Zero in on the 10’s – Diversify

Zero in on the 10’s – Diversify
by Bob Corcoran

At last! The nightmare of the first decade of the 21st century if is over! Aside from 9/11, the housing boom and bust, foreclosures, lean times for real estate agents marked the decade.  In addition to everything else, the decade didn’t really even have a handy way to refer to the block of 10 years. After the 80’s, 90’s, we had 10 years starting in “0.” What could we call these years?  The Zeros?  What a downer!  The Oughts?  No one aside from accountants has widely used that word since the beginning of the 20th century.  Now we are in the 10’s and all is well.  The 10’s roll off the tongue!

So what will come of these promising 10’s?  As we know from the last decade, many unforeseen things occurs that are outside our ability to control   In the middle of the decade, many saavy observers could have predicted that there would be no long term good from the crazy loan products and the subprime mortgages offered at that time.  The average real estate agent, busily writing contracts, could do little but promote responsible loans.  This decade may have some of the same mix of the controllable and the uncontrollable. As I saw the other day, our best shot is to control what we can – and to plan to it.  Write your goals! Plan your strategies!

The last decade left another lagging question.  Should you diversify or should you specialize? For the last few years and for 10’s, diversifying is a great way to protect your business in case of shifts in the economy. But remember – Diversification is the first step to becoming a specialist.  Taking course or getting certifications is great first shortcut to learning the basic issues and language of an area like Green Housing, Senior-oriented real estate, First Time Homebuyers, but that is only the beginning.

Many agents turned their attention to short sales and foreclosures as housing values declined and payments increased.  Acquiring expertise in different areas that can help clients but the old adage of being “a  jack of all trades, master of none” can apply in real estate too.  Some areas like short sales are not for neophytes who have taken a short course.  The health and well being of clients depends on having experts at their side to give advice and do all the legwork involved in short sales.  Doing well requires commitment.

Interest in diversifying?  Great! Write that into you plan.  If you want designations, take a few courses, then find an area to hone in on!

 

 

Why 12 is the Magic Number in Your Marketing

Why 12 is the Magic Number in Your Marketing
by Rob Minton

The National Sales Executive Association recently reported the following:

2% of sales are made on the 1st contact
3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact
5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact
10% of sales are made on the 4th contact
80% of sales are made on the 5th – 12th contact

This means 90% of your sales will come after your fifth follow-up with a prospect. This is very important information for you to consider in your marketing plan.

When I first started selling homes, I would write off a prospect if I couldn’t set an appointment with them after one or two phone calls. I simply moved on to the next lead. What a mistake this was…

I left a tremendous amount of opportunity  on the table.

My guess is that you might be making a similar mistake in your business, too. How many times do you follow up with leads generated for your business? Really. Be honest. Are you following up with every prospect at least 12 times? If not, you’re definitely losing sales.

I actually think the number of contacts required to make a sale may be increasing. This is because of something I read in Dr. Frank Luntz’s book titled “What Americans Really Want…Really.”  In his book, Dr. Luntz writes about a dramatic shift in what consumers want. This shift has occurred because of the recent economic recession, stock market and real estate market crashes.

He has found, through surveying thousands of people, that “consumers are less happy, less secure, less confident, and less trusting than any generation since the Great Depression.”

Consumers are less trusting than any generation since the Great Depression. This means we must work harder to build relationships with our prospects because they do not trust us. Relationships take time to develop. You won’t be able to make one or two phone calls and sign a new client. Those days are over. To be successful today, you must have a long-term follow-up campaign, providing multiple touches to your database.

 

Want More Traffic to Your Site? Write Articles!

Want More Traffic to Your Site? Write Articles!
by Michelle Fradella

One of the most effective ways you’ll ever discover for bringing more traffic to your website is simply by writing highly targeted, informative articles that can be freely distributed throughout the Internet.

The Internet is the “Information Highway”.  Folks are logging onto the Internet to look for information — plain and simple.

It’s your job to provide them with this information if you’re going to have any success online.  I just cannot stress enough the importance and the overall benefits you’ll receive from being able to create some quality, informative articles (and content) on your own.

