A three-bedroom home made of 612,000 recycled plastic soda bottles can withstand winds up to 326 miles per hour.
A three-bedroom home made of 612,000 recycled plastic soda bottles can withstand winds up to 326 miles per hour.
Market Snapshot® now offers a mobile app that provides revolutionary access to local market conditions right at your prospects fingertips straight from the MLS.
Best of all, it’s branded with your photo, your website, your company logo and your contact information. You stay top-of-mind as does your brand. And your prospects will have access to market updates at the speed of the market.
Keep in mind that accuracy matters: don’t let your clients speculate or guess about what a neighbor’s house sold for—instead provide them with personalized, accurate and relevant information consumers crave.
Don’t leave your sellers wondering about recent activity in their area of interest: provide them with relevant and contextual information. Sign up sellers, buyers and prospects, and they’ll get instant mobile friendly email alerts from you letting them know about “Just Sold” and “Just Listed” properties that match their search criteria.
According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 89% of home shoppers use their mobile phones to search listings. And you can brand yourself as the most reliable source of real estate data on that phone. When your clients are chatting with their friends about the market, they’ll be quoting your emails and market knowledge.
Market Snapshot® is automated content to anchor your prospecting and retention strategy while positioning you as the local real estate expert. It’s a far better value proposition than sending a postcard or flyer to each client in your database.
Utilizing MLS data from a live feed, Market Snapshot® delivers email notifications designed specifically for mobile devices. No websites to search for, no passwords to remember: it’s marketing on-the-fly that drives engagement, sparks a conversation, and promotes your value.
Control how your clients perceive the market and boost your reputation at the same time. By providing accurate, interactive, high-value information, you don’t have to waste time discrediting and re-educating buyers and sellers about falsehoods found on other real estate websites.
Learn more about Top Producer’s Market Snapshot® today!
The post Market Snapshot® Mobile App: ‘Just Listed’ and ‘Just Sold’ Made Easy appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.
What is SavvyCard? To hear David Etheredge, co-founder and CEO of SavvyCard tell it, it’s a wholesale reimagining of the mobile experience for small businesses that want to engage customers wherever they happen to be. Which these days, tends to be on their mobile phones.
Yet the hard part is simply this: SavvyCard does a lot, and it’s hard to describe in a simple elevator pitch. To start with, it’s an electronic business card with a built-in lightweight CRM.
It’s also a method for small businesses (read that as Realtors®) to instantly create a mobile site that is optimized for Google and might even appear at the top of the search results.
You could even say that SavvyCard creates instant referral networks between professionals who may use it cross-market their services. Think of an agent with dozens of contractors in her network. SavvyCard can enable an agent on the platform to send referrals and track results.
But wait, there’s more: For real estate associations that choose to offer SavvyCard to their members, the platform creates an instant mobile site for each member, and affords those who utilize the service’s IDX feed to spit listings found on their websites to consumers’ mobile phones.
Probably the best way to think of SavvyCard is an ecosystem of mobile services that enable businesses to connect to their customers, and profit from their vendor/referral relationships.
So what does that mean to you? Simply that you may stand to profit from SavvyCard, because for now, the electronic business cards are free and easy to set up.
SavvyCard starts with a deceptively simple electronic business card. It’s easy to create, and you can even customize the background via a downloadable Photoshop template. Add in your social accounts, contact information and a few other bits of profile information, and you’re ready to start marketing your card.
What’s important is to claim your URL with care (e.g., savvycard.com/tracyweir) since this will be indexed by search engines, as well as SavvyCard’s internal database (“CardFinder”). The system will automatically create a QR code for your card, which you can add to your marketing materials if you wish. While there are some naysayers that posit that QR codes are on their way out, it’s still handy if QR codes work for you.
You can also create multiple versions of SavvyCards. For example, if you wanted to create a card for your real estate business and another for a side business, SavvyCard makes this easy.
SavvyCard also utilizes something called a SavvyDeck, which is a built-in, lightweight customer relationship management system that allows you to associate other people’s cards with your own. Etheredge says this adds to the viral nature of SavvyCards, because they’re intended to be collected and traded, just like baseball cards.
Once you’ve created your SavvyCard, it’s easy to share it with anyone you like. Just click the giant “share” button on the home screen of your SavvyCard. You can send it via email, text message or QR code. If you’re logged in, SavvyCard will try to prefill the sharing forms with your account information.
In an interesting twist, if you’re not sharing your own SavvyCard, but someone else’s, you can choose to share the recipient’s contact information with the person who owns the card. For example, if you refer a roofer who has a SavvyCard, you can instantly notify the roofer of the prospect’s name and contact information when you send the referral.
