A WEALTH OF FREE APPS!         Courtesy of Apple

Pundits are still sorting out the underlying causes of the Great Recession triggered by the 2007 housing bubble burst that led to a high rate of defaults on subprime mortgages.  But, there is a less obvious economic megatrend that has been brewing for years now that can significantly impact your luxury real estate marketing practice.  The new economy of “Free” is causing a major economic shift that will not go away even after we recover from the financial crisis.  Riding this wave of change, rather than resisting it, can empower you to take over the market leadership position in your marketplace. 

Today, consumers not only expect discounts, they  are increasingly expecting to get things for “free”, such as free shipping, or free video phone calls via Skype.  With free apps for your smart phone or your tablet computer do you really need to buy a separate hand-held GPS device or a dictation device? With free word processing, spreadsheets and collaboration software available in the “cloud” (hosted by a remote servers) that perform the most commonly used functions  do you really need to buy the more elaborate software that resides on your computer?  

If you were in the market to buy an iPad during the Holidays you may have been enticed to purchase it at Walmart vs. Verizon or our local Apple store because they offered a $50 gift certificate for other Walmart items with your iPad purchase.  If you were waiting in the checkout line you may have scanned the bar code of an item in your shopping cart with your smart phone and found that it was in stock at another  store nearby for considerably less. 

To fully get the impact of this major economic  shift watch how Google fares in its competition with Apple and others as it gives away the Android operating system (to manufacturers of tablet computers and smart phones) for free!  Google has a bigger picture in mind and that is more market share for its core business, advertising, as they expand into mobile ads. It now makes good economic sense to give things away for free to capture a bigger piece of the pie.

Do not mistake this for the old story about fending off discounted real estate commissions by your competition or even feeling like you have to outspend your competition in marketing dollars to win luxury home listings.  For luxury real estate marketing professionals, this is about mastering the use of social media (which is a free form of advertising if it is done right) and social networking both on the web and in your local community, for example.  It is also about  "thinking big"and  providing extraordinary value for your clients, way beyond that which your competition provides.  It requires a mindset of abundance not scarcity.

The merchants and service providers who understand and master the new economy of “Free” will be the big winners of 2011 and beyond.  Will you be one of them? In Part 2 we will show you specific ways to profit from the new economy of “Free"in your luxury real estate marketing practice.


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