First — How To Write A Great Article:

Forget Everything You Were Taught In English Class.  Writing Articles Is “Meatball Writing”.  You Want To Write In Your Own Style And At An 8th Grade Reader Level.

Don’t try to impress your readers with your sheer intelligence.
Don’t use big words when you can use much simpler, shorter words that have the same meaning.
Don’t bore your readers!  Add some sizzle and spice.
Be unique and show your personality!  Don’t be afraid to be yourself.
Each Article You Write Should Be Approximately 700-1000 Words

Always keep your articles short, sweet, concise… and to the point.
When adding articles (as content) to your website, you can make your article as long as you’d like, however when submitting these articles to article directories to promote your website you want to follow their strict guidelines which usually involve a specific maximum word count and format.

Use bulleted points and break up lines of text with transitional effects like this… and this — or use (parenthesis like this) to make it easier on your reader’s eyes. A well written article should consist of short sentences and short paragraphs, bulleted points and sub-headings, each addressing a specific point of topic in your article.

Stay Focused On Your Topic and Provide Useful Information

Quality is most important!  Do your research and write your articles to educate your readers.
Folks like it when you’re specific… so give them specifics.  Offer links to additional resources if needed.

Use popular search engines like Google and Yahoo to read over similar articles and find websites focused on your subject to research your topic.

Every article you write can include a “resource box” at the end of the article.  A resource box is basically a few lines of text that provides a little “snapshot” about the author of the article.  This resource box also allows you to include a subtle “PLUG” about you, your website, your newsletter, etc.

It’s extremely important not to abuse your resource box with blatant plugs and sales pitches.  It’s also extremely important that you NOT try to sell anything directly from your article content.  Just write a quality, informative article and that’s it!

Start by submitting your articles to article directories.  Article directories are – by far – the very best FREE resource to gain quality links and traffic back to your website, and to increase your standings in the Search Engines.

 

Top Tips to Time Management

 

Top Tips to Time Management
by Rich Levin
It’s a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up.
~J.K. Rowling, “The Hungarian Horntail,” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000
Does this ring true for you? Real Estate Agents are challenged in dealing with time. Prospecting, Marketing, Service, E-mails, Phone Calls, Appointments, Paperwork, the list go on and on. Here are top tips to help you manage your time better.
1. Schedule chunks instead of activities. Schedule a chunk of time each day to make and return calls, a chunk of time one day a week to do all of your web update work.
Chunk your service, your ad writing, and your marketing. Here is the rule. If you spend a total of more than thirty minutes per week on an activity, schedule a chunk of time on specific days every week for that activity.
2. Priority Days. For one hour at the beginning of each day focus on the following priorities. In our Daily Coaching Program Mondays and Tuesdays are prospecting days. Wednesdays are marketing, web, print, mail etc. Thursdays are for service to listed Sellers and pending Clients. Fridays are for planning, what we call a leadership day. This structure manages your time, organizes your activities and leverages the opportunity to take big chunks of time or full days off on the weekend with more peace of mind and confidence.
3. Emotional Fitness. We all have a pre-work dance. That is, activities that we love to do right before we are going to get to work. Get coffee. Check e-mails, Twitter, Active Rain, etc. Play solitaire. Clear your desk. So, become conscious of your pre-work dance and work to break the cycle of unproductive time. Just as you are about to “dance,” pause. Sit up straight or stand up. Smile, even laugh at yourself because you know what you would normally do. But this time, picture how your day is going to go. Picture what you want to accomplish and how you are going to accomplish it immediately. And get back into action. No one thing can make you more productive than interrupting your pre-work dance and getting back into action more quickly.
4. Prioritize your activities and phone calls. Always, do the toughest ones first. Do the one thing that you have been procrastinating over, first. That thing often holds you back, slows you down, damages your motivation, your focus, even your confidence. Make the tough phone calls first. Tackle the tough job first. They are often not as tough as anticipated. But they get tougher as you delay them, don’t they?
5. Action motivates. If you’re feeling a little bit lazy but you know you have things to accomplish, action motivates. Get yourself off the couch, off the chair, take the first step, make the first call, respond to that tough e-mail, or get in the car. Take the first action. Action motivates.
6. Use the 4 D method for prioritizing paperwork.
Do it immediately if it can be done in 20 seconds or less.
Delegate it if you can hand it off to somebody else.
Delay it if you are not going to do it right now. Schedule a time in your calendar to get back to it. It may be delayed to one of the time chunks mentioned above.
Dump it. It is best to do this one more than the others.
7. Cluster your activities. Cluster all the things needed to be done at your office. Cluster your travel. Take a few minutes, literally, just 2 or 3 minutes at the beginning of the day and before you walk out the door to look at your calendar. Perhaps you will have to make a phone call or two to rearrange your schedule. Maybe you will ask someone else to be available sooner or later. Do that. So that your use of time makes more sense. As you commit to this it becomes habitual. In addition to saving a tremendous amount of time clustering your activities can relieve a lot of pressure, provide a wonderful sense of self-control, and give you the freedom and the opportunity for greater success.
8. Just say no. Oooh, this one is very hard for some people. If it is hard for you then simply learn to apologize profusely… and then say no. Try these scripts. “Wow, I really want to do that for you. And I really would. Only it is killing me to put other people’s requests above my priorities. So, I am really, really sorry… but, no.”
9. Schedule time off. Give yourself permission to do nothing or do something you love to do. Even just sit in front of the TV. Read a book. Lay in the sun. Go for a walk. Exercise. Spend time with family. Sleep in late. Give yourself permission to do nothing. You need that time. You need that energy. Giving yourself this permission sends a strong message to your subconscious that you are in control of your time. This adds power to all of the other ideas above. Cross off one day each week, a half day, an evening, when you schedule absolutely nothing or something you love to do and make that personal time a must, an absolute priority. If necessary, arrange to have someone handle calls for you or check your emails. This time will truly make you more effective when you are working.
There are tons of systems, tools, and philosophies for managing time. These are the foundation, a few of the best ideas for addressing an Agent’s biggest complaint.
Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.
~William Penn