Etheredge says the secret sauce of SavvyCard is that each card is really a tiny mobile website, built in minutes for the cardholder.
Etheredge says that SavvyCard is an HTML5 application that is rendered on the fly in the device’s browser. That means there’s no app to download. Everything you need is right there, on the first screen when you open a card.
“What’s important is that consumers are doing business 70 percent of the time on their phones,” Etheredge explains. “They make a decision in 15 seconds as to whether something is worthwhile to them. They don’t want to download another app.”
That’s why SavvyCard’s sites are stripped to the basics, with enormous buttons that are easy to see and use. Although they may feel a little clunky at the moment, Etheredge says future iterations of the buttons will be more sophisticated and customizable.
Regardless of how the buttons look, they’re useful — you can share your SavvyCard, initiate a call, send a text or compose an email, right within the SavvyCard.
Etheredge says that SavvyCard’s mobile websites rank better for search because they promote engagement.
“Google’s most recent updates value interaction and engage more than inbound links,” Etheredge explains. “When you have a SavvyCard that enables the user to click a button to interact with a telephone number, Google sees that as engagement.”
On traditional websites, users typically don’t interact with a phone number — a visitor will simply go to the site, enter the telephone number they need on the homepage into their cell phones, and leave without a single click on the page.
Google may treat this as a bounce, although for the site’s owner it’s a win. Yet in the game of search engine ranking, such views don’t help sites rank, and in fact, may detract from overall organic search engine placement.
Since everything on a SavvyCard site is meant to engage, Etheredge says this gives his sites an edge.
Etheredge envisions an entire ecosystem of SavvyCards for people and businesses. Within real estate, he’s particularly interested in working with real estate associations, where he can instantly create and deploy SavvyCards for all members.
Etheredge says that the member functions of SavvyCard’s platform are ideal for MLSs and associations, as well as large brokers.
SavvyCard’s first client in real estate was the Miami Association of Realtors. Etheredge recalls that he was attending a conference for association executives, where he met Teresa King Kinney and Deborah Boza-Valledor, respectively the CEO and COO/CMO of the association.
Both Kinney and Boza-Valledor saw the potential of SavvyCard to serve as a mobile website for each of their members and affiliates. [To hear a description of how this relationship came to be, go to 7:00 in the SavvyCard video at the top of this article.]
Etheredge says that the Miami Association of Realtors was attracted by SavvyCard’s ability to enable comprehensive search into each member profile on the platform.
One of the more interesting pieces of SavvyCard’s integration with associations and MLSs comes in the IDX feed. When an agent builds a website with a SavvyCard IDX feed, it’s possible to build a SavvyCard for an individual listing that can be sent instantly to the mobile phone a website visitor. [For a demo of this feature, go to 19:00 in the video at the top of this article.]
The property card includes a complete description of the property including directions and pictures.
“We enable people to network with each other, and our platform is viral,” Etheredge says. “When agents can easily interact with each other, affiliate members and their customers, it’s a win.”
The post SavvyCard Wants to Be Your Mobile Website. Should You Let It? appeared first on Eight11.
Successful agents know if their pipeline isn’t filled with potential buyers and sellers, they are quickly out of business. Quality leads mean everything.
It’s easy to get inundated with the day-to-day transactional business of selling real estate. There are inspections to schedule, showings to get feedback on, and appraisal issues to contend with. All of that must be juggled with cultivating new business.
Quality online lead referrals must be a spoke in your prospecting wheel.
Every agent needs multiple streams of business—referrals from past clients, family members and friends, as well as strangers actively searching for a new home or considering selling the house they own.
Buyers and sellers start their search online. If you’re not capturing those potential clients when they are without representation and searching for advice, you are not optimizing all of your resources.
At least 20% of home buyers said they found their agent on realtor.com®—compared to 13% and 12% on the two top competitor sites, respectively, according to the February 2014 Consumer Brand Tracking Study by Westerberg Consulting.
Unclaimed buyers searching active listings on realtor.com® are funneled to agents signed-up for ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.
Because realtor.com® listings are updated every 15 minutes from more than 800 MLS systems across the country, buyers are searching current inventory. There are sites that sell leads from closed or expired listings; that does you a disservice.
“We know you have choices,” says Steve Pacinelli, Vice President of Industry Events for Move, Inc., operator of realtor.com®. “Various companies offer leads. I say evaluate them on quality, time invested and ROI. Once you put that time in, you can’t get it back.”
