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Marketing has changed. People don't want just a catchy jingle. They want to be entertained. They want to feel like it's something worth the 30 seconds that they're going to spend watching it.

Episode 9

On maintaining brand integrity, creating Ray White’s very first national brand campaign & brand protection.

Lisa Pennell | Head Of Marketing | Ray White

This episode features Lisa Pennell. After two decades of working with some of Australia’s largest and most progressive real estate brands across a variety of different functions, Lisa is currently the head of marketing for the Ray White Group across all of Australasia. Lisa is a highly energetic, strategic leader & creative thinker who has assembled and manages a high performing team of industry specialists. Lisa is in charge of all aspects of the Ray White Australasian brand and adds a new dimension to the role with a particular interest in brand protection and crisis management. In this episode Lisa tells us how to maintain brand integrity – however arduous that might be, how she created Ray White’s first ever national brand campaign and gives us her insights on how to create healthy competition. Enjoy

Transcript

Anthony Denman:
Lisa, welcome to the Property Marketing Podcast.

Lisa Pennell:
Thank you. Glad to be here.

Anthony Denman:
How did you get started in property, in marketing?

Lisa Pennell:
In real estate?

Anthony Denman:
Mm-hmm.

Lisa Pennell:
So, after a career that had spanned a few different industries, ironically I went to university with Sam White, part of the Ray White family-

Anthony Denman:
Did you really?

Lisa Pennell:
So, he was my introduction into the real estate industry.

Anthony Denman:
You got to know him at university?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Probably second-hand rather than a direct friendship, but through someone I had been close to at university. I got involved with the business that Sam was also involved in, which was around utility connections in the real estate business, and that had never happened in Australia before, so this is-

Anthony Denman:
Utility connections.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Please-

Lisa Pennell:
So, you move home, and someone connects-

Anthony Denman:
Oh, okay.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s very common today.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. Yeah, of course. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
But had never happened back then.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, yeah. Right.

Lisa Pennell:
So, it was a new entrepreneurial concept, and I became involved in that business. And that was the beginning of the end, as they say.

Anthony Denman:
What were you doing?

Lisa Pennell:
So, I was one of the directors of the first business.

Anthony Denman:
Wow. Okay. So, entrepreneur at heart.

Lisa Pennell:
Absolutely. And yeah, fought the good fight to bring a new concept to a very traditional industry. And I guess I was quite shocked, because I thought having the endorsement of a company like Ray White would open a lot of doors, in terms of getting good take-up for the product, and I was shocked to find that the industry just didn’t operate that way at all. The industry is very much a cottage industry still, with individually-owned businesses, even in a large franchise group like Ray White, that they all operate largely to their own business plans.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, I want to talk about that actually. Because it’s a really interesting dynamic, isn’t it?

Lisa Pennell:
It is.

Anthony Denman:
Trying to build this monolithic brand, I guess you’d call it, but it’s effectively run by a whole bunch of different personality types.

Lisa Pennell:
And really strong personalities.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Lisa Pennell:
We’re not talking about a normal industry.

Anthony Denman:
No. Highly successful individuals, who know their craft. They’re working at the coalface, day in, day out. In some ways, I actually find it fascinating, that they joined the group in the first place.

Lisa Pennell:
Absolutely. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Because they’re so strong-headed about what they … And look, in a lot of instances, rightly so. Intuitively, I find real estate agents are really marketing savvy.

Lisa Pennell:
Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
They really totally get it. They get the marketplace. They’ve got great instincts for it.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And I often wonder, when I speak to some of the high-performing real estate agents, like John McGrath crafted his own brand, and he built a franchise. But if they’re that passionate about doing their own thing, why they don’t do their own thing, but I find even the very best performers keep coming back to a franchise like Ray White.

Lisa Pennell:
I think there’s probably two reasons for it. One is due to the lay of the land these days, technology’s such a huge part of a real estate business that to go and recreate the wheel under your own brand is actually quite a massive undertaking, so it’s a huge time undertaking. And the second thing is that people, and particularly these type of people that you’re talking about, the characters, they love the competition of working in a team, but having that competition amongst the team.

Anthony Denman:
Within the group.

Lisa Pennell:
Correct. So, awards nights are a huge event for us around the country. We have thousands and thousands of people attend these nights, all striving to be the best within that group. And it’s quite different to be that and have that friendly rivalry, as opposed to being a homogeneous mass of an industry, and trying to win in that space.

Anthony Denman:
Totally. I was speaking to Craig Pontey about this, and he said, “You know what? It’s a lot easier if you can go in, and you’ve got an established brand behind you, then if you’re trying to sell your own brand.”

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
In fact, for example, you’ve got to go in, you’ve got to sell Fred Bloggs Real Estate first, then you’ve got to sell yourself, then you’ve got to sell … When you go in with a brand like Ray White-

Lisa Pennell:
A known brand. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
You’ve got the establishing … But I do want to talk more about that. Dan White was recently quoted as saying that “Brand integrity is our destination, no matter how arduous the journey might be.”

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
So, I guess …

Lisa Pennell:
Legendary words. Yes.

Anthony Denman:
How do you? How many franchises in Australia, roughly?

Lisa Pennell:
Around 800.

Anthony Denman:
800 franchises. The most highly-successful real estate agents in the country, all with that instinctive marketing savviness and success, and gregarious nature. How do you maintain a rigid, monolithic brand identity in that sort of environment?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, it’s probably interesting to give context to that question, because we’re not a brand that’s ever been strict on brand standards. And if you go back, Brian White will freely tell you, 20 years ago, if someone walked to join Ray White and they said, “Can we turn the sign upside down?” he would have said, “Sure. Welcome. Happy days.”

Anthony Denman:
Why’s that?

Lisa Pennell:
He didn’t perceive Ray White as being a brand. When the whole brand thing became popular in the ’80s, and all the real estate groups were saying, “We’re a brand, we’re a brand,” he said, “No, no, no. We’re not a brand. We’re a group of people building relationships with each other and with our customers. We’re not a brand.”

Anthony Denman:
Which is actually, in today’s terminology, it’s a brand. If you live that.

Lisa Pennell:
Correct, but then about 10 years ago, I think the family came to the conclusion that we are that, but we are also a brand, and so maintaining some sort of standards for the usage of our brand. You can’t go to one office and look completely different to the way that another office looks. You can’t be putting out different-colored logos and-

Anthony Denman:
And that was happening?

Lisa Pennell:
That was happening, and still happens, I’ll be honest with you. We’re not at the point of being regimented at this point. We are striving to that destination, as Dan has said, and it is an arduous journey. I won’t lie about that.

Anthony Denman:
No. I don’t doubt it for a minute.

Lisa Pennell:
There’s much less of it than there was, than there has ever been before, but we still have instances of issues with brand compliance. Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
Because the brand compliance is on so many different levels.

