Create Value

As Realtors we are in the industry of servicing our clients, understanding their needs, and delivering impeccable service, PERIOD! With the advancement of technology and so many new apps being created hourly, it’s no wonder why we get sidetracked and distracted over the best tools to help us run our business and generate more leads. More often than not, we find a few tools for our clients as well, tell them to download the app, and leave them to their own defenses.

Technology is only one component to being a top producing Realtor. It helps us put our marketing on autopilot, track our sales, advertise our accomplishments and allows our foot in the door of people that don’t know who we are yet. But how does this help our clients? How is this better serving their need to purchase or lease Real Estate? Fundamental sales skill sets are a larger component to building rapport with your client and what we all hope to get in return… repeat business and/or referrals!

Be a resource for your client on any and all of their needs. If you don’t know the answer, be candid in telling them that and find someone who does have the answer. Your client will be more appreciative of the fact that you are working for them and not giving them the run around. Solve the problem for your client and act as if you are the ultimate think tank for them! Your client expects that you will go to bat for them in all aspects of the transaction. Going the extra mile and showing them different scenarios to resolve any objection creates value in their eyes. When you decide on some cool apps to have them download, make sure you walk them through it and how it will benefit what their goal is.

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“Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken”

How many Realtors have you come across that sound and look like everyone else?  Their website is generic, their business card is no different from the next and their marketing pieces say the same message as their competitors.  In a world run by technology and where the cost is so minimal in giving your business a specific look and feel, it’s a wonder why a lot of Realtors have not taken advantage of the vast array of tools out there.

Let’s face it, the way business is conducted in our industry is ever changing and constantly evolving to incorporate technology and how we inform and interact with our clientele. In fact, I challenge you while you’re out on your next lunch break, to ask a few strangers how they choose a Realtor and why.  I would bet that referrals play role as well as consistent marketing.  Rarely have I come across someone that says, “I chose my Realtor because I heard they are with ‘X’ brokerage.”

On that note, why help brand a franchise or a larger company when you could brand yourself as the number one Realtor in your marketplace and the person with a wealth of information and connections on any Real Estate matters?  To be an elite Realtor, one must remember that your business relies solely on your efforts, not the efforts of your colleagues.  Knowing directly what works each time in getting a property sold and keeping your pipeline full of new business is what separates those who choose Real Estate as a hobby and those who make it a career.  So be yourself, build your brand and cultivate what it is that makes clients want to work with you, regardless of what company you are affiliated with!

3 TIps For Lead Generation

You can be a closing Champion but if you don’t have the deals to close in the first place, then you’re no Champ at all. Farming (lead generation) will always be a necessary part of the Realtors profession, period! Generating leads online can be tough, especially with non-conventional forms of communication that come with the introduction of social media. Here are three simple tips to enhance your online lead generation.

Manage Awareness: In order to establish a relationship, the person must first know who you are, or be aware of you. This is where web 2.0 comes in. You can improve your online presence through the use of things like Social Media, Blogs, SEO, or even online press releases. These all great ways to start, the goal is to make sure that your name comes up when someone searches the keyword “Realtor” online.

Manage Consideration: Now that people know who you are online you have to give them a reason to consider you. First impressions are important so make sure whatever they first come into contact with is quality. You can try listing some legitimate positive testimonials on your webpage. This will give the consumer a little glimpse as to how you conduct business. Provide consumers opportunities to inquire about your service by Email subscription. You now have their name and point of contact to market to.

Manage Action: Now that you have names and emails you can follow through. It may seem like a lot of work but sending a semi-personalized email to each prospect can go a long way. No one likes to be spammed so do whatever you can to make it not seem like a huge email blast. It can mean the difference between retaining a prospect or being blocked forever.

3 Features That Your Realtor Branded App Should Have

Todays’ technology makes it easy for Realtors to work remotely but having and maintaining a mobile application can be a little frustrating.

It can get overwhelming when deciding what features your personalized agent branded app should have.  While many apps have great features, some may have too many which can leave a buyer confused and disoriented.

The more features your app has the more places it has to glitch up and crash. The key to preventing your app from constantly crashing, confusing a user, and preventing you from having a constant headache is to simplify with these 3 features.

Mobile MLS Mapping – Most applications have this as a standard feature. When building your own app this is a must have. This feature allows the user to search for property from a “Google Maps” platform. It’s extremely user-friendly and anyone who has a smart phone (if they don’t they’ve got bigger issues) can use it.

Agent Branding –  This seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised as to how many apps do this incorrectly. Agent Branding is simply making sure the app is clearly about you. You should have features that allow the user to contact you (by phone or email) regarding a property they find on the app directly from the app. This also leaves no room for another agent to get your client!

Home Spotter – I put this on the list simply because I think it’s extremely cool! This home Spotter feature allows the user to hold his/her smart phone or tablet up to a property (as if they were taking a video or picture) and get all the info for that property. Price, listing agent, how many rooms, everything is virtually displayed over the property! This feature is just for bragging rights. You can bet the other agent doesn’t have it on his/her app and it will definitely impress your clients.