“There’s always that moment when you’re hesitant to call your sphere,” says Grogan.
She circumvented the fear by signing up for leads.
“When I first started, I was spending about $1,000 per month on leads,” she adds. “I was making about $8,000 a month off of those leads.”
She said she closed two deals a month as a direct result of ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.
Realtor.com® delivers better leads, according to a June 2013 study by PAA research, an independent research firm. The study shows agents are 30% more likely to convert a realtor.com® lead versus the competition.
But it’s not just about getting the lead. Agents must also follow up on those leads quickly, as Grogan did.
“The moment a lead came in, I responded,” she says.
For consumers thirsting for timely information, fast responses are the key to converting them into clients. A Harvard Business Review study noted 70% of buyers expect a response to an online inquiry within 30 minutes. Yet, it takes REALTORS® two hours to respond, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
That disconnect has been addressed in the latest update to ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage.
Now, the system will automatically send a text or email response you can customize, to the client, within 15 minutes.
“It’s your words,” says Pacinelli. “Remember, the best agent is the available agent.”
Grogan sold $6.3 million in residential real estate in her first year using ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage. Now three years into the business, she has a team, The Grogan Group, with a buyer’s agent to handle online leads.
With ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, leads come with an actual phone number and email address. It will even import useful demographic information about the lead such as household income, marital status, place of employment and job title, when available. It also shows the last three houses the prospect looked at online as well as the ones saved as their favorites.
The point is to move the conversation along. The first conversation is no longer an expedition into their wants and price range; it’s a revelation of how knowledgeable you are.
“We make you smarter,” Pacinelli adds. “You can introduce them to new homes because you already know what they are looking for.”
For more information about ConnectionSM for Cobrokerage, call (866) 960-9471 or click here.
Your smartphone has helped you manage day-to-day life as a real estate agent. You use it to stay connected with clients, map the fastest route to a listing, and research property values.
But you can also use it to stay on task and streamline your business.
The smartphone productivity app EasilyDo may be a time management solution to all the activity that clouds your day. Launched in December 2012, EasilyDo has evolved into a productivity app that consolidates and automates email, contacts and networking functions.
“We love our users, and we hope that we are saving them some time,” says Hetal Pandya, EasilyDo co-founder and vice president of marketing.
Like a virtual personal assistant, EasilyDo updates you on what’s happening in your network and suggests actions. For example, when a contact’s birthday pops up from Facebook, EasilyDo will suggest sending a birthday greeting within the app.
By mining your calendars, EasilyDo keeps you on task. It can remind you to wrap up your current showing, because you’ve got another one on the other side of town—and EasilyDo lets you know it’s a half hour away.
With its Traffic & Directions feature, EasilyDo also can tell you there’s a delay on the main road—and then suggest an alternate route.
Real estate professionals have found three EasilyDo features especially useful: contact management, email management and social updates.
Contact management: The EasilyDo contact management system mines your email accounts and automates the manual—and perhaps time-consuming—task of updating your smartphone contact list. And if you have duplicate entries, one with a client’s home and another with business info, it will offer to merge the information into one entry.
Email management: EasilyDo consolidates messages from various email accounts and lets users input specific criteria for email alerts, “so you don’t have to keep checking your email every five minutes,” Pandya says.
Social updates: Rather than spending up to an hour a day checking professional and social websites, EasilyDo consolidates status updates to display only those important updates like job changes and engagement announcements—those life changes that may ultimately result in a client requiring your services.
This productivity app is a time saver. Check EasilyDo’s Twitter feed. It features dozens of unsolicited posts from early adopters, small business owners and evangelists raving about how much time and energy EasilyDo automation and consolidation features have saved them.
If you doubt it, the app also shows features a built-in counter that measures how much time it saved you.
The basic version is free. A premium version of the productivity app that allows more advanced services is priced at $5 per month.
While it was once common for REALTORS® and brokers to divide their time between office space and field work, times have changed. Now, agents and brokers spend more time working from their laptops or tablets, and less time occupying those pricey office suites.
As a broker, switching to a virtual office space and working from home (or at a listing, or in a coffee shop), may seem like a cheaper way to manage the business, but is it practical?
If you are currently leasing office space for your team, switching to a virtual space could save you money. But the real advantage to going virtual and working in the cloud is that you and your team can always be connected.
“Being able to be very dynamic and having everything at your fingertips—always—is the biggest advantage,” said David Newcombe, designated broker for Habitat Urban in Arizona.
While most offices exist in a 9 to 5 world, having your office with you wherever you go makes it easier to work around your clients’ schedules, or to set your own schedule.