The BEST Time to Send Marketing Emails to Your Database

The BEST Time to Send Marketing Emails to Your Database
by Rob Minton

Dr. Frank Luntz recently released a new book titled “What Americans Really Want… Really.” It’s a great book for those of you who are serious about marketing. Dr. Luntz has conducted over 1,500 surveys and has studied how people live and what they really want in their lives.

Hint: It’s a fast-track guide on how to understand and communicate with your prospects.

Early in the book, he summarizes the typical day of an average person. This little study is very revealing from a marketing perspective. As an example, he found that most people begin their day in the dark because they have long commutes to work. More than 3 million people travel 50 miles or more to work. He pinpointed this as being a great opportunity for connecting with your prospect because you may have their uninterrupted attention.

He also found that most people now go online within minutes of waking up to see what’s going on in their community, the weather and to get updates from their friends and family. This finding indicates that you should try to deliver some of your marketing messages, newsletters or other client communications so that your prospects have them first thing in the morning. My testing has shown this to be true. My email open rate tends to be higher when the emails are delivered at 6:30 a.m. This doesn’t mean you have to personally send the email at 6:30. It simply means you have to program your email to be delivered at 6:30 a.m.

In fact, most people have checked their email before leaving their home for work. Dr. Luntz even found that if someone is under the age of 30, they’ve probably received a text message, too.

On surfing the Internet he wrote:

“Only a handful of people acknowledge surfing the Web at work for personal content, even though it is well-known that website traffic spikes when people first get to work, during lunch hour, and again right before they leave for home.”

Seems to me these three time zones might be very helpful for delivering your marketing messages or driving traffic to your website. They tell you when and how to deliver your marketing messages. Simply by engineering your marketing around how people live, you’ll notice an increase in your response rates. More emails will be opened. More people will visit your website. And you’ll ultimately sell more homes.