 

Take Your Real Estate Marketing Online

A lot of Realtors consider themselves to be “Old Skool” (yes that’s school with a k). I’ve had many Realtors express concerns about the effectiveness of online lead generation.  The question they ask is, “Can we compete in our market without implementing an online or web 2.0 campaign?”

Of course it’s “Possible”. However, as you continue the practices that you’re used to, you can be sure that your competitors are venturing in areas that you are not. As I’ve mentioned in earlier post, most people searching for a new property start by searching online. Here are two statistics for you to think about when considering taking your marketing campaign online.

  • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process. Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253%  over the past four years.
  • NAR studies show that 52% of buyers turn to the Web as their first step in the home buying process.

So what does this information tell us? It tells us that almost all home buyers went online at some point in their home buying process, and over half did so before they even turned to a broker. The majority of people buying homes today spend time searching, learning and taking information online before they even think about speaking with a broker.  This alone is enough to consider expanding your marketing efforts online.

Real Estate Report Card

There are a lot of Real Estate companies with applications that claim to be the “best choice for your Real Estate needs”. I’ve just recently come across an article that I feel accurately describes and grades a few of the major Real Estate platforms. It goes without saying that each review should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of these applications give you the same MLS listing results, so the majority of the reviews focus on design and touch user interface. The only way to find out which one is right for you is to try them all!

“Reposted from 1000watt Blog.” 

Zillow

Zillow announced that it will be the first publicly traded company to take questions from investors via Twitter and Facebook. It also re-launched its mobile apps, moving all the search options under the “hamburger” icon and integrated its Mortgage Marketplace into the experience.

Grade: B+

I think Zillow’s openness on social media has done wonders for its brand and I like the new design… but I don’t love it. Somehow it feels like it has lost a bit of its personality. Maybe I miss the green from the new all-blue look. (Too Trulia for them, perhaps?) Also, I’m really beginning to think that the map is not the best view for real estate listings on mobile. More on that in another post, though.

Trulia

Trulia’s suite of consumer products, its website, mobile apps and iPad app all got face-lift too. Photos got bigger. The design got flatter. And in the case of the search results page on their website, they lost the left rail altogether and moved to a two-column layout.

Grade: A

I like the direction that Trulia is taking its design. Deep-sixing that left rail of refiners is like a blast of fresh air across the page. Trulia was the last holdout of the major portals on this front. Vendors and brokers, if you’re still desperately clinging to that wall of drop downs and form fields on your website, do yourself a favor and move on.

Realtor.com

Realtor.com released school search in its iOS and Android apps this month. The feature lets you quickly find properties within specific school districts or boundaries with a quick tap. Great school ratings are integrated, as are important data points like teacher/student ratios. Parents everywhere rejoice.

Grade: A-

I love all the innovation coming out of “Move” on the mobile front. They were first out of the gates with a draw-to-search feature, which still feels like magic. School search is a such a no-brainer and their execution here is fantastic. I love the speed and responsiveness. My only hesitation in awarding them an A grade this month is that the app itself is starting to look a little tired, with feature upon feature being piled on. I think this is an app that is screaming out for a UI refresh.

Redfin

Redfin pushed out a major design overhaul of the company’s website a few weeks back. They buried the previous design’s “cadaver blue” and splashed the wall with Redfin red . The company’s tree logo also got felled. A quick survey of the comments on the blog post announcing the change shows people were none too happy with the change.

Grade: B+

The new identity and red makes a ton sense. After all, the color is in the company’s name. I really like the cleanliness of the new site too, but its mobile apps still look like they’re the walking dead.

Use QR Codes and Make it Easier for Buyers and Sellers

By now we all know that the easier you make it on a Buyer or Seller, the more business you’ll get. However, some Realtors are not aware of how easy you can make it. With today’s web 2.0 technology almost all the information a person could need  about a property is at their fingertips. Most of us do our research before visiting an open house or commercial property (most of us). But what about those who just happen to be interested when walking or driving by but are too lazy to go in? Put the information in their hands with a QR code or SnapTag. One of these slapped on a Real Estate sign makes it easy for someone to scan and visit your site or information right from their mobile device.

 

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Quick Response Code (QR) – Got their start in the automotive industry by making it extremely easy for shops to identify vehicles. The usefulness of these bar codes quickly caught the business worlds eye and now they can be found in almost every industry. The appeal of the QR code is obvious. These guys can be encoded with almost anything  and link you to  just about everything with a URL attached

 

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SnapTag – You either love it or hate it. The idea behind SnapTag is to encode a logo with any data that can be encoded into a QR code. Its main premise is that QR codes can be ugly and what better way to promote your business than with your own logo. Simple enough. However, the technology hasn’t exactly caught on and some critics say the tech doesn’t work as well as it should.

