Do You Think Like a Real Estate Salesperson or a Real Estate Marketing Professional?

Why thinking like a marketer is so Important to success in sales!

Do You Think Like a Real Estate Salesperson or a Marketing Professional Who Can Attract a Steady Flow of Clients and Real Estate Leads? 

Working with real estate salespeople day after day, I see a huge waste of time, money and energy that comes as a direct result of agents thinking like a salesperson instead of a marketing professional. Unfortunately, most agents have no formal training about what marketing is and how it relates to their sales activities. While most agents have gone through a significant amount of sales training, the sales training they get revolves around classic sales skills that assume that face-to-face or over the phone selling skills are all you need to succeed as a real estate agent.

This training doesn’t cover the impact that marketing has on the overall success of an agent. The reality is that most real estate trainers do not have a marketing education or come from a marketing background. They were successful sales people that enjoyed training and management, and they teach agents what they did to succeed as a salesperson, which only works if you have agents that are clones of each other.

So, what exactly is the difference between sales and marketing and why is it important that you understand how marketing and sales work together?

The classic definition of marketing is; Marketing is comprised of the total impact of all activities involved in the transfer of goods from a seller to the buyer, including market selection, product or service features, design, packaging, branding, advertising, shipping, storing, selling, delivery and post-sale customer service. Selling is one just one step out of the complete marketing process and is defined as a salespersons’ actions that are used to induce (someone) to buy something when they are face to face or on the phone with a prospect.  Ok, I know you are thinking, “I just wasted my time reading that.”  What it means is that great marketing makes sales much easier and excellent sales skills maximize the ROI from the investment in marketing.

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Are Your Social Media Pages Working for You or Against You?

Don’t Let a Neglected Social Media Page Undo the Goodwill Your Effective Branding Generates Elsewhere

Real Estate Marketing for Priscila Rodrigues

Imagine this scenario for a minute: A homeowner receives your personal brochure. It doesn’t matter how she got it, whether it was mailed to her, she picked it up from a stack or you gave it to her personally. What matters is this – she read through it and she likes what she sees. She feels a connection to you and your story.

It’s a good start. But is it good enough?

You see, in today’s world, there’s so much easily accessible information out there, a homeowner is unlikely to stop his or her research at your brochure. Why not do a quick Google search and check you out on your website, Facebook or Twitter to gather a little more information?

And this is where things can get dicey.

A Google search leads the homeowner to your personal website. Great! Or is it? Does your website convey the same professionalism and branding that was in your brochure? Or does it look like a company-issued template site that either buries your name and branding and gives the company top branding, or does the visitor get confused because it looks exactly like 4 or 5 other sites of agents they’ve been scouting? Does the jarring disconnect affect the visitor’s decision whether or not to work with you? That’s the key question.

Okay, to continue our scenario, the homeowner logs on to your Twitter but then finds a generic looking page that hasn’t been updated for a couple months. If they take the time to find you on Facebook, is your story and branding reinforced or non-existent?

Uh oh.

Hopefully you’re getting the point. Today’s technological world offers a bounty of branding opportunities, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a great opportunity for people to discover you and experience your brand. The downside is this: You never know how someone is going to find you, and therefore it is essential that your branding extends to every conceivable platform. Consistency in your branding from direct mail to web to social media is more important than ever.

Back to the scenario we described above, if that homeowner who loved your brochure goes on to find cohesive branding across your website, your Facebook, Twitter, etc., you’re only going to bolster the positive impression made with your brochure. But what about the alternative? If she finds a lackluster, generic-looking website? If she’s underwhelmed by your standard-issue Facebook page? If your Twitter page looks neglected and lacking any inkling of the branding that was so impressive in your brochure? Suddenly you’ve created a disconnect, and there goes the goodwill you built through your brochure. What if you lose that prospect to an agent who took the time to build cohesive branding across the spectrum?

Here’s the moral of the story: You never know where or how a prospect will discover you. You need every marketing venue you appear in to be in lock step with your brochure branding. In this digital age, social media has become too important to not give it your all. The good news is it’s not all that complicated to turn an ordinary looking social media page into something that truly wows prospective clients and extends your brand. Make it a priority that everything you do conveys your own personal brand. If you don’t know where to start or you’re having trouble doing so, give us a call. We can help.

To find out more, email Aleks@hobbsherder.com or call 800-999-6090, ext. 599.


Does Your Personal Brand Meet “The Storytellers” Standard?

Creating A personal Brand for Real Estate Agents to Generate Leads.