If you do decide to go virtual, you will “have to work harder on broker communication,” Newcombe says. Without the water cooler around, you will need to set up times to talk with your agents and your office staff, send regular memos to keep everyone in the loop, and find more inventive ways to train new hires.
Virtual offices may also create some inconveniences on the client side. “The client needs more than just a Starbucks to meet in,” Newcombe said.
That doesn’t mean you will risk losing clients. You just need to find another way to meet and finalize deals.
“Think forward as to what affiliates might work with you to provide conference rooms for occasional special client meetings,” Newcombe said.
Finding the Right Equipment
If do decide to switch to a virtual office, having the right technology in place is key to a successful transition. Newcombe recommends starting with the right customer relationship management software.
“Don’t always go for the obvious old tried and tested solutions,” he said. “There are many great new products on the market that you can customize to fit your brokerage like a glove.”
Once you have a CRM system in place, a handful of productive tools will keep your business running smoothly. At the very basic level you will need an email client, online-based cloud storage, compliance and filing software, and word processing software. Newcombe recommends looking into:
Making the Transition
With the right planning, transitioning to a virtual office could be completely painless. Start by setting regular meetings with a time and place for all of your office administrators, marketing specialists, Web designers and REALTORS®. Having regular meetings will help smooth the transition.
Before you lose the office entirely, Newcombe says to “make sure your REALTORS® are as tech savvy as they can be and used to working without paper.” Also, offer training on any software you will be using and provide agents and staff with a list of equipment they will need to buy.
Raj Qsar is the broker owner of The Boutique, an independent real estate brokerage that integrates mobile technology into real estate transactions. His Southern California offices specialize in luxury homes and has expanded into the coastal region of Newport Beach. In his words, here is a peek into a day in his life.
Walk us through a typical day in your life.
My day typically starts at 5 a.m., sometimes a bit earlier. I just get up out of bed. No alarm. I grab my phone and head downstairs. I am totally a morning person. I make a protein shake and jump on my laptop and scroll through emails, Twitter, Instagram and then Facebook. I usually check analytics on our website and social channels, and look at ad campaign results.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, I am at the Crossfit gym by 6 a.m. After the gym, I am at home helping get the kiddos—Hannah, Emma, and Cooper—get ready for school. Breakfast, clothes, homework review, and they are off to school by 8:30 a.m., and I am off to one of our offices. At 8 p.m. or so, I start shutting down.
Phone / tablet / laptop / desktop of choice?
iPhone 5S, iPad Air, MacBook Pro with Retina Display, iMac 27″ on my desk. We are an Apple company.
Apps you can’t live without?
DocuSign, DocuSign Transaction Room, DropBox, Facebook, Instagram, and recently I have been using Refresh as I am meeting with so many people.
Emails sent per day? Received?
My Google app business account said I received 7,000 emails last month, and I sent out 1,400.
Tell us about your market.
We tend to market homes above $1 million. It was not intentional, but our services are considered luxury and tend to attract those types of buyers and sellers.
Real estate marketing has truly evolved over the last 10 years. We have developed a comprehensive strategy which showcases our client’s home through real-life video—actual movies—amazing photography, 360 HD V-tours, individual property websites for each home, staging and interior design, custom graphics and design, and a social media content strategy that reaches people on a global scale.
We have complete control over our designs, feel and strategy when marketing luxury real estate. When surfing the web for real estate, our listings stand out: they have a unique look and feel, and buyers recognize our listings as being “boutique-ivied”—and we believe every home has a story.
Total number of transactions you worked on last year? Expected this year?
I personally did about 40 transactions last year with an average sales price of about $2 million. I will do about the same this year, but our price point has moved up. Look for our new office in the beach city of Corona Del Mar in Newport Beach as we launch into the coastal Orange County real estate market.
What made you choose a career in real estate?
After watching an agent “sell” our first home, I knew there had to be a better way. I personally held the open houses, I printed the flyers, I wrote the content. That was all pre-social.
It was so massively complicated, and we were so in the dark the whole way through. I had an “Ah, ha!” moment back in 2008 as technology and social media found real estate. We knew there had to be a better way of not only marketing real estate but also of managing the mountain of paperwork and people involved in a real estate transaction.
So in a sense, our team has digitized the real estate experience. You will never find our clients running to a fax machine and most likely never even pick up a pen to sign anything. We are a paperless office, completely mobile and can run an entire real estate transaction from our iPads and phones. Our technology does not require our clients to be tech savvy—it only requires our agents to understand the benefits of technology and to implement that technology with our clients.