 

Persistence With Buyers

Persistence With Buyers
by Dirk Zeller
The key to securing the face-to-face appointment with the Buyer is persistence. A Champion Agent knows that persistence will create the payoff.
As a child and throughout my high school years, I personally witnessed one of the greatest stories of a salesperson’s persistence. Many salespeople know the story of Bill Porter because he is a legend of sales. His story has been profiled in newspapers, books, magazines, and even an Emmy award-winning movie about his life titled “Door to Door”.
Few people can say that they experienced it first hand, though. You would have been blessed, like I was, to see it first-hand by growing up in an upper-middle class neighborhood on the Westside of Portland, Oregon. For more than fifteen years I watched Bill Porter come to our door to sell household products in the rain, snow, and summer heat. He always had a smile on his face, shoes neatly shined, suit and raincoat on, and a glove on one hand to carry his large briefcase up and down the hills of his territory.
Bill Porter’s remarkable journey in life started with a tragic accident at birth that caused cerebral palsy. His condition affected his speech and his motor skills of walking and using his hands. He can’t even tie his own shoes or button his shirt, yet there he was everyday, walking several miles each day going door to door to sell his household products for about $1200 a month in income. His steel will and persistence won over his inability to verbally communicate clearly. He had his clients write out the orders since he struggled to write legibly. He would type out the orders one finger at a time on his manual typewriter to ensure his clients received the correct products on time. Bill Porter is truly a Champion in sales and a Champion of persistence.
There are two areas of persistence. The first is the willingness to continue to call for days, weeks, and even months until a prospect is ready to move forward in a purchase. Most Agents quit long before they call a few times. Be persistent with prospects during your lead follow-up process. The second and most important area of persistence that only Champion Agents possess is continuing to ask for the appointment on the initial call even in the face of a no from the prospect. Only a Champion Agent would ask for an appointment multiple times on the same call.
Champion’s Rule: Ask for the appointment more than once.
Most salespeople quit long before the sale is made or even the appointment is booked. Salespeople quit when they receive the first “no” or first rejection.
When Salespeople Quit
44% 1st time the prospect says “No”
22% 2nd time the prospect says “No”
14% 3rd time the prospect says “No”
12% 4th time the prospect says “No”
92% of salespeople quit before they acquire the appointment or the order from the customer. Only 8% of salespeople will ask more than four times. 60% of all sales made or appointments set occur after the prospect has said “no” four times. The net result is that 8% of Salespeople control 60% of the business . . . just for asking. Persistence will create the payoff.
We need to ask for the appointment more frequently on each call that we make. My philosophy is: get beyond the “four” threshold right on the first call!

Organic Search Makes Paid Search Almost 4 times More Clickable

Organic Search Makes Paid Search Almost 4 times More Clickable
Key Yessaad
Even if you rely on Paid Search — Organic Search makes Paid Search almost 4 times more clickable…Real Estate SEO Ideas
New York University Professors did a Study on the impart of Organic Search on Paid Search (also know as Click Marketing, PPC, Google Adwords, etc…) and their findings are quite revealing…
A User is 4 times more likely to click on a Paid Search when an Organic Search Listing from the same Website is Present than Not.
This is HUGE!!!
It means that you cannot just rely on growing your Real Estate Internet Presence by paying your way through Click Marketing alone — You MUST have a strategy to rank Organically.
Professors Anindya Ghose and Sha Yang have highlighted the following findings:
On average, the impact of organic listings on paid advertising is 3.5 times stronger than vice-versa, possibly because of the tendency of consumers to trust organic listings more than paid ads.

The positive association between paid and organic listings increases advertisers’ profits by at least 6.15% when compared to profits in the absence of either of them. The positive association is strongest when advertiser-specific keywords are used and weakest when brand-specific and generic keywords are used.

Click-through rates, conversion rates and total revenues are higher when both paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when paid search ads are absent.

The combined click-through rates are 5.1% higher when paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when only the organic listings are present.

The combined conversion rate increases 11.7% when paid and organic listings are present simultaneously than when organic listings alone are present.
The complete findings from the study are evidently available in a paper entitled “Analyzing the Relationship between Organic and Sponsored Search Advertising: Positive, Negative or Zero Interdependence?” It’s 52 pages long.
What Now (a few ideas):
Are you in charge of your website and its content? If not ask that your Website providers open up those channels to you and your staff.

Is your website just a glorified IDX feed designed for Pay-per-Click? Time for you to panic… No No… Just Kidding — educate yourself and go about building the right Web Presence.

What Content should I include? Offer Solutions for your localized market and you will be fine.
Integrate your Web Strategy within your Business Marketing Practices.