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
The facing level. As you say, at the street appeal, at the kerbside, at the shopping mall level, at the marketing level, in terms of the print adverts and online adverts-

Lisa Pennell:
Social media.

Anthony Denman:
And social media. God.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s hard.

Anthony Denman:
Not even allowed to talk about that.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s hard. And coming back to what you were saying before about people trusting a brand, we do know by digital data now, we have people searching for the Ray White brand in suburbs where we don’t even have offices. So we know the brand is compelling, far more compelling than an unknown name or a smaller brand. However, part of trust is having that brand consistency and presentation. They do want to know … In the same way, if they go into a McDonald’s, they want it to look fresh and the same as it would anywhere-

Anthony Denman:
Well, try getting away with that at a franchise like McDonald’s, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, you wouldn’t. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
There’s no way.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. So, we need to get there. We know we need to get there. But we also want to support the individuality of our people. We know they know marketing. Sales and marketing is joined at the hip. So, how do we create an umbrella of consistency whilst allowing that personalization at a local level? And that’s our aim, in fact. Not to be the brand police, because that’s not fun for anybody, and neither does it achieve the end result of building relationships, but we have to have a level of consistency at the same time.

Anthony Denman:
No, totally. I’m just trying to imagine how you begin with so many different layers. I guess, does it mean you physically have to go and inspect every office that’s open, or opening, to make sure that they’re following those-

Lisa Pennell:
Pretty much, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Because property’s about the physical environment, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Mm-hmm.

Anthony Denman:
Essentially, it’s a space. And I know some of the boutique franchise operators like Focus, really heavily on that, making sure that there’s this really high interior design aesthetic in all of their shops, and that they all present it a certain way, and it must be so much easier for them, because there’s only-

Lisa Pennell:
A small number. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
A smaller number. And they’re buying into it.

Lisa Pennell:
And if you start clean, that’s easy. If you start with a bit of a mess-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I get it. Yeah, more an organic growth. The story of Ray White blows my mind, right? Seriously. One office, central Queensland somewhere, yeah?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
One guy. Just grown it to the largest real estate franchise in Australia, without any, from what I can tell, regimented, uniformed marketing effort.

Lisa Pennell:
We never had a marketing team until less than 10 years ago. There wasn’t a marketing team. There was a marketing person negotiating print rates.

Anthony Denman:
Which is just crazy, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Unbelievable.

Lisa Pennell:
That’s Brian, though.

Anthony Denman:
I was going to say.

Lisa Pennell:
Brian’s genius. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, so how does that happen? How do you get to that-

Lisa Pennell:
So, the group was only 30 offices or so when he took it on in the early ’70s, so it wasn’t always a huge company. In fact, LJ Hooker was much bigger for many, many years.

Anthony Denman:
And they had a brand.

Lisa Pennell:
They had a brand.

Anthony Denman:
Marketing campaign, right? “Thank you Mr Hooker,” right?

Lisa Pennell:
And still people remember.

Anthony Denman:
How memorable was it?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Well, it’s a funny story. That little girl married our head of commercial, so you know? Not as a little girl, obviously.

Anthony Denman:
Well, of course not.

Lisa Pennell:
When she was grown up. So, Brian is an absolute entrepreneur, and he will tell you that he’s not a risk-taker, he’s a risk-mitigator. So, his ambition’s always been growth, but he hasn’t made any rash decisions, but he’s always done what he needed to do, to ensure the company’s growth and survival.

Anthony Denman:
Which I guess essentially building relationships with franchisees, and making sure they’re happy, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
If that means they want to stick a gold medal on their logo, to say they’re the number one agent in wherever it might be, then so be it, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Those were the days.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
But you’re keeping them on-side, and they’re being successful, and you’re growing the brand.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
So, I guess I can understand that. That logic. But also, as a marketer, I’m like, “Well, there’s a certain set of standard that you’ve got to maintain in the public realm. Build the equity and the brand and …” So, do you physically have to go out and inspect every office?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, I don’t personally. The estate teams are very active in that space as well. So, the structure of our business is, we have 18-people-strong marketing team, core marketing team, but we have state representatives in each area, that pick up the marketing function, in conjunction with the CEO in that state.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Right. And so, they’re job’s check offices, check newspapers, check …

Lisa Pennell:
So, the newspapers all comes through a central brand management platform.

Anthony Denman:
It does. That’s good.

Lisa Pennell:
So, that is automatically consistent.

Anthony Denman:
So, all templated-

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
And done a certain way.

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
Even that’s a huge job, right? Making sure the photographs are cropped correctly, the right amount of copy in each ad.

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
You imagine the agents, or the vendor, wants to talk about the courtyard that he built with his own hands back in 1960, put that in, and there’s not enough space-

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
And so your agents wants to put more copy in, less photos.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
So, I guess to control that, you can just put word counts and things in place, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Correct. So, technology has solved a lot of those consistent-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, thank god.

Lisa Pennell:
But even so, it was only two years ago we moved to that, or nearly three years ago, we moved to that brand management platform, that solved that problem.

Anthony Denman:
And it’s working?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah. And again, a lot of headaches along the way.

Anthony Denman:
I bet.

Lisa Pennell:
But yes, all of our print ads now run through that brand management platform and they’re all uniform-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Good. Nice, clean Ray White … That must make you feel pretty good.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, it’s at least one area that we’re consistent in, yes. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Well, that’s print. How do you control online?

Lisa Pennell:
Online is, you know those toys that you have when you’re a kid? The sausages, that you try and pick them up and they slip out of your hands. Did you have one of those?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s like that. So, it’s like … Or painting the bridge. You get to one end, and you have to start at the beginning, and it’s all gone nuts again.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Add social, right?

Lisa Pennell:
It’s hard.

Anthony Denman:
God. My goodness.

Lisa Pennell:
I have a social media specialist, who is constantly battling that issue, and it is a real challenge. I think there’s got to be a combination of the checks and balances, but also we focus as a team on trying to create brand pride, because if you’re a proud Ray White member … A lot of our members don’t realize they’re doing the wrong thing.

Anthony Denman:
No. Totally not.

Lisa Pennell:
And they proudly wear the yellow, thinking that they’re being compliant. So, how do we communicate what “compliant” actually is, and get them to feel proud about wearing the team colors? So, that’s a big focus for us. And highlighting our brand champions, as we call them. The people who are really successful, like Matt Lancashire in Brisbane, that was rogue, and he’ll tell you himself he was completely rogue. He’s now a brand champion, understands the value of it. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. So, how did that happen? How did you …

Lisa Pennell:
Well, we had a very healthy debate.

Anthony Denman:
I bet you did.

Lisa Pennell:
And Matt agreed to give it a go, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it didn’t hurt his business. In fact, it only helped his business. And so we worked together quite closely on, as I said before, making sure it had those elements of consistency, but also was special enough to be personalized for him. So, he has very executions of listing presentations or whatever that are very much his own, but carry the brand elements in the right way.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. No, that’s great.

