big guys can still get the data but the average agent does not know what to do and is not taught demographic marketing. Which, again, coming from the franchise world, we do all day every day for our clients.”
According to Zobeck, Agent Brand gives agents access to data that is HUD-approved that allows them to laser target their advertising, ensuring that the right people get the right message. It’s an immense cost-saving, one that is hard to ignore.
“Coming from the franchise world, our pricing and margin are much thinner,” Zobeck added. “Even KW ‘approved’ vendors are selling marketing material that’s twice what we sell it at.”
Zobeck says that Agent Brand is “blowing up,” having brought several brokers and teams in the College Station area onto the platform.
“Pretty much the whole city is on the platform,” he added, “but we have brokers that are on board nationwide as well.”