We saw a commercial the other day that reminded us exactly why we’re so passionate about the business we’re in. Take a look:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wa_6g9WNgU&list=PL88A23B2B49A23137&index=11

No, we’re not in the car business. We’re not in the dog products business. We’re in the business of branding, and nothing does that more effectively than emotional storytelling. In this commercial, you see a story unfold before your eyes. An emotionally compelling story. In fact, you see a man’s life unfold in 30 seconds. It’s a story that makes you feel good about the product, a Subaru automobile. The commercial doesn’t tell you a single fact about the car, it’s engine size, number of cup holders or any other feature about the car. Yet, you feel a bond with the subject matter. You care because you have a story you can relate to.

Story telling is what drives the most effective branding campaigns, whether the product being branded is a car, a cereal or even a real estate agent. Emotional marketing works for Fortune 100 products and companies and it works for real estate agents.

Many years ago, we at Hobbs/Herder adopted the slogan “The Storytellers” to describe what we do. We were the pioneers of emotionally compelling, story-driven marketing in real estate, and we think it’s even more important than it’s ever been before.

When we look around the industry, we see a lot of “cookie-cutter” advertising. This consists of advertising with one-size-fits-all impersonal, templated designs and boiler-plate copy that may be less expensive but is also less effective. In fact, over our 25 plus years in the business, we’ve seen a legion of copycat companies who took our idea to create branded marketing materials for agents but they’ve pulled the story and the emotion out of the equation. Creating that story, that emotional connection is the hard part, that’s the heavy lifting that makes branding so effective when done right — and that’s what makes us more expensive than other real estate marketing and advertising companies.

The problem with cheaper, templated marketing pieces is simple – this is not effective branding. There’s no hook. There’s no story. There are no personally significant or captivating design elements that resonate with a compelling story. It’s nothing but a waste of money spent on marketing materials that will neither make you memorable nor differentiate you from your competition. You end up being viewed as a commodity with no discernable difference between yourself and every other agent out there. (And the next time you wince when a client starts complaining about your commission rate, remember, it’s not the consumers’ fault, they have been programmed to think of agents as a commodity because agents all appear to be the same with little to no differentiation).

Madison Avenue understands. Every successful brand has a story and an emotional hook that pulls you in, grabs your attention and makes a connection with you. When that magic happens, it’s powerful. Then that product owns a piece of your mind. And when you think of a car, a brand of tissue, a cereal or a perfume, you think of YOUR favorite brand because of that connection.

At Hobbs/Herder we’ve heard this countless times over the past two and a half decades. Clients call us as their campaigns gain momentum and they establish their brand with their Hobbs/Herder Powerkard in their farm. They tell us, “I got a call from a home owner to come list the house. They said I was their Realtor®, that they knew they were going to use my services when they move.” That is the magic of branding when a client gives us full reign to tell their story and create an emotional hook that prospects can relate to.

So here’s what we propose: Lay out all of the marketing materials you use on a table. Your business card. Your personal brochure, if you have one. (If you don’t, why not?) Your ads. Your mailers. Printouts of your Facebook and Twitter pages. Then, ask yourself a simple question – Do these materials meet The Storytellers’ standard?

If your honest answer is yes, then that’s great, you’re on the right path. But if your answer is no, then stop spending time and money on inferior branding that isn’t really “branding” you at all. Give us a call and let us tell your story. We are The Storytellers.


Field of (Real Estate) Dreams: Build the Relationship and They Will Come

Real Estate MarketingAll Things Being Equal

There is a wise old adage: “All things being equal, people do business with people they like. All things being unequal, people still do business with people they like.” After the past few years of recession and the turmoil it has placed on the real estate market, this adage resonates now more than ever. Today, homeowners are wary about venturing back into the real estate market and are looking for people they can trust and feel confident they working with someone who is looking out for their best interests.
In the world of practitioners of marketing and advertising, the idea of people doing business with people they like is the core concept behind “Relationship Marketing,” or “Personal Marketing” For businesses large and small, it’s all about finding ways to retain existing clients in addition to attracting new customers, to get people to like you, know what you stand for, connect with you and keep doing business with you.

Personal Marketing Core Concept
This emotional, relationship-building approach to marketing is the core concept driving every Hobbs/Herder marketing campaign we create. It’s all about creating a brand or an image, establishing what you stand for–in other words, giving “them” a real sense of who you are, who I would meet, if we were face to face with you, that helps you build a “relationship” with the people you market to, whether that’s through your farming with direct mail, via television commercials, print ads, your website or email marketing. They receive your materials, read your brochure and they form a connection, an emotional bond. As they receive your message over and over, it reinforces that relationship.

