Greg Herder on
Oct 5th, 2009 |
Canadian personal marketing success story Reid Greiner shares his secrets to real estate lead generation.
When prospective clients first meet REALTOR® Reid Greiner, one of the first questions they often ask him is “Do you play the bagpipes?” It might seem like an odd question, but Reid will take that any day over “How do you plan to market my home?” or “Will you reduce your commission?”
You see, about a year ago, Reid launched a personal marketing campaign based on a distinctive trait: His 6-foot-4 Scotsman stature that regularly wears a kilt and traditional Celtic attire. The campaign has made Reid quite a standout in his hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. But more importantly, it’s made his phone ring (not to mention landed him on HGTV – but, more on that later).
“I’m no longer running around chasing deals,” Reid says. “Now the phone rings, and off I go.”
Hindsight Is 20/20
When Reid first got in to real estate in 2002, he made cold calls every day for hours on end. It worked, in that it generated business for him, but it was a drain on his productivity and led to long hours. Working from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm day after day, Reid was headed for burnout and knew the way he was doing business had to change.
A former advertising producer, Reid tried creating his own marketing materials but found it difficult to write about himself. He then attended a Hobbs/Herder MegaMarketing seminar and was exposed to a whole new world of personal marketing. He considered hiring Hobbs/Herder to develop a personal marketing campaign for him, but instead Reid made a decision he now regrets.
“I hemmed and hawed about it and thought it was sort of expensive,” he says. He decided to seek out a lower-priced alternative and hired another company to create his marketing campaign. To paraphrase Reid, it was a case of “you get what you pay for” and he’s now looking forward to putting that experience behind him. In the midst of that debacle, Reid decided to do what – in hindsight – he should have done far earlier.
“I figured it was time to do it right,” Reid says. “I picked up the phone and called Hobbs/Herder.”
Going Out on a Limb
When Hobbs/Herder first presented Reid with a campaign focused on his Scottish heritage, he admits he was hesitant. His market demographics show a diverse, multinational-population, and Reid wasn’t sure anyone would be interested in a Scottish guy in a kilt. He soon realized, however, that sharing unique personal insights is what personal marketing is all about, and that his distinctive attire would definitely make him stand out.
“I get lots and lots of positive feedback,” he says. “The kilt is a big icebreaker. Everyone is interested in it and they ask me all sorts of questions.”
Spreading the Word
Reid launched his Hobbs/Herder campaign less than a year ago and has already seen a dramatic difference in his business. He’s been aggressive in following Hobbs/Herder’s recommendation that personally handing out his real estate brochure in large quantities is crucial. Reid gives one to almost everybody he meets, and also distributes them through a kiosk in his local mall. He also sends them out in pre-listing packets and buyer introduction packets. When he hands someone his brochure, which he had printed using glossy UV coating, they immediately take note of its exceptional quality.
“People always say, ‘These must be expensive,’ and I just say, ‘Yeah, but you’re making a big decision. You should work with someone who thinks it’s worthwhile.’”
Reid also sends brochures to his past clients, sending two brochures in each package along with a note that asks his clients to keep one for themselves and give the other to a good friend. All of this has kept him so busy that until very recently, he hadn’t introduced a direct mail component in his campaign. However, he recently sent out his first Powerkard message to a select group announcing a very exciting development.
Becoming a TV Star
Reid’s friends and neighbors recently received an invitation from him for a special TV viewing party at the end of September. Because of his distinctive marketing campaign, Reid was selected by HGTV as a featured agent on a new show called “Realtor® vs. Realtor®.” After taping the first episode, Reid was invited back for a second appearance which he is currently in the process of filming. Reid’s first episode aired on September 30. The second episode has not yet been slotted into the network’s schedule.
Reid deserves credit for leveraging his marketing message on his website (TheKiltedRealtor.com), which is where he presumes the HGTV producers found him. Reid has also branded everything a client might see with his unique graphic hook and personal logo. For instance, his listing presentation includes graphic elements from his brochure, and he even had his personal logo etched onto the back of his Blackberry. He says those minor details have a major impact on how his clients perceive him.
“The fact that I’ve got that continuity, people know I’m organized.” Reid says. “I’m not sitting there arguing about my commissions. There’s an implied, intrinsic value and it makes my time that much more valuable to the consumer.”
Success Tailored to Reid’s Goals
Reid’s objective with personal marketing wasn’t necessarily to increase his sales production. It was mostly about becoming more efficient and effective in order to increase his quality of life. Instead of working 15-hour days chasing business half the time, he’s now working a regular 8-hour schedule. He sees his kids after school. They eat dinners together. He’s able to attend his daughter’s softball games and play golf with his son every now and then.
