Saturday, May 10, 2008

7 Habits that will Maximize your Phone Power- Review

The recent MasterMind Call for HouseValues subscribers with Mike Brooks, aka "Mr. Inside Sales" gave agent's tools to be more confident and productive using the phone.

You see, Mike is an expert in helping agents turn their phones into powerful marketing machines. He shared 7 habits to maximize your phone power. I'll list them here and if anyone wants more details on these points I'll be happy to elaborate.

1. Record yourself. How can you improve if you don't know what you sound like? Trust me, if you're not recording yourself you DON'T know.
2. Use prepared scripts and outlines. Get over your distaste for scripts- they build confidence.
3. Qualify properly. It's as much about disqualifying as it is about qualifying.
4. How to listen. Remember the formula- 2 ears, 1 mouth.
5. How to use trial closes. Mike calls them "pulse takers".
6. Discover unique buying motives. Then tailoring the presentation to those motives.
7.Assume the sale, ask for the order. Whether it's for an appointment or to purchase a home, ASK!

Mike also gave the 5 Golden Rules of Voicemail where he offered tips on how to leave voicemail messages that get results.

At the end of the interview agents engaged Mike with some in-depth questions on what was presented.

SUGGESTION: Go check out Mike's website. He offers a ton of free resources that could help you right away. He also has an upcoming 6 week Teleseminar.

Stay tuned for the May 15th HouseValues MasterMind Call invitation to the blogger community so you can learn from the best of the best.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Foreclosure Template for Emails

Feel free to use this template. It was created by HouseValues at the request of several subscribers who were asking for a special template that would reach out to people who might be going into foreclosure, without offending them.

Dear {ProspectFirst},

In today’s market, more and more people know someone who is struggling with their mortgage payment as a result of a sharp increase in their interest rate or other loan factors.

If you know someone who is facing a possible foreclosure, I have information that can help. And the sooner we act to help someone in this position, the better the outcome. Because once a house starts to go into foreclosure, it can be difficult to stop and the ramifications can be long lasting:

--the owners may face substantial late fees
--the owners may loose all of their equity
--the owners may suffer with a mark on their credit that will take years to erase

But, this does not have to happen. There are a number of effective strategies to help the homeowner forestall a foreclosure. Renegotiating the loan is one possibility. Two other options are a short sale (sell for less than the loan amount with bank approval), or a quick sale (sell for more than the loan amount but at a lower, more attractive market price).

As a full service real estate agent, I am committed to help clients with all their housing needs. Whether it is to help preclude a foreclosure, pull equity out of their home for investment properties, or assist them in either finding a new home or selling their current one, I have the knowledge and the expertise to make the process go smoothly.

Foreclosure is a nationwide problem, but it’s also in our own backyard. If I can help you or anyone you know hold on to their home (or minimize their losses), please call or email me. I appreciate the opportunity to be your trusted real estate resource.

Warm regards,

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Free Classified Ad Websites

(no particular order)

Agent CEO's need resources like these:

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Marketing Profs wrote an article today about “Three Small Tips to Juice up Your Personal Branding” by Dan Schawbel (Premium access only) that I thought Agent CEO’s need to know about.

Basically the 3 tips were:
1. Name and Topic Associations
-Make sure your name and topic are always associated
-Pick domain names with either or -Align title tag with domain = getting crawled and ranked by the google gods
-Use name and topic in keyword meta tags

2. The Consistent Brand
-Be consistent with everything about you, everywhere
-Picture, blog, social network profiles, bio, etc.

3. Be Selective in Choosing Your Social Networks
- 3-5 social networks are announced EACH DAY
-Don’t be tempted to join very many
-Doing so presents multiple issues-
~Maintenance- how do you maintain a presence on each one?
~Personal information is open to privacy issues
-Criteria for choosing
~Volume- is the message board active?
~Credibility- is the network noteworthy with ‘high profile’ participants?
~Relevancy- Make sure you fits the networks common denominator

Today’s world on the web makes Personal Branding easy, fun and effective if you follow a few common sense guidelines.