Proof is in the Pudding 
Over the past 20 years, Greg Herder has had so many clients thank him for their successful campaigns that transformed their business. One phrase that our clients tell us they hear over and over from their prospects they’ve mailed to is: “we knew we were going to call you when we were ready to sell.” The idea that your marketing campaign–based on a quality, emotional message–causes people to pick you as their agent long before they need one is at the heart of what relationship-building, or personal marketing is all about.

With these unprecedented times and challenging economy, people are more discerning with whom they entrust their real estate dreams. I don’t have to tell you what you go through day in and day out trying to get sellers to price their homes correctly, to stop being in denial. That is a tough position, and the more trust you have, the more inclined they will be to seeing things your way and feeling like you’re the expert who has their best interest at heart and who wants only to help them price their home correctly. Trust comes from building that relationship.

Where Relationship Marketing Pays Off Most
Where a “relationship approach” to your marketing will pay off most is with your past clients and your sphere of influence. This is a “no-brainer” that not only agents, but many businesses tend to overlook. With past clients, you’ve already done the heavy lifting, you’ve marketed to them, attracted them, earned their business–formed the relationship. They connected with you, they trusted you and decided to do business with you. After the sale this relationship shouldn’t disappear, it’s imperative that you maintain and nurture it.

As the market has tightened, and become more competitive, your past client base and working your sphere of influence is more critical than ever. It’s time to get more personal with your customers and strengthen that relationship.

Get Personal With Past Clients
How do you do this, you ask? By keeping in touch, by keeping it personal, whether that’s by phone, mail or email, you should be in front of these important people one to two times a month. The basic plan is to mail to them one to two times a month. While you should be sending them market updates such as just solds and just listeds, you don’t want them to receive the same mailings as your farm. They will begin to feel you don’t care about them if you don’t acknowledge the special relationship between the two of you. Be sure to send them a mix of pieces that does acknowledge that relationship, builds on the “friendship” you’ve fostered with them.

Twice a year, you should send a “What has been going on with my personal life” letter–you know the letters some of your close friends and relatives send you during the holidays sharing what great things have happened to their family over the year (Billie won MVP for his little league team, Susie is taking AP Latin, Bob went on a fishing trip to Alaska, etc.). It’s a “catching up” letter that bonds the reader to the writer of the letter by allowing them a glimpse into their personal life. We also recommend sending a mix of Personal Kards, fun (and often offbeat) greeting cards. (Visit http://www.hobbsherder.com/marketing_products_personalkards.asp)

Build a Personal Data Database


Savvy marketers and salespeople keep “dossiers” on each of their customers, noting their birthdays, number of children, when those children are slated to graduate from high school or college, their anniversaries, groups they belong to, etc. Not to spy on them, but to provide them with strategic points to connect with them and build and maintain that relationship. Agents who attend our Gateway marketing conference receive in their complimentary marketing binder a Buyer’s Questionnaire they can have their clients fill out that provides lots of this information.

High Tech/High Touch
Taking it one step further, clients with a MegaAgent website can upload that information and set up a drip campaign that automatically sends clients and their spouses and children birthday e-cards and seasonal e-cards. How powerful is that when you “remember” to send your client, their spouse and their children these emotional “touches?” It’s incredibly powerful.

As you strengthen that relationship with that client, you can then “mine” it for referrals and repeat business. When a client who you helped buy a house doesn’t call you when they sell years later, it stings. It’s not always a slam dunk to get that business. But if you stay in touch with them and keep that contact personal, you greatly increase the chances they will contact you when it comes time for them to move.

Mining For Referrals

You’ll be surprised at the increase in referrals when you keep that relationship strong and personal. However, don’t assume that people are always thinking of you and who they can refer you to–it’s not always automatic. So don’t be afraid to ask for those referrals! Twice a year, send out a letter to these past clients and sphere of influence (and include three or four of your personal brochures) asking them to refer their friends and associates your way. Ask them about their friends and family and let them know you’re looking for “more great people just like them that you can help buy or sell a home.

Phone Home

You may even consider a touch base plan that includes periodical phone calls to these important people. Just a short call touching base with how things are going, but also reminding them that you are happy to answer any questions they might have about the current market or other general real estate questions. It’s just keeping in touch, at top of mind awareness.

