A brief conversation with Anthony Tripodi from Belle Property Newtown. iRealty teamed up with Anthony nearly a year ago to provide digital marketing services designed to build brand awareness through social media, engage contacts through email marketing, and identify leads using both channels.
Stephan Trone: Thanks so much Anthony for agreeing to sit down, and answer a few of our questions. Just hoping, first and foremost, if you could introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you’re doing here in Newtown.
Anthony Tripodi: I am the principal here at Belle Property Newtown. We opened seven years ago, and I’ve been in real estate for 18 years.
ST: What brought you into real estate in the beginning?
AT: My Godfather was a real estate agent. He owned his own company. I grew up watching his career, and for me, I was a natural born communicator so I felt that it was the right fit for me.
ST: You’ve been in the industry for 18 years. How has it changed?
AT: I think it’s changed dramatically. The use of social media and the internet has developed and transpired aggressively. We used to offer internet campaigns for free, and now it’s the primary source of our marketing. It’s definitely transpired into the high tech, savvy tools.
ST: In the past, what were the marketing strategies that you used?
AT: It was all print media. We used the local paper which is the Inner West Courier, Sydney Morning Herald published by Fairfax. Those were the main avenues of marketing. Internet was a tool, but it wasn’t heavily utilised, in that sense.
ST: You’ve obviously developed a lot of successful habits that have led you to your current situation. Can you identify a few of the tools that you’ve used over time that have helped to develop that success?
AT: I think personal brand marketing has been a huge success for me. Putting my name out there more on the social media front, has certainly propelled my career. In terms of being dominant in a certain market is one thing, but I think being the forefront of the community, and people that you know is another. That certainly has assisted me in getting me where I am today.
ST: I find that really interesting. Would you say personal marketing is a key to success in the future?
AT: Absolutely. We’re 90% focused on digital marketing. We’re fading out the print media, DL Flyers, print media campaigns, in terms of the local paper. We’re not cutting it out completely, we’re just not utlising it as much as we used to, purely because statistics have proven that our social media and internet base is bringing in the business, and achieving better results. I know a lot of people say a combination of both is key, which I agree with, but it depends on certain demographics and markets. Our inner city market is predominately digital marketing.
ST: Alot of people might scoff, or consider statistics one thing, and their personal interactions and experiences another. Have you seen your personal engagement and relationships with clients improve as well?
AT: Absolutely. It’s more of a passive engagement. We have a newsletter, the internet posts, the Facebook posts, and new property listings. So everything that we do on a print media scenario is more propelled into the digital world now, and I feel like people are getting the information from me, while I am actually employing and outsourcing the digital interaction. And it’s creating more opportunities without chasing it as much as we used to.
ST: It’s also consumed at their leisure, since they choose what to look at…
AT: People are targeting and opening emails that I’m sending that are specific to what’s important to them, and when I’m speaking with person the engagement is more direct around what they want, rather than just a generic conversation.
ST: That has to be helpful with today’s market where everyone is doing their own research, looking into the services they want, and finding the best possible person to provide that service. You have Rate My Agent, and a lot of tools that homeowners use, so it’s good to hear that your efforts are not just demonstrated statistically, but with personal examples as well. Can you describe the service iRealty provides for you?
AT: iRealty manage my CRM in terms of email newsletter and social media. So they design a newsletter for me that I send out weekly, which consists of opportunities for an appraisal, an article personally written by myself, which I give input and you design, and property listings. You guys do the posts for Facebook and LinkedIn. In respect to the content it’s all designed by iRealty with my guidance. So I specifically design it the Belle way, and to suit my personality, and what I want to portray in the marketplace.
ST: You originally started out doing your own digital marketing. How has your marketing changed?
AT: The style is a little more slick, a little more professional. I have learned a lot from the content that iRealty’s has given in terms of advice, and what works. I think the engagement has come naturally as well on my end, but I think the guidance and consistency that iRealty offers is, in my opinion, second to none.
ST: It’s may be a bit of a cliche, but real estate agents have no time, right?
AT: We have minimal time to spend on things like this. My job’s more well spent with listing and selling, speaking with people, rather than spending time on social media and creating ads. For me, it’s more about engaging prospective clients and pre-existing clients, and to service them, providing the right advice.
ST: How has iRealty helped you present your services to your prospective clients?
AT: It has given me a point of difference. My social media strategy was, “Yeah, we advertise on Facebook” initially, Now it’s all about, “we provide this type of service to my clients and the prospective buyer to stand out in the market place.” So I’ve engaged in video content designed by another company that we utilise. I use that tool to be propelled in the iRealty strategy, getting it out there on LinkedIn, which I never used to do, on Facebook, which I never really used to do. So I target specific demographics and audiences that are going to be engaged and interested in the product.