Happy branding.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

House Warming Parties Can Pay Off

Here is a very creative prospecting idea that came from an agent on one of the HouseValues Group Coaching Calls. Lot's of great ideas get exchanged there. Here's what the coach sent over...

"An agent was receiving quite a few referrals from one of her past clients. As a
thank you she went in with her lender and loan officer to offer to catered party
for the client, his friends, and co-workers. He agreed, gave her a list of
invitees, and they threw him a party. At the party they offered to send CMAs and listings to the attendees collecting prospects that way; they also did a small drawing to collect prospect's emails. After the party she went home and put them all into her Market Leader and now they are on an email drip campaign receiving her information. She said that because it was a three way split the expenses really were minimal and if one of them transacts then it will be more than enough to cover her expense."

I'm amazed how this simple marketing strategy has some unique aspects that make it a triple win.

First win- Client. Your client is impressed that you care enough to make the effort to host a house-warming party. Everyone wants to show off their new home to their friends and neighbors. Lots of feel good here that will lead to referrals later.

Second win- The party goers'. All the new owners' friends and neighbors have been dying to see inside. Who doesn't enjoy good food, drinks and company? The guests are super-impressed that THEIR friends' agent would throw such a nice party. Bet those guests wish their agent had done something this nice as a thank you.

Third win- Agent. The agent has created a super-warm (prospect rich) environment. Where else can you put yourself in front of a group of people, in a casual non-business environment where the ‘selling barriers' are down, who are EXPERIENCING your service- the home you helped their friends buy? Woa, does it get any better?
You bet. The cost and ease of pulling a party together could be well worth the while. As mentioned, splitting the food & beverage costs with a lender and title company cuts your costs to a third.

Call the best caterer in town to deliver the food (beyond sandwich and vegetable trays pppllleeeaaassseee) with a large ‘bucket' full of ice. The bucket is for you to show up with beverages, (beer & wine?) to put in it. Usually cheaper than having the caterer do it.

Let's say the average number of guests that show (figure 50% of who is invited) is 20. Allow $15 a head (pretty generous), that's $300. So for $100 and a little time, you are placing yourself among your clients' best friends and neighbors in their home. This whole thing oozes goodwill

None of this works unless the agent can do the personal networking thing to ‘connect and collect' information from the guests. We'll have to save that for another discussion...

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

HouseValues client closes 64 transactions in 2007

Naomi Streicker, one of our long time subscribers, called this morning with a tech suggestion. When I talk with our agents, I always ask how they are doing. With 2007 being a rather tough market in some areas, I was astounded when Naomi told me that she had a great year. She is the # 1 Agent in closed transactions from Rockland County, NY. surpassing the agent who has held that position for some time. She closed 64 ½ transactions in 2007. Naomi told me she would not have accomplished that without our support. She credits Market Leader for keeping her organized and on track. Naomi follows the HouseValues system she learned when she began. She still hand delivers packets and believes that personal contact made a huge difference in her success.

Congratulations, Naomi! We are really proud of you.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

You're Invited to a Free Expert Coaching Call!

We would like to personally invite our loyal Agent CEO readers to a very special call. Blanche Evans is the award-winning editor of Realty Times, the Internet's largest independent real estate news service, where she oversees the nation's leading real estate writers and columnists. Blanche has been named one of the "25 Most Influential People in Real Estate" by REALTOR Magazine, recognized as one of nine "Notables," and was named "Top Reporter Covering the NAR."

Blanche will be our guest speaker on the upcoming MasterMind Call, Thursday, Jan 10th at 9:00 am PT.

These calls are FREE to our HouseValues customers, but we wanted to include you to thank you for your interest and support. Blanche will be giving us her insights into the housing bubble and what’s in store for 2008. She’ll discuss market opportunities that many agents have overlooked and specific defenses against commission-cutting. Join this call to get the answers you need to maximize your income in 2008.

This is a great chance to hear one of our favorite industry experts share her insights into the market and give us some smart tips for 2008.

Call this number: 1-800-349-8037 and enter in the code: 759380# when prompted to join the call.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Final Thoughts from NAR

Max Pigman, VP of mentioned a smart idea for today: Every year on an anniversary of closing, hand deliver 9 volt batteries. He also said that if you are going to mail, come up with something clever and different. Instead of JustListed or JustSold, say something like, “Guess what your neighbor did last night?”