If your farm is large, one way to accomplish this that’s not quite as personal of a touch, but is effective, is to use phone technology– voice broadcast. It allows you to record a “personal” message and send it out to your database of client and sphere of influence phone numbers. It is designed to leave a message on answering machines (it’s programmed to say “sorry, wrong number” if a live voice answers). To your client this “generic” message feels like you took the time to call them personally, but it’s the same message that is delivered automatically to the entire database. Definitely something to research as a powerful tool for your business system.

Networking

Nothing can replace the human touch. Getting face to face with both your past clients and prospective clients is still the most powerful way to establish or maintain a strong relationship. You should also go out and “mix it up” with that client base. Go to the soccer games their children are playing at, the church functions they attend, the charity and civic events you might find them at. Speaking directly with these people AMPLIFIES your other marketing pieces, it’s like putting your marketing campaign on steroids. It really makes all your other marketing and contact systems that much more effective.

Unprecedented Times


These are unprecedented times, both in the economy and in the real estate marketplace. You can wring your hands about the business that is not available–or you can find ways to grab more of the precious market share that is out there right now! If you are smart enough to focus on the latter, I urge you to look at your marketing efforts across the board and find ways to make them more personal, search for ways to build and strengthen your relationships with past clients as well. It will pay off in dividends. Happy relationship building!


Back to Basics: The Power of a Personal Letter

Real Estate MarketingOld-fashioned personal letters add a powerful punch to your marketing campaign. Don’t overlook this proven method to build rapport with your prospective clients.

In today’s world of customized web pages, graphic-rich e-mail, social media posts and myriad high-tech marketing options, most real estate agents have dropped good old-fashioned personal letters from their marketing arsenal.

It is so much more impressive to show your manager the multimedia flash program you are working on that has pictures, sound and things twirling on screen that mesmerize all who watch, versus showing her the tenth draft of a personal letter to your farm you have been working hard on. The reality is a good personal letter to your farm will probably help you make more money and build stronger relationships with your clients than the very best multimedia presentation. It’s just not nearly as sexy and exciting to actually write one.

Two A Year is All We Ask

First, it is important to understand that a personal farming letter by itself will not make your phone ring. Personal letters ideally should be sent out to your farm area, your sphere of influence and your past client base twice per year in support of your regular monthly mailings of Just Listed and Just Sold cards that show you are an active agent in the area. Good Just Listed/Sold cards establish your professionalism, credibility and name recognition as a Realtor. What they don’t do is establish a personal relationship between you and the people in your farm – that is what a personal letter can do for you.

It’s a Personal Letter, Not a Salesperson Letter
The key to creating an effective personal letter is first and foremost to make it personal. That is why there is not a template letter that you can simply copy. You need to share something about your life that gives people a brief insight into who you are as a person, your values or your personality. Remember, a personal letter is not designed to sell, it is designed to build a relationship that makes the reader feel like they have a connection with you, so that whenever they have a real estate need, they will feel comfortable picking up the phone and calling you. Most consumers are not excited about picking up the phone and calling a salesperson, so don’t come across like one.

Think about the values of your marketplace and tell a story about something that has happened in your life that you feel will have a strong overall appeal to your client base. I know it’s a little scary, but the more meaningful it is to you, the more it will resonate with your clients. The secret is to be yourself. Resist the temptation of trying to simply share a great inspirational story because it pulls the heartstrings. People pick up on whether you are truly emotionally invested in what you are sharing.

Share Your Story

About a year after my son became a full-time firefighter and was absolutely loving his job, I wrote a personal farming letter that talked about the joy my wife, Janet, and I felt knowing that our son was doing something that he loved and was truly happy with his life. I was amazed at the number of people who responded to the letter with stories about the joy and frustration that parents feel about their kids long after their kids are grown. A good personal letter should be written like you were writing to your extended family – cousins, aunts and uncles etc. – updating on them on what’s happened with you and expressing interest and concern about what is going on with them.

The first letter your farm receives may strike them a little strange, but over time as you keep them updated on you and your family’s journey through life they will start to feel like they know you and have a relationship with you. Most importantly, when it comes time for them to buy or sell a piece of real estate, they will feel very comfortable picking up the phone and calling you to talk about their real estate needs because they feel like they know you. What’s even more powerful is that when you arrive they connect to you as a person, which gives you a huge advantage over your competition.

Short & Sweet

A couple of key suggestions: keep your letter to a page or a page and a half. Keep it interesting and readable so that it draws the reader through the letter. Do not draw any conclusions – let the reader draw their own conclusions. Also resist the temptation to turn your letter into a sales pitch, remember your goal is to establish and build a relationship, not make a listing presentation. Make sure you print your letter on nice stationery – use your own personal stationery. If you don’t have your own personal stationery, use blank high quality writing paper. Never use company letterhead. It will instantly make you look like just another salesperson.