What’s the biggest challenge the real estate industry faces today?
One of the biggest challenges in real estate today is that everyone seems to be swimming in the same pool. There is no original creative. Nobody wants to tell a story. There is an old quote, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.” What I love is when I meet someone, and they just instantly pick up with a story. We believe this type of mindset is so needed in our industry.
What advice would you give to new agents?
The advice I would give to a new agent entering into the world of real estate would be to join an amazing team. And I do not just mean a busy team, but an amazing, highly-respected team where you can learn, experience and absorb everything and anything that is real estate. That includes not only all the “beautiful and shiny” things that real estate offers, but also all the challenges that real estate brings each and everyday: from contracts, lender guidelines and appraisals to staging, photography, pre- and post-processing of photos, editing video, print campaigns and the entire social media and web content strategy.
Who inspires you the most?
Jesus Christ because he changed my heart.
Previous “A Day In The Life” articles:
If your brokerage isn’t a well-oiled machine, a crack in your operation may open a trickle of departing agents that soon turns into a stream emptying your talent pool. If that’s the case, you need to find ways to quickly seal the leak. Agents are leaving, but they don’t have to go if you solve some issues.
Problem: Imposing Fees
It’s not unusual for brokers to charge a fee for some services, like maintaining a mobile listing site or featuring listings on realtor.com®. And while some agents may prefer paying a fee over doing it themselves, others, particularly younger agents, may prefer to do the work, said Max Pigman, senior vice president and chief ambassador at realtor.com®.
“On the Gen Y spectrum, those agents already have those techniques and habits down,” Pigman said. “They would see it as a negative to charge them a fee for what they’re already doing on their phone at Starbucks.”
Solution: A Choice to Opt-In
Instead of imposing a fee for all agents, develop a system where agents can opt-in to certain services. For example, instead of hiring an administrative assistant to handle the back-end work for every agent, let the agents decide if they want to pool together to cover the service fee needed to hire a shared assistant.
“It creates a neat way to retain agents,” Pigman said. “If they like the services being provided, they certainly don’t want to create that wheel somewhere else. They think, ‘I can’t take that assistant with me.’ ”
Problem: Unnecessary Overhead Fees
A large brick-and-mortar office building may seem impressive, but the overhead fees required can dig into bottom lines, and you may not even need one. Big office buildings used to evoke a sense of pride and accomplishment––kind of a proof of success, according to Pigman. Older agents may value it, but younger agents may not care as much.
“Many younger people don’t care about or want a big company. It’s nice to have, but the majority of
If your large overhead fees are squeezing agents out, you may want to consider downsizing, then putting that saved money into online real estate.
“If I were a broker owner, I’d be looking at how do I create a place that’s functional but not have this huge monthly rent,” Pigman said. “I would spend that money on SEO and SEM so I have a great perception online, and shift those offline marketing dollars to online spending.”
Problem: Not Bringing in New Talent
As Pigman noted, bringing in new and younger agents is vital. And not bringing in new talent is a problem, even if your current agents aren’t leaving.
If you are having a problem recruiting younger agents, your brokerage might not be technologically appealing to the younger demographic, or you might not be offering the right services.
Solution: Getting Plugged In
Figure out what kind of technology you use and what you might be missing. Consider offering virtual meetings and paperless operations or adding cutting-edge email services, like BombBomb, which allows your agents to send video emails to clients and provides analytics on client responses. You can also manage lead activity and maximize conversion ROI with FiveStreet.
However, anticipate the possibility of pushback from agents who may not be technologically inclined.
“There are a number of things that agents don’t want to learn but can’t ignore,” Pigman said.
If this applies to your agents, consider offering training and hiring an IT professional to assist with day-to-day issues.
“I’ve seen lots of brokers do this to show older generations. They do this, and they realize their agents won’t go anywhere,” Pigman said.
By providing support for common tech problems before they happen, agents are less likely to become frustrated, and more likely to learn the new system and feel like a valuable asset.
It happened again this week. A call from an enormously successful agent came in a little after 5:30 p.m.
“I’m confused,” the caller said through the crackle of a bad mobile connection. “I’m spending all sorts of money on my brand, but I hate all of it. I need to focus. I’m in the process of developing my website, but I don’t know what it should say. Can you help?”
Yes, I thought to myself, I can help. But chances are you might not like the help I’m about to offer.
“You’re like a lot of agents I’ve met,” I began. “You’re successful, talented, over-achieving and yet, lost.”
I got a knowing sigh on the other end of the line.