Lisa Pennell:
But he had his own logo.

Anthony Denman:
Did he really?

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, he was completely rogue. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
That’s great.

Lisa Pennell:
He’ll tell you. Yeah. And a legendary agent. He’s amazing. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, just funnily enough, when I was looking, doing some research for this interview, and we’ll get onto the Great Australian Dream in a minute, but when I was looking at that video on YouTube, after it had finished, it went straight into one of his videos-

Lisa Pennell:
He’s amazing. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
For an amazing waterfront home he was selling on the river in Brisbane.

Lisa Pennell:
Very clever. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And it just looked incredible, and he had the architect there talking about, which I think is really valuable. So, yeah, after, what’s that? 118 years, or something I think, with no brand campaign ever, was it you who managed to talk-

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
Well done.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
How did you do that?

Lisa Pennell:
So, first of all, we’d made the decision we wanted to try and break out of the category. And we had to come up with a concept that we felt confident in. And the first step was about getting buy-in, I guess, from our leadership team. And that was just one-on-one, getting conversations with each of our leaders, talking them through the concept, the reason why we wanted to go in that direction-

Anthony Denman:
When you say a leadership team, you’re not talking about the brand champions, the individual agents?

Lisa Pennell:
No.

Anthony Denman:
You’re talking about internal-

Lisa Pennell:
Corporate team.

Anthony Denman:
Corporate team. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, the franchisor first.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, it’s all about buy-in. Dan first, obviously, and then each of the corporate leadership team. And, some challenging conversations, but largely everyone was willing to give it a go. We are a company that is very curious, and encouraged and supported to be curious. Then we made the ad.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. You made the ad.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Once we got buy-in, we made the ad. We just went and did it. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Because you had, like you said earlier, some pretty big footprints, shoes, to fill, right? I thought for whatever reason, that “Thank you Mr Hooker” thing was just so-

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It resonated so heavily. But I don’t know if they … It was done at a time too … Right?

Lisa Pennell:
And they saturated TV.

Anthony Denman:
When there was less media, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
So you could so much more easily own those eye balls, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Mm-hmm.

Anthony Denman:
Than you can today.

Lisa Pennell:
You play a catchy jingle enough times, and it will stick in people’s minds.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, yeah. Totally.

Lisa Pennell:
And that’s what they did.

Anthony Denman:
And a very cute little girl, and I guess it resonated about finding a home for your family.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And I guess family unit’s changed so much since then now anyway, that’s not applicable to everyone.

Lisa Pennell:
Marketing has changed. People don’t want just a catchy jingle. They want to be entertained. They want to feel like it’s something worth the 30 seconds that they’re going to spend watching it. And they don’t want to feel like they’re having something shoved down their throat, in terms of sold something. They want a synergy with the brand, engagement with the brand, rather than being sold down the river.

Anthony Denman:
So, the process of pulling that, to get the decision to make the ad, there was, I suppose, a bit more to it than that.

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, yes.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. So, agency. Did you already have the agency appointed at that point?

Lisa Pennell:
Yes. So, we had partnered with a fairly small agency at that time, DO, and we had worked with them closely on the concept, and so once we had the buy-in, we went about making the ad. And we were heavily involved.

Anthony Denman:
Yes, I was going to say. So, who wrote the brief, then?

Lisa Pennell:
In conjunction with our agency. So, they came up with the concept. We spent countless hours with them, talking about what we were trying to achieve, and what the objectives were, and how we wanted to communicate the brand values and all of that sort of stuff. But they innovated the concept, and then as I say, we went about selling it into our team, and then making the ad.

Anthony Denman:
Because it’s a great concept.

Lisa Pennell:
It is, yeah. Well, Jeep copied it.

Anthony Denman:
Pardon the pun.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, I shouldn’t say “copied us.” Yeah. Jeep actually put out an ad last year.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, did they really?

Lisa Pennell:
I’ll send it through to you.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. Yeah, please do. And I’ll put a link to all these campaigns in the show notes, so you can see what we’re talking about.

Lisa Pennell:
Great.

Anthony Denman:
But just, the Great Australian Dream, which is the idea that you guys came up with, which is just fantastic.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It’s like you say, so Australiana. And it does. I guess in some ways, it owns the vernacular. You know what I mean?

Lisa Pennell:
Mm-hmm.

Anthony Denman:
So, the Great Australian Bight. The Great Dividing Range. You know?

Lisa Pennell:
So, there was a whole bunch. Like any creative agency, they obviously came back with a number of different options.

Anthony Denman:
It’s a big idea. It’s a big idea.

Lisa Pennell:
That was the one we landed on. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It’s a big idea.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And really well-executed.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Great casting.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. And that again was an arduous journey, to find the right person.

Anthony Denman:
The right person. Tell me about it.

Lisa Pennell:
And we had very limited budget.

Anthony Denman:
My god. How hard is just casting?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
End of story, right? How long did it take you from start to finish?

Lisa Pennell:
Oh. As in from …

Anthony Denman:
I guess from-

Lisa Pennell:
Partnership to …

Anthony Denman:
From briefing to …

Lisa Pennell:
To launch?

Anthony Denman:
To launch, yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, I move very fast on everything. So, for me, it was incredibly slow, but it was probably four months.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, that’s great. No, that’s great.

Lisa Pennell:
In real terms, it was probably quick, but-

Anthony Denman:
No, four months is great.

Lisa Pennell:
But for me it was-

Anthony Denman:
Four months is great. Seriously.

Lisa Pennell:
Very slow.

Anthony Denman:
I work on projects, that have gone for two years. But it’s not our fault, I’ve got to say. The project marketing field is quite complex, with DA approvals and all the rest of it. And those people that have launched a project will probably understand what I’m saying there. But yeah, to make a brand campaign like that, at such a high level, with such great production values, four months is pretty good. You should be pretty proud of that.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, the other complicating factor was I’d taken over a team, and there was huge turnover. In fact, I would say that I’ve only just reached a point in the last few months where I’m really happy with everyone in the team.

Anthony Denman:
How important is that for you?

Lisa Pennell:
It’s everything. It’s everything.

Anthony Denman:
For getting the right people on the bus.

Lisa Pennell:
And it’s not just the right people on the bus, it’s in the right seats.

Anthony Denman:
In the right seats.

Lisa Pennell:
So, it’s a process of finding the right people, and then is that the right job? Do we need to change the job spec? Can we move this responsibility there and here? And absolutely, it’s the most important thing. But it takes time, because you don’t walk into a role and instantly know what you’ve got. You’ve got to spend time understanding that, and trying to see whether if someone’s not at the right level, can you get them there? Or should they be doing something else in the team? Are they a good person, but just not doing the right role.

Anthony Denman:
So, how long’s it taken you to grow that?

Lisa Pennell:
I’d say it took me 18 months to get all the right people in the right roles, and I would say it’s taken another six months to get everyone to the point where I would say it’s now a high-functioning team.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, that’s exciting for you.