Be in Charge of your Real Estate Internet Visibility even when you hire Webmasters and Professionals to deploy them for you.

Market Niches Can Equal Agent Riches: The Long-Tail in Online Marketing for Realtors

Market Niches Can Equal Agent Riches: The Long-Tail in Online Marketing for Realtors
by Scott Pierce

The long-tail in online marketing for realtors
In Real Estate, as in much of business, being all things to all people, is an impossible business model to chase.
The Long and Short of It
In Business ‘The Long Tail’ concept states that you can sell more ‘less popular’ items than you can of popular items. A common example is that Netflix rents more niche movies than popular ones.
So what does this mean to real estate agents? That you can make a business in marketing niche markets and that it can be often times more profitable.
The #1 real estate related website in the United States is Realtor.com. Knowing the Google keywords people use to find Realtor.com will tell you a lot about online consumer behavior and will give you a lot to think about in your own online lead generation efforts as they relate to niche markets.
The Google keywords used most often to find Realtor.com are “Homes for Sale” and the location in which they are searching.
Why is this? Because people instinctively begin their home buying process by searching properties’ to get a sense of the market.
Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Real Estate Companies etc ALL allow online consumers to search for almost all ‘Homes for Sale’ throughout the country.
So how are most agents trying to generate leads with their websites? By offering a small subset of capabilities and nothing unique or otherwise beneficial to people. In other words, agents are trying to compete with Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow with the proverbial ‘one arm tied behind their back.’
Good luck with that.
Trying to compete head-to-head with a company with millions of dollars to spend on technology and marketing is a losing proposition!!
The Good and The Bad
The Irony is that local real estate agents are in the best position to capitalize on their local market knowledge, but they typically do the worst job at capitalizing this knowledge online.
Local agents know what local buyers and sellers are searching for (in real time! A showing is the most up-to-date search result and one that has immediate feedback capabilities….something rarely accomplished on a computer).
In the world of real estate online lead generation, the most obvious worst offender of this principle are the Real Estate Agents that offer website visitors the ubiquitous “Search the MLS” or “Property Search” as the defining features of their websites. Some of the more cutting edge agents even have “Search by Map” prominently featured as if searching real estate by map was invented yesterday. It wasn’t and pretty much EVERY website offers it.
In other words agents are trying to compete with Realtor.com and all the other real estate websites by offering infinitely less data and capabilities.
How is that working for you?
Offering people and online consumers ‘the same but less’ is not a sustainable business model.
Grab the market by The Long Tail
Agents should focus their efforts on niches so that
a) They have a better chance of being found and noticed
b) That they have a better chance at being relevant to some people (a market) vs. not relevant to anyone (the market).
And this has important implications in all your online marketing as well.
“Search Homes for Sale” / “Property Search”
99.9% of agents allow online consumers to search for ‘Homes for Sale’ with the main segmentation being “My Listings” sometimes euphemistically entitled “Featured Listings.”
To the online consumer this looks and feels like ‘every other agent and website’ on the Internet. When the people start thinking you are like ‘everyone else on the Internet’ that is not a good thing. In addition, they can go to one of over dozens of real estate websites and not only search every location in the country, they can typically do a lot of analytics that your agent website does not come close to offering. You are trying to complete with websites that have millions of dollars to spend in marketing and advertising.
Create a Niche -> Market the Niche -> Get Found -> Get Results
Local Real Estate Agents work in defined geographical areas. In every agent’s ‘area’ there are geographical submarkets and property submarkets.
What geographical submarkets or particular property types are in your market that you know people buy and sell?
Identify some market niches, and then using either your MLS or website IDX provider’s tools, create and save predefined property searches that return just those properties when clicked on as a link. In other words, give people what they want. You certainly know your market better than a corporate website out of New York, San Francisco or wherever it is that corporate is based!
A great example of this is Dave & Suzy Cardwell’s pre-defined property search for Crow Canyon Country Club in the San Ramon Valley area of Northern California. While most all other agents in their area show “Search the MLS” (which Dave & Suzy have as well), they allow online consumers to One Click Search several key niche markets that they know people buying in their area are interested in (technology provider AgentAchieve).
Property Subtypes are also a great niche to market and let people One Click Search. Rick Miner, in Seattle markets several property niches such as Waterfront and View Homes at his website (Northwest MLS IDX, member of Michael Russer Online Domminace).
Easier, Faster and More Relevant is Always Better
Put yourself in the online consumers shoes. Let’s imagine ‘you’ are interested in buying a property in Crow Canyon Country Club. Are you more likely to click on a link for Crow Canyon Country Club or Search the MLS? Or that you are interested in Waterfront or View Homes of Seattle….would you more likely click on Waterfront and View Homes or Property Search?
The beautiful thing about allowing people to One Click Search niche markets is, is that on the one hand you are giving people that want this information the information they want upfront, fast and easy. And secondly, you are not turning off ‘everyone else’ who just wants to search your general MLS listings.
If people have to search your website or click too much to ‘hopefully get’ what they are looking for, then you are going to lose a lot of lead generation opportunities.
Market the Niche -> Get Found
There are many places that you can insert live links to predefined searches for the niche markets in your area. Some of the best include:
1. Your website (but how do they find your website?)
2. Your online marketing including Craig’s List and your eFlyers
3. Your email signature
Once people know that they can quickly and easily find what they are looking for (i.e. the properties that interest them the most) they are more likely to stick around to look at what else you have to say which only further increases your online lead generation possibilities.

