Start the fall with Inman’s Branding and Marketing Month. We dig deep into agent branding and best practices for spending with Zillow. realtor.com and more. Top marketing managers also stop by to share their latest tactics. That’s all it takes to take your branding and marketing game to the next level.
While many Chief Marketing Officers only have to worry about one brand, Jennifer Marchetti has two prominent but very different brands under her responsibility: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and ERA Real Estate.
Marchetti joined Cendant Corp., the predecessor of Realogy, in October 2001 as Director of Marketing and Business Development. When Cendant was spun off into Realogy and Wyndham Worldwide, she moved to the latter. In November 2010 she became CMO for BHGRE. Almost nine years later, when Realogy launched its Realogy Expansion Brands division, she became the division’s CMO, adding ERA.
In a telephone interview, Inman asked Marchetti what it’s like to juggle two brands, what she does all day as a CMO and how her job is like that of a fortune teller.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Inman: There was a change in 2019: Realogy Expansion Brands was founded and you became CMO not only for Better Homes and Gardens, but also for ERA.
Marchetti: Yes sir. In the fall of 2019 a really clear picture emerged, namely these two brands: Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, which had a different story, was the younger brand, was the result of a 100-year licensing agreement with Meredith Corporation and ERA, one real seasoned real estate icon of the past few decades who had a really important common trait that they had so much exciting and continued to grow.
So Realogy said: “Let’s have common leadership at CEO, CMO and COO level and then make sure that we have individual brand teams among them where necessary and important and, where possible, also exchange best practice Have things that are not competitive above the line. “
Basically, every brand benefits from this knowledge and idea of what it takes to create really exciting profitable strategic growth, but they have so different go-to-market strategies, they have such different, equally compelling cultures. What I love about our two brands is that they are like every marketer’s dream because they are so different. There is no day when one could get confused or stumbled into marketing strategy because its strengths are so different.
Is there a reason these two particular brands were chosen? Realogy has several other brands under its umbrella.
You had this huge expansion on the top. If you maintain and grow brands that have almost exponential growth opportunities in relation to new territories, z a sprawling footprint. These brands had more areas to conquer.
On the ERA Real Estate side, for example, we have a very flexible branding approach. You could be a classic brand, you could be ERA Wilder Real Estate or Powered.
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, it’s the lifestyle brand for real estate and obviously we as humans have spent so much more time at home in everything that happens with the pandemic. We saw our home differently. We value and prioritize different things about our home. We created a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate brand to stay relevant and impactful for the consumer before, during and after the real estate transaction.
It’s so fun being able to work on both as a marketer.
You were CMO for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and became CMO for both brands in 2019. How did your job change when that happened?
I now have two brands to help grow and serve, but the beauty of it is that they are so different that there has never been a moment when it was any problem. In fact, this has been a huge benefit as it really helps you keep your work strategic and thoughtful for each brand and make sure that you are doing really unique things.
It’s easy to have bowed your head and live in your world. It’s really important to lift your head and say, “Am I doing things that are really different? Do I have something that really stands out from others? “
What do you do all day
Every day is really different, which in my opinion is one reason why I felt so intellectually stimulated here and also somehow emotionally stimulated. As a CMO, no matter who you are – Dunkin ‘Donuts, a fashion company, real estate franchise – your job is essentially to serve and protect a little.
You need to make sure that you protect, maintain and develop the brand that you are the guardian of and that you help shape throughout its lifecycle. You have to believe in your brand and want to protect it. You serve too, and franchising is all about your stakeholders.
When you work in a franchise organization, you want to make sure you are delivering value to consumers. But you better be sure that you are adding value to the people who invest in and rely on your brand and are helping to build their financial futures in many ways.
I spend a lot of time getting feedback from people: brokers, agents, understanding what’s missing from our offering, understanding how we can make it easier, understanding how we can present them with tools that work with them as Industry can evolve changes among and around them. We listen a lot.