Lisa Pennell:
So, two years.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow.

Lisa Pennell:
Again, arduous for me, because I’m high energy-

Anthony Denman:
It seems it. High energy.

Lisa Pennell:
But yeah, it’s the thing I’m most proud of, I think, in this, is the team that I now have.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. So, the Great Australian Dream. And then there was the Hide & Seek.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
So, how did that transition? How did all that happen?

Lisa Pennell:
So, Great Australian Dream, as I say, when Jeep came out with an ad that was almost identical at the end of last year, that I guess gave us great confidence that we were on the right track. And we had had some great feedback from our network about the direction we’d taken. With Hide & Seek, the market at that time was one of hesitation. So, buyers and sellers weren’t sure what was happening with the economy. Everyone was kind of holding back. Is it going to crash? Is it going to boom? And so we wanted to bring more of the brand value to the front, which is all about being progressive and humble and fun, clever, stylish.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, so you’ve obviously done a brand audit on Ray White-

Lisa Pennell:
Correct. That was right at the beginning. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. And determined how your brand should behave.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Absolutely. And so Hide & Seek was more of that. So, we felt like we’d broken the seal, if you like, of heading in a different direction. So, now we want to push the boat right out. And funnily enough, when I did the same rounds of speaking to all of our leaders, and pitching this campaign, where the year before it had been long, sometimes heated conversations, this time it was like, “Oh, yeah? That’s cool.” And it was so much crazier than-

Anthony Denman:
It was. Totally.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It is.

Lisa Pennell:
So, that was really interesting, as a culture change.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, everyone embraced it. We went and made that ad. In fact, most of the-

Anthony Denman:
Same team?

Lisa Pennell:
DO was our agency once again, but almost all of the actors are actually members of our network this time.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, really?

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
No way.

Lisa Pennell:
So, we even had people flying from interstate, wanting to be part of the ad. So, that was cool.

Anthony Denman:
That’s awesome. That’s so good. How did you handle that casting exercise?

Lisa Pennell:
So, we just asked for expressions of interest from the network, got photos, got videos, and-

Anthony Denman:
Wow. That’s a big job.

Lisa Pennell:
And still used a casting person to cast it, but out of our talent. So, a couple of the lead roles are paid actors, and the rest are all members of the network.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. It’s funny you should say that actually, because I felt that at some point. I think it was the girls behind the concrete pylon.

Lisa Pennell:
So, they’re from my team.

Anthony Denman:
I was going to say.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
They look like-

Lisa Pennell:
Real people.

Anthony Denman:
A real estate crew.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
The sort of people you’d expect even to see in an open, for inspection.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Which I guess is probably exactly perfect for …

Lisa Pennell:
Well, part of it is, say, budget. Part of it, wanting to be real. Wanting to involve our network.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Authentic. Absolutely.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Mostly budget, if I’m to be honest.

Anthony Denman:
Well, talent’s the killer, right? For us, when we get a big-enough project, and it’s like, “Okay, let’s just do some talent,” the fees just skyrocket, because you know you’ve got to find the people, you’ve got to go through the casting, you’ve got to interview them, you’ve got to make sure they look like what they do on their comp cards.

Lisa Pennell:
And rights. You can only use it then for a certain period.

Anthony Denman:
That’s right. And hairstyling, makeup. Wardrobe. All that. It just goes on and on and on. You know? You don’t get much change out of 50, 100,000 dollars, just to try and find two people. One or two people, for a shoot, let alone in that TVC.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, and originally we’d planned to have a crowd of 100 people, so we definitely had to scale down our ambitions, and make it look like there was a lot more people than there were.

Anthony Denman:
Well, it felt like there was about 30 or 40, 20 or 30, I reckon.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Right.

Anthony Denman:
How many were there?

Lisa Pennell:
I think at any given moment … Oh, there would have been close to 20, probably, in some of the scenes, but probably more like 15 or so.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. That’s pretty good. Because I’ve got a relatively trained eye too, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Right.

Anthony Denman:
Having done a few of these things before. So, is it too early to gauge any results?

Lisa Pennell:
It’s not too early. We did a brand sentiment research piece. In Victoria, we ran the campaign in a digital format, very targeted format, and Victoria’s probably our biggest area where brand perception is potentially a problem for us.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Do you know why that is?

Lisa Pennell:
Probably because Melbourne’s a different market. A lot of boutiques in the inner city.

Anthony Denman:
Very sophisticated market, Melbourne.

Lisa Pennell:
It is. And our market has grown. We don’t have offices in that boutique area. They’re all in the metro area. And so the brand is perceived to be more of a-

Anthony Denman:
Regional.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Which is ironic, because we sell more prestige property across the country than any brand.

Anthony Denman:
Anyone. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, the uplift was really interesting in perception, particularly around the statement, “Is Ray White different to other real estate groups?” Massive uplift.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow, that’s great.

Lisa Pennell:
And also, there was another statement around being clever and progressive and fun. And a massive uplift in that statement.

Anthony Denman:
And that’s exactly what you want. All that market.

Lisa Pennell:
That’s exactly what we wanted. And that’s what that ad set out to do, was to make people feel like real estate’s fun rather than stressful, and that Ray White is different. Fun, progressive, clever. All of those brand values.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. And the Great Australian Dream does that as well, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Correct.

Anthony Denman:
Too. Okay.

Lisa Pennell:
So again, just push the boat out a bit further.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
See what will happen next year.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Well, I was going to ask. What is happening next year?

Lisa Pennell:
I don’t know. Stay tuned.

Anthony Denman:
Well, that’s right. It’ll only take you three months.

Lisa Pennell:
As I say. You know? Ask me, I’ll tell you.

Anthony Denman:
Well, for those of you too, just to put this into context, February 2020.

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
February 2020.

Lisa Pennell:
And it feels like it’s already November.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, man. It’ll be Christmas.

Lisa Pennell:
Because my team came back on January sixth, and I had worked through Christmas, and of course witnessed all those horrific fires, and it had really distressed me and my offsider, who was working with me, because we manage complaints as well, and some of our offices were badly affected. And of course, I had the idea for-

Anthony Denman:
When you say “badly affected,” you mean …

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, office closure. Houses burned down. In the middle of it, not able to evacuate.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right. Right, right, right.

Lisa Pennell:
And so we really felt helpless. We wanted to do something. And Sunday morning, bright idea, “Let’s get the industry together.”

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow. That is a bright idea.

Lisa Pennell:
Beyond the bricks.

Anthony Denman:
It’s a big idea, yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, they back-

Anthony Denman:
What were you doing when that idea came into your head? Do you remember?

Lisa Pennell:
Probably drinking coffee, maybe.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah? Having a shower? Walking in the garden?

Lisa Pennell:
The result was chaos.