“The problem is really simple,” I continued. “You don’t know who you are, and you need to figure that out. It’s not easy to put a stake in the ground and define yourself. It means making choices. You’re unique. You’re different. So you have to define that.”
“Oh, I’m doing that,” the caller said. Then she began to sputter out a complex picture of her marketing ecosystem. “I specialize in luxury properties. I just had a new head shot taken. I’m working on a new semi-custom website. Did I mention my husband is the other half of my team? He says we should just pick up the phone to get more business, but we’re already selling $45 million a year. But we want to sell $60 million.
“So I was thinking, maybe I should just get XYZ CRM to handle all our contacts,” she continued. “Does that work? Do you know if it can connect to email? I’ve got to get a newsletter started. Did I mention I’m thinking about using drones to shoot my latest listing? Or do you think we can just get our assistant to do it? We’re already spending a lot of money on marketing, but it doesn’t seem to draw in anyone new. Almost all of our business comes from referrals.”
I was exhausted just listening to this. Here was a very successful person. Yet she was so engulfed in the tactics of her marketing program (both the ones she was actually using and various technologies she hadn’t even tried) that she had forgotten the one thing that actually mattered.
Who was she? What was it that made her successful? And most important, what made her different?
Difference isn’t created by following the herd and doing the same things everyone else is doing. You can’t develop difference by tapping into pre-fab content created by somebody else for people who don’t know you or your clients.
Defining your difference is like deciding on a destination — you have to choose where you want to go so you can actually get there. Think of it this way: It’s unlikely that Frederick Cook or Robert Peary (who both claimed to have discovered the North Pole first) would have gotten there at all if they hadn’t set out to discover it in the first place.
Your mission has to be to discover YOUR North Pole. Not someone else’s, even if you think someone else has already covered the territory. Your North Pole has to be yours, and yours alone. Remember this:
It’s impossible to be different if you don’t treat yourself as unique.
Few agents and brokers will commit to carving out their own difference. Instead, they rely on timeworn homilies that, in all practicality, negate any differences they might have. Though I’ve mentioned it before, words like “excellence” and “unparalleled service” really mean very little to the people you’re trying to win as clients.
Such phrases are easy to use, though, because they’re not demanding. Using words like this to describe you is convenient, because they demand little introspection. After all, who’s going to argue with excellence? It’s more likely your clients just ignore it.
In reality, though, the only time “excellence” counts is when your clients use the word to describe you. When you use it, it’s akin to being one of those hateful guests at a cocktail party that can’t stop talking about himself. Droning on about quality and service practically guarantees that you’re talking to the mirror — not to your clients.
So why do agents and brokers blather on and on, and ignore the opportunity to differentiate themselves? I think there are eight key reasons — and if you’re going to grow your business, you should fight against every one of them until you find your own North Pole.
Here’s how I know so many people believe this — they’re willing to buy all sorts of templated content and technology because they can’t think up anything that would set them apart from their competitors. Now, this isn’t a slam against those honorable vendors who sell products and services to real estate agents that incorporate pre-fab content or design (many of whom I’ve reviewed right here on Eight11). Often these are great services that are just waiting for some TLC from an agent that understands these are tools to be made their own. Rather, it’s about the agents who fail to personalize these tools at all — so that they’re just one of many using the same tools and techniques. Looks alike, sounds alike, is alike — the death knell of creating difference.
I’ve gotten on my soapbox plenty of times to say how much I despise meaningless words like “premier” or “full service.” I don’t think they mean anything to the average consumer, which is why everyone (even you, if you’re reading this screed) brushes right over them. In order to embrace why you’re different, you have to use words and take action that reflect that actually make you different. And they have to make your difference relevant to your clients. Expressing your difference is an active proposition. It should work for your customers and clients, in words and actions a three-year old, non-native speaker can understand. Leave the $20 dollar, fancy-pants words behind, and get out there and do something that sets you apart.
This is a massive problem. If you’re not thoroughly enthusiastic about what you do, it will show through in your brand. Passion allows you to succeed against all odds and creates a meaningful impression in your clients’ minds. If you’re phoning it in and have lost the reason you got into the business in the first place, no chipper marketing slogan, website, business card, CRM or other tactical effort will help you distinguish yourself.
