Ready for Winter? Is your business?

Winter has always been a little bit slower paced for real estate. People are generally busy getting ready for the holidays and budgets tend to run a little tighter. Rather than sit it out practicing your Maytag Man impersonation the slower months in Winter are an ideal time to keep your game sharp.

Here’s some tips on making that happen:

Play Catchup.
Organize files, clean that bottom drawer, comb the database, unsubscribe to spam, defrag your hard drive…Sounds like a blast doesn’t it?! Fact is these are all day to day drudgeries we put off that tend to build up and kill productivity – so take the time.

Get In Touch.
Get in touch with past clients – hey, the holidays are all about cards from people you haven’t talked to all year, so make one of them yours! Get in touch with your market too – review data and study trends. Get in touch with your media – if you’re going to be spending all that time crushing candy on Facebook you could just as easily be engaging your audience and building a following to help jump start your Spring.

Update All the Things!
This means that agent photo you took when you passed CE. This also means updating old text on your bios and taking a look at your website as well. Chances are there have been some new features or tools released that you can make use of to leverage a better position online.

Play Price is Right.
Winter time sales can be tough, so it’s all about nailing that right price and making things perfect for prospective buyers. Take a little more time, or even expense, and get listings looking great – even consider house staging to help seal the deal.

Plan to Be Awesome.
Being amazing doesn’t just happen. If you do nothing else spend some time taking a look at this past years success, focus only on the good, and then put that down as part of your plan for the coming year. Planning is essential to success, so make sure you take the time to look forward and decide where you want your path to lead.

REALTORS: Are You Winning?

REALTOR WEBSITES
With big players like Zillow and Trulia joining forces the competition in real estate has never been hotter. Combine that with the fact that there are more REALTORS and brokerages online than ever before and it can feel overwhelming just to keep up with what’s popular – much less what actually works.

With all the misinformation, hype, and down right myths going around the internet about the best practices of leveraging those tools even those with the motivation and determination to handle their own marketing strategies can feel lost. Worse still…some agents have all the tools, know how to use them, and still drop the ball.

The good news? It’s not a slope too slippery to climb back up.
Here are a few good tips to refocus your efforts and make the most of what you’re [hopefully] already doing online:

Tell Your Story
Don’t make your marketing just about selling. Yes, you need to showcase your listings and services, but be sure that you’re providing more value than just that. With everyone having a site, that in most cases all provide search functions and similar mls data, the things you share about yourself can be the defining difference in having a recognizable brand that stands out from the rest.

Do the Followup
With so much of a real estate agents long term business being return clients it’s shocking to learn that only bout 17% of them are rehired due to the fact that clients do not remember their agent’s name. Keep your contact close; followup at least a few times a year. It may seem trite but that “Don’t Forget to Set Your Clocks” email or card might be the thing that keeps your face fresh in people’s mind.

Go Real World
Despite being a tech company, and despite the fact that the internet drives so much of todays real estate industry, the face to face interactions you have may be where your biggest progress is made. Attend small business networking groups – or even create your own “Coffee With Your Realtor” events to make yourself visible and available to old clients and new. Don’t rely on technology alone to provide all of your potential leads.

These are broad brushes to pain the picture, so think about ways you can apply these ideas to what works for you. Ultimately it’s not following the trends that will lead to the greatest success but rather finding what resources will bring the most return to how you move real estate and also attract the right kind of clients for you.

Have questions about your real estate marketing?
We have plenty of answers and ideas to help!

Should You Start a Real Estate Team?

Real Estate Team

It’s not rocket science, it’s simple math: the sum of the parts are greater than the whole. This logic applies to real estate too! But, does that mean it’s a good idea to team up with other agents?

There are definite pro’s and con’s to consider, and real estate professionals who are just starting out or who are struggling to find enough hours in the day to get everything done will definitely find the idea tempting.

Reasons to consider forming a team include:
Having more clients than you can handle

Not having enough clients

Difficulty meeting deadlines

Just not enough time

A lack of important skills or experience

Advantages
Pooling talents and resources can lead to greater reach and exposure.

Working with others may allow you to free up more time for things…like eating. And that thing they call “sleep”.

It can be more impressive to clients to have a group of professionals working with them.

You can designate clients to the agents best suited to their personality.

In some cases team branding can save on marketing costs.

