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Market Others to Market Yourself

August 26, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Praise local businesses, receive local recognition.

Have you ever noticed that though the internet gives people a free forum to express their ideas and opinions 9 times out of 10, they use it to complain?

If you want to differentiate yourself online, one of the easiest ways is to use it as a channel for praise. Praise what you like and ignore what you don’t. There’s no value in expressing negativity online, while there’s a considerable upside to singing the praises of others.

What’s more, it’s a great marketing strategy for your business. It’s no secret that people like to work with positive people. A great way to spread your positive image is to go out there and use all of the web tools at your disposal to shower praise on the businesses and people you support.

Become a testimonial machine! Make a list of all of the small businesses in your community that you support. Where do you love to eat out? Is there a local fishing shop you support? Bike store? Who are those “Main St. USA” business owners that make you proud of your community?

With that list in mind, look for opportunities to express your support for them online. Get on Facebook and record a video testimonial with your webcam. Write a post on your blog describing who in your community makes your year brighter. Put together a simple PDF document that you give to clients, listing the businesses in your community you love and why.

When you project this positivity and enthusiasm for your community, you’ll receive the positivity in return. Genuinely marketing for others is a powerful tool.

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Sign Etiquette: Post with Permission (& Network!)

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Differentiate yourself with common courtesy.

Directional signs. At Oakley Signs & Graphics, we supply agents with a lot of directional and open house tent signs to help direct street traffic to their listings. They’re an inexpensive and useful way to increase exposure.

Posting directional signs can be tricky business sometimes. Local ordinances may impact sign usage and there are also neighborhood associations to consider. Unfortunately, the poor habits of a few agents who don’t remember to clean up their signs after open houses can make sign usage for others a real hassle.

But have you ever considered that the humble OPEN HOUSE directional is a great opportunity to network with people in the neighborhood? The next time you’re scouting locations for your sign, why not knock on the doors of a few people with prime intersection real estate? Try asking for permission to post your sign with a script like the following:

“Hi, I’m hosting an open house for one of your neighbors at 123 MAIN ST., and I was wondering if I might have your permission to post a sign on your corner for the next few hours.”

Whether or not they consent, invite them down to see the open house (and try the refreshments, if you have them). If they do give you permission, remember to drop them a thank you note with your business card when you pick up the sign.

[Click here to learn about how agents are following-up with clients and prospects after open houses!]

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In the market for signs soon? We’d love to earn your business!

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Helpful Guidelines for Real Estate CRM Usage

May 9, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Successful Agents Utilize their CRM System/Client Database to Enhance Personal Connections

Helpful CRM GuidelinesAt the core of every top producer’s business is a well-maintained CRM (client relationship management) system.

While the specific system varied from agent to agent depending on platform preferences and technical expertise of the agent, all systems contained the following features at a minimum:

  1. Robust, customizable contact data fields
  2. Ability to form groups or “tags” to organize records
  3. An unlimited, searchable notes field for each contact
  4. Integration with an appointment calendar or “reminder” system
  5. A means of recording “date of last contact” information
  6. Mobile access to editing and search

(More sophisticated systems also integrated direct mail/email management, automated letter campaigns, and social media interfaces.)

The differentiator between top producers and lower performing agents centered on essential difference:  Whether or not agents made liberal use of the “searchable notes” feature of the CRM system.

While all agents used their system for contact management, and most used their system for various mail merge and advertising functions, top tier agents kept detailed historical notes on their clients and prospects.  In this manner, their database not only provided a record of who to stay in touch with, but how to stay in touch with the greatest degree of personal relevancy.

In this way, successful agents use their CRM system as an “engine of thoughtfulness.”
With simple keyword searches, they are able to not only craft more personal communication with their contacts, but also make helpful connections between their contacts.  Records showed that agents who frequently cross-referred clients and prospects to one another were more likely to receive referrals from those contacts in the future.

Agents with a high degree of familiarity with Facebook and other social media platforms also used data found there about their contacts to further enhance the quality of the data in their own CRM system.  By keeping in “peripheral awareness” of their contacts through Facebook and their own searchable notes, they were frequently best positioned to time communications around the real-time lives of their clients.  Using Facebook as a listening post for major life changes (births, weddings, relocations, job changes) gave top producers “on the ground intel” about who might be most likely to need real estate services.

At the core of a rapport-building strategy is a robust collection of personal data.  This practice of adding “granularity” within contact records (i.e. gathering and refining the grains of information about clients’ and prospects’ interests) was cited over and over as a major reason agents were perceived as thoughtful, attentive, and experts when it came to attention to detail.