I’m not pointing any fingers, but when your only goal is to make more money or hit a certain level of production, it’s pretty hard to create difference. Goals that are strictly related to money lack a higher purpose. Money goals have nothing to do with adding value to your clients. No client wants to feel that the only reason you’re working with them is to win a commission. Yet if you have a higher purpose — a goal that goes beyond lucre or personal status — it’s obvious that your mission and values will percolate throughout your business, and enrich your clients’ experience with you. You will be different through your actions because they help you achieve your higher purpose. Think Method Cleaners vs. P&G — Method is about making people happy with better, environmentally sensitive products. P&G is about winning market share.
I recently spoke to a group of 500 agents at an industry event. I asked the audience how many people had subscribed to a service that they were still paying for — but had forgotten the password to, and hadn’t logged in for more than 30 days. Some 90 percent of the audience’s hands went up! The reason is simple: It’s an absolute disconnect between your higher purpose and the mechanics of your business. We’re all searching for the perfect solution to manage our businesses, but when the technology is there for its own sake and doesn’t really facilitate your goals, it’s a non-starter. It’s not so much about discipline as it is about reality. We spend our time on what’s important to us. What’s important propels us towards our goal. If it doesn’t support the goal … well, you can see where this is going. I swear it’s the reason so many CRMs are abandoned. Maybe you’re really not that into building a massive database of contacts after all, because it’s just not YOU.
In real estate, you have to play by the rules when it comes to negotiating a transaction. But everything else you do is up to you. To be different means actually being different, whether that’s via the force of your charming personality, or utilizing technology to support your higher purpose and your business goals. Nobody else can or should do business as you do. Celebrate that difference, carve out your niche, and stick to it.
Difference is about making choices, just as simplicity is the art of intelligent subtraction. You can’t and shouldn’t do everything under the sun. Specialize in and celebrate what you’re good at, and ruthlessly cut out all the stuff you don’t like to do, or aren’t really good at. Your prospects want to work with someone who is a passionate expert. Be that person and announce it to the world.
Maybe it’s because I’ve been in marketing for close to 30 years, but I REALLY hate it when someone says to me that marketing is really expensive, and that’s why they have an awful brand. I despise it because it speaks to a basic misunderstanding of what a brand really is, and what marketing can do. A brand is an intangible yet valuable promise that your clients will either believe in and buy — or not. Marketing is about getting the word about your promise out into the world. You can have an excellent brand (your promise) supported by a tiny marketing budget (your creativity and actions). What matters is quality, consistency and a commitment to creating difference and preference. If you’re all over the map and your brand is pretty awful, that’s because you haven’t created difference that you believe in and care about.
Few marketing tactics are as attractive as pay per click advertising. The idea of putting a little ad on Google and driving thousands of visitors to your site is glorious. Think of the volume of leads you’ll create for pennies on the dollar!
What’s more, you’ll be able to knowingly fling around words like “long tail” and “fat head,” and use acronyms like CPA, CTR and CPA. Thousands of leads will magically flow your way. You’ll be the coolest kid in class. Until it all falls apart, and your money is gone and your lead base is no bigger than it was before you started.
That’s exactly why so many agents feel positively hornswoggled after spending money on pay per click (PPC) ads, whether they use a service to place the ad, or do it themselves. Thousands of dollars later, with no leads to show for their investment, they throw in the towel, convinced that all vendors who offer to place ads on the Internet are charlatans.
Not all search engine marketing vendors are thieves, but it’s easy to see why agents might think so. Often, the lack of success in PPC is caused by a diabolical mix-up of dreamy expectations and harsh reality, mashed up with inscrutable and mushy reporting from vendors.
In a perfect world, you would be able to create a mind-blowingly engaging ad, put it on Google, and attract quality traffic to your site.
Not just your site in general, mind you, but a specific, compelling landing page that is so persuasive that all those prospects willingly give you their real names, emails and telephone numbers so that you can engage them.
At that point, you would transform them into real clients because you call them within moments of receiving their inquiry. And that how you measure results: You would tie how you got a client back to a specific ad or campaign.
In reality, though, it’s a lot more difficult than that.
That’s because PPC advertising is frequently set up to fail, because unassuming agents don’t understand the complete picture of what it takes to make PPC really perform. And it’s a lot more than clever headlines or 140 character ads.
The reason most agents fail with PPC is that they don’t have a complete solution to make it a success. This consists of four components:
If you’re not set up with all four components before you begin your campaign, it’s doomed. Here’s how not to have this happen to you.
There are three terms you need to understand before you start any PPC campaign.
Click through rate (CTR) is the percentage of people who click on your ad after having seen it on Google (or any other search engine on which you’re advertising)
Cost per click (CPC) is the amount it costs to buy a click on an ad you’re running. It’s also the maximum amount you’re willing to pay for a click. Since you only pay for each click, this can be very inexpensive, or very very expensive, depending on the search term you’re bidding on.