Finally, if you are sending this letter to your farm, your sphere of influence and your past clients, make sure you make the little adjustments for each group so that it connects with them fully. For example, to past clients you could simply start out by saying, “John and Mary, as friends and past clients, I just wanted to keep you up to date with what is going on with me. My wife and I just…” By making this little adjustment, your past clients and sphere of influence will feel more connected with you and it will communicate that you truly do care about your clients.

Building Strong Relationships
I know it does not sound exciting and in reality sitting down and writing a compelling personal relationship building letter is hard work, but the pay off is significant. If you will send out a personal letter twice a year as part of your overall marketing campaign to your farm area, sphere of influence and your past clients, you can establish a strong personal relationship with people you have never met, and keep a much stronger relationship with the people that already know you.

It may feel like an outdated marketing tool in today’s technologically driven world, but in fact, the personal letter is a great complement to your ongoing social media online relationship building. Sending two personal letters a year, along with your consistent marketing push, will lead to a steady flow of new clients from people with whom you have already built a base of rapport and trust, as well as an increase in the level of referral and repeat business.

 


Social Media: One More Thing to Do or the Most Powerful Networking Tool Available Today?

When we talk about social media at the Gateway seminars, agents typically fall into one of two distinct camps. One group is excited and energized by the marketing opportunities available through sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Then there’s that other group. You might already know who you are. This group is defined by the “Oh great, just another thing I have to do” agent mentality.

How Does Social Media Fit in Your Marketing Toolkit?

Here’s the thing. It’s fine if you feel that way. But you must understand that – whether you like it or not – social media is a big part of today’s marketing landscape. People are using the “big 5” of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and YouTube to keep in touch with clients, build relationships and most importantly, generate leads. Check out a recent post on the Hobbs/Herder Facebook page by a Gateway graduate and Hobbs/Herder client, Derrick Tornow, a premier agent in Utah County, Utah:

“This Facebook Stuff Works!

Today has been a little out of the ordinary. I got 2 listings today from my Facebook friends. About 5 months ago I played in a golf tournament – a 4 man scramble. I got teamed up with Dan & Wayne Ross. I’m not very good at golf, but I can crush the ball teeing off and I’m sometimes funny. I gave them my personal brochure and we talked a little about real estate. A few days later I looked them up on Facebook and asked them to be my friend. Today I got an email from Dan asking to meet up and look at a rental home they own just south of BYU. I went over, looked it over, showed them my comps, and had them sign the listing. All in about 15 minutes.

The other person that contacted me was a high school friend of my wife. Met him once at a reception for another friend of my wife. We became friends on Facebook because we are both BYU fans. He called me up looking to sell a home in the area and saw that I am a real estate guru on Facebook. I sent him off the listing and hope to have it back later today.

Facebook is just another tool in the tool box!”

Your Perspective is Critical

So, the question now becomes, do you think Derrick views the time he spends on Facebook as “just another thing I have to do”? Of course he doesn’t! Like he said at the end there, he views it like a great tool to have at his disposal. Think of how powerful face-to-face networking is amongst your sphere of influence. Using social media allows you to supercharge those efforts and vastly expand your networking reach! It’s an extremely powerful method to keep in touch with people you’ve come in contact with.

Embrace the New Powerful Technology

The moral of the story is this – social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Look how quickly Pinterest has carved its niche and became the “next big thing.” We’re sure it won’t be the last. It’s up to you whether or not you want to let such a great opportunity pass you by. Stop looking at social media as a chore and start integrating it into how you conduct business. Work it to your own comfort level, but don’t let it completely pass you by. Unless, that is, you’re willing to let the business pass you by as well.

Branding Across the Spectrum

Hot Tip: With all the noise in the marketplace with agents competing for listings and buyers (not to mention the rush of new agents sure to enter the market when the recovery gains more momentum), it’s more critical than ever to “brand” yourself on your social media sites. Make sure your personal brand is conveyed on your Facebook fan page, your Twitter profile, your YouTube channel and anywhere else that allows you to customize the display of your online profile. When all your marketing across the spectrum is cohesive and correctly branded, it exponentially increases its effectiveness at building your business. If it’s not, it is working against you.

Call us at 800-999-6090, ext. 668 if you need help with this important aspect of your social media marketing. Chances are you’ll be surprised how affordably we can integrate your brand into the various social media platforms.