Pigman said that discount cards are a hot topic right now: energy saving appliances, or giving your clients energy saving light bulbs.
(I really like that idea!)

I also heard that people on CraigsList are getting 4-7 times as much traffic as other sites. That surprised me since there are many popular classified websites for properties. I do not have the source for that information, so don’t quote me. But, remember, it is a FREE site to use to post your listings.

And, finally Amy Chorew provided an excellent class on, among other things, how to turn photos into a video presentation to use as a virtual tour. The site, Microsoft’s Photo Story 3 for Windows, offers this service for FREE. It was an excellent presentation and the product seemed easy to use. Check it out.

Thank you for your interest and support throughout 2007. I’ll be on vacation during the holidays and back with new ideas to kick off 2008.

Have a joyful holiday season and a profitable 2008!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

More Still From NAR

How Are You Marketing Your Listings

According to Max Pigman- VP at the NAR Convention, market conditions are a matter of perceptions- real estate is local. There are always people who need to buy and/or sell.

The consumer changed, according to the NAR 2006 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Now 80% of consumers use the Internet!

Consumers said the most useful source of info is:

  • 98% Internet
  • 89% Realtors
  • 81% of Internet buyers used a Realtor vs. 61% of traditional buyers
  • Are 500% more likely to find the home they want to purchase online than in the newspaper
  • Buyers are 2400% more likely to find the home they purchase online than in a magazine
  • 92% of Internet buyers found an agent on an aggregate site
  • 83% of online consumers want multiple photos
  • There were 330% more views for homes with multiple photos

Yet, only 15% of agents have multiple photos!

Today, in order to be successful, you need to market online with multiple photos and virtual tours.

Monday, November 26, 2007

More from NAR

Presented by: John Tuccillo – former NAR chief economist (before Lereah)

*What’s next:
Having traveled overseas recently and looking at the international news, John believes oil will hit $100 per barrel. We are accumulating 4 billion dollars of debt per year from foreign governments. The falling dollar will slow recovery.

*We need to look at stats available from the MLS in all areas of the US:

  • Number of new listings on the market (sellers need a reality check)
  • Days on market (Faster turnover is a sign of market pick-up)
  • Sales price to list price ratio (Disappearing price cuts signal a turnaround)

*When the market turns around, there will be a “tsunami” of first time buyers and they will be Gen X and Y.

*Boomers comprise the second home market. They are used to relationship marketing.

*With Gen X and Y, there will even be more of a need for tech mastery. Gen X and Y do not want to be emotionally involved. There needs to be new channels of communication for these generations.

*The demand will begin in 2010 and skyrocket until 2015. This wave will be bigger than the boomers.

*A website is equivalent to indoor plumbing- a necessity. It is entry level technology.

*Consumers will control what they want to see, how they see it and when they want to see it:

  • Blogs, podcasts and chat rooms are the channels where these generations will receive their information. They like anonymity rather than relationships.

Today- you MUST treat real estate as a business:

You HAVE to have a business plan. There was a survey of 800 Realtors, only 2/3 had a plan. Consumers want convenience. Agents should be the force to get the transaction closed. It has to be all about the consumer.

Value proposition for 2008

  • Know your customer
  • Provide service
  • Provide convenience
  • Save them time
  • Eliminate or minimize stress

Competencies you need to know how to do in 2008

  • Counsel the consumer- added value
  • Be a good negotiator
  • Be a good manager- be able to take care of contract to closing

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

News from NAR

I had the opportunity to attend the NAR Convention in Las Vegas last week. I was interested in hearing what Lawrence Yun, NAR’s new Chief Economist had to say about the marketplace. His topic was: Economic Issues & Residential Real Estate Business Trends Forum

He said 2008 is a year of opportunity. While sales are down in 2007, it has still been the fifth best year ever in real estate. He mentioned this is because all real estate is local- like the weather. You can’t give an average weather forecast for the nation. You give a forecast for a city or a region.