“Just for those things alone, it’s been worth every penny,” Reid says. “My dollars-per-hour generated has definitely increased dramatically.”
As Reid looks ahead, he’s wanting to extend his brand even further, including introducing unique signage and applying a custom wrap to his car that would turn it into a mobile billboard. Reid remineces on his early days in the industry and now realizes he was shortsighted about the importance of having a brand identity. Today he recognizes the value of investing in high-quality real estate marketing materials.
“Agents ask me if it’s worth the money,” he says. “I tell them it’s really not that much, and if you get a couple of deals from it, it’s paid for itself. Everything else is gravy.”
Hassle-Free Lead Generation
In the meantime, Reid will continue to distribute his brochure and enjoy each time the phone rings without any effort. What’s more, the people calling are already sold on Reid’s services. That’s why they never ask about cutting his commission or grill him on how he’ll advertise their home.
“People read it and then feel like they know you,” he says. “They’ve become very comfortable with you and know they’ve received something of quality.”
And by the way, regarding the bagpipes, “I’m learning,” Reid says.
Greg Herder on
Sep 25th, 2009 |
Without even realizing it, Apple has unleashed massive changes in the way realtors are both showing and promoting homes.
Within a few days of its release, a 30-something couple had their iPod Nano with them when their agent showed them a home that had a kitchen they loved. They pulled out their Nano and took some video of the kitchen. They proceeded to record each of the homes they previewed. That evening they posted what they shot on Facebook so their friends and family could see what they had been doing that day. Instantly they starting getting feedback, comments and suggestions and, fortunately, their agent was in their Facebook network and was able to join in the conversation as friends and family members posted their thoughts.
The next day the couple made a post on Facebook, thanking everyone who had made suggestions and comments. They said they greatly valued the input they received and had decided to make on offer on the home with the great kitchen. They then called their agent to write up the offer. They told their agent they felt a lot more confident moving ahead because both of their parents thought they were doing the right thing. They also loved keeping their network current on what they were up too.
A new era of real estate has been born! For lack of better terminology, I have decided to call it “Social Showing.” It might not be for everyone, but today the Facebook generation loves getting everyone involved as well as getting comments, suggestions and feedback, especially for major purchases like appliances, cars and homes. You had better get used to it, because it is going viral and it’s going fast. The smart agents are headed to the Apple store today, and they are suggesting that their clients shoot video of the homes at each showing. The agents then post the video on YouTube and send the clients a link and also ask the clients to post the video on their Facebook page. This gives them two ways to get feedback from the people they know.
The Nano was designed from the ground up to shoot video and post it on the web. It is so easy that even the most tech-phobic agents can do it. This is going to move video marketing of homes into the mainstream faster than agents can image. Want to promote your broker open house? Take a quick video of the food you are serving so agents can see what to expect when they arrive there. Record a video update on what is happening in the market and post on Twitter, Facebook and your web site.
At the closing, pull out your Nano and record a video testimonial from your clients and post it on your Facebook page, and ask them to make a comment so it posts to their network as well. This is the ultimate in social marketing, and the agents who lead the way will generate a huge advantage. It won’t be long until agents are adding little professionally branded clips at the beginning and end of these videos that pulls all of their traditional brand identity into the social media world. Now is the time to lead the way and be seen as an innovator in real estate marketing.
As always, I would love your feedback. Was this helpful? Are you going to do it? What suggestions do you have that would make this better? Greg.Herder@HobbsHerder.com
Greg Herder on
Sep 23rd, 2009 |
There’s a little known free Hobbs/Herder program that provides free consultation and idea sharing on real estate marketing and real estate lead generation. It’s the Online Real Estate Marketing Chat held every third Thursday with President John Surge. Here’s an edited version to see the types of questions that get asked and answered. Our next chat is September 24, 2009 at 1oam PST.
Click here to learn more about our Online Real Estate Marketing Chat.
John Surge says:
The format for today’s chat is free-form questions and answers about any marketing related topic. Feel free to ask questions, interact with each other and pose follows. The goal is to provide insight and understanding in a format that you can print out once it is archived on HobbsHerder.com next week.
How often do you suggest sending mail my geographic farm and what material do you suggest to be more effective?
John Surge says:
Blanca, tell me more about what you are doing now.
Well, I am farming 2 times a month with neighborhood sales updates and client information from HUD and how not to lose their home. I am trying to focus on getting listings.
John Surge says:
In general, that’s a pretty solid plan. Your pieces should be strongly branded with your personal brand for name recognition and to build credibility. Neighborhood sales updates are good, but you need to think beyond that and add to your marketing mix with just listeds, just solds, testimonials from your clients, special report offers, etc. in addition to your market updates. Also, we recommend a minimum of two pieces per month as you are doing—is optimal or send 3-2-3, alternating months and send a mixture of PowerKards, personal letters, and AdKards. Your personal brochure should go out to your farm twice per year.
