Creative director and real estate marketing guru, Matt Wagner talks about multimedia branding, “putting gas on a fire,” and helping the world’s top brokers stay that way.
Matt Wagner has re-energized radio marketing for real estate in a way that has attracted many of the top real estate agents and brokerages around the country. Matt first made a name for himself in 1991 as a marketing consultant for Clear Channel. It wasn’t until 2001, when Matt Wagner saw the opportunity to serve personalized endorsement ads on the radio specifically for the real estate industry, that his current marketing model started to take shape.
His first real estate campaign was with Jay Kinder. By writing personal endorsements to be delivered casually by the most popular talk show hosts on radio, Matt and Jay created an instant hit, and the results were tangible. Jay was able to double his sales from 100-plus transactions to over 230 in 2002. In Realtor Magazine’s 2003 “30 Under 30” Jay credited radio for “a third of my listings,” saying he was now a household name and had established top-of-mind awareness in his local area.
The success that followed led Matt to form the advertising agency Radio And Television Experts. His current roster of clients is a who’s who of the real estate industry, with almost all in the top five spot in their market and several that have finished number one worldwide for brands such as REMAX, Coldwell Banker, Keller Williams, Prudential, ERA, and Weichert Realtors. Matt is proud to say he creates raving fans, and his clients will be the first to tell you how much Matt has contributed to their success.
Today, Matt works in over 130 markets around the US, helping his clients establish branding that is almost impossible to compete with. He is a sought-after speaker, mastermind coach, and marketing consultant.
Seth Price of Placester caught up with Matt to discuss the future of real estate, celebrity endorsement, and what it takes to be a top agent in this market.
Placester: What are you working on right now?
Matt Wagner: We are helping our existing clients combine their successful branding campaigns with in-house videos to increase conversion and profitability.
P: What does your typical day look like?
MW: Negotiate schedules, write copy, and address issues relating to profitability.
P: What is the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
MW: Cleaning out a water filled dumpster in 90 degree heat. I learned to maintain focus to complete a task.
P: Three real estate trends that excite you?
MW: 1) Foreign interest in the US market, 2) The constant evolution of teams vs. the broker- individual model, and 3) High level producing REO agents who see the need to leverage themselves into developing a traditional side to their business.
P: How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
MW: There is no ad agency in the industry that has helped more agents create a system that not only brands themselves, but significantly increase their inventory and provide tracking on dollars spent toward radio. We also teach our agents how to zero base the the ad expense.
P: We met through Ryan Dallas, an all-star in Illinois. How do you continually attract such a high level of client?
MW: Most importantly, almost all of my new business has come through personal referrals from existing clients. There are two types of people that this kind of branding and marketing is good for: those at the top of their market looking to maintain their dominance, and those with good systems looking to enter the top of their market. This is not appropriate for someone starting up. It’s like gasoline on a fire. Either the volume of new business will make your business expand, or burn it to the ground.
People who listen to radio do so religiously. They have their favorite personalities. They trust them. Politics aside, when Sean Hannity or Glen Beck says that he trusts you as an agent, that holds a lot of weight.
P: How did this become your area of expertise?
MW: I had this great career as a successful marketing rep with Clear Channel, and during that time I met an agent named Jay Kinder. I kept trying to connect the dots on how to help him market more effectively using radio. Finally I just asked him, “How about if we put together a program to make you the expert? Let’s show people how you can help them make money.” This was over 10 years ago, when there was no one out there doing this. Russel Shaw was the only other person I could find using radio in this way. Many years later, I actually got to meet Russell’s wife Wendy. She said “I wish I would have met you five years ago when this all started.” At the time I was all over the place, working ten markets for Clear Channel, booking music acts and exploring other channels to expand. Once Jay and I had that initial success, it was a game changer, and I have never looked back.
P: What’s so special about radio?
MW: The leverage that comes from a good radio campaign creates a personal bond with the listener, especially when that radio campaign uses a celebrity talk show host for the endorsements. People who listen to radio do so religiously. They have their favorite personalities. They trust them. Politics aside, when Sean Hannity or Glen Beck says that he trusts you as an agent, that holds a lot of weight. The combination of the right call to action with a valuable celebrity endorsement drives money to the bottom line with immediate results.
P: How do you bring ideas to life?
MW: I’m a big believer in sincerity and believability. I’ve seen that make the difference between struggling campaign and making an agents phone ringing off the hook.
P: What inspires you?
MW: I’m inspired by people. Individuals that find creative ways to overcome their own fears and apprehensions. People that dig deep and rise above adversity to win.
P: What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?
MW: I moved from Chicago to Iowa in 1993, opened an ad agency, and within a year found myself $20,000 in debt. I learned several lessons from that experience: 1) From day one, hire an accountant to handle your money. They are worth every penny. 2) Rather than move to a new area and establish a name from scratch, it’s better to move to a new area and work for a reputable company, let people discover what you can do, then break away and bring those clients with you. 3) Calculate all the time and expense that goes into every dollar earned. Is it really profitable? Or just busy?
I want to work with an agent that truly understands my point of view and is more interested in my financial goals than just getting the deal done.
P: How do you measure success?
MW: I maintain the attitude that it’s never about how much money I just made off of a deal, but about whether it created a raving fan. Create enough raving fans, and the rest will take care of itself.
P: If you had to buy some real estate today, ideally, what would you want that experience to be like?
MW: I want to work with an agent that truly understands my point of view and is more interested in my financial goals than just getting the deal done. They also need to have the knowledge of the market and the property to give me a realistic expectation of the economic impact.
P: What advice would you give to someone starting out in real estate today?
MW: Take one month and study five agents that are at the level you would like to attain. Find out how they got there, what lessons they learned along the way, what things they wouldn’t change, and what things they would have done differently. Do this process once a year for every year in the business. You will transform your business by modeling the right examples. Make sure you choose your examples from outside of your target market so there is no issue with competition.
P: How do you see technology shaping the business of real estate in the future?
MW: Video is going to play a larger and larger role as the Internet allows it.
P: What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
MW: In analyzing the top real estate agents in the world over the last eight years, two words come to mind: humble implementation. Those who have grown in this industry epitomize those words, and those who have not weathered the market seem to have never heard them.
P: What do you read every day, and why?
MW: The Bible. It keeps me humble, balanced, and keeps things in perspective.
P: What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?
MW: The E-Myth, by Michael Gerber. It helps you stop thinking one-dimensionally, understand the various hats you wear in business, and how to get control of them, and actually create a business that is sellable and managable without you.
P: What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?
MW: My laptop.
P: Three people we should follow on Twitter, and why?
MW: I don’t Twitter, but on Facebook, Jay Kinder, Ben Kinney, and Mike Parker all have private groups that are constantly sharing value and picking the brains of the top agent in today’s market.
P: What real estate expert would you love to see us interview?
MW: Ruth Ahlbrand. She’s been the #1 agent in the world for RE/MAX for the past three years, and as far as I know, she is not in any coaching group that allows anyone to understand how she does so much business purely working the buyer side.
P: When is the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
MW: This afternoon, talking to my manager, who is a long time friend.
P: How can people connect with you?
MW: Radio And Television Experts
P: Where are you located?
MW: Our office is in Lawton, Oklahoma, but I live in Imperial, California.