ST: Would you say you’ve seen a difference in your brand awareness?
AT: I think we’ve had a very strong presence as a brand in the inner west. I feel that it’s just made us one of those companies that are on the shopping list all the time, rather than some of the time. I think our engagement has got people more curious and speaking to us, because of the amount of business we’re doing.
ST: How has iRealty helped with your brand awareness
AT: Brand awareness is propelled. I think we have showcased a different product in video and consistent database management with the tools that were using have brought in a lot more opportunities to get into doors and speak to people.
ST: That seems like the big promise of social media, to get into doors and speak with people that you never would have been in contact with.
AT: It’s all about people, and how many people you speak to, and how many doors you get in, in terms of bringing in business. And then once that happens, you’re obviously offering a superior product and service to help your clients achieve a better price for their property. For us, it’s a dual offering.
ST: In the past seven or eight months, have you seen a difference in engagement with the contacts in your database?
AT: I employed iRealty because I never used to send a detailed newsletter that had decent content. Now we’re specifically giving really great content, weekly, and we’re watching the engagement through Lead Alerts. The amount of people that look at our emails, whether it be our competition or locals, everybody is watching, and looking at the newsletter. We feel it’s certainly offering a point of difference because it’s sharp, sleek, and informative, and I think that certainly makes a point of difference.
ST: Can you describe iRealty’s Lead Alerts?
AT: Lead Alerts are basically alerts I receive once an email has been distributed, I’ve got a large database, maybe 20 to 30% opening, and we get notified once people click multiple times. We’ve got a function where if someone clicks on the email four times, I get a notification. What that does is tells me who is opening what, and what type of content they’re reading, which is important, because if someone’s constantly opening my videos, or sales appraisals, or rental properties, you understand a pattern of who is interested in what. Knowledge is power.
ST: Not only are they learning from you in the content you provide, but you’re learning from them with the content they consume from your emails and social media posts. That sounds really rewarding since you’re a busy person, with thousands of people in your database.
AT: Making a call with an intent of understanding regarding what someone is interested in is better than a simple cold call. It’s a warm call coming from a trusted advisor’s position, saying,
“I’m sure you’ve just received my newsletter today,” and if they’ve opened up a house that’s on the market for auction, “how’s your home search going? We’ve just listed a few homes in the 1 to 2 range, does this property suit?”
And they engage, “Yeah, actually, we’ve just seen your email, and we’ve just opened up 50 station street. We think it’s beautiful, and we think we’ll come see it on Saturday.”
“Is there any more information you’d like from me?” And I basically create a conversation based on a background knowledge of what they’ve done, but you want to be very careful with how you have that conversation.
ST: Definitely, you don’t want to come across as stalking or using big brother tactics.
AT: Pretty much, and that was probably the key point for me, and the reason that I engaged iRealty. It’s a tool that I’ve never seen before.
ST: Not only is it rewarding for you, but it seems to be rewarding for your clients since they are able to find an agent that matches their needs well, and has a proven system designed to deliver the best results for their property.
AT: We’re specifically putting people’s criteria in our database for that specific reason. They’re not getting just a blanket email, but they’re getting something targeted for them.
ST: How have Lead Alerts impacted your business?
AT: Massive. We have doubled our appraisals in the last three to four months. It’s been more opportunities, that’s all it is. It’s opened more doors for us. It’s created content for us to work with to generate more business. Once we get more listings it generates more opportunities, and so on, and so on. It’s simple mathematics.
ST: Any advice for the up-and-comer agent looking to put their feet on the pavement and carve out for themselves something similar to what you have?
AT: Create a strong foundation with a small database, and build from there. Don’t try to build too quick. I think you’ll lose sight of what the real picture is. I’ve got a young guy that works by my side that’s been in real estate for less than a year, and he’s developed a database of 150 in the last 3 months. If he keeps doing that he’ll have a database of a thousand in no time. It’s about developing relationships, building relationships, and having a genuine intention to help people. That would be my best advice, and business will come from that.
ST: Would you say iRealty has helped you build those genuine relationships with clients?
AT: 100%. If I had this database when I first started, I can’t imagine how large my business would be. In this short space of time that we’ve been with iRealty, the level of service has gone to that 6th star. It would have been a 5 star before I like to think, but at the end of the day, it you can get better at what you’re doing, and progress with time, and change with the market, because the market has changed substantially over the last five to ten years, then yeah, you will survive. But if you don’t change with the market, you’re not going to get ahead.