Keeping Current Matters (KCM) is an eight-year-old company, based in New York, that provides educational content for real estate agents, to keep them informed on current housing trends.
In return for a monthly fee of $19.95, KCM researches the market and compiles relevant information into concise 30-minute presentations that agents can use to educate both themselves and their clients.
The company also produces quarterly guides that speak directly to consumers, letting them know what to consider when buying or selling a home. Agents can use the guides as lead magnets or as a drop-off piece when visiting clients.
“There’s a huge need in the market for agents who truly know what they’re talking about,” said Bill Harney, KCM’s CEO. “We do all of the research that agents could want and turn that into content that they can use in their marketing efforts, as well as in face-to-face conversations with their buyers and sellers, to educate them.”
Educational Content For Real Estate Agents
KCM’s customers aren’t the average run of the mill agents but those who treat real estate as a business, actively pursuing listings, leads and sales. Those are the ones who want to stay current on trends and who appreciate the work KCM provides, Harney said.
“I think the thing that our clients find the most value in is the confidence that we provide in answering some of their toughest market questions,” Harney said. “There’s a lot of information out there about real estate and it’s our job to connect the dots on behalf of our clients, to paint a picture that describes what’s taking place in the real estate market so that their clients can make powerful and confident decisions when buying and selling a home.”
KCM Changes Business Model, from Offline to Online
Harney’s father, Steve, a successful real estate broker with 35 years of experience, started KCM after selling his 550-agent firm in 2007, just before the real estate market crashed.
“My father saw the market downturn coming and realized that he could make a difference and help the industry recover,” Harney said. “He started KCM as a speaking company, holding on-site events for different brokerages and training agents that way.”
As the company grew, Harney’s father realized that he was limited in the number of speaking events he could conduct and that, to impact more people, he would have to transition to a new business model.
At that point, Harney’s father made two decisions that would forever change KCM’s direction and future: He took the business entirely online and invited his son, Bill, to join the company and produce educational content for real estate agents.
“I joined KCM in year two, so I’ve been with the company for nearly seven years,” Harney said. “When I joined, dad was trying to figure out if he wanted to keep KCM as a speaking company or if he wanted to build something bigger. I wanted to make a change in my career and always knew that, somehow, I would eventually work with my father. We had a nice interview in the pool in his backyard and, from there, the rest was history.”
The company has experienced a track record of sustainable growth since its founding, which Harney attributes to hard work and excellent customer service.
“We’ve been very lucky to have pretty incredible growth at KCM, and sustained,” Harney said. “I think that’s the thing that I’m most proud of. We work very hard to provide exceptional service to our customers, and we’re rewarded by finding more and more people that believe in our mission and who want to join our movement.”
KCM Moves Marketing from Offline to Online
In 2011, KCM began using the marketing automation technology platform Infusionsoft for its marketing and sales. Harney had come to the realization that, just as his father was limited in the number of people he could reach by speaking, that “selling from the stage” was also not scalable.
“We were going to reach a limit on the amount of people that we could impact,” Harney said. “Infusionsoft gave us the power and the confidence to take what we do, move it online and go from there.”
Harney confessed that a steep learning curve was involved in using the platform and that the first year proved difficult.
“Our first year with Infusionsoft, we screwed up a lot of things,” Harney said. “I’m not going to lie, we did not do anything well, but we still grew 19 percent, which was something that we were incredibly proud of.”
As Harney and his staff learned the platform’s ropes, growth occurred at a faster pace — 40 percent year-on-year for three years running. This year, 2016, the company plans to expand by another 50 percent.
Not only has Infusionsoft been instrumental in KCM’s growth in providing educational content for real estate agents, it is also vital to the company’s very existence, according to Harney.
“We used the very old school back of the room at a big event type of selling model,” he said. “What Infusionsoft allowed us to do is change our business model and, without it, there’s no way we would be here today because we wouldn’t have been able to sustain the type of growth that we wanted.”
Harney describes Infusionsoft as an additional employee and the company’s marketing backbone that costs less than having to pay a real person.
“Infusionsoft is like an extra employee who doesn’t get paid anywhere near the value of what we get in return,” Harney said. ” The amount of time that we’re able to save from all of our employees working together through Infusionsoft to get things done is immeasurable.”
Business Advice: Keep Things Simple and Stick to Basics
When asked if he had any advice to share with other business owners, Harney’s encouragement was to keep things simple.
“So often we get distracted by shiny objects,” Harney said. “Everybody is talking about the new greatest tool and it’s funny, but getting back to the basics is what works.”
Harney also advocates for simplicity in the use of marketing technology.
“Before trying things like split-testing and email marketing, focus on getting leads to come in, and then activate and engage with those prospects,” Harney said. “Once you get that right, you can attempt some pretty crazy things and bring in all of the fancy tools that you want. But if your business isn’t sound from the fundamentals, none of those are going to help.”