I just finished my photos for my personal brochure, so I plan on door knocking with that as well. Since money is tight I am trying to budget my marketing. What suggestions do you have for distributing the personal brochure? I plan on also using it on expireds, which I am trying to really work on.
John Surge says:
Blanca, I think you have to do what you have to do. The key with the Personal Brochure, and so many miss this, is to get it out there. Get it distributed. Get 30 to 50 in the hands of new contacts each week. Many agents shy away from this integral step. Door knocking is not something we se sustained, but if you can do it and stay committed, using your brochure is an outstanding tool and conversation starter. It’s also a way for you to own a piece of the homeowner’s mind. The brochure gives them a way to remember you. Door knocking is tough work so you need to make the most of it if you’re going to do it. The brochure is great for expireds and FSBOs (which will start to reappear as the market picks up). Use the brochure as lead follow-up, at open houses, in your networking, and don’t forget your sphere and, even though I don’t like the term, your “past” clients. The brochure is an outstanding referral tool.
John, do you feel that the social media we hear so much about in all the media is that successful for realtors?
John Surge says:
Wright, I think it will all shake out over the coming years. Some of it will prove not to have staying power and other sites will become as familiar as a cell phone. I would say to absolutely get involved. It’s critical that you engage but engage properly and with a strategy. Additionally, your social media content can also drive your website search position. The key overall with your marketing is to push out relevant content and connect with people personally and social media is an important tool to accomplish this. Like all tools, it’s one part of a marketing mix. That’s VIP. But go about it cautiously at first. Get some education. There’s an art to blending personal and professional and many agents don’t execute this with the necessary subtlety. Social Media should be a conversation, not a sales pitch.
What if your budget doesn’t allow farming a group of 1,000 homes? Does it make any sense to do a farm of 300?
John Surge says:
Donna, it really depends. You have to do the numbers and see how much business is coming from that group, how much market share you think you can obtain and whether those numbers support your goals. I would first make sure that you are doing sufficient work with your sphere and past clients. A farm of 300 as a building block, if you can make the ongoing commitment to building relationships, could be fine as a launching point. I like that better than starting with a larger number and stopping before the results kick in. Then look for other ways to network within that target market (farm area).
Chyrel Madden says:
We don’t feel our website is getting enough traffic. We have it on everything…all our advertising, letters, e-mails, etc. I know there’s a webinar coming up about SEO. Can you give some general hints?
John Surge says:
Chyrel, in general real estate agent websites are seeing less and less traffic so you have to keep upping the ante and your game. What will people get there when they visit? What will encourage them to come back? Content is key once you have a great branded website that leaves a positive reinforcement of you as a person and agent. That said, press releases, new content, search terms woven throughout your content, becoming familiar with Twitter and how it works with the search engines are all keys to having the search engines deem your site as worthy for a higher ranking. Additionally, an IDX feed is important as well as community information that is search term woven. A mistake is thinking that you can “set up and forget it” when it comes to a website. You need to be active and work with your web provider and allocate budget annually to your web strategy.
John, what are your thoughts on using Simple Truths movies on a personal website?
John Surge says:
Romie, I think the bigger question for you is to decide the focus of your personal brand. If content from outside supports that, then that might work well. I wouldn’t put up content without a purpose.
Is there someone at Hobbs Herder who can help you with your website once it’s already established? Someone who could walk you through each of the buttons and tell you what you should have as information in each section?
John Surge says:
Donna, yes, we have regular small group webinars to start and can get you an orientation. Be in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and Josh can help you. We want you to use all the features we have built into your site to make it successful. Most agents use about 20% of the features.
John, could you distinguish between coaching and consulting and provide the pricing options such as for ala carte & packages?
John Surge says:
Romie, well, there’s a fine line between the two. Our coaching program is a regularly scheduled once or twice per month call that intertwines system development, accountability, execution and best practices to help you work on your personal strengths and weaknesses and grow as an agent. It’s like having a personal trainer versus trying to exercise on your own. Or a coach in sports. Consulting is work done by our marketing experts for a particular issue you want feedback on or to solve an issue or advance your knowledge. You can contact email@example.com, and she will be happy to walk you through options.
Speaking of coaching, does Hobbs Herder have a program that takes you from the beginning, eg. how to select a farm down to marketing and system implementation?
John Surge says:
Donna, absolutely. This is the core of our coaching program, helping you execute your plan. I think what you are describing is of immense value and provides a great foundation on which to build your business.
Chyrel Madden says:
What kind of print advertising is most effective (or not effective)?