[Click here for a free copy of the 26-page report from which this post was originally taken, "6 Key Findings: How Successful Agents Build a Referral-Based Business"]

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This can make or break your real estate career

September 9, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Scott’s Thoughts: “So glad you kept in touch.”
The one simple thing that can make or break a real estate career.

“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.”
–Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert)

Recently, you probably came across an article, video clip, or moment in the world that reminded you of a past client. You probably haven’t spoken to them in a while. You might have found yourself reflecting briefly on the time you spent with them working on the sale. Then, as quick as it arrived, the recollection passed, and you went right back to stoking today’s fires to attract tomorrow’s buyers.

If you’re like most people, this happens a few times a month, sometimes more.

Now, imagine that instead of letting the moment fade away, you took five minutes to reach out to that long-ago client to let them know you were thinking of them. It didn’t take much– an email, a short voice mail message, a late afternoon phone call– just to catch up a little.

Do the math, and you’ll realize that even at a few times a month, you’d only have to spend a handful of hours a year to go above and beyond what many agents do to maintain a relationship with a past client. In the five minutes it takes to “wake” a sleeping client, you accomplish all of the following:

  • You let them know you’re still in real estate
  • You update your client database with fresh information about your client
  • You open up the door for new business or referrals

Do yourself a favor and listen to that nagging voice in your head that says, “I know I really SHOULD do this kind of stuff.” You’ll be surprised how glad people will be to hear from you, and they’ll be happy you kept in touch. Agents who succeed regardless of market conditions are experts at this type of relationship management.

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Market yourself to “life change” clients

May 19, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Two Great Sources for Referral Information
Are you marketing your services to “life change” clients?

As we’ve mentioned in our “7 Types of Prospects You Should Target” ebook, people going through life changing events are often prime candidates for the services of a real estate professional.

There are two types of businesses in your community that can be enormously helpful in generating referrals surrounding life changes. By befriending and supporting these types of businesses, you place yourself in a great position for potential referrals.

1. Florists: A relationship with a busy florist will keep you in the know about births, deaths, weddings, and job promotions.

2. Wedding planners: Newly married couples are a great source of business when it comes to first time buyers as well as young couples who may need to upgrade their home soon for a new baby. Some agents have even begun attending bridal expos to work this segment.

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Writing Effective Email

May 14, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

Four Tips for Effective Email Messages
Receive faster, more accurate responses guaranteed.

If you’ve had trouble getting responses from clients, colleagues, and friends, the problem might not be on their end, necessarily. It’s possible that the way you’re writing email is causing them to postpone reading your messages or miss crucial information.

By practicing these four tips, you can save time, improve the flow of information, and spare your recipients frustration.

1. Write specific subject lines

Blank or vague subject lines fail to catch attention and often discourage people from opening your message promptly.

For example, if you have a meeting with a prospective client next Tuesday and you’d like to clarify where you will meet, a subject line that reads “Where to meet next Tuesday?” is infinitely better than “Tuesday…” or “Our meeting.”

Remember, a subject line should cover the true subject of the message. A concise subject line also helps recipients decide if they can quickly respond, or if they’re going to have to put off the email until later in the evening,

2. Get your “Point Up Top” (P.U.T. it first!)

Lead with the purpose of your message. Email isn’t a cocktail party where small talk helps warm people to the conversation… it’s business! If you have personal questions or less relevant subjects, push them further down message, or better yet, save them for a casual message on the weekend. If you bury your point, you might not get the information you need at all. Your goal is to clearly explain in the first sentence why you’re writing.

3. In bulk email, boldface names to get attention

When someone sees that a message is sent to multiple recipients, they’re likely to think (or hope) that they’re not the focus of the message, and will therefore treat it with less attention. If you want specific information or behaviors from different individuals copied on a single message, try using bold face on their name. Avoid using ALL CAPS (it looks like shouting), but simply highlight and bold the name on its first usage to get attention. If possible, constrain your paragraphs to one person per paragraph.

4. Break up long paragraphs into shorter sections

When people open email, they instantly scan the message to see if they have time to digest the message quickly, or if it’s something they’re going to have to put off for a more thorough reading. If you’re in the habit of writing email with one enormous paragraph, you could be encouraging your readers to file the message away for later. If you DO have a long message you need to write, you might warn the reader in the subject line– for example:

Subject: Tuesday’s open house plan (warning: long)

Finally, recognize when email may not be the best means of communicating. This is especially true if you want to bring up a sensitive situation, or feel that your tone might be misinterpreted in email. The phone or a twenty minute meeting over coffee might save you days of back and forth!

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Expireds and FSBOs

April 30, 2010 by · 3 Comments 

Approaching Expireds & FSBOs: How to Show Them You’re Listening
Are you working the expired niche?

