In 2008, the Pope used text messaging to reach out to his sphere of influence. He regularly Tweets to six different accounts. Now he’s Skyping to outer space. So, how’s your postcard marketing going?
For a couple of years we’ve joked in our seminars that the Catholic Church markets its message far better than most real estate professionals do. Back in 2008, the Vatican held “World Youth Congress” in which the Pope reached out to his “sphere of influence” – young people who we relate to our “first time buyers” – over three days of live events, online video broadcasts and, remarkably, text messages on his smartphone. Not too bad, for a two thousand year old institution, to burnish its brand with a little LOL.
This year, we reported that the Pope regularly maintains six Twitter accounts – in different languages for different segments of his sphere of influence – in the hopes that real estate agents would see that any message – from a new listing to a renewed soul? – could come in 140 characters. The Vatican has various Facebook pages, regularly posts videos on its YouTube channel and plans a blogging summit in May.
Now, the Pope is reaching the final frontier: Video conferencing with the space shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station.
The Pope opened a channel to the space station this week, using NASA’s version of Skype. Considering Microsoft just paid over $8 billion for the video conferencing service this very week, it all seems quite timely. More than 170 million people make millions of video and chat connections per month on Skype. Yahoo has had video conferencing for years. Apple built Facetime directly into the iPhone and iPad devices, taking it wireless around the world. And Google has incorporated video into its Gmail platform for some time.
What does this mean for real estate business professionals? Simple. All bets are off if the Pontiff is phoning outer space. It seems almost silly to think that every day, millions of stamps and labels are still being affixed to postcards and sent to faceless mailboxes around America. Classified ads are still being squeezed into 1 inch columns; rather than squeezed into 140 character Tweets, with a photo and a hyperlink. And somewhere in Small Town sits an agent on “floor duty” waiting diligently for customers to call him.
On a telephone.
Meanwhile, twelve astronauts took a twenty minute video call from the Pope last week. Almost makes you wonder if the earth is rotating at two different speeds in some places. For two thousand years, one of the most “traditional” organizations on the planet has consistently upgraded its technology to share its message: Monks were the first to use quills and ink to illustrate previously oral histories. We might consider these illustrated books the precursors to the single-photo MLS books that real estate agents used to carry around. Except that the monks often used color ink.
So the gauntlet has been thrown down, once again, for real estate agents. If the Pope is video conferencing with his outer-space peeps, just when the hell are you going to do it? And we use the term “hell” on purpose, because “heaven forbid” the Catholic Church is an institution of more rapid change than the real estate industry.