Cost per acquisition is what it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. This is a very important number to pay attention to — because it’s really a measure of your effectiveness at PPC advertising. Let’s say that you spend $1 per click, and 10 percent of visitors who hit your site after viewing your ad actually become your clients. That puts your CPA at $10:
CPA = $1/10% = $10 customer
You’re paying just $10 to acquire each client, which is a pretty good deal. But it’s easy to see how this number becomes extremely expensive if you’re spending $10-15 a click, and just two percent of your visitors convert:
CPA = $15/2% = $750 per customer
Suddenly, small numbers become huge, and more than a little disappointing.
So when a PPC vendor pitches you on cost-effective lead generation via PPC, it’s time to start asking some hard questions.
It often seems that PPC vendors in the real estate space say that paid search (another term for PPC) is more about branding than real lead generation. This is especially the case when they’ve got a client that is unhappy with the results.
“PPC is really about brand exposure,” they stammer, as they try to explain why your $1,000 went straight down the drain with no measurable results. While it might serve some folks’ egos to have their ad on Yahoo! Sports in third position, it’s not worth much if it doesn’t generate a lead.
Brand exposure, where leads are not important, is for brands — and most agents are not in the position to run branding campaigns for their individual businesses.
Despite what some PPC vendors in the real estate space say, branding campaigns don’t generate leads. Branding campaigns get broad exposure for a product or service. But most agents want leads, not brand exposure.
Yet PPC can work for agents and brokers. Venerable vendors like Curaytor, Real Estate Webmasters or Boomtown generate massive amounts of leads and prove the point that PPC is a valuable tool, if you use it for the right purpose and are set up to succeed.
It’s also important that you don’t have to use a vendor to get great results, but if you’re not an expert you’ll need to spend quite a bit of time learning how to leverage PPC.
The first thing you need to do is consider your budget and goals. PPC is pure math, mixed in with a bit of savvy creative.
Here are a few things you can do to get going:
By this time, you’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard about keywords. But just in case you’re not completely sure what a keyword is, here’s the simplest explanation:
A keyword is a search term a user enters into search engine to get a result. It can be one word (“houses”) or a combination or words, or terms (“blue houses on Elm Street).
However, not all keywords are created equal. Some are more popular than others. For example, very broad keywords, like “houses” or “shoes” return untold millions of results, and are very difficult to dominate (or rank for).
This means that it would be extraordinarily difficult for you, as a sole agent or broker with a limited budget, to have your search ad (or even content on your website) come up first in your market when someone enters the term “houses” with no modifying terms such as the location or other features of the property.
That’s not a bad thing. Consider this: there’s a hidden benefit to ranking for more obscure search terms, like “mid century three bedroom two bath houses Evanston IL walking distance.” This much more specific term is probably less expensive to bid on, and it’s also easier to rank for since fewer people are entering that exact term into the search engines.
This type of term is known as a “long tail” keyword — and typically, the people who enter these terms are much farther along in their buying process than someone who simply puts “houses” into Google.
Your mission is to optimize your ads against the way you think people will search for you, and bid against the terms they might use to find your ad. There are a zillion tools you can use to figure out what people are searching for, and how much it might cost you to rank for those terms. Those specifics are for another post — but you still need to be knowledgeable enough to be dangerous about keywords. Here’s why.
You’ll need to tweak and tune your advertising to continuously optimize your ads to achieve the highest click through. (Or you should hold your vendor accountable, particularly if you’re not seeing results.)
There’s another reason that you want to optimize your ads. Google will reward you for quality ads, and give you the best rates and premium positioning if your ads are effective. That can give your campaigns the extra lift you need to get the most out of your PPC budget. Google’s Quality Score is based on the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance, and landing page experience.
Frequently, when a PPC campaign is very expensive with few results, the issue is in the basic strategy, keywords or campaign structure.
That’s why you need to understand how your campaign is structured in terms of keywords, bidding strategy and duration in order to fix the issue. Even if you’re using a vendor, you need to stay involved, because you’re in charge of your budget and marketing strategy. PPC is most certainly not a set it and forget it medium.
Yet if your click throughs are high, and your cost per click seems reasonable, and you’re still getting a bad conversion rate, the problem could be on your landing page. If you’ve managed to get a user to click on your ad, but lose them at the front door of your site, that’s a waste of a click.
What’s important to remember is that PPC is really a troika: Great creative, smart bidding, and compelling landing pages. When you hit all three, you can knock it out of the park.