A lifelong musician, Marc Davison got his first break during his junior year at Princeton, when his band was offered a recording contract from Polydor. The resulting album and single didn’t quite climb the charts like he had hoped.
So, he returned to school, received his degree in English and began a short lived career on Madison Ave with Young & Rubicam, one of the worlds preeminent advertising agencies. Two years later, ready to spread his wings again, Davison left Y&R to form DG Entertainment — a managment and PR firm specializing in representating recording and performing artists.
In 1997, Davison sold his firm and moved to California to enjoy life without humidity. While attempting to buy his first house in California, Davison had an experience that made him pause. He was told by a real estate agent that the inspector he had hired was a “deal killer.” Ultimately, the inspector was right, and thankfully Davison didn’t buy the house.
The knowledge he gleaned from the inspector led him to start a “hobby” curating and licensing valuable real estate content to newspapers and emerging websites. It became so successful that a year later, he had over 400 subscribers, and Inman News hired him as a consultant to help build their brand and syndication business.
In 2007, Davison formed 1000watt: an interactive digital branding firm specializing in the real estate vertical with Inman’s then President, Brian Boero. Davison is a published author, an accomplished musician, a father of four and still in love with his wife of 30 years.
Seth Price of Placester recently caught up with Davison to get his thoughts on real estate, technology, and the soul of a brand.
Anybody can advertise, branding is entirely different, it’s about making a connection between what a company stands for and their customers. It’s the soul of a company.
Placester: Let’s start with what you are working on right now.
Marc Davison: We typically don’t speak publicly about client work, but we are involved in a number of projects for 2012, assisting a variety of national franchises, technology firms, associations, media companies, MLS’s and start-ups with everything from architecting new websites, marketing plans, new app ideas, and navigating the complexities of a fast changing world. On our own front, we are completely revamping our company site www.1000wattconsulting.com, as well as putting the finishing touches on our first app for agents.
P: What does your typical day look like?
4:30 a.m. start. Scan my feed reader. In the gym by 5:30. 6:30 Eat breakfast. Then dig into projects. During the summer I’m on my bicycle at 3:00 for a 2-3 hour ride daily, dinner, family time and then back to work until midnight.
P: What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn?
I know this might sound cliched, but I’ve never had a bad job. I’ve owned companies for most of my career. I’ve had few unsavory clients, though. What I learned from those experiences was to trust my initial instincts and not engage people who I don’t vibe from the very first time we meet.
We don’t take on every job offered to us. It’s important for us to interview clients as much as they interview us. We need to understand our client’s story, what makes them tick and believe in it otherwise our work won’t be real. Or even good.
P: Three real estate trends that excite you?
- Continued focus on the needs of the consumer.
- The emergence of people and companies who are raising real estate’s bar of professionalism.
- The move from the desktop Web to the Internet via mobile devices and the apps that reside within them.
P: How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
We don’t take on every job offered to us. It’s important for us to interview clients as much as they interview us. We need to understand our client’s story, what makes them tick and believe in it otherwise our work won’t be real. Or even good. We are a niche agency, so we focus on what we specialize in and don’t take on work that isn’t in our sweet spot. We also publish a wealth of real estate ideas and information to help the industry, free of charge, unbiased, and for public consumption.
I’m inspired by the need to be a good role model for my kids and show them that you don’t need anything other than belief in yourself to make dreams come true. I’m inspired by my wife who is the human being I ascend to being.
P: How do you bring ideas to life?
There’s no special sauce here. We are a creative agency, so ideas are popping up all the time. What we typically chose to go with are things that are consistent with our core values and our mission to help make the industry better. If an idea doesn’t meet these simple criteria, it never makes it past the discussion phase. If an idea passes that test, we white board it, think through the entire arc of the idea, and then we create it.
P: What inspires you?
At the most basic level, I’m inspired by the need to be a good role model for my kids and show them that you don’t need anything other than belief in yourself to make dreams come true. I’m inspired by my wife, who is the human being I aspire to be. I’m inspired by the many risk takers who listen to the voice inside their head that drives them to do things others think are crazy. I’m inspired by my whimsical notion that I can somehow make the world a better place. I’ve yet to achieve that, however. But I will keep trying.
P: What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn?
I let someone talk me out of an idea I knew was a winner, but too risky to try. Never again. I’d rather risk and lose than never try and maintain status quo.
P: How do you measure success?
Performing work that exceeds a client’s expectation. Receiving new opportunities through unsolicited referrals. Watching our revenue grow.
Technology doesn’t really shape anything. Human creativity does. Technology is just this invisible thing that makes stuff work.
P: What advice would you give to someone starting out in real estate today?
Homes are not 99 cent apps you download on a smart phone. They are people’s safe havens from the crazy world outside. Take your real estate job seriously. Invest in the best tools, not the cheapest. Continue educating yourself. Ask yourself what sort of job you would do for a client if they paid you ten times what you currently make, and then perform services as if you were.
Start regarding your people as your greatest resource and tap into their brain power.
P: How do you see technology shaping real estate in the future?
Technology doesn’t really shape anything. Human creativity does. Technology is just this invisible thing that makes stuff work. But without people adopting that stuff in real life and using them as tools to support and enhance basic face-to-face services, the shape of real estate will always be rough around the edges.
What will really shape real estate’s future is not technology–it’s better training, higher standards, smarter agents, and culturing more trust from the population to believe in the good the industry and its members have to offer.
P: What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Start regarding your people as your greatest resource and tap into their brain power. Create an environment where all the people who work for you devote 10-20% of their time to creating ideas of their own and submitting them to you for further development when they are ready. If those ideas are really sound, give them some resources and put them in charge of developing them to completion.
P: What do you read every day, and why?
I have over 50 assorted sources. Ad Age, a variety of branding blogs, Ted, Social Fresh and more. But mainly, I scour Twitter for links to cool stuff. I do it to make sure I know what the heck I’m talking about, so when someone asks for my opinion, I can back it with resources and facts.
P: What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
“Guns, Germs and Steel,” by Jared Diamond. It’s an anthropological study of mankind over the last 30,000 years. It provides a deep look inside what makes different people and cultures progress, while others do not.
P: What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
The guitar tuner on my iPhone. My number 1 most used app.
P: Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
I can’t single 3 out of the 500 I follow. That’s like asking which of my kids are my favorite. So I’d say follow me @1000wattmarc and my partners @1000wattbrian and @jburslem and then follow the people we follow and pick your favorites.
P: What Real Estate expert would you love to see us interview?
The one who negotiated the sale of Manhattan from the native Americans. That dude was a visionary.
P: When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My ten year old son Gavin owns his own skateboard company. During a recent dinner conversation his older brother aired his reluctance to put flyers out at his high school to market his custom decks. Gavin said, “but that’s your job dude. If you don’t do it, your fired.” And then gave him the Donald Trump hand gesture. That’s cracked me up.