 

The benefits of these codes are simple. They make it easier for the Buyer or Seller to access your information, in turn, increasing your chances of nailing that listing or selling that property. As for which one to use? I’ll let you try them both out and you can be the judge.

 

Photography and Your Listing

As many of us already know, photos play a major role when it comes to publicizing a property. Photos and videos grab everyone’s attention whether it’s on Facebook, printed marketing materials, or your blog/website. The photo/video must be clear, crisp, elegant etc. To achieve this many Realtors hire professionals to make sure the photos are  of quality, but what happens when professionals are not available? We’ve all been in a position where you are  touring a property for a client and you want to send them a quick pic or video to gauge their interest. Or maybe you’re not satisfied with the pictures on the MLS but you don’t have time to hire anyone. How do you make sure these photo/videos are quality? Here are a few tips for you to follow.

The Rule of Thirds – The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. The iPhone Makes this easy with its grid feature. If you break the image into nine sections, how do your subjects fit in those spaces? You don’t always want them in the middle.

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 Use a Tripod (when available) — this will allow you to take a longer exposure and give you crisp, clear photographs with available light.

Use all of the available lighting  — in the home, being careful not to shoot directly at bright light coming from windows unless you are using multiple exposures or exposure adjustments. When the camera sees the bright light coming from the window, it thinks there is enough light for a proper exposure; what will actually happen is the room will be underexposed and detail will be lost.

Wide-Angle lenses are best for photographing rooms, as they will show more of the room, which will enhance the space.

Never Shoot at Mid Day — When shooting the property from the outside its best to avoid shooting at mid day, this is when the Sun is at its peak and the light will cause the camera to under expose the picture.

These are just few tricks that can help you when taking photos of your listing. Happy Clicking!

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Benefits of Info-graphics on Your Website

Info-graphic or Information graphic, are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly. They can improve cognition by utilizing graphics to enhance the human visual system’s ability to see patterns and trends. The process of creating info-graphics can be referred to as data visualization,information design, or information architecture………Sounds boring doesn’t it?  Of course it does, but it can actually stand to make your website more exciting. To put the above paragraph in simpler terms an info-graphic takes data (usually numerical, statistics, ratios, etc.) and puts it into a fun and easy to understand picture.  Here is an example of an info graphic depicting Social Media use as it relates to the Real Estate industry.

 

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Simple, to the point, and most of all it’s interesting! What took me an entire page of text to explain can be done in seconds with a simple picture. We live in world of instant gratification. People want you to get to the point immediately or they’ll lose interest. Placing an info-graphic on your website will not only help you organize your information into an easy to understand format but it will also help you keep the reader’s attention.  Chances are the info-graphic in the center of the page is the first thing you looked at and from there you decided to read the text. As a Realtor you should use this to your advantage.

So how can you as a Realtor use info-graphics? Any way you want to. I’ve seen them used to announce new listings, community updates, and used to chart a certain Realtors success for the past few years. The uses are only limited to your imagination.  Here are a few sites that will help you design an info-graphic quickly. Each has its own unique graphic generator but all create quality info-graphic. Try all and see which one you like the best!

-> Infogr.am

-> Visual.ly

-> Piktochart

 

 

Use Social Media Analytics to Improve Your Real Estate Efficiency

As I’m sure you all know by now Social Media is an extremely effective and affordable marketing tool; one that every business in every industry should be utilizing. The use of Social media turns us into our own public relations or marketing firm. However, while Realtors may acknowledge the potential of these tools, they often fail to go further and see what is or  isn’t effective. This is where analytics comes in. To put it simply, the analytics of your Social Media sites are the cold hard data which come from the number of clicks, views, likes, etc. WordPress has a simple version of this on the black bar at the top of the page (for those of you who use WordPress and are logged in). Although it may seem boring, knowing the statistics of your different sites is extremely important if you want to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign. As a Realtor you need to know who is responding to the promotions you publish, whether or not they are sharing it (which means they’re excited about it), the amount of people who are actually engaged in your links, etc. All of these things can help you tailor your message toward a specific demographic or geographic, which as a Realtor, is one of the most valuable abilities to possess. Research what Buyers and Sellers like to view, replicate it, and toss of what they don’t.

So how can you get a quality analysis of your social media sites? I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the 3 best analytic programs:

Google Analytics:  Allows you measure sales and conversions, as well as gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back. It includes Analysis tools, content analysis, social analysis, advertising analysis, etc.

 Radian 6: Social media monitoring tools, social media engagement software and social marketing

 Hootsuite: A better view of your social campaigns with powerful analytics tools and customizable reports that gives you a complete and comprehensive picture of your participation in social spaces. HootSuite Social Analytics closes the loop between social and digital with real-time views into campaign results.

 Each program has its own unique benefit but all provide you with valuable data that can lead you to closing more deals in a shorter amount of time. On top of that, they are very user-friendly and easy to link up to any current social media site that you may have. If you’re a Realtor and you are marketing through social media there is no reason for you not be analyzing your data on your own when these sites practically do it for you. Happy Hunting!