Disadvantages
It only takes one sour apple to ruin the bunch.

Too many cooks can spoil the meal.

Every link in the communication chain can be a potential point for miscommunication.

If things go South you could be left holding the expense of team branding.

So as you can see there are good things and bad things about teaming up. Overall the most important thing is to build your team correctly from the ground floor. Consider agents you have a good past repertoire with already. More often than not it is personal conflict coming into the business relationship that ends up turning a good team into a bad one.

If you’re ready to make the move and get your own real estate team started we are glad to help! Besides offering the best in individual agent and brokerage websites we can also create great team sites that will feature the listings of all your team members! Contact us today to find out more about how we can help your team get on the scoreboard!

Real Estate Social Media: Selling Versus Serving

vacuum_cleaner_sales

If you’ve been using social media for a while now ( with any success) you’ve likely already noticed that as an advertising platform it doesn’t quite work the same way as traditional mediums have in the past. Call it information overload, call it saturated with sales, call it what you will: your social media audience doesn’t want to be sold to.

…but how are we supposed to SELL anything?!

A wizened social media sage once said:

“Social media isn’t about selling to the people you’re connected with, it’s about connecting with the people you’re selling to.”

The secret, like in many things in life, is finding the balance. Your marketing efforts must serve your success, but to be effective online they must also serve your clients.

Chances are the people in your sphere of influence, your fans, already know you are in real estate . Those who are newly exposed to your digital presence likely won’t have a hard time figuring it out, especially if your social media portals are properly branded.

So why are you selling selling selling so hard? And if social media marketing isn’t for selling what GOOD is it?!

Increase Awareness
With so many major national portals out there, and most agents, offering basically the same search capability on their websites the content you create on your website and social media portals may be the only chance you get to stand out from the crowd.

Shouldn’t you then do your best to show them who you really are and why they should choose you over one of the other nameless thousands?

If you specialize in a particular niche market this is especially important to focus on as even if your audience knows you are in real estate generally they may not know you have a special expertise they could benefit from.

Establish Trust and Become an Authority
People trust others that they know and interact with more often. By creating a page that is interesting, informative, and relevant to your audience you are establishing yourself as a source for quality information and as an authority in your field. Encourage fans to ask you questions; use them as status updates or blog posts.

It’s never bad to look like you know what you are talking about.

Both of these things together can boost overall brand recognition and keep your name in the fore-front of past clients minds – who as we know in real estate can become return clients! – as well as in the periphery of new fans as well.

BUT HOW DO I SELL STUFF?!
Patience grasshopper. The path to enlightenment is wrought with dangers and distractions on all sides. It is good to feature your services or product from time to time, especially if you have something worth tooting your horn about.

For best results follow the hamburger rule of social media: 80/20. You want 80% of everything you post to be interesting, relevant, humorous, or related to your audience or your community – the 20% that’s left?  That’s for your harder marketing. Give this technique a try and see how it works for you!

Working in this industry we see the best and the worst of what’s being put out there on the web by real estate professionals. We’ve got to tell you, there is no surer way to cause your fans to become non-fans or  even worse to have them just zone out of your efforts altogether by creating a stream of posts that is nothing but pictures of your listings. Face it, it makes for REAL uninteresting reading. Every once in a while take a look at your own page from an objective viewpoint.

Keep these things in mind when evaluating your impact:

Would YOU want to read the things you post there?

Does your content feature local area events or interests?

Are you establishing yourself as a SOURCE for what your audience needs?…or just adding to the noise?

When you DO market are you be sure to drive traffic to your main hub?

We’d love to hear the things YOU are doing on social media to be different and to better serve your clients rather than just trying to SELL to them.

REALTORS: Don’t let the Winter months catch you napping!

beanieIt’s the holidays at last; for many that means time to turn off the cell phone and put business aside to focus on other things. And while that is certainly true, the holidays and these colder months do tend to be slower months for real estate, so there’s no reason to just toss away productivity altogether.

It’s a good time to make the most of some extra down time in order to get a running start on Spring. If you make the most of the available time you may be surprised to find you’ve already gotten a jump on making sure the coming year is a prosperous one. Here’s some ideas:

Rejuvenate and Re-evaluate.
Take some of that time for you. No,REALLY. By not taking care of yourself you only make it harder to find the strength and motivation to do the things you must. It’s also good to take time to reflect on the current state of your business as well as where you want it to go. Give some thought towards what you can DO to make those things happen.

