As noted above, always start with your end user and try not to look at things from your own perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.
As a part of my series about strong women leaders of the Real Estate industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erica Sachse.
Erica Sachse is a growth marketer specializing in improving sales funnel efficiency for high-value, highly considered and long-term purchases. As the leader of the marketing team, she offers enterprise-level, full funnel lead generation and lead nurture programs to the residential real estate market. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, she has applied this passion and expertise to the NYC real estate market and Australia.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the Real Estate industry?
My passion for real estate started as a kid. My dad owns a construction and development company based out of Detroit, so I grew up going to construction sites — I’ve had a hard hat since I was four. In college, I majored in urban studies because I had a desire to learn about urban development and how it impacted communities from a political, economic and social perspective. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, I decided to marry my love for urban development with my creativity and passion for marketing and storytelling. After moving abroad to France, and subsequently landing in Australia, I transitioned into property marketing at a fast-growing startup called Social Garden. The company specialized in digital marketing for property and education and represented some of the biggest developers across Australia. As one the earliest employees at the company, I was able to lead and grow the digital marketing team, building out a customized consumer journey tailored to buyers of the future. That was definitely the steppingstone of my career as I was able to harness the power of data-driven digital marketing to more effectively market and sell real estate. Years later, after settling down in NYC, I met Alyssa Brody, and earlier this year, we launched Development Marketing Team (DMT), a data-enabled real estate sales and marketing brokerage.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I had an “aha” moment when working on a luxury new development on New York’s Upper East Side. The developers had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars with a branding agency who created the entire building narrative around the views. After a slow sales start, the team pivoted, and I was hired to lead the charge on a digital marketing campaign. We did a number of variant testing and found that the images of the residence interiors and exterior of the building performed best. When we shared our findings with the developer, they were shocked to find that most prospects could care less about the view. This is my biggest aha moment to date because if buyer touchpoints are considered more frequently at a projects’ onset, many developers would not have to waste time and money promoting characteristics that are irrelevant to its consumers.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
We are working on several exciting new projects, but one in particular is Westview, a recently converted co-op building on Roosevelt Island. It’s exciting because this area of Manhattan has long been recognized as a tourist destination, but the growing number of new residences coupled with the recent opening of a Graduate Hotel and Cornell’s buzzy tech campus, has made it a desirable neighborhood.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
DMT offers a new, modernized real estate experience. We are redefining the traditional sales and marketing process through a data-enabled approach. By utilizing today’s cutting-edge technology, we are able to continually optimize and evaluate sales and marketing mechanisms based on each project. Our goal is to personalize the sales (or rental) process through an elevated consumer journey centered on real-time data. We’ve built out an incredibly automated process from beginning to end that uses behavioral interactions and various touchpoints to capture and convert leads.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am fortunate to have many important mentors near and far that have helped shape my experience, but by far my greatest mentor is Alyssa Brody, my partner and co-founder of DMT. I was introduced to Alyssa in 2019 as she was an active user of Snaplistings, another digital marketing agency I started several years ago, which had a social media component in which agents could showcase listings through Instagram tours. Alyssa understood that this new wave of technology could pioneer and innovate the real estate industry, and saw the impact that social media and digital marketing played on the sales side. From there, our relationship blossomed — we worked on a number of projects together as separate entities, but we soon realized that we could marry the art of brokering with the science of marketing and create an agency that does it all under one roof. With that, DMT was born.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. The Real Estate industry, like the Veterinarian, Nursing and Public Relations fields, is a women dominated industry. Yet despite this, less than 20 percent of senior positions in Real Estate companies are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what do you think is the cause of this imbalance?
As a woman starting a marketing company in the real estate industry, one of the big challenges is who we are selling our service to, which is typically developers. For decades, men have monopolized the real estate development landscape, so we are usually pitching male executives about the innovative methods and new ways of marketing and selling real estate.
That presents its own set of challenges because we often need to educate and explain these approaches to those who have long worked with a linear rationale. We are disrupting an industry that for decades has been extremely antiquated, resulting in skepticism and hurdles, especially as a female in the space.
What 3 things can be done by a)individuals b)companies and/or c) society to support greater gender balance going forward?
