What’s in a name? In the technology world, how we use our tech tools is often directly related to what we call them. The name of a device can expand – or contract – the ideas we have about how certain tech tools can help us work smarter every day. Such is the case, I think, with the nickname for today’s handheld computers, the “PDA.”
In technospeak, PDA stands for “Personal Digital Assistant.” Sounds nice to most business professionals – an electronic version of a personal helper that’s always handy. Yet perhaps the name PDA limits what we expect our handheld computers to help us accomplish. When you think Personal Digital Assistant, you probably think of those kinds of tasks that a human assistant would perform for you, like taking notes, organizing your schedule and looking up customers in your database. The concept of “assistant” inadvertently ties our expectations of our handheld computer to menial tasks and organizational activities. Today’s PDAs, however, are capable of so much more. To unlock that capability, let’s try changing its name.
What if we called our handheld computer a PMA? Instead of a portable assistant, your PMA would become a Portable Marketing Accelerator. With a quick change, your handheld computer is transformed from something that stores and looks up information, to something that speeds up your marketing activities wherever you go. If we start thinking about handheld computers as Portable Marketing Accelerators, it opens up a whole new realm of opportunity.
For starters, all of the basic features like the address book, task list and calendar become useful only insofar as they help you remember and look up prospects to whom you need to send marketing materials. Real estate agents quickly learn that mastering these functions is just the beginning, not the end, of using their PMA. To get more value from their PMA, the marketing features have to be unlocked. To get started, focus on three vital activities that your device can perform to help you deliver marketing wherever you meet customers – and speed up your ability to market your listings and yourself all day long.
Video and photo tools: For starters, almost every PMA today comes with a bright, large color screen. Certainly, the purpose of the color screen is not to list your tasks or display your calendar in multiple hues. Rather, the purpose is to enable sales professionals to display photos, maps and video tours of their inventory wherever and whenever they meet a customer. Real estate agents need to master their PMA’s photo storage and retrieval tools. For starters, they need to learn how to quickly transfer photos from their digital camera into their PMA. In most cases, it’s a matter of dragging the photo files from the digital camera’s memory stick onto the PMA’s memory stick. In some cases, you can even establish an automatic “synchronization” between your digital camera and your PMA, assuming both devices are more recent models.
Newer PMA models, especially those running Microsoft’s Pocket PC operating system, place a folder on your computer’s desktop that will actively synchronize any files you throw in there directly to your handheld computer. So most users can drag photos from their camera into this folder, which automatically transfers the images to their PMA. Of course, once the photos are stored in their PMA, the agent should practice using the photo viewing software and locating photos by name or date quickly; if the purpose of the PMA is to “accelerate” the agent’s ability to show photos of their listings while sitting in a coffee shop, a sufficient amount of practicing is necessary to make sure they can find their files fast when they bump into a consumer.
Newer handheld computers aren’t limited to displaying still photographs, either. They are fully multimedia-capable nowadays, playing video files as easily as displaying the time of day. With an integrated speaker, your PMA can be used to present full multimedia virtual tours of your listings any place, any time, without the need to connect to the internet. Agents with Portable Marketing Accelerators can extend the usefulness of their virtual tours by carrying them on their handhelds, ready to present to buyers and boosting their marketing efforts. The PMA suddenly becomes a powerful advertising substitute, even for one’s own website, since it’s not necessary to be online to market your listings.
Internet Connection: Enhancing your handheld’s ability to boost marketing efforts is an essential feature of the PMA: its wireless internet connectivity. Modern handhelds feature wireless internet functions that automatically detect and connect to nearby wireless networks. Such networks may exist in your clients’ homes, your office, the local coffee shop, airports and even the shopping mall. Many of these open networks are free to the public. Real estate agents can take advantage of their PMA’s ability to jump online and send email messages. This is how their handheld can once again accelerate the marketing process. Imagine sending photos to prospects while standing in the middle of your new listing. Other uses include wirelessly alerting other agents to your new listings or price reductions. Transmitting a video clip to buyers can be done easily, wherever an agent connects their PMA to a wireless network. By leveraging the handheld’s ability to be online while on the go, agents can use their PMA to email marketing materials to prospects – all while sitting on a park bench, enjoying a sunny day.
Beaming Function: While most agents have finally discovered the second button on the mouse – and a few more have gone so far as to load antivirus software on their computer – a bare minimum have yet mastered the ability to “beam” information from one handheld to another. The beaming function on your PMA works similarly to the way a remote control talks to a television: an invisible beam sends data between two devices. In the case of mobile marketing, beaming takes the place of a printout. When an agent meets a consumer who has their own handheld computer, beaming becomes a powerful, high-tech way to deliver marketing materials without paper.
Imagine this scenario: while standing in line at the coffee shop, you notice that the person next to you is checking their email on their handheld computer. Perfect, you think; this person is equipped to take some of your marketing materials with them! So you start a conversation and when it comes to discussing your hot new listings, you offer to beam a listing sheet, a few photos and a video clip directly into their handheld computer. In less than a minute, you transfer – through the air – your marketing materials to the prospect, without a single scrap of paper. The potential buyer can then display the photos, read the information and play the video clip at their convenience, all day long – including when they return home to show their spouse. In fact, since your PMA can also beam a “business card” to the consumer, he has the ability to call or email for more information. Suddenly, standing in line at the coffee shop is transformed from “down time” to “prospecting time” with the help of your Portable Marketing Accelerator.
These examples are just a few of the ways in which your handheld computer can revolutionize your productivity during the day. By simply changing what we call the device, we can expand our expectations of what it can do for us. Once that happens, your Portable Marketing Accelerator becomes an almost limitless tool for maximizing your ability to succeed in real estate.
This article was authored by Matthew Ferrara of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.
Reprinted with permission of Matthew Ferrara Seminars Inc.