Prices were down nationally 1 ½% after a run up of about 50% in many regions over the past 5 years. Sub-prime loans affected less than 10% of all homeowner nationwide. Yun was optimistic seeing a rebound in 2008 due to the following market conditions:

  • GDP of 2.8%
  • Job growth of 1.1%
  • Inflation to remain at slightly under 3%
  • Interest rates to rise only slightly

He believes because sales are down this year and though there have been fewer construction starts, there will be strong pent up demand in many areas. That was very good news for the audience of Realtors.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Part II- Is Now the Time to Retreat? Hardly!

Here is the rest of the article.

They pay close attention to customers' concerns. It is important to know how to handle the concerns of sellers whose homes have not yet sold, and who may pressure you to advertise their homes every Sunday in the local newspaper.

It is vital not to feel pressured to spend ad dollars where you may not get the results you know you need for them and for you. Some ads work, but be careful to not overspend in print. Only 20 percent of potential buyers even look there. Make sure you get the best return on your dollar.

They are consistent. Indeed, consistency is key. Many agents tell me that mailing 200 to 300 pieces consistently, rather than 1,000 just once, is much more effective. Their advice to you: Don't spend money on an expensive four-page glossy printed brochure that, while pretty to look at, won't generate many leads. Instead, send "Just listed/Just Sold" postcards into your neighborhoods for each listing and sale. Use the tried-and-true language, "We have just listed … ."

Tease them to your website by offering something of value. The goal is to drive prospects to your site so you can capture their information and provide them with the information they want, like a report on how to prepare their home for sale, a free home evaluation, information on listings as soon as they come on the market, etc. Some agents have even printed business cards with the photo of the home, the web address and some of the property details on it. It is a cost effective way to advertise. Business cards are much less expensive than postcards.

They are creative. Finally, agents are telling me that now -- more than ever -- is the time to get your creative juices flowing, and to be smart. That means watching your budget, but it also means not holding back on your lead-generating activities. Spend in those areas that will help you obtain new business and enable you to build a pipeline of prospects that will help you flourish -- no matter what type of market may come your way.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Is Now the Time to Retreat? Hardly!

[I just wrote this article for Realty Times and thought I’d share it here. Because the article is kind of long I’m putting it out in two parts. Enjoy!]

Sure, market conditions have shifted in many parts of the country.

Cause for despair? Hardly.

You can still make as much money this year as you did last year -- and even more.


Start by forgetting everything you think you know or have been told about operating in this type of challenging market.

Many agents make the mistake of retreating when the market shifts like it has over the past year. They cut back on spending, on advertising and marketing, and on what they hope to earn.

Don't join them in that trap.

Agents who build and maintain a large, healthy pipeline of prospects do not worry about changes in the market. Truly, they don't. Instead, they continue to close business, because they have a steady stream of customers to work with.

Here's what these top agents are telling us right now about this particular market and how they're meeting its challenges head on:

They are not cutting marketing dollars. Their advice to you: Market now more than ever. The key is to spend your marketing dollars wisely. Now may not be the time to spend much, if any, on image marketing or branding; rather, target your dollars on efforts that will generate prospects. Analyze what is working and what isn't. Track where your business is coming from. Spend more there and eliminate the ad buy that doesn't bring in prospects. A word of caution: You need to give this time to work. Don't just try something for a week and drop it.

They are advertising online. No big surprise here: According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 80 percent of consumers search for information about homes online -- and trust me, that number is only going to grow. Consider the vast array of information consumers can now get online: multiple photos of homes, neighborhood information (check out, virtual tours, mapping technology, and even printable fliers with detailed property information.

Homes with multiple photos are viewed 299 percent more than those not offering multiple views. That is not a typo. Take advantage of online ad opportunities. For example, the enormously popular lets you advertise for free. Google and Oodle are other options for ads. Your goal should be to advertise your listings and services 24/7 and not be limited by local distribution like most newspapers and magazines are. An individual webpage per listing is becoming more and more popular, and is a very cost-effective way to advertise.
My next post will continue the article with 3 more ways to meet the challenges of a changing market.

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Friday, April 20, 2007

Internet Lead Generation: Boom or Bust?