John Surge says:
Chyrel, as far as advertising, there is no right answer to this question. It depends on your personal situation. What I can say is I love smaller, niche based and/or community publications that are deeply tied to your farm or niche or target market. These vehicles can be print (newsletters, newspapers, magazines), cable TV or websites. I am against “this versus that” because I feel the best marketing is integrated and holistic and also depends on each unique situation.
If we are new to the social networking do you have a suggestion which site is best to start with? Example: Trullia?, Facebook? etc.
John Surge says:
CS, I would get some research done. That said, Facebook and Twitter are key and LinkedIn is important. Starting with those three is your best bet. Trulia is not a social media site.
Chyrel Madden says:
What about the National Listing Services like Point 2NLS? Are these cost effective? If effective, is there a minimum # of listings to be cost effective?
John Surge says:
Chyrel, we do not work with these services. Some agents find them very effective and others not so much. Paying for leads is a slippery slope and you have to be very diligent in having a system and the dedication to slog through weak leads. You just need to do your research and be realistic. We tend to take the position that we want people to call you or email you or contact you based on your branding, reputation and credibility. They are calling YOU not getting you along with a house for sale or because they’ve shown an interest in buying. It’s not right or wrong but paid for leads will most often be of marginal quality. You’ll have to stay with them and sift through lots of poor quality. It’s like panning for gold. Hard work and the results can be spotty.
John Surge says:
OK, well we have about 10 minutes left. Please know this free resource of Hobbs/Herder takes place every Third Thursday at Ten pacific. 1 EST. The next chat is Sept. 22, 2009 [editor's update: the chat has been moved to September 24, 2009] and today’s chat will be archived on HobbsHerder.com early next week. ALSO, VIP! Everything we have discussed here today there is an article about on HobbsHerder.com. Make sure you are receiving and reading our eNews every month to keep up on your marketing principles.
Thanks, that is very helpful. I had forgotten about LinkedIn. It seems the social networking is the next big tool we should be utilizing.
John Surge says:
CS, there’s always a NEXT BIG THING in real estate, which is fine. But don’t forget the foundations of marketing and don’t flit. Think of it as building blocks. I do think it is important to get social media savvy and to have a presence on these sites.
I use Twitter and Facebook. I try to post at least once a week. I find it a great networking tool.
John Surge says:
Blanca, that’s great. You have to be cautious not to be selling and you have to have strong “social” content that’s not business related. What we really suggest from a professional level is to let people into the world of real estate and help them experience the market through your eyes. Also, make sure you occasionally post that there’s new content on your website and be conscious of including search terms that are descriptive of your target market. Just saw the best value in all of north shore enclave real estate and I posted pictures at www.myname.com
John, that is a great idea to post about a great home you just previewed etc.
John Surge says:
OK, let’s finish things up. You’ve been a great chat group and I appreciate your time and attention. Stay in touch with Hobbs/Herder through this chat, our seminar conference calls http://www.hhcalls.com, our website, eNews…so many great free resources to keep your real estate marketing knowledge sharpened.
Thanks for all the advice, John!
This chat is a great example of instant information via technology. Thanks John.
John Surge says:
Take care. Your success is what drives and inspires everyone here at Hobbs/Herder. See you next month. I am signing off.
Join us for an online real estate marketing chat
Dennis LeBlanc on
Sep 22nd, 2009 |
Agent Susan Vacheresse from RE/MAX Metro-City Realty, LTD, in Ottawa, Canada, took one idea from a Hobbs/Herder free workshop and turned it into a listing appointment! Susan listened as the Hobbs/Herder presenter showed a picture of a marketing promotion of an agent holding a sign that read, “Will Sell Your House for Food.” Part of the proceeds generated from the campaign went to local food banks.
Susan thought, “what a fantastic and creative idea—and it helps a worthy cause too!” There were 16 agents in the room and she was mortified that all of them would jump on it before she did.
She sprang into action and enlisted her initially reluctant husband to help out. She selected a prime location and painted her sign. She called the printer and ordered the flier she would pass out to cars and put her son in charge of sending out the press releases to all the local media. The next morning, with her husband watching from the side, she went and stood on a high-traffic freeway off ramp and held up her sign.
She handed the flier to 200 people all told. “I know a lot of people wondered what the heck I was doing there with heels, a pant suit and gold earrings on, holding that type of sign.” Susan said. She admits she had a blast, “you couldn’t wipe the smile from my face!”
She finished her “2 hour stint” and about half an hour later, received a call from one of the prospects who took her flier. “She wanted me to come talk to her about taking her listing!” Susan says excitedly.
Not bad results and sure beats door knocking to 200 homes. She will keep us posted on the outcome of the listing appointment and she hopes to receive calls from others who had taken her flier. Good luck, Susan. Bravo for taking the initiative and turning a free idea from our workshop into actual results!