Clean out the cobwebs.
The ones in your contact database. We know we know! UGH! Contact management. Yeah, it’s tedious, but having an updated and current list of valid contact will only help you focus your marketing efforts more efficiently. It wouldn’t hurt to take the time once your list is clean to go ahead and get a spring time or new years mailer ready to go as well. Don’t just throw out old leads – in many cases buying cycles come back around, so even if they’re not buying now they may be in the future, or looking to sell.

Spin Some NEW Webs.
When was the last time you looked at your own real estate website? When was the last time you edited or added anything to it? Block in some time to take a look at your website and review the information there to make sure it is current and geared towards your target audience.

Go Prospecting!
No, not for gold…although, maybe of a different kind.Holiday prospecting isn’t limited to Christmas cards! With SO many networking and social events going on this time of year it would be crazy not to get out and make the most of at least a few of them! You may be surprised to hear this from a tech company but face to face time is still one of the most powerful methods of gaining referrals and making new clients around. If nothing else it’s generally a way to get some great free food and beverage!

Lay the groundwork for the coming year.
Do you google yourself? Admit it.
If you don’t you probably should. Better yet, do that first then google your competition. Study and follow and learn. Take what is good from what they are doing and combine it with whatever it already successful for you. It may be a good time to start learning some of those social media marketing skills that you’ve been putting off – it’s only going to become more important next year.

Write your 2014 business plan. On paper. With a pen.
Take your ideas and desires for the coming year and write them down on paper. This tactile experience allows you to let your imagination go wild – sketch, draw, doodle – take the ideas in your head and just get them all out in ink. Now take the best of those and put them in bullet points to be your goals. Put these plans and goals some place near where you work to keep them in mind. They can be as simple as “get an updated wardrobe for meeting with clients” or as big as “be a million dollar producer”. Think about what you want, SEE it in your mind, and then build the things you need to make it happen.

If your plans for the new year include a new real estate website – or even revamping your old one – we’d love to talk to you!

REALTOR Marketing: Content is (still) king!

Content Marketing for Real Estate
The rules for SEO change. The trends in social media come and go; the networks themselves are constantly changing their formats. One thing that has not changed is that your website visitors want good content – noGREAT content. And if you are actively providing relevant, interesting content chances are you are not only going to see more traffic but also more visitor engagement. Enter Content Marketing.

Content marketing is not a new thing, in fact, in it’s most simple form it has been around as long as there have been people online with whom to interact. There should be no doubt then that it is not a fad; as consumers gain more and more control over what they choose to take in their appetite for straight hard sell marketing is waining. Just like the way DVR has given the end user the ability to simply fast forward through commercials, so too the web offers surfers the ability to turn off ads or to simply unfollow sites and pages which are too ad-heavy.

Creating great content is more than just regergitating what others have written, and it’s more than just becoming your own personal press. It will never (thankfully) be as easy as copy/paste; seeing real results from this marketing technique not only requires time to build momentum but also effort to run the long race. More than just creating content, you need to provide the answers to the questions your customers are asking. This is especially true in the real estate industry as there are literally millions of websites – including big name national brands – where people can search and find homes. The content you create may very well be the thing that sets you apart and seals the sale.

Here are some statistics to consider:

90% of all home buyers use the internet to find homes.

78% prefer getting to know an agent rather than know their ads.

70% believe companies providing quality content have more to offer.

Effective content marketing provides 3 times as many leads as paid search.

The key to putting content marketing to work for your real estate strategy is simple: KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE. This should be no surprise as that is one of the keys to any effective marketing. It makes sense that the same content that appeals to Generation X and Y will not be interesting to retiree’s. Single’s won’t have the same interest as small families or baby boomers. So do your research; know who you are looking to work with and how to sell to them in the manner that they will most easily receive.

Once you’re on the path to content creating nirvana remember: it is essential to let people know about what you’ve written! If you are simply writing in your little box it won’t do you a lot of good – no matter how much your mom likes it! – so be sure to publish and distribute your articles on social media, your website, and other sites like stumbleupon. A little bit of cross platform sharing can go along way – now get out there and create!!