The Question You Should Ask

May 25, 2017

In an interesting move earlier this year, Warren Buffet sold $900 million of Walmart stock. This comes at a time when Walmart, the largest traditional retailer in the U.S., continues to play catch up to Amazon and other online competitors. At his annual shareholders’ meeting last year, Buffet acknowledged brick-and-mortar retailers were struggling to compete against Amazon. “It is a big, big force, and it has already disrupted plenty of people, and it will disrupt more,” he said.

In fact, former Walmart CEO Mike Duke said in 2012 that his biggest regret was failing to invest more in e-commerce to better compete with Amazon. “I wish we had moved faster,” Duke said at the time. “We’ve proven ourselves to be successful in many areas, and I simply wonder why we didn’t move more quickly. This is especially true for e-commerce. Right now we’re making tremendous progress, and the business is moving, but we should have moved faster to expand this area.”

During ALTA’s winter Board of Governors meeting, we discussed innovation, disrupters and threats to the title insurance industry. We contemplated a quote from Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Often, he’s asked what’s going to change in 10 years. However, he says the more important question to ask is “What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?” According to Bezos, “You can build a business strategy around the things that are stable over time. In our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that’s going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

Think about what will hold true for our industry over the next decade. People will still buy homes and other types of real estate. Mortgages will still be refinanced. Consumers will want assurances their property rights are protected. But, customers will have a more active expectation of the service and information they receive in the process. Amazon has changed the customer experience. To meet these new expectations, we must know the essence of our core business and how to provide better services. We also must understand how to reach customers with our message.

Think about the opportunities digital marketing gives all companies. Similar to bricks-and-mortar retail stores, traditional forms of marketing will cede space to digital channels. Now is the time to start driving a change and taking advantage of tools ALTA provides its members. There’s plenty of opportunity. Let’s seize it.

If you need help drafting a marketing plan, want tips on free marketing tools or want to learn how to easily create sales videos within budget, register for one of two remaining ALTA Boot Camps.

Michelle Korsmo is chief executive officer of the American Land Title Association.

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or