Anthony Denman:
No, I’m interested in that. In how people come up with these big ideas, and in what context. You know?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Do you find that you have … Is there a place that you …

Lisa Pennell:
I’m very much an in my head sort of person, so it wouldn’t matter where I was. These things can happen anywhere for me.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. Sunday morning, having coffee maybe.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Probably.

Anthony Denman:
Get the industry together. That’s easier said than done.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, fortunately I’d run the negative gearing campaign for the first election, not the last one, the one before that, with the industry-

Anthony Denman:
You ran the negative gearing campaign for the industry?

Lisa Pennell:
For the industry.

Anthony Denman:
Did you really?

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
Wow. You knew everyone.

Lisa Pennell:
And so I had everyone on speed dial.

Anthony Denman:
On speed dial. Right.

Lisa Pennell:
So, I’d asked Dan for permission.

Anthony Denman:
Congratulations.

Lisa Pennell:
Thank you.

Anthony Denman:
Well done. Not that we’re politically biased in any way, but when Scott Morrison won that election, from a project marketing perspective, because we’ve been battered and we’re absolutely hammered with this cycle, it’s been one thing after another, there was Royal Commission, lack of finance, and then the property market, then the cracks in the building … Just go, “Oh, one thing after the other.” So, I think we’re about a year-and-a-half into the bottom of the cycle, and when Scott Morrison won the election, you could feel it, like overnight. You walk into a meeting the next day, and everyone’s like, “Right, let’s get on with this,” you know? It just felt so much better, and ever since then we’ve seen what’s happened, right? With the property market.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, elections always bring uncertainty, and the first campaign, which is the one I ran, which was the previous one, there was a lot of uncertainty at that point which was resolved, when negative gearing was taken off the table. This time around, for it to come up again, I think that it was easier to get the group together. My colleague from First National actually ran that one. Stewart Bunn, who was also amazing. But this idea of an industry collaborative actually being able to work on something that didn’t have a vested interest, if you like, that was really for the good of-

Anthony Denman:
Genuine, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. And we were all suffering. We all had offices that were … The larger groups.

Anthony Denman:
Congratulations. That’s such a good initiative.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, I was just overwhelmed by how supportive everyone was of it, I have to be honest.

Anthony Denman:
So, just tell us a bit about it. How it all came together.

Lisa Pennell:
So, just a few phone calls, text messages. A lot of people still on holidays overseas. Commitment of corporate pledges. Dan put 150-grand on the table to start with. That started the ball rolling. It’s still running, so we’re still pushing. It’s called Beyond The Bricks. We’ve raised 1.1 million at this point.

Anthony Denman:
Wow. That’s awesome. That’s so good.

Lisa Pennell:
But my point being that my poor team came back on January sixth to again hear me say, “I’ve got an idea,” which are those words that they all go, “Oh, no.”

Anthony Denman:
Yes. But you had the right people, in the right seats on the bus. So, they’re onboard with that.

Lisa Pennell:
And they covered themselves in glory. So, we’ve driven all of that. The team came up with the name.

Anthony Denman:
So cool. “Beyond The Bricks.” Love it.

Lisa Pennell:
They’re creative. Which is why I say I feel like it’s November, because we’ve already done so much, and it’s not even mid-February.

Anthony Denman:
In fact, you were saying that there was something else when we first sat down. That you were-

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, Real Estate of Origin?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. We’re about to-

Anthony Denman:
Real Estate of Origin.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
So, because that was a New South Wales, Queensland thing, that idea, but it obviously works on a national level, I guess.

Lisa Pennell:
It does, yeah. And international. We have New Zealand as well. Another couple-of-hundred offices over there that get involved.

Anthony Denman:
Wow. Okay. So, tell me about that.

Lisa Pennell:
So, we pick each state. It’s mate against mate, office against office. And we-

Anthony Denman:
Yes. Love it. And this comes back to what you were talking about before, and the whole competitive rivalry.

Lisa Pennell:
Rivalry. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, we set aside a block of time in participating offices, so last time, we had half of our offices participating, which is huge.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Totally. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
This time around we’ll have more. They all sit at their desks, and they start making calls from the database.

Anthony Denman:
Just making calls to their database, from their desks.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Everyone at the same time, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Same time.

Anthony Denman:
Okay.

Lisa Pennell:
And they all report their numbers in, of appraisals. So, we keep a group tally, but we also cut to … Mark McLeod, our head of growth, is the telethon head, if you like, sitting here with the grandstand behind him.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, right. And for those of you who don’t know, you can’t know, of course, because you can’t see us, but we’re in a media room, which is great.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Again, another new innovation. Only a year in the making.

Anthony Denman:
Totally. Kind of a green screen here, and we’ve got all the gear and the lights and the mics and the cameras and stuff.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Sorry. Go on.

Lisa Pennell:
And so, we ended up on the day, after four hours, with seven-and-a-half thousand appraisals on the board. And we will-

Anthony Denman:
Seven-and-a-half thousand appraisals.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
That’s nuts.

Lisa Pennell:
So, Mark will cut to different offices, and get tips and tricks, and we’ll have some fun with it, some prizes, and-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, wow. That’s so cool. Nothing like that’s been done before, has it? That I’m aware of.

Lisa Pennell:
So, it’s about to happen again with us, end of Feb.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. All right. Okay.

Lisa Pennell:
So, be another. We’re aiming for even more this time.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. I’d love to get some footage of it, or something.

Lisa Pennell:
Sure.

Anthony Denman:
Would that be possible?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
And we can post it in the show notes, or just put an update on it.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, dial in. You can make some calls too.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I probably do have a few people I could ring, to see if they wanted to list their home.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s a great way to deal with call reluctance, which is a huge problem in our industry.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
So, all this technology, we talk about lead generation, and Dan’s actually just written a really interesting piece around trying to push more leads into a broken funnel, and the outcome is no better than what it was before. Most real estate offices have databases that are completely overflowing with leads already. We know from research that a lot of those leads end up with competitors, no matter which business you’re in. The same will be true in every group or office. So, the concept is that if people actually manage those leads effectively themselves, the leads they already have, by making those calls, then all this lead gen stuff is actually by the by. A lot of the new technology, as I say, focuses on that, but it all becomes a bit meaningless. So, call reluctance is that natural resistance that we all have to cold calling. Even the best agents don’t go, “Great, I’m going to do some cold calling and stuff.” So, this is a way to take that away from it, and make it fun, make it more of a team playing-

Anthony Denman:
Well, it’s great. It gives you … Trying to put myself in that scenario. If I can ring someone up and say, “Listen, I have to tell you, I’ve got to call you because we’re doing this thing. It’s competitive. It’s called the Origin thing. You’re a proud Queenslander. We’ve got to win this. We’ve got to …”

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Can be a …

Lisa Pennell:
Well, and even if you’re not saying explicitly, it’s still like everyone’s doing it together, and anything unpleasant done together is always more pleasurable.

Anthony Denman:
More fun.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Absolutely.