YES, I would like more information on how to place my brand on my social media.


The Critical Difference Between Tactical and Strategic Thinking

To illustrate the differences between working from a tactical perspective and a strategic one, I’d like you to envision the following: Think about a set of Lego blocks. When you purchase a Lego set, you open the box to find hundreds of various-sized blocks and miscellaneous pieces that can be shaped into just about anything your imagination will allow. But also inside that box is a booklet with step-by-step directions on how to build whatever you see depicted on the front of the box, whether it’s a red Ferrari F430 or an entire town.

The option of which path you choose is entirely up to you. In both cases, you’re playing with Legos. But only one of those approaches comes ready-made to be approached from a strategic perspective – the one in which you follow the directions and build what’s on the box.

Defining the Difference
By definition, a strategy is a plan of action for attaining a goal. Tactics, on the other hand, are the individual methods or activities by which you carry out your plan. Strategy is the big picture. Tactics are the minutia. So when it comes to your real estate business, you must first establish your strategy or big-picture goal setting before you can determine the tactics you’ll use to achieve your goals. The key is to always make your tactics serve your strategy. In other words, make sure every action you take is part of a larger plan. Individual tactics should never be performed without fitting into a grander scheme.

Here’s another analogy to help you better understand the difference between the two. Working from a tactical perspective is like standing at the heart of downtown. Everywhere you look, your view is obscured by giant skyscrapers, limiting your ability to see very far in any direction. Working from a strategic perspective is like getting in a helicopter and flying over the tops of those buildings with clear skies as far as the eye can see. It’s a big-picture view without any limitations. The higher elevation you rise to, the more strategic and less tactical your perspective becomes.

Real Estate Tactics
Examples of tactics used by real estate agents are making cold calls, holding open houses, asking for referrals, sitting floor time, using sales scripts – the list could go on and on. Unto themselves, these activities might generate some business, or they might only waste your time. But once you begin to view them from a strategic perspective and with a clear intent in mind, you can modify your individual tactics to serve your overall business strategy.

My concern is that I feel like lately I’m seeing way too many agents working from a tactical perspective rather than a strategic one. Most of the real estate training out there focuses solely on tactics, so it’s no wonder that many agents end up focusing all their energy on tactics rather than the more important, big-picture strategy. My goal with this article is to get you thinking strategically, and in turn, make your efforts more productive and fruitful.

What Are You Trying to Accomplish?
On a daily basis, you can ask yourself “What should I do today to make money?” It’s a good question but there’s no good answer, because it all depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If your strategy is to survive another day in the business, virtually any tactic will suffice. If your strategy is to look busy, you can do paperwork all day and consider yourself successful. That’s why the first step to approaching your career strategically is to define what success means to you.

When defining your vision of success, get specific:

“Success is working 35-40 hours a week, having my systems in place in order to generate business in excess of $200,000 in gross commissions annually. I will take four entire weeks off at various points throughout the year and never work more than six days a week. I will take one three-day weekend every month and will not call the office or check my messages when I’m not working. I will get a new car every 24 months and devote at least 15 working days per year to attending seminars and the overall betterment of my business.”

The Strategic Open House
Once you have established your definition of success, it’s much easier to define the tactics you need to get there. But the strategic vs. tactical debate extends further into areas that you might never even think of. Open houses, for example. For most agents, open houses are necessary evils. The homeowner demands that you hold an open house, so you agree and end up sitting on a bar stool for four hours reading the paper while a few neighbors and lookyloos stop by. This typical scenario is holding an open house from a tactical perspective.

When you approach it from a strategic perspective, everything changes. If you decide to conduct an open house, you may as well make the most of it and make it part of a larger strategy. For instance, you can use an open house as part of a strategy to build name recognition, establish yourself as a local expert and make a positive impression on the homeowners surrounding your listing. Once you have a strategy, then your tactics follow course. You mail a series of invitations to the neighbors up and down the street where your listing is located, making an “event” of the open house. You ensure your signs are visible throughout the neighborhood on the day of the open house. You have your brochure and other valuable information assembled in packets to give to the people who attend. You also create a follow-up plan to ensure you add these people to your direct mail farm and are able to keep in touch with them after your initial, positive meeting.

Or maybe your strategy is to use an open house to get a price reduction on the home. What tactics would you employ to achieve that objective? Here’s one: when a prospective buyer walks in the door, hand him or her a flier about the house as well as an anonymous questionnaire. If you ask them to complete the questionnaire as they tour the house, it will focus their attention and provide you with valuable information. The most important question you can ask is “At what price would you be likely to buy this house today?” The likely response you’ll get is that the price needs to be lower before they would consider buying the house. Even five or six responses that are lower than your current asking price can be used as ammunition to initiate a price reduction that is so essential in today’s market.

