I took these photos on a long morning run. It is incredible how nature reveals these contrasting colours at the right time and ocean tide. Arrive a bit later and you would have missed the sunrise and the boulders would have been covered by the high tide.
It made me think: in business, launching new products and services is all about timing too. We can be ahead of our time with something brilliant, but fail to connect to our audience for various reasons. In many cases, we are not good storytellers.
At Entegral we’ve launched many products and services over the years for real estate agents. The research and development path is an expensive and risky path, as you have no guarantee if clients will buy your new product. We easily make assumptions, based on what we like to do. Sometimes great products and services evolve from less glamorous work….those small incremental improvements that, after a few years, just looks totally awesome. We can minimise our risk: fail fast, and accept that there is potentially a better way to do things.
12 Years ago we’ve for instance launched a natural language keyword search on our MyProperty SA portal (we actually have a basket full of different property searches!), You could search for property with something like “cape town houses for sale with 3 beds under R1M with a pool”, and it would display the results. It worked really well but it had its shortcomings. People are lazy and not good at typing out full sentences on small phones (which now commands an easy 60–70% of searches for real estate websites).
Later we replaced it with other search and eventually the current Google Place search . This made searching quicker and also allows the buyer to search by street name or immediate location (we then perform a radius search). This works well as buyers can easily miss out on great properties in adjoining suburbs.
Search, in general, continues to evolve and now happens of the phone or smartwatch using voice. A lot of estate agents fail to recognise that most of their clients browse their websites using mobile phones….but a lot of time and energy is spent developing flashy desktop websites and the mobile experience takes 2nd place. We took a ‘risk’ many years ago and invested in responsive technology, which is now paying off.
Real estate portals as we know them today are ready for disruption, and the keys may very well be held by companies that drive this evolution of search. Do we even need traditional portals when data can be extracted by the Facebook, Amazon, and Google behemoths and displayed their way? Lead generation is big business and these platforms already get the 1st signals as soon as someone starts looking around for a new home….
We need to connect more to the people who use our products or services and get real world feedback. In real estate, agents can simply ask for reviews once a sale is concluded…heck, you can even showcase them:
Good and negative feedback is great to help us make incremental improvements in our businesses. This is why I love to chat to agents on the ground and understand where the biggest pain points are.
We need our clients to guide us in the right direction. We should also not be scared to take a humble step back and revisit the way we used to do things over the years. Nothing is set in stone. We live in comfort zones and fail to change our habits, unless we are forced to do so.
Timing your product or service launch is critical, but understanding your client’s most basic needs and then conveying your story to them is even more important.