Lisa Pennell:
And again, hearing tips and tricks. If you get a bit down because 15 people said no, and then you hear someone say, “Well, what I say is,” X, Y, Z-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Totally.

Lisa Pennell:
And you do the next call and you try X, Y, Z and it works, then you’ve turned a bad feeling into a positive feeling.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. That’s great. So, who won?

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, you’re testing me. I don’t know. That put me on the spot.

Anthony Denman:
That’s all right.

Lisa Pennell:
That was months ago.

Anthony Denman:
That’s okay. Maybe you can do some-

Lisa Pennell:
Drop that in later.

Anthony Denman:
Just send me something, and I can put it in the show notes.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Sure.

Anthony Denman:
Or whatever. You’re too busy to coordinate the thing, to know exactly-

Lisa Pennell:
Well, one of the downsides of being high energy is having a terrible memory . Too much goes in, to retain anything.

Anthony Denman:
So much going through.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
But I’m sure you’ll retain the really important pieces.

Lisa Pennell:
I hope so. I hope so.

Anthony Denman:
All right? And that’s what I find with high-achieving people like yourself. It’s getting so much done and sifting through so much information, that they generally hold onto the most valuable pieces of information.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, here’s the secret though. It’s all about the composition of your team. So, I’m right into profiling, and understanding different types of people, and where they fit in my team. And so insuring that you have people in your team, that can fill those gaps … So, my management team fill a lot of those gaps for me, in terms of one of my managers is really detail-focused and analytical and patient, and has a great memory. So, if I do a deal with somebody for example, I’ll rely on her to make sure the contract has all those things in it, or to organize the thing that I said would happen, that requires a lot of detail and planning.

Anthony Denman:
How do you profile?

Lisa Pennell:
How do … I use testing. So, there’s a couple of different testing series that I use, and I like to work with an external consultant as well. I think it’s really healthy for the team to have that impartial … I’m part of that as well then. That I’m not the one always dictating what happens with the team. I can also be part of the team, in that organic process of collaboration.

Anthony Denman:
So, what does it look like? What does a profiling thing look like?

Lisa Pennell:
So, you’ll answer a series of questions, and computer says at the end what your-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I’ve done them before.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, a long time ago. And they’re pretty accurate too, I’ve got to say.

Lisa Pennell:
They can be, yeah. They can be. I’ve got a couple that I favor.

Anthony Denman:
Have you heard of a 360 review?

Lisa Pennell:
I’ve had a 360 review, actually.

Anthony Denman:
Have you? Really? Wow.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Just in the last few months. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
How was that?

Lisa Pennell:
Illuminating. And again, I think getting better as a leader is all about outside, and continuing to look at what you can do better.

Anthony Denman:
How did you handle the criticism?

Lisa Pennell:
I seek criticism, because I think if you don’t have that mirroring you can’t get better.

Anthony Denman:
Did it tell you stuff about you, you had no idea?

Lisa Pennell:
It actually pleasantly surprised me on some fronts because, because I move so fast, sometimes I worry that that can be too much for people, and so to understand that how that’s received by people around me and in my team was actually, in some cases, a lot better than I thought. And then also some other ways, because people are all individuals, that how I might trigger things in other people that I wasn’t aware of was also really valuable to me. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Have you already started to act on that?

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, absolutely. Yeah. As I say, it’s a constant process for me. Learning.

Anthony Denman:
How long did that take? That process.

Lisa Pennell:
360?

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
The test itself is not particularly long, but the whole process of organizing it and the debrief, if you like, with my business coach, maybe a month or so.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, you’ve got your own business coach?

Lisa Pennell:
Should do, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Personal business … I know.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
I know I should do that.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. And the 360. They sound like two really interesting-

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, it’s awesome.

Anthony Denman:
Things to do.

Lisa Pennell:
You get too insular, if you don’t continually seek outside information.

Anthony Denman:
Who’s your business coach?

Lisa Pennell:
Jane Anson, from a company called Pivotal Consulting. And I’m really lucky, because she actually normally works with big banks, and she’s done Bank of Queensland, Bank of Scotland, C-suite-type people. So, I’ve known Jane for many years, and she’s invaluable in my career.

Anthony Denman:
Coalface.

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
Marketing initiatives.

Lisa Pennell:
As in?

Anthony Denman:
As in, you’ve really just given us one, I guess. The Origin appraisal thing is one. But just helping agents win listings?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, for us there’s probably a couple of different layers of customers, right? Because we’ve got our agents and our offices that we need to market to, from a recruitment perspective and also an internal perspective, like our Real Estate of Origin. And then we’ve got the end customer, so we need to provide assets for our offices to use, so they can market to the end customer. So, we have in our brand management platform a bunch of different campaigns. Mix of seasonal and evergreen campaigns, that can be used. So, let’s say when they’re planning out their calendar, they want to run an Easter campaign, followed by a campaign targeting first-time buyers, followed by a downsizer campaign, all of those assets will be in the brand management platform.

Anthony Denman:
Templated sort of-

Lisa Pennell:
Correct. And they can personalize-

Anthony Denman:
EDMs and stuff-

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And they can just-

Lisa Pennell:
Flyers and posters.

Anthony Denman:
Just they can’t put their own logo iterations on it.

Lisa Pennell:
They can personalize it, but yes, they have to use the correct logo.

Anthony Denman:
No gold stars or anything like that.

Lisa Pennell:
No gold stars, no. Gold is not a Ray White color.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. So, that’s at the customer-facing level. At the recruitment of offices, how does that work?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. So, we don’t do a lot of advertising per se, but we do have a range of collateral to use. So, recruitment is very much around relationships, but there are a lot of assets to use in that process.

Anthony Denman:
Do you actively go out and target other performers in other franchise offices?

Lisa Pennell:
Every franchise does, every group does. Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
Right. So, high performers. He’s a target, he could have his own office, but we don’t have one there. Let’s go ring him up, talk to him, or her, sort of thing.

Lisa Pennell:
So, that sits generally with the states. So, our state CEOs will run that function. But we provide them with all of the material they need to use, in terms of the assets, to display or to show what it is that we offer as a franchisor.

Anthony Denman:
Because that really helps, right? If you’ve got the high performers, obviously that helps the Ray White brand.

Lisa Pennell:
Absolutely. Yeah. And being a business of attraction in a lot of areas makes that a lot easier when you’re the biggest and the best in a lot of areas.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I’ve spoken to a few agents that talk about that tipping point, and it goes from having to make those calls to becoming an attraction business, when they start chasing you, which is, I imagine, a pretty cool place to be, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Well, and in some areas, Queensland in particular, which is our heartland, we’re landlocked, to some degree. We have already offices in every geographic-

Anthony Denman:
Yes.

