Q&A with head of marketing and technology Joe Manning: How he balances agent benefits and corporate goals
Feeling tech anxiety? You’re not alone. According to NAR, nearly half of all real estate companies have said that keeping up with technology is one of the biggest challenges they face in the next two years.
Joe Manning of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but he is confident about his company’s ability to weather the coming changes in technology. As the chief marketing and technology officer for the company, Manning is in charge of selecting, integrating and maintaining marketing and tech products for the company’s 1,400+ agents across California and Nevada.
It’s a full-time job, and then some. But on a recent call, Manning proudly shared that the very first product he selected in his new role was a “slam dunk.” He went on to offer insights about how he vetted and chose the company’s digital ad partner… and the three factors he needs to see when evaluating marketing tools. Below are his thoughts and answers to our questions, edited for clarity.
Joe Manning is Chief Marketing & Technology Officer at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Drysdale Properties, serving the Northern California and Nevada markets
Selecting The Right Technology
HomeSpotter: We know that, as a BHHS franchise, you are provided a robust tech stack by your parent company. So when you began looking for a digital ad partner to add to that stack, what were your primary goals?
Joe Manning: My aim was to find a partner that helped us solve three broker-level goals: to introduce tools that work with our existing stack, to automate or scale marketing activities we were doing manually, and to offer our agents something valuable.
HS: Let’s start with that first point. We’ve found that “integration” can mean different things, depending on the tech-savviness of the brokerage, its employees and agents. In some cases, it means the ability to add a single-sign on link to an internal dashboard. But with Drysdale, it was clear that you wanted new tech to integrate in a more significant way. Can you walk us through what you were looking for from a reporting standpoint?
JM: Sure. One thing I liked about the Boost ad product from HomeSpotter was that it offered measurable marketing, including the clicks and views each campaign was able to generate on social media and the web. But we already have a seller report that shows all the eyeballs for a listing, whether it’s on our website, Zillow or other brokerage websites. So my goal was to integrate that digital ad data into our existing seller report.
HS: I think you also mentioned that this seller report became increasingly important and popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.
JM: Yeah, we’ve doubled down on the report during the pandemic because it’s now more important than ever to show clients what we’re doing for them. I asked the HomeSpotter team if it would be possible to integrate the traffic and eyeballs from Boost ads directly into our seller report. And you know, you guys were able to do some creative API work to make that happen. And it’s been incredibly helpful for proving our value to sellers.
HS: So when you talk about integration, you mean going beyond the ability for agents to easily access the tools. Your intention is to automate activities that help agents get ahead meaningfully with their clients or prospects.
JM: Right, my aim is always to find partners that can work with our existing stack. A lot of tech vendors sell real estate ads for agents, but they can’t automate what companies are already doing or integrate with our existing technologies. HomeSpotter was able to fit all of that together — using our existing CRM and our existing campaigns.
Automation, Expertise and Security
HS: Let’s talk a bit more about that automation aspect. Before you began running automated ads via Boost by HomeSpotter, how did BHHS Drysdale run their online ads?
JM: We were manually creating the ad campaigns on behalf of agents. Our marketing team was handling that effort, especially in terms of promoting our open houses each weekend.
HS: Can you talk to me about why you wanted to change over from manually running your ads in-house to moving over to a dedicated ad partner?
JM: First, I needed a partner with expertise in digital advertising. Because anyone can run Facebook ads and make guesses, but that’s not the best use of our resources. Our employees knew how to take a spreadsheet of properties and create open house ads quickly, but they weren’t necessarily experts in the Facebook campaign manager tool. So, it was difficult for us to know if there were better strategies, like for example if we should have a daily budget or a campaign budget. Overall, we needed something that was as easy as pressing one button, but that offered real results.
The second thing was from a security level. When we ran the ads manually, individual agents would contact the marketing department and ask for help. And in that process, we would sometimes end up with their Facebook passwords or credit card numbers, which was not ideal. I knew we wanted a system that could handle the targeting and intelligence behind the ads, and also handle the credit cards and account management side.
HS: That makes sense. The need for automation was centered around productivity, but there was an added benefit of minimizing your liability by moving away from the manual process.
JM: Yes, exactly.
Adding Value and Measurement
HS: So we’ve discussed your first two goals, which was to find tech that integrated easily into your stack, and that was automated. Last, you wanted a tool that allowed you to provide real value to the agents. Tell me what you mean by value.
JM: I talk a lot about measurable marketing. When I discuss marketing options, I ask my agents, “Do you want to spend money on 100 postcards, knowing that maybe 10 people will see it before it hits the trash can… or do you want to spend the same amount to get in front of 2,000 or 3,000 people? And to know the exact number of views and clicks and interest your property got?” I really want to help them understand there’s a difference between knowing what your ad got you, versus knowing that you made a pretty postcard.
HS: And what about when you compared HomeSpotter to other online ad vendors? What value did you see that was unique to the Boost product?
JM: Well, even with digital ad vendors, there’s a big difference in what can be measured, because the campaigns or companies might have different goals. Other ad companies are running campaigns around impressions, and then Boost ads lead to gated landing pages and have lead generation, and I think that’s important.
Because I know that a lot of times, those impression-based companies are just buying garbage eyeballs… they might have more clicks and views, but there’s a difference in quality there. And that’s something I think about a lot, especially when considering how we spend money at the broker level. In this case, it was “What’s the ultimate goal of these ads?”
HS: Great, thank you. So since we’re talking about value, let’s dive into your stats. In 2020, you ran 638 ad campaigns, for a total of 152,296 clicks and 4,622,595 views.
JM: Yeah, we are really happy with the success we’ve had so far. And I’m in communication with the team on new things I hope we can do, and small tweaks we can make to create an even better partnership. But overall, Boost was the first product I brought on as chief marketing technology officer, and for me, it’s been a slam dunk. I really appreciate everything you guys have done to help us as a brokerage.
True partnership, measurable results
At Boost by HomeSpotter, we value our working relationship with Joe Manning and BHHS Drysdale, but it’s not unique for us to become a true partner to the brokers we serve. As a technology company specializing in real estate, we have a deep understanding of what brokers need to succeed — and we build products that help them do just that.