Many agents have turned to expired listings and FSBO (For Sale By Owner) homes as a lucrative niche market. Like most niche markets, this one comes with its own unique strategies for success. Here are some tips to help you, if you’re going to give it a go:

1.  Prior to your first personal contact, begin a “drip campaign” to position yourself as someone with an active interest in helping them solve their sales challenge. This may begin with a postcard, continue with a newsletter, and lead into a personal letter.

2.  When you contact the prospect personally, don’t attempt to overwhelm them with why your sales approach is better. Ask one simple question: “Why do you think your house hasn’t sold yet?”

3.  Be prepared to listen. You’re probably going to hear a lot of anger, frustration, and fear. Maintain sympathy and maintain a reserved attitude. Express genuine interest in seeing if you can help them solve the problem. See if you can arrange a meeting at the property–no obligations.

4.  If you have worked expireds or FSBOs in the past introduce your past experiences in the context of the prospects’ challenges, and how you solved those challenges. For example, never say, “I’ve sold homes with the same lawn problems you have,” but rather, “I have been in situations where my clients have gotten a lot of people off the street and into the open houses once we added some inexpensive upgrades to the entryway.”

5.  One of the benefits of working expireds and FSBOs is that they’ve acquired some market knowledge through hard knocks. Fantasies of quick, high-value sales have vanished for them. Many are ready to do a little work, provided their agent seems actively interested in helping “solve the puzzle of the sale.” That said, don’t devalue the tough time they’ve had. Whatever you do, never make the prospect feel like they’re a picked over carcass, and that you’re “willing to take a crack at it.”

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Maximize Your List

April 28, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

Scott’s Thoughts: Your List’s Value
Do you build rapport?

“He who wishes to secure the good of others, has already secured his own.”
–Confucius (551-479); philosopher

When you read a name in your contact database, can you remember anything about the person? Where you met them? What they do? Their interests?

When was the last time you contacted them out of the blue? And no, I don’t mean with a “just listed” or “just sold” postcard.

When was the last time you had an real conversation with them, or offered them something that you knew would brighten their day? (You may remember we touch on great methods to keep on top of this in our ebook
The Prosperity Habit.  Click the link to download it for free.)

I’ve mentioned this in the past on my posts on “loud vs. useful” and “the power of listening“, but it’s a concept worth revisiting when considering your contact list.

Here’s why: The age of “allow me to introduce myself” is over. You are (and have been for some time now) conducting business in the age of “how can I be indispensable to you?”

Accordingly, it is not the size of your contact list that matters, it’s the depth of the relationship with the people on your list. Better to have 30 people who love to hear from you than 2,000 who toss your postcard out with the junk mail.

Build rapport, and you build value.

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Take Control of Your Online Reputation

March 30, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

How to Monitor Your Reputation on Yelp.com
Yelp.com can be a great ally, if you use it well.

Ever heard of Yelp.com? It’s a consumer review site, where community members post reviews about their experiences with local restaurants and businesses. You might not think of yourself as a “small business,” but a surprising number of reviews on Yelp.com cover professionals from doctors to lawyers and yes… even real estate professionals.

Originally covering the Bay Area in California, Yelp.com has grown to become an international hub for frank, uncensored reviews. Growing at a fast clip, if your city isn’t already covered in Yelp, it probably will be soon.

Yelp is a great place to ask your satisfied clients to review your services. It’s also a place you should monitor occasionally to make sure misinformation or unfair reviews are being posted about your services as a real estate professional.

To check for yourself, go to Yelp.com and search for your name in your city, or search for “real estate” to see who else is reviewed.

A guide for business owners is available on Yelp.com here:
http://www.yelp.com/business

Pay special attention to the section on “responding to reviews”:
http://www.yelp.com/business/review_response

Used properly, Yelp.com is a great place to have public conversations with your local community and earn referrals.

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A Great Way to Respond to a Common Question

March 19, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

How to Answer: “So How’s the Market?”
Turn regular small talkers into interested prospect…

How many times a month are you asked, “So, how’s the market doing?” Grocery stores, coffee shops, filling up gas, walking in the neighborhood… happens a lot, right?

What if you could turn most of those conversations into future clients? You can, by using this simple technique. The next time you’re asked, try this out:

“On the whole, the market is doing better than most expect.

I’m curious: Would you be specifically interested in how much homes are selling for in your neighborhood, including how long they’re taking to sell?

I send friends and family a quick email from time to time that gives a free analysis of local markets. Would you like me to send one to you?”

When they say “yes,” get their name and email address.  Next step: Follow-up as you promised!

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