Lisa Pennell:
So then that’s, “Well, how do you grow when you-“

Anthony Denman:
How do you grow?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, you grow by insuring that those offices in those areas are growing their market share-

Anthony Denman:
Become better.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Exactly.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
And each office-

Anthony Denman:
Who’s your best? The fellow you mentioned, is he your number one agent up there? Is it Andrew Bell?

Lisa Pennell:
No, not Andrew. So, we’re still in this financial year, so I couldn’t tell you who the number one agent is at the moment, and it does shift and change. Our number one office in the network is actually New Zealand office, at the business-

Anthony Denman:
Is it really?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Wow.

Lisa Pennell:
Our number one Australian office last year was Double Bay.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, yes. Of course. Elliott. It’s Elliott now?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. I was actually doing a project with him in Bellevue Hill.

Lisa Pennell:
Another great guy. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
He is a great guy.

Lisa Pennell:
I do know about the project. He called me about that a few weeks ago.

Anthony Denman:
Did he? Okay. Yeah, it’s about-

Lisa Pennell:
Wanted special permission on changing colors.

Anthony Denman:
Oh. Okay. No, I remember that. Oh, that’s right. Yes, because it’s an elevated project. 30 or 40-thousand square meter or something.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. It sounds very swish.

Anthony Denman:
Off the plan. Very swish.

Lisa Pennell:
I did suggest I could be bribed with an apartment, but apparently that’s not on the plate.

Anthony Denman:
He’s just the most awesome, awesome vendor too. I’ve got to tell you. Phil Wolanski. Phil, if you’re listening, you must … I must get Phil in. Phil must come on this podcast.

Lisa Pennell:
Right.

Anthony Denman:
Been working on that. But yeah, he does some incredible stuff. And he’s one of those developers who will really push the envelope on the creative spectrum.

Lisa Pennell:
Nice.

Anthony Denman:
And so it’s an amazing site. And we’ve got some beautiful collateral and CGIs and everything, so yeah, when it came to the … There’s two agents on it, so there’s Ray White Double Bay and Cramer Property. We put their logos on the collateral. We just …

Lisa Pennell:
The yellow’s too much.

Anthony Denman:
I’m the one, okay? I’m sorry.

Lisa Pennell:
No, no, no. It’s okay. I completely understood. But we have a reverse logo we can use, so-

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, it looks beautiful, the gray one.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, that’s great.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Okay. Well, we’ll make sure we get you a copy-

Lisa Pennell:
You’ve got to be flexible. This is the problem with pure marketers, if they can’t see commercial needs. I’m not a marketer, as I said to you before, so for me-

Anthony Denman:
Hang on. You’re not a marketer? You don’t have a marketing degree, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yes.

Anthony Denman:
But let me tell you, you’re a marketer.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, you’re the first person to say that. I’ll have to go back and tell my team.

Anthony Denman:
You are a marketer. And a very good one.

Lisa Pennell:
Well, thank you.

Anthony Denman:
A very good one.

Lisa Pennell:
I was a bit shocked when Dan asked me to take this remit on, because it was very left of center for me. But now I understand wholeheartedly, it was all about aligning our commercial interests as a group with marketing, because the two had never seen eye to eye.

Anthony Denman:
But that’s as simple as that. If you wanted to simplify marketing branding, it’s that. It’s living the brand. It’s everything you do that’s outward-facing, is reflective of how you guys internalize your …

Lisa Pennell:
And the brand can’t dictate. It doesn’t work the other way. And that’s the problem. We’d brought in really high-profile marketers before, to run the marketing function, when we first decided to have a marketing function.

Anthony Denman:
Oh, yeah, the brand.

Lisa Pennell:
But they couldn’t align. They couldn’t align.

Anthony Denman:
No, because marketing brand, it’s actually not an identity. It’s a way of being.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s a peeling off the truth, in my mind.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, totally. 100%.

Lisa Pennell:
What is this business at the heart, and how do we convey that?

Anthony Denman:
Exactly. Consistently, right? And that’s all that you’re-

Lisa Pennell:
Oh, so I did get it right. Thank you.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, totally. It’s 100%. It’s not rocket science.

Lisa Pennell:
To me, it seems intuitive.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, and it is. And most things are, you know? But it’s just about making sure that everyone’s on the … You’ve done it. Everyone is on the bus, the right people and the right places. All aware of where they’re going, you know what I mean?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And being able to articulate that consistently to everyone they meet, you know? Without oversimplifying it. So, there’s no doubt that you’ve got it right. So yeah, good segue, actually talking about that. We’re talking about the beautiful, gray Ray White logo, and using it on the project, which is, like I said, a good segue into project marketing. Now, with my experience, project marketing seems like a completely different … Although it’s real estate, completely different business to general agency sales.

Lisa Pennell:
Absolutely.

Anthony Denman:
How do you handle that?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, I think a general residential sale, the real estate brand will be front and center. I think with the development, the essence of the development has to take center stage. So, whatever it is, that that building is all about, or that development is all about, needs to be heroed, and the branding becomes the underpinning of that.

Anthony Denman:
No, it’s a perfect analogy, and it’s exactly how it works. That’s what we call the freestanding, or endorsed brand model.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Where the project is the hero, and it’s endorsed by Ray White.

Lisa Pennell:
It’s almost a conjunctional, but we’re taking the second position, and that’s how we all do it.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, but it’s a completely different skillset too.

Lisa Pennell:
It is, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Because agents, what we call general real estate agents, they love that cut and thrust. They love the deal-making, right? And the getting the job done, and getting the property sold, and how good that … It’s sometimes not even about the money. The money’s important, obviously, but it’s just that whole feeling they get from doing a deal, and negotiating an outcome, whereas project marketing’s completely different. There’s a lot of legwork that has to happen in advance of that deal-making. Yes, when the deal-making comes along, if it’s done right, it’s one day of cut and thrust on steroids, you know?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
The agents I see who are really good at it, they don’t get that excited, obviously, about that kind of … And it can go on for months or even years. Building up to that moment, to that day, when it all happens. But when that happens on that day, it’s showtime and you’ve got hundreds of people coming through and myriad of agents doing deals, and you’re showing apartment after apartment after apartment. And you can end up selling hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of real estate on one day.

Lisa Pennell:
Yes, yes.

Anthony Denman:
On that day, it’s really great, but it’s all of that. It’s the prep work in advance. You know? It’s almost like it’s a completely different mindset.

Lisa Pennell:
It is. And we’re fortunate to have a specialist project division, as you probably know, with Eddie Mansour-

Anthony Denman:
With Eddie. Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
And some of our resi officers that are handling developments will work closely with him, for that specialist knowledge and experience. And you’re right, it is quite different. Quite different. Can be long settlements as well, so at both ends of the-

Anthony Denman:
You’ve got to cashflow it too, right?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
It’s a totally different business.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
And so, Eddie does work with other agents, at a consultative basis?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. And there’s a variety of ways I think he works with different offices, but it’s great for us to have that as a specialist brand, I guess, within our business.

Anthony Denman:
Are there any other specialist project marketers within the group?