Visit Susan’s Website: http://www.susanvacheresse.com/
Dennis LeBlanc on
Sep 15th, 2009 |
I read a great blog post from Augie Ray on SocialMediaToday.com on bad habits you can develop on the microblogging service that could potentially frustrate, alienate or disengage the followers you so carefully work to cultivate. On the Social Media Networking sites, it’s all about building and cultivating those relationships and followers, so these are foibles and breaches of web etiquette you should avoid. Check out his blog post at:
Read the Article: http://www.socialmediatoday.com/SMC/118535
Hobbs Herder on
Aug 28th, 2009 |
Tom Smith is no stranger to success in the business world. When he was younger, he started working at Wal-Mart as an Assistant Manager Trainee and worked his way up the ladder at record pace, ultimately becoming Vice President of Operations for the entire organization. He actually became one of Sam Walton’s most trusted executives (and a truly great friend), in the process learning a lot about how to run a successful business. Tom went on to hold other very high-level executive positions within corporations like Home Depot, Fry’s Electronics, Bradlees and W.H. Smith, putting his business skills to the test every step of the way.
So, when Tom retired from the corporate world and shifted his focus to real estate some six years ago, he had a plan. “When I got into the real estate industry, I took a different approach than most folks do because of my business background,” he says. Tom knew a more focused marketing approach would be the right way to go, so he looked to his own interests to determine his ideal niche market. An avid hunter, fisherman and all-around outdoorsman, Tom had purchased plenty of raw land over the years—both for recreational use and timber investment. He had a passion for land and it was a natural choice for him to specialize in land sales. Tom earned his Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) designation, which is held by only five other agents in Mississippi and about 250 nationwide, in order to establish himself as a premier land specialist.
Developing His Brand
Tom quickly adopted the moniker of “The Land Man” and promoted himself with that brand throughout Madison County, his primary market where he lived, and to varying degrees throughout the state of Mississippi. He did some targeted mailings, opened his brokerage (Royal Realty) with his wife and business partner, Ellen, and built a website to promote his business. In his first five years in real estate, Tom was successful by most anyone’s standards. “Business was good. I had probably 5-7 percent market share within a three county region,” he recalls.
But Tom wasn’t satisfied with those returns. He knew there was more business out there, especially as the residential market began to cool off and the land market was growing hotter and hotter. He watched as more savvy investors began putting money into raw land as opposed to less-stable bank and stock investments. Tom saw the opportunity clear as day and he realized he had to take his real estate marketing to the next level. He attended the Hobbs/Herder Gateway seminar in Orlando, Florida in February 2008. There, according to Tom, everything just “clicked.”
A Powerful Partnership
“The personal branding approach is the main reason I chose to work with Hobbs/Herder. From a businessman’s perspective, it was common sense. I saw the infrastructure, the tools and the benefits of the marketing program,” Tom says. “Most agents think that branding is having your name printed on a rider, sticking it on top of a real estate company sign and saying ‘Hey, I’m in business.’ People fail to understand that when they get into the real estate business they are a business, which is why they make the mistake of promoting the company over themselves.”
With Hobbs/Herder, Tom developed a personal brochure, website, direct mail pieces, custom print ads and other branding materials. The story of Tom’s brochure highlights his passion for outdoors lifestyle and strong corporate background as the cornerstones of his land focus. The design of his campaign uses beautiful Mississippi scenery and “lifestyle” imagery such as hunting, fishing and ATV riding. The materials capture the attention of recreational land enthusiasts and connect with readers on a personal, emotional level. Most commercial real estate professionals and luxury market agents tend to have the misconception that personal branding won’t work for these target markets. But even before the seminar, Tom knew he was best served by taking a highly personal approach to his marketing.
“Whether you’re in the real estate business or any business, you’re in the people business. The personal approach is the only way to go,” he remarks. “If you’ve got a guy whose net worth is $40 million and he gets a generic piece in the mail, he’s tossing it without a second thought. My materials have a personal focus on me as a person and as a businessman. I also try to tailor the letters to my clients and hand-write notes inviting them to go hunting or fishing with me. It has helped me develop strong relationships with these people.”
Even Better Than Expected
Tom’s brochure highlights his passion for outdoors lifestyle and strong corporate background as the cornerstones of his land focus.
With wife Ellen’s unwavering support, Tom launched his personal branding campaign in August of 2008. He followed the Hobbs/Herder direct mail plan with 2-3 mailings a month to his farm of about 1,200 land owners. He developed a list of 900 Madison County land owners with more than 25 acres. The other few hundred were past clients and other contacts he had made in first five years in real estate. He also developed an e-mail database and sent out a custom real estate market update called “Tom’s Land List” once or twice a month, along with a monthly newsletter featuring the latest news and trends in the Mississippi land market.