Open Yourself to New Possibilities
When you begin to look at your career strategically rather than tactically, you avail yourself to all sorts of new possibilities. You need to step outside your day-to-day tactics and really take a look at what you want to accomplish and what’s possible. Step outside your box and determine what it is you really want to do.

The key is that once you get an objective in mind, you need to determine which tactics to employ to achieve your goal. Even floor time can be approached from a strategic perspective. Rather than sitting in the office answering phones and hoping for that “jackpot” call, you can devise a strategy to follow-up with each person who calls you. Ask them if you can send them a copy of your personal brochure and a valuable special report you’ve created that you think might help them in the process. Suddenly you’re engaging the caller and helping solve their problems while building your brand and name recognition in the process.

It all starts by asking yourself the simple questions:

  • “If I’m going to do a tactic such as floor time, how can I do it in alignment with my overall strategy?”
  • “How will I follow up with each caller?”
  • “Do I have a special report or something else I can offer them?”
  • “What can I do to make floor time better and more productive?”

The Bottom Line
The bottom line is you’re trying to sell properties. You can approach this objective differently every day, you can try to use the “tactic of the week” approach, or you can devise a strategy that allows you to continually progress in your career. I want to encourage you to adopt a strategic view of your career and to start asking yourself how everything you do fits into your big-picture plan. You might find that your tactics do not change too radically but the results from your tactics will be vastly improved.

Exercise: Try to think of everything you did yesterday and determine whether or not your actions were in alignment with your long-term career objectives. I’d love to hear that you are on track, spending much of your time working on your business instead of in it. But I suspect that is not the case for most. At any rate, it’s a valuable exercise that can help inspire you to work more strategically in the future.


Using QR Codes to Help Market Listings and Increase Lead Generation in Real Estate

QR Codes are found just about everywhere you look these days. With smart phone technology continuing to grow, companies have embraced this trend as one more way to capture the attention of customers, there are a lot of applications for QR (or “Quick Response”) codes in real estate—especially when it comes to marketing your listings.

The most commonly used strategy is to generate a QR code (which can be done for free on a variety of different websites) that links directly to a specific listing’s landing page. Then, you can place that scannable code onto any piece of marketing you are using to promote that property:

1. SIGN RIDER: By having it somewhere prominent on your “For Sale” sign, passers by can easy walk up to the sign, scan it on their phone and get information about the listing directly from your website.

2. LISTING FLYER: Print the QR code directly on your property information flyer to drive traffic to your listing’s landing page.

3. “JUST LISTED” POSTCARD: When sending out a “Just Listed” postcard (or Hobbs/Herder PowerkardTM), include the QR code for easy access to more listing information online.

4. LISTING PRESENTATION: When you are conducting listing presentations for potential sellers, show them the benefits of QR codes and how you’ll be using this cutting-edge technology to better market their home.

5. PRINT ADVERTISING: When advertising your listings in local publications, be sure to include QR codes for each property. People can scan the homes they are most interested in and get more information on your website.

6. T-SHIRTS: You can even have QR codes printed on T-shirts. The places you can get exposure for your client’s listing is only limited by your imagination.

As you can see, there are a lot of great ways to use QR codes to help market your listings. They can help drive more traffic to your website, thus boosting your SEO rankings. They will show you as an agent who’s in touch with the latest market trends and using this technology effectively. You can get more exposure for your listings because these codes will give you more ways to get in front of potential buyers. You’ll also have more chances to capture leads from people who have scanned the codes and linked directly to your website.

If used right, these little codes can have a big impact in your marketing, especially when it comes to marketing your listings.


Branding and Social Media: Turning Facebook and Twitter’s Branding and Marketing Capabilities into Real Estate Lead Generators.

The key to success in social media marketing is to break out of the mold and differentiate yourself with your own personal brand. We’ll show you how.

We’ve all heard the Facebook horror stories: Profile pictures of so-called “professionals” with drinks in their hand or a goofy pose better reserved for private viewing, not public consumption.

In this social media-driven age, too many agents tend to get sloppy when it comes to their Facebook and Twitter profiles. Like any other marketing you do, the first impression you make on Facebook or Twitter is very important. If it’s not favorable, you’re going to repel people. Failing to take the time to really think about what your profile is conveying can be detrimental to your business.