How to Move In On Move-Up Buyers

How to Move In On Move-Up Buyers
by Bob Corcoran
Now you have 6,500 reasons to adjust your marketing plan for 2010.
When Congress extended the tax credit for first-time homebuyers it added a $6,500 tax credit for current homeowners to buy up or buy elsewhere. Sometimes good things fall right into your lap — but they’re only good if you make them work to your advantage. And the way to do that is to revamp your 2010 marketing plan to include repeat buyers.

I believe you’ll find a huge, pent up demand of folks looking to move up. Why? They’ve got cabin fever — literally. The sluggish economy has kept people from moving. So now that we’re seeing some thaw in the market, homeowners are ready to sell and grab that $6,500.

Here are four tips to capitalize on the repeat buyer market:

1. Think two words: past clients. Far too many Realtors lose touch with their past clients. I suspect now that many of them realize (I hope at least) that they simply can’t afford to do that anymore. Clearly one reason Realtors stop connecting is because they don’t think they have a good reason to stay in touch. Well, if $6,500 isn’t a good reason, I don’t know what is. And I bet they’ll appreciate the information. If you can’t find your past clients, search the MLS for those who bought more than five years ago (that’s the stipulation in the law, they must have been in their home for at least five years).

2. Tap direct marketing. To take full advantage of this incentive and to maximize your returns, I suggest direct mail to your farm area that screams $6,500 (nothing like cash to get people’s attention). And not just one mailing, do at least five. Remember, frequency beats reach when it comes to marketing. Then follow up with a phone call, especially to your past clients.
3. Refurbish your advertising to promote the incentive. If there was ever a time to give your advertising a makeover, it’s now. Hit the $6,500 hard and heavy in all your advertising. Remember the keys here: message, medium and market. The message is clear — get your $6,500 while it’s still here. Choose the medium that lands in front of the eyeballs of your market (repeat homebuyers). If you’re finding success with newspapers, by all means continue and even expand into other sections outside the real estate section to stand out from the crowd. And while you’re at it, give your scripts a good rescrubbing, too.

4. Don’t forget the empty nesters. You might be thinking of repeat buyers who are growing a new family and that’s fine. Certainly an attractive market. But few demographic groups have made a larger impact on the economy than baby-boomers — millions of which are reaching retirement age as you read this. And now they’re beginning to impact real estate market. They’re looking around their house and finding … space. Lots of space. Space they don’t need anymore. And they’re thinking: ‘Why not sell and use the cash for a smaller place and use the surplus to live it up a little in our golden years — a little travel, some golf and fine dining at our favorite restaurants?’

Sure, continue to tap first-time homebuyers if you want, but please don’t miss out on this one-time opportunity with the move-up market (Yes, one-time. I believe lawmakers and economists expect natural market forces to take over in the busy season in the spring of 2010 without more or continued incentives).