Saw last week that Apple’s market cap topped Microsoft’s for the first time and became the #2 most valuable US public company behind Exxon/Mobil.  WOW.  It hit me.  Microsoft is the “old dawg”.  Are they today’s version of IBM in the 80′s?  When does the innovator become the laggard?

An article in USA Today used words like “plodding” to describe MS.  Ouch.

Bluescape Homepage 221x300 The New InnovatorSo when I read something like this, I always try and apply it to real estate.  And I immediately realized that most of my competitors have a reliance on yesterday’s data metrics and are living in the MS World.  Web traffic was so 1999.  Today it should be about engagement.  It’s about content.  Its about bringing search to a new level in real estate to what already exists in other industries.  It’s video.  It’s taking a home or an agent’s profile and using these innovations to make a connection with a consumer looking to buy or sell a home.  It’s using technology to go back to the time 20 years ago — before the internet made info gathering easier — when you had to rely on a one on one relationship with your real estate agent to help you make the best combination of an emotional and rational purchase decision on a new home.

Web hits, page views, time on site means less and less everyday.  Most real estate companies are “plodding”.  Stuck in a Windows infrastructure where the same 9 photo, 3 paragraph listing is duplicated and transmitted like a small company’s power point presentation at Kinko’s.

So what is the difference between  a “web hit” and “engagement”?  As I have stated in this blog before, if you add up all the “hits” to real estate websites in a given month, you end up with tens of millions (or more) “unique” visitors while only 500K homes are sold.  So clearly, “hits” don’t mean sales.  So what’s going on?  I’m convinced that real estate web traffic is comprised of the million+ agents/brokers and the 4 million sellers with homes on the market checking up on their listings on every site imaginable along with the 500,000 monthly buyers and a 6 month tail of  “just thinking” future buyers.  Buyers get the same listing info everywhere, so the trick is, how to engage the buyer visiting your platform (YouTube, .com, Facebook, Twitter, mobile application).  Many companies are doing a good job providing left brain info with tons of neighborhood and sales data, just like E-Trade does for stocks… but a home purchase is as much an emotional decision as it is rational. And that’s where engagement comes in.

Bluescape Properties 300x240 The New InnovatorApple engages both sides of your brain with not only an iTunes store that has almost every song available (but where’s the Beatles catalog?…come on Apple!), but with great design of the iTunes site and iPod/iTouch/iPhone, great packaging, and a simple, intuitive approach that makes it fun and easy to search and play music.  They are creative and innovative.  MS is very innovative, but not so creative.  Just ask my daughter who was teased at school because she had a Zune.  Disney is creative but not innovative.  Pixar is both (Apple again!).   IBM seems to  be neither anymore.

I feel like we are stuck in an industry of Microsofts…great innovators but devoid of true creativity.  That’s why I love to work at Coldwell Banker ®.  Parsippany may not be the Cupertino of New Jersey, but we have a culture of trying to create engagement through innovation and creativity.  And so does our entire network of sales professionals and brokers.  Because buying your home is both an emotional and rational (E-Rational) decision and we can’t ever forget that..