Lisa Pennell:
I think there are specialist agents doing project marketing within residential businesses, but in terms of the whole business being project marketing, just Eddie’s business is that.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Yeah. And what about those agents that do the occasional projects?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. And again, I would like to think that most of them would be working, at least, in-

Anthony Denman:
Consultation?

Lisa Pennell:
Consultation, yeah. But again, all of our businesses are independently-owned, so there will be a level of choice involved in that.

Anthony Denman:
Yeah, I can imagine. So, talk to me about brand protection.

Lisa Pennell:
So, in the context of Ray White, or at a broader-

Anthony Denman:
What does it mean, “brand protection?” It’s such a niche discipline. I actually haven’t really even … I did research. I couldn’t come up with much. It seems to be mostly about crisis management.

Lisa Pennell:
So, that’s probably a term I coined, “brand protection,” because people would always ask me, “What is it that you do?” And for me to explain what it was that I was doing, because it is completely niche, what I had ended up doing, I became an expert at dealing with matters of crisis, but particularly in the media space. And issues, even before they hit the media space, as we evolved into a more digital age, that could potentially damage the brand. So, in my eyes, that’s brand protection. So, it might be an escalated complaint, or somebody threatening that action. So, we got good at getting it earlier and earlier. But brand protection, as I say, is all about gathering facts, finding a fair position, and taking the right action. I don’t see it as any more complicated than that.

Anthony Denman:
What’s the biggest crisis you’ve had to deal with?

Lisa Pennell:
Well, I can’t actually recall. I have a great amnesia about those things.

Anthony Denman:
I bet you do. I bet you do. They must be quite impactful.

Lisa Pennell:
It is. And I think that’s-

Anthony Denman:
Impact you.

Lisa Pennell:
You’ve got to-

Anthony Denman:
You have to have a very thick skin, to be able to deal with some of the things you have to deal with. Like dealing with a crisis. A crisis.

Lisa Pennell:
Particularly, you often are dealing with highly-conflicted people, and high-conflict people, and the difference between the two is-

Anthony Denman:
People or organizations?

Lisa Pennell:
People. It always comes down to people, because the organizations are always made up of people. So, highly conflictual situations. Anyone who’s buying or selling a home is in a state of conflict anyway. It’s very stressful.

Anthony Denman:
Is it ever?

Lisa Pennell:
Then you also have a different group of people, that I call now “high-conflict people.” High-conflict people are not neurotypical. They will actually respond differently to events than a neurotypical person would. It’s a small segment of the population, but in effect, they love a drama. And so they will actually seek out the conflict, and they are often the ones who will take things to media. Sometimes it’s a genuinely conflicted person, but-

Anthony Denman:
Right. So, you actually get on the phone and have to talk to them?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Talk them off the ledge, so to speak.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, absolutely. And manage that. Again, it’s highly specialized.

Anthony Denman:
Were there any courses you had to take to …

Lisa Pennell:
No, but when I started training in managing high-conflict situations about five or six years ago, and I had to really put down what I do naturally into process, and I did do a little research at that point around psychology and-

Anthony Denman:
You did? Yeah.

Lisa Pennell:
Just to understand what it was that I was actually doing, so that I could convey it.

Anthony Denman:
Yes.

Lisa Pennell:
And it is actually a thing. I discovered that what I do naturally is, actually the types of characteristics that I have identified in this unusual group of people, is actually personality-disordered people. It’s actually a fascinating area to get into, and probably-

Anthony Denman:
I bet it is.

Lisa Pennell:
The training courses that I run around that are actually really compelling and interesting to participants for that reason.

Anthony Denman:
You run training courses on that?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. Yeah. So, within our organization, so yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Right. Of course you do. Yes. How to deal with a …

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
When an ad has the wrong inspection times in the paper. Or is that probably not crisis-enough?

Lisa Pennell:
No. No.

Anthony Denman:
Can you give an example of …

Lisa Pennell:
Anything where the wrong thing has happened, and a person has been wrong. And “wrong” might not be legally wrong. It could be morally wrong as well. So, if you can imagine anything that could go wrong in a real estate business at some stage over the last 20 years, I would have dealt with it, undoubtedly. Although I do still get phone calls of things where I think, “Oh my god. I’ve never had that.”

Anthony Denman:
Yeah. Right. Well, it keeps it interesting.

Lisa Pennell:
There are so many permutations. Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
Finally, what is the, in your opinion, without notice, tough question, next curve for the real estate industry, or even Ray White?

Lisa Pennell:
I think the longer that I’ve been in this game, the less that I would feel qualified to talk about the future. Even the best property forecasters aren’t able to predict market conditions, let alone what our industry will be facing. We do know that there’s been a huge amount of money spent on attempts at disruption, unsuccessfully at this point. We look at Purplebricks entering into the market, and then withdrawal from the market, as a classic example of that.

Anthony Denman:
Totally.

Lisa Pennell:
I think for any organization, real estate or otherwise, remaining relevant is all about-

Anthony Denman:
With that Purplebricks disruption, did anyone, you guys, see that coming? Was that telescoped?

Lisa Pennell:
I don’t know specifically around that organization, but we’re fully cognisant that disruptors will be entering the marketplace, and-

Anthony Denman:
Absolutely. Especially with the digital marketing landscape, yeah?

Lisa Pennell:
And it’s generally around cost. You know? We know consumers are very sensitive to cost, so the disruptor models are generally around offering a lower-cost solution to consumers. But we all know that’s an oxymoron, because you pay less, you often get less, and that may affect your sale price.

Anthony Denman:
It certainly seems to be the case, doesn’t it?

Lisa Pennell:
Mm-hmm.

Anthony Denman:
You’ve given me examples before, about agents who are able to charge even a higher commission. I think off-mic, there was somebody, a lady, that was-

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah, one of our leading agents in Queensland, who’s charging up to 4% in commission. And again, it’s about her providing a really solid, reassuring process-

Anthony Denman:
Rolling out the yellow carpet, so to speak.

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah. And it generates an amazing outcome in sales, but it’s also a pleasurable experience for a vendor, and who can say that that ever happens? So, she generates a high fee, based on her reputation and her sales outcomes. So it is possible, definitely.

Anthony Denman:
Well, Lisa, I just want to thank you so much for taking the time. You’re a very busy lady.

Lisa Pennell:
That’s quite all right.

Anthony Denman:
And if people want to reach out and get in touch with you, what’s the best way they can do that?

Lisa Pennell:
I think LinkedIn is the most common methodology these days.

Anthony Denman:
So, LinkedIn. So, Lisa Pennell?

Lisa Pennell:
Yeah.

Anthony Denman:
P-E-double-N-E-double-L?

Lisa Pennell:
That’s the one.

Anthony Denman:
At Ray White.

Lisa Pennell:
Great.

Anthony Denman:
Well, thanks so much.

Lisa Pennell:
My pleasure.