CMLS Marketing and Communications Section Council Talks Best Practices With MRED
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Article by Victor Lund, CMLS Business Partner
Midwest Real Estate Data is a Northern Illinois-based provider of MLS services to more than 40,000 customers. As a Council of MLS (CMLS) member, they dedicate resources to reviewing all CMLS Best Practices and offer suggestions that support the curation of many of these programs. To learn more about the benefits associated with CMLS Marketing and Communications Best Practices, I interviewed Jeff Lasky from MRED.
He said there are many different styles of communications that apply to MLSs. A single Association-owned MLS like the Houston Association of REALTORS® may communicate differently from a regional MLS that is owned by Brokers as well as multiple shareholder associations. MRED, for example, supports partnerships with 12 associations of REALTORS®, some which are shareholders and others which are contracted for services.
“This is an important distinction,” said Lasky, whose organization wholesales services to associations. “Our association partners are vital distribution channels for all of our communications.”
Because of the support from associations, MRED relies on one coordinator, Melissa Brackmann, to manage their communications efforts. The coordinator stays connected with every project at MRED and develops strategic communications plans as necessary.
MRED communicates directly to subscribers and through association partners. Association partners are always notified first so they can also plan their support of getting information into the hands of the subscribers. Direct Communications channels may include Social Media assets (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube), MLS System bulletins, and email notifications.
Lasky observes that social media engagement is not as impactful as email or MLS systems bulletins. However, he said MRED is expanding video capabilities to leverage multimedia as a resource in both communications and training programs.
Today, they leverage Camtasia, an inexpensive video screen capture software for instructional videos. These videos are produced by MRED Training Manager Jessica Ruminski. Lasky advises to keep them short, about 1 to 2 minutes in length.
According to Lasky, there is no specific frequency to delivering communications at MRED.
“We used to publish social once a day,” says Lasky. “Now, we seek quality over quantity.”
As an example, MRED just launched its private listings network and there is a specific plan around that. MRED also targets specific groups with relevant communication. For example, there is a different plan for power users of specific applications such as 10K Market Reports. It is different from the communication sent to new users or non-users.
One Marketing and Communications Best Practice observed at MRED is to resist the tendency to communicate too far ahead of time. The resist blasting out fully detailed communication too soon and send a teaser out instead. Then, when they have something actionable in place, they send out all the details.
Another best practice, Lasky says, is using the telephone and in-person meetings because the MRED Executive staff believes that the best communication to manage customer expectation is having a relationship. Through human interaction, MRED reaches out to Brokers to understand who their non-id subscribers really are and what kind of communication support they might need.
Currently, Lasky is one of the MRED team members pursuing CMLX3 certification. As such, he regularly reviews the Best Practices documents. He said the time investment is extensive, but worth it.
“It takes a couple of hours the first time,” he said. “From there, you choose and prioritize places to consider changes and improvements.”
You can download the CMLS Communications Best Practices Document here and feel free to reach out to CMLS for specific needs or guidance. Lasky is a great resource too, and welcomes CMLS members to contact him anytime.