Within 90 days of launching his direct mail campaign, Tom panicked. Even though he and Ellen had set all their systems in place prior to sending the marketing materials out, it was still more response than they were expecting. Put simply, they were getting TOO MUCH business to handle. In fact, they stopped sending out the mailings for a few months because they didn’t know what to do with all the business. But it was a good problem to have, because it enabled them to hire more help and streamline their systems. They now have two full-time assistants and three land buyer specialists on the team. “Now, instead of a tractor clearing the roads, I have a bulldozer.”
These days, the business comes to Tom, which is exactly how he likes it. “Since the time I mailed my first Hobbs/Herder piece, I have not picked up the phone and made a cold call. I have not solicited a single listing,” Tom says.
Putting the Web to Work
Tom also attributes a large portion of his leads to his TomSmithLand.com website. He researched sites that land owners and investors frequently visit and began advertising his real estate website on several of them. Between various online lead-generators and all of his print marketing that drives traffic to the site, Tom has turned his website into one of his best business-building tools.
Keeping the Machine Running Smoothly
In the past year, Tom’s production has grown from $6 million in sales to over $20 million. With his team of buyer’s consultants in place, Tom now focuses his energy on the listings. To him, it’s very important to keep some level of personal involvement with every client and every plot of land he represents. Not only does it enable him to make sure his clients are taken care of, it ensures that people never forget why he’s known as “The Land Man” throughout Mississippi.
“It’s like a doctor’s office,” Tom explains. “I have a team of specialists working for me and I’m like the physician who makes it a point to meet with every patient. In my case, the patient is often the land itself. I go to every tract of land personally, so if someone calls me I know what I’m talking about. I can offer the expert guidance they hired me for.”
More Business = More Fun for Tom
As Tom looks forward to the future, he only sees “The Land Man” brand growing even larger. Not only does he see potential for expanding his own market share even further, he’s developed a sellable business model, whether it’s franchising the Tom Smith Land name or selling off his book of business altogether. That is, if Tom ever decides to retire. Anyone who knows Tom will tell you that’s probably a long way off.
“I’m busier than ever right now, but I love it. I’m having more fun than I’ve ever had in any career because I answer only to myself. I don’t mind working hard because I love the land and it feels great to make other people successful.”
Visit Tom’s Website: www.tomsmithland.com
Greg Herder on
Aug 21st, 2009 |
For a concept that is amazingly simple, Twitter can be rather confusing for real estate agents to understand and difficult to figure out how to turn this social media tool into a valuable relationship-building and marketing vehicle. In fact, the simplicity of Twitter can actually be a barrier in the beginning, because there’s not much available to help a new user see the big picture. To help agents get up to speed on Twitter, I’ve put together a list of some of the basic concepts helpful to understanding how to tap into its power. This is just a basic guide, but it will get you headed in the right direction. Twitter is truly an amazing tool for your real estate business.
A simple, but powerful step is to add a custom page background.
When you open your Twitter account, one of the first things you must do is fill out your biography completely, upload your picture and upload a background image that communicates your personal brand so that you look like a professional agent. This must be done before you start to build your network and making posts. Otherwise you will lose your credibility and it will work against you. Don’t let this stop you from moving forward. Every day you wait to start building your network, you are falling a day further behind your competition. Using social media is not something you can pass on and hope to stay in business for the long term. Social marketing is changing the face of real estate and you have to change along with it. I know that in the end you will also enjoy and benefit from the experience.
A tweet is a short message that is limited to 140 characters that users post in Twitter on their computer or through their cell phone. Posting by cell phone is one of the reasons that Twitter has gained so much popularity. You can be out doing things and make quick posts to your Twitter page. Each tweet shows up (is posted) on the Twitter stream of everyone who is following you. Your Twitter stream is the real time collection of all the posts made by the people you are following. The key is to scan your stream for things that catch your attention and respond. The power of Twitter is that it is a great way to start a conversation and, over time, build relationships with people. Twitter users use the word tweet both as a noun and as a verb. As a verb, it used to talk about a person posting something on Twitter. For example, “He tweeted that he was going to attend a closing today with absolutely wonderful clients.” When used as a noun, it refers to an individual Twitter post. For example, “She posted a tweet that included links, her website and her hot new listing.”
The powerful thing about Twitter is that your posts are public, which allows outside services to scan the information and send you an email every time keywords are used in a tweet. This allows you to find out about the things you care about and to jump into the conversation on the topics that you can provide value in. The key with social networking is to remember that you have to give first. This builds up your good will and over time, you will receive.
Who to Follow
The first thing you need to figure out is who to follow. This, more than anything else, will determine how useful Twitter becomes for you. For Realtors, the best people to follow are the people who fall into the segment or niche of the marketplace that you specialize in and that you can provide useful information to. I would include all of your past clients, active clients and your sphere of influence.