One thing we aim to do is seek out female applicants in roles that are traditionally male-dominated — for example, web developers. By giving more women the chance to enter these positions, we are providing an opportunity to eliminate gender inequalities and bust gender stereotypes. As a digital marketing agency, we also use a great deal of international resources. This is also beneficial in eliminating gender roles as it allows women in other countries who may not otherwise be allowed to work in a certain capacity to gain valuable experience.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
One challenge faced by women executives is age, which can be a double-edged sword. To many, if you are young, you are inexperienced or immature, but if you are old, you are antiquated or out of touch. This is the opposite for male counterparts. Personality can be another challenge for women. If you are bullish, it may come off as too aggressive, but if you are reserved, you are not compelling. There is a fine line between how these traits are interpreted based on gender.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Real Estate industry?
Although the past year has presented many hurdles and challenges across the real estate industry, COVID-19 forced this sector to become more digitally savvy — a trend that will far exceed the pandemic. There has been an explosion of tools that are helping put buyers and renters first and making it easier to access real estate from all over the world. Another thing that excites me is the use of QR codes, which allows us to track the prospect journey and interact with the marketing in the physical world — from signage to printed floorplans. These trackable links were not used prior to the pandemic, but their widespread use at entertainment and dining venues has made them a recognizable resource. Today, DMT is one of few firms that is rolling out QR codes as part of its overall marketing campaigns for real estate clients.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you about the industry? If you had the ability to implement 3 ways to reform or improve the industry, what would you suggest?
The real estate industry is extremely insular — oftentimes, people within don’t have a broader perspective. By examining what other industries are doing, we can use valuable insights and findings to improve our own. This is a concern because in real estate marketing, our focus is on buyers, renters and sellers — and we forget that these are human beings and consumers of goods and services. If we can look at how other industries are tapping into consumers, studying what works and what doesn’t, we will have a better chance at improving best practices. Another concern is the trend of idolizing real estate agents as celebrities. Many successful agents have marketed themselves as a brand — which is a very powerful tool as it builds trust and credibility. However, there are so many people misguided by the celebrity agent phenomenon. From a marketing standpoint, when some agents come to us, they are looking to create star-power — how do we get the most followers, how do we get on TV — but this creates an unrealistic expectation for what it means to be a successful agent. There is undoubtedly a conflation between vanity metrics and closing metrics in this industry.
What advice would you give to other leaders to help their team to thrive?
Always start with your end user in mind. If you look at things from that perspective, you have a better chance of finding out what will influence consumers to make the decision that most benefits your brand. Whether building a business or doing a single transaction, another piece of advice is that big decisions are always made by a series of smaller decisions. The micro conversions along the way are what lead to the ultimate decision.
Ok, here is the main question of our interview. You are a “Real Estate Insider”. If you had to advise someone about 5 non intuitive things one should know to succeed in the Real Estate industry, what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- As noted above, always start with your end user and try not to look at things from your own perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience.
- Your website is not ranked in the top 10 most important marketing assets. Instead, people should think about a web asset as a place for lead collection. Websites are used to educate, but a lead capture page is used to build a strong funnel.
- Contact forms are an integral part of the communication process. A well-intended form will set the expectation for what comes next and educate prospects, leading them to make initial contact.
- It’s 5x more expensive to generate a new lead than to nurture an existing one — just because someone doesn’t respond right away does not mean they aren’t interested, it means they need to be nurtured.
- Always have a digital check-in for in-person showings. This helps you track leads and find out the original source for entry.
Because of your position, you are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am a huge fan of urban farming. Our cities are a beautiful combination of diversity and culture, but many of these hubs are food deserts — areas with limited access to a variety of healthful foods. We have the resources and tools available to implement urban farming and vertical gardens throughout our cities, which could provide easier access to fresh foods. This initiative is good for everyone’s well-being and health and creates strong families and even stronger communities. Another movement that I am inspired by, and hopefully others will be too, is alternative building materials. With climate change top-of-mind, we need to invest more into research and development to build with smart, environmentally friendly materials. Not only will it create jobs and stimulate economic growth, but it’s good for the world and its future generations.
How can our readers follow you online?
We encourage everyone to follow along on our exciting journey. Visit us at developmentmarketingteam.com or follow us on Instagram @developmentmarketingteam.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.