The other part of being CMO is that it’s almost like a carnival trick – you know, when people pretend they’re a fortune teller or a mind reader, but in reality they are just reading the clues. That’s what CMOs do. We make it seem like we’re predicting the future and knowing things before consumers or others say they want to, but in reality we’re only using really good data. We use a lot of knowledge, both quantitative and qualitative, focus groups. We speak to our brokers and agents all the time. Not only can you pull out what people need today, but what’s next, where it’s going.
How has the pandemic changed your work?
It’s changed a lot. We all adapt. I think the most important change it has made is this need-the-mother-of-invention type of idea. I’ve become a different leader. It’s easier to build relationships with people when you see them every day.
So you need to be more thoughtful, conscientious, and take the time to build relationships. With COVID you could either let yourself be paralyzed or stifled the way you work or you could take on this challenge right by the throat and say, “OK, how can I be better at everything?” So use technology, text text messages, teams, the old-fashioned way Kind of pick up the phone. This is how you build relationships with your team and your customers, but it’s by design. It takes work, but it pays off.
Have you considered what your top priorities are for 2022?
We are now starting our planning. Our multi-channel approach for both brands worked very, very well and will continue to work very well. We are strong in both brands in the social and digital areas. We make new and exciting programs that combine both. I’m one of those CMOs who believes a lot in direct marketing and relationship marketing because I feel like people are craving not just a digital ad that follows them on the internet, but real high-touch marketing. Both brands are well positioned in terms of infrastructure and resources, so that won’t change.
We conduct a lot of feedback sessions with brokers and agents because we plan technology and product roadmaps, and also only offers for marketing campaigns based on the feedback we receive from brokers and agents. Philanthropy and giving back will continue to be a strong pillar of both branding strategies.
We will continue to support our brokers in talent acquisition and recruitment through marketing. We start a lot of social media campaigns. We have created great resources that they can use to tell the brand story or help them tell the story of their company.
You need to develop a multi-year strategy. You can always develop it further. But if you go from here to there and back again like you’re watching a table tennis tournament, your brand won’t gain any prominence. But I’m lucky because my brands have basically come to me well developed. I didn’t have to artificially create something in a laboratory. To get the brand across, I just captured, packaged, and distributed its essence.
Is there something you want people to know about being CMO that they don’t really know?
In the end, your marketing has to work. It needs to be usable, either by the consumer who is consuming it or, in our case, by your brokers and agents as well.
And you don’t know everything, no matter how talented you are, no matter how many years you’ve been doing it, no matter how well you do your job. You can’t be an effective CMO if you don’t listen. And I mean, listen to your team, listen to your leaders, listen to your stakeholders, listen to the people who don’t work with you, your competitors, people who may have said no, yours Brand to join. You have to listen. You can never stop asking questions because it’s so easy to switch to this autopilot mode, especially if you’ve been at work for several years. And you almost have to review your own strategy. It’s painful and it takes time, but it’s so, so, so important.
I think sometimes marketers disconnect from the day-to-day business of their stakeholders. But when you speak to a broker or agent who says, “I don’t want to log into multiple systems to do a postcard or social post or whatever. I just want to log into a system, ”you better take it seriously. We tend to create things that are guided by the way marketing works. But marketing is a service to your customers, so you have to design marketing the way your customers work.
Would you like to add anything else?
It may be tempting to constantly look around your competitors and either focus too much on what they are doing or what you are not doing, or vice versa. But to be successful, your job as a CMO is basically to hold your brand in a really clean mirror and bring the best of it to market. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing and focus on who your brand is and why it’s different. Be authentic. Don’t try to emulate what others are doing because consumers end up being too smart for that, and certainly real estate agents and brokers are too smart for that. Don’t fall into this trap.
This difference doesn’t have to be earth-shattering, never seen before. It could just be something that you as a brand never forgot, that everyone else forgot as they chased other differentiators.
Volvo likes to talk about safety. There is no car brand in the world that would say, “Oh, we are unsure”. Volvo was focused on something that might not be as sexy as Audi and Mercedes and everyone else [were doing], but it’s important. So your difference doesn’t have to be what no one else has, but rather it should be what no one else might focus on.
Email to Andrea V. Brambila.
Like it on Facebook | Follow me on Twitter