Do not follow everyone who follows you. People hawking get rich schemes follow everyone and sell incessantly. This will kill the relationship with your target market. The people you follow and whom you want to follow are the potential clients that you can truly provide useful local information too. Don’t get caught up in the size of your network. If you have 200 people in your network and each of them has 200 people in theirs, your potential network size is 40,000 people. For real estate, it’s the quality of your network, not the size of your network that matters.
I recommend that you also put your friends and family into your Twitter group. This is the group of people that will post comments and respond to your personal posts giving prospects an insight into the person you are. The only exception is friends whom you think might post stuff that you would rather keep out of the public domain. For your prospecting group, you’ll want to follow everyone that fits your niche. You can search your local zip codes for people that fit into your niche with sites like Twellow.
Once you start feeling comfortable with Twitter, I recommend that you create a second Twitter account that you can use to connect with other real estate agents, both locally and nationally, and to connect with thought leaders in real estate, marketing and other related fields. You can use this account to gather information and build your influence in your local real estate community. For this group, don’t be afraid to follow new people. Give them a try. However, if they post useless stuff, simply unfollow them. You should regularly unfollow people who simply don’t provide much value. This is part of the regular rhythm of Twitter, because Twitter makes it very easy to follow and unfollow people.
The “retweet” (often shortened to “RT”) is something that was not originally designed by the Twitter team, but Twitter users invented it in order to re-post something really interesting from another Twitter user. For example, if you posted some breaking real estate news or information on Twitter, one of your clients might quickly take your post and re-post it. The reason they would post something like this is so that all the people who follow them can see the information. Having your posts ReTweeted is usually an indication that your clients find your post important and interesting enough to share with their network of friends. It’s the social networking version of word-of-mouth. When you are ReTweeted, people in your friends network are exposed to you and if you post interesting valuable things, your network will grow. There are sites like Klout that rate the influence you have with your network. Being ReTweeted is one the things that will give you more influence and expand your connection base, because it shows that what you are saying is worth repeating.
Replies and Mentions
A “reply” on Twitter is when you directly respond to a post from another user. For example, Realtor Robin Milonakis recently tweeted, “Back from previewing homes. Saw 12 homes, 9 bad 2 good and one great buy for $1.3 million.” A client replied, “@RobinMilonakis, how great of a buy is it? Where is it located.” As you can see, you start a reply with the @ symbol and then add the person’s Twitter username. The Twitter.com home page makes it easy to reply to a tweet by simply mousing over it and then clicking the reply arrow. It automatically populates @username in the posting field and then you fill in the rest.
Similar to a reply, is a “mention.” This is where you mention a person’s name and since that person is on Twitter, you identify the person by using their @twittername. For example, you might tweet something like, “Had lunch with @mylender to discuss how I can help clients with poor credit get a loan.” Every instance of an @username is turned into a clickable link that will take you to that user’s Twitter profile, where you can then choose to start following that person. Plus, on the Twitter home page, you’ll see your @username on the right column of the screen. When you click this, you’ll see all of the replies to your tweets and mentions of your username. This is useful because there may be times when people you don’t follow mention or reply to you, and this allows you to see those posts.
There may also be times when you want to reply to someone on Twitter, but you don’t want it to appear to everyone in your network. In that case, you can send a “direct message.” To do this from Twitter.com, go to the person’s Twitter profile page and then go to the right column under Actions and the click the “message” link. This places a private direct message in the person’s Twitter page and sends them an email notification with your message, unless they have turned off this feature in their settings. Keep in mind that you can only send direct messages to people who follow you. This prevents spammers from abusing the direct message feature, which is a good thing.
The direct message feature can work like an instant message to get someone’s attention, if the person is a regular Twitter user. It can often be a quicker way to message someone than an e-mail, but less intrusive than a text message or instant message.
TweetDeck is a favorite desktop Twitter application that is now available for the iPhone. It's Free!
Most habitual Twitter users don’t spend much time on Twitter.com. Instead, they migrate most of their Twitter activities to downloadable applications or Apps. They use “desktop clients” while they are working from their desk and “smartphone clients” when they’re on the go. The most widely used desktop Twitter client is TweetDeck, although Seesmic and Thwirl are also popular. TweetDeck is an Adobe Air application that runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. It provides a columnized view of Twitter with columns for your main feed, your mentions, your direct messages, any #hashtag searches and more. One of the best parts of Tweetdeck is its ability to create groups. For example, I have groups for “Agents,” “Real Estate Managers,” and “Hobbs/Herder Team,” (my work colleagues), so that I can view them in separate columns. Another nice feature of Tweetdeck is that it automatically refreshes, so you can just leave it open and let it do its thing in real time. For those who prefer to stick with Twitter in the Web browser, Twitter.com is still not your only means of accessing the service. Tweetvisor is a powerful browser-based Twitter client that puts a lot more Twitter functionality at your fingertips than the standard Twitter homepage. There are also a variety of Firefox plugins that can ramp up the experience of Twitter in the browser, including PowerTwitter, TwitterFox and TwitBin.
