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What happens when competitors join forces and cooperate in highly competitive markets like online real estate? The real estate industry is about to find out. HomeASAP, the leader in social media marketing for real estate professionals has introduced Search Alliance™, the first-ever marketing platform for agents to share resources and work cooperatively. The solution is designed to help real estate agents regain market share of consumer home search web traffic lost to the portals, who now dominate the space.
Taking a page from disruptive companies like Amazon, Uber and Airbnb who have reinvented industries using the collaborative or sharing economy model, HomeASAP created Search Alliance™ to exponentially increase the marketing power of individual agents and brokers based on the related business model known as “coopetition.”
Coopetition is when market competitors with mutual interests join forces to create new market opportunities. Working cooperatively, participants leverage congruent resources like technology, marketing, or access to customers, enabling them to expand their markets and lower costs to levels they could never achieve alone.
Coopetition can have game-changing effects on markets. Incumbents stand to lose the most and even the largest market players are at risk as pent-up demand for lower costs, increased selection, or better service spurs innovation and change.
The Local Agent Dilemma in Online Real Estate: National Portals
Enter the online real estate marketplace where consumers go on the web to search for homes, research real estate information and connect with real estate professionals. Having evolved into one of the most critical marketplace within the industry, it was once dominated by brokers and agents using sub-par websites to attract and serve consumers.
Failing to keep pace with technology, agents eventually lost web traffic and consumer mindshare to portals like Zillow, who saw value in creating national consumer brands around home search. Today, portal sites dominate the online marketplace and the large corporations behind them have an insatiable appetite for consumer eyeballs and traffic.
In response, the industry is upping their game by investing in better broker and agent websites, adopting data transparency and improving the consumer experience. But shifting consumer mindshare, now owned by portals, back to local agent and broker sites, remains a massive uphill battle. Local sites, even those that provide a great user-experience (still the exception, overall), remain geographically constrained by the boundaries of their individual MLSs. And no single agent or broker can match the marketing and technical firepower of the portals. At least not by themselves.
Search Alliance: Changing the Game for Agents and Brokers
Game theory, the analytical approach to coopetition, suggests that when you’re losing the game, you must change the way it is being played or lose.
Using Search Alliance™, agents and brokers serving any market, and aligned with any brand, still work as competitors, but do so in a cooperative manner to change the online real estate “game.” The solution solves three critical problems faced by agents when competing for the online consumer: inferior technology, geographically bounded search and being out-marketed by portals.
Search Alliance™ solves these problems by first providing agents with leading-edge technology– a state-of-the-art website branded to them. These sites have earned praise from agents, industry experts and consumers alike, delivering a fast, modern, intuitive home search experience that works seamlessly across mobile, tablet and desktop devices. In side-by-side user testing, consumers preferred HomeASAP’s solution by a 4-to-1 margin over the leading national portal. Agents are provided these branded websites at no charge.
National Home Search with No Boundaries
Agents then link their websites into the Search Alliance™ network to form their own national home search platform, thus eliminating the geographically bounded search problem. Inside the network, consumer traffic flows unrestricted from site-to-site and users search for homes located anywhere.
Leverage Through Cooperative Marketing
Agents in Search Alliance™ are able to break out of their silos and benefit from the collective marketing spend, customer reach, and network traffic of thousands of agents across the enterprise. In addition to increased visibility, agents are able to reduce the costs of doing business online by leveraging shared technology and lowering the cost of lead generation through traffic reciprocity.
HomeASAP began offering Search Alliance™ in March 2016 to select agents and brokers by invitation, to test and refine the concept. Since that time, the platform has expanded to over 11,000 agents using the service.