The good news is that new graphic capabilities now allow for greater flexibility and increased professionalism and branding, and in this article, we’ll show you how to make the most of these new options.

Content is King
The first rule of thumb for social media marketing is to offer something of substance. Your Facebook and Twitter pages can’t be facades – they must deliver valuable information to prospective clients without being overtly “salesy.” They need personal content that is both professional and engaging.

Once you have and are offering good quality content and data, the next step is tying it all together with high-quality branding. Let’s start by taking a look at how you can convey your unique brand on Facebook.

Facebook Follies
For a site designed to express your individuality, Facebook itself sure lacks for personality. Think about it – for the most part, one person’s Facebook page looks pretty much like everybody else’s Facebook page.

Until now, that is.

Breaking out from Facebook’s anonymous aesthetic starts with the simplest of options, your profile picture. In the past, this image was limited to 200 x 200 pixels, but now it can be up to 600 pixels tall. An extra 400 pixels isn’t going to turn you into a social media dynamo, but it’s a good start to differentiate yourself, and it allows you more flexibility to convey your brand rather than just a square mugshot.

Here are a few examples of how to best take advantage of the extra territory:

Deborah Herridge Facebook Profice Picture Christopher Small Facebook Profie Picture

Once you have updated your profile picture yet to include your branding, it’s time to get a little more involved. One great feature Facebook offers but not many people take advantage of is the “fan page.” This is a separate page from your profile page that allows you to customize the graphic appearance of your page. Check out what Dean Martin has done with the “Welcome” tab of his fan page:

Dean Martin Facebook Welcome Page

This rich graphic presentation sets the tone for Dean’s Facebook presence and allows him to provide additional resources to the prospective clients who visit his page, all wrapped up with the high-quality graphics he uses on his marketing materials. Furthermore, a branded social media site indicates that you’re serious about your career and plays into the emotional connections people forge through social media. When someone finds you on Facebook, they feel a stronger connection to you. And when your Facebook is branded with professional graphics and contains quality content that sets you apart from others, it serves as validation of your quality as an agent.

Creating A Sense of Community
Your Facebook fan page also provides another benefit. Over time, as you drive more clients and past clients to your fan page, a group will form. Think of the impact of a prospective client discovering your Facebook fan page, only to find a collection of loyal fans all singing your praises. The “group” aspect will resonate strongly with that prospective client, causing a desire to join the community by becoming your client.

What’s more, the members of that group, who are all bonded by their common support of you, develops a sense of community. This allows you to “rally the troops” or disseminate valuable information to your most loyal clients and customers easily and effectively.

Joining the Tweet Elite
Twitter allows for a little more customization with templated background patterns and various color palettes to choose from. But even the best of those options can’t match up to a truly custom background image. Birmingham, Alabama’s Peggy Lucas has done an excellent job of integrating her brand into her Twitter page:

Peggy Lucas Branded Twitter Page

Keep It Simple
When branding your social media pages, don’t get too ambitious. Instead, keep things simple. Use a nice photo of yourself, your logo, your contact information and perhaps a recognizable graphic element from your campaign. The last thing you want to do is come on too strong and scare people off. If your branding is too garish or poorly designed, it will feel like an ad. In social media marketing, it’s essential that you remember the “social” aspect of it – your Facebook and Twitter pages shouldn’t feel like ads. You cannot try to sell people right away. You first need to earn their respect and trust, or you will be shunned if you come on too strong. Integrating your branding into your social media helps build trust faster by making you more credible.

Getting Technical
What prevents some people from customizing their Facebook and Twitter pages with their branding is that they simply don’t know how to create the files required by each platform. Some Facebook customization options do require what is known as “Static FBML” coding, so unless you’re a technical wiz, it’s best to leave your branding to an expert. Don’t let this be the cause for not customizing your page, however. (If you need help, call us.)

Don’t Get Left Behind
More and more major companies are turning to social media integration to connect with prospective clients and build strong fan bases. A television campaign for Del Taco leads viewers not to the company’s website, but their Facebook page, where you can access additional, exclusive content. Starbucks and Coca-Cola are huge players in social media as well.

The moral? Social media is here to stay, and it’s not good enough to simply have a generic Facebook or Twitter page anymore. Integrate your brand into your social media and use it to truly differentiate yourself from the competition.

Did You Know?
For the assistance of our clients, Hobbs/Herder has been at the forefront of Facebook and Twitter branding for real estate agents. If you’re still confused or would simply prefer to leave your social media branding to the pros, visit www.hobbsherder.com/marketing_social_media.asp for more information.