You know you’re getting addicted to Twitter when you start using it from your smartphone, but this is also where you can start building some great relationships. You are interacting enough with your network that they start to feel connected with you. I know plenty of agents who use their iPhone as their primary method of accessing Twitter, and the desktop is really secondary. While you can use Twitter via SMS, I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have an unlimited SMS plan. Plus, the Twitter mobile apps typically provide a much better experience by making it easier to reply, ReTweet, send a direct message, etc.
Another interesting and useful thing to post on Twitter are photos taken from your smartphone. This can be especially useful when are out previewing property, and you want to show homes that might be of interest to your target market. The most popular tool for posting photos on Twitter is Twitpic, because you can use it from any cellphone with a camera. You simply take the photo with your phone and then email it to your customized Twitpic email address, and you type your Twitter message in the subject line of the email. The only challenge is that there’s no character count in the subject line of an email, so you have to be careful to not make your message too long. If it’s over 140 characters, it will simply get truncated. Flickr has also come up with a service that is virtually identical to Twitpic called Flickr2Twitter. So if you already have an active Flickr account, it makes sense to use Flickr rather than Twitpic, because then all of your mobile photos get added to your album rather than creating a separate album on Twitpic.
This should get you started. There is so much more that you can do, but that will come as you start to build your network. I would love your feedback about these concepts. Was this helpful? Are you going to start using Twitter? Follow me at: http://wwwTwitter.com/GregHerder I look forward to reading your posts. Greg.Herder@HobbsHerder.com.
Greg Herder on
Aug 17th, 2009 |
A key to agent success is to develop a real estate marketing-based business that generates a steady flow of new leads. Most real estate agents operate deal to deal, working to get a deal, servicing that deal and then starting over looking for the next deal. When they do start over looking for the next deal, they often start looking for a quick fix. Here are 10 good signs you’ve fallen into the deal to deal trap:
1. You make excuses that the demands of your current clients don’t allow time for marketing and prospecting.
2. You get a listing and you start “marketing the property” and think that that’s actually marketing.
3. You’re waiting for your next commission to establish a marketing budget (and you’ve been saying this for your last four transactions).
4. The phones are silent, web site isn’t producing leads, you just closed a transaction and you say to yourself, “I have to do some marketing.”
5. You’re on the Internet searching for the next great idea in lead generation.
6. You’re thinking: “Ah, social media. That’s cheap. I’ll just focus on that to generate leads.”
7. By the time you get to making calls to your sphere, it’s been a year since you last talked to everyone on your call list.
8. You get a listing outside your target market and all of a sudden find yourself prospecting around that listing and forgetting about your farm.
9. You need another deal so you decide to “do a mailing, send an email, start a blog, post on social media, door knock and make some calls” in a frenzied attempt to “do some marketing.”
10. You don’t have a written plan and if you were to write down your marketing efforts, it would be a pretty brief report.
Have you found yourself trapped in a deal to deal cycle? What marketing systems do you have in place to prevent falling into this trap? Post some comments and let’s start a discussion!
Greg Herder on
Aug 5th, 2009 |
I recently came across this article in the LA Times — it was part of their small business makeover series — this time focusing on insurance agent and business-owner Tony Freeman. I think it’s valuable for those in real estate to see pay attention to what other professional service providers are doing to build their businesses. This article is interesting, because as Tony’s business has grown, he’s lost touch with marketing being an integral part of his execution and accountability. Through my 20 years of experience helping real estate agents build their business, it’s a theme we see repeat itself. The article really illustrates the capricious nature of business cycling and how small business people can bob up and down in the waves…and forget what got them to where they are today. It also points out how important consistency and fundamentals are: marketing planning; target market definition; focus, consistency and discipline in marketing, including a referral program; and ongoing connection to clients (in real estate these are sometimes called “past clients”). The marketing efforts need to stretch across different channels: telephone, mail, email, and web.
Marketing is the key to staying above the waves. By helping create a steady and predictable flow of leads, one is able to not only endure, but build a business that flourishes year after year no matter the market forces. And that’s a great lesson learned as we emerge into a better real estate market: Don’t get fooled again.
While the article is not real estate specific, do you see a little of yourself in Tony’s story? Send some comments.
Link to Tony Freeman’s Story in the L.A. Time’s:
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