Many agents are debating to whether or not lead generation services are here to stay or may be gone tomorrow.

Internationally recognized real estate expert Ralph R. Roberts says “By embracing this new technology, you can capitalize on a host of new opportunities. Resist the change, and you're likely to become technology's latest casualty.”

Ralph mentions several real estate lead generation services, including HouseValues as industry change agents saying “this technology is only the most recent to affect the way we do business on a daily basis.” He goes on to outline three pieces of sage advice: embrace change; master new technologies; market wherever your customers go.

Ralph’s article to decide where you stand as an AgentCEO.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Crazy Cheap Marketing Idea?


I was reading an article about marketing in one of my favorite newsletters from Roy Williams “MondayMorningMemo” where he was listing 10 Unusual Ways to Advertise. One of them caught my attention as possibly something an AgentCEO could use.

“Nighttime Silhouettes. You've probably never seen one of these… which means no one else in your town has seen one either. First, locate a tall wall in a part of town that has lots of traffic at night, especially foot traffic. Then arrange with the owner of that building – and the building across the street – to let you install a logo projector. They're effective and cheap. In some situations you can even use an old slide projector to achieve the desired effect.”

Now just imagine you find the right building with good traffic and you FEATURE A LISTING! Wouldn’t that catch peoples attention? Keep the message simple and your contact information BIG along with a nice picture of the listing.

If you try this let us know how it works out. We could be on to something here.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Help Save the Planet and Money in Under 5 Minutes

Help keep your bills low and the planet healthy with these easy energy savings projects.

Of course AgentCEO’s want to save money. Now you can save money and the planet by making your home and office more energy efficient.

(By the way, feel free to send these tips to your own customers and prospects.)

Here’s a list of 5 energy saving tips that take 5 minutes of less to complete.

1. Go Fluorescent- $60 savings
While fluorescent light fixtures may be a thing of the past, fluorescent bulbs are here to stay. Replace your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent ones--they are four times more energy efficient. New types of fluorescents provide a much more natural-looking light. This quick mini-project can save you about $60 a year on your utility bills. Fluorescent bulbs will set you back about $4.00 apiece (buy them in bulk). Of course, if you’ve got fluorescent tube lights already but want to replace them, talk to folks at your local lighting showroom or a well-stocked hardware store. There are newer tubes that emit a warm, almost sun-like glow.

2. Get Reflective
If replacing your old windows isn’t within your budget this year, think about covering the glass with a protective film. Found at any home improvement store, this film keeps retain heat during the winter and reflect it in the summer. Some brands boast up to a 70% reduction in heat during those hot months, which is good news if you aren’t lucky enough to own an air conditioner! Other pluses: the film can prevent your belongings from fading due to sun exposure.

3. Bundle Up…
Your Water Heater. Heating water requires a lot of energy and costs a pretty penny, so insulate your water heater with a kit purchased from your local home improvement store. The cover will only set you back about $10, but can save you up to 25%-40% on your water bill by retaining the tank’s heat, thereby using less water. (You can also make a cover with fiberglass insulation and metallic tape, but don’t wrap the flue collar or burner access.) If your unit is less than 7 years old, it probably is already insulated and doesn’t need to be wrapped, but you can insulate your hot water pipes instead for added savings.

4. Vacuum Your Fridge
As if you don’t have enough to clean, now we are telling you to vacuum your fridge! But because it’s on all the time, your fridge accounts for 8% of your home’s total energy expenditure, so this is a worthwhile project. First, take a peak behind your fridge. If there are big black coils mounted on the back of the appliance, they don’t need to be cleaned. If you aren’t so lucky, unplug the refrigerator and move it away from the wall. Check the manual to see where the coils are located (most likely underneath). Next, remove the plate protecting the coils and using a static cloth or a vacuum with an attachment, clean the dust off of the coils moving from front to back. Replace the plate when you are done and plug in the fridge. Experts recommend that you clean the coils once every 6 to 12 months, depending on your lifestyle. (If you have pets or live in an area that’s prone to dust, it’s best to clean them more often.)

5. Change your Settings
If it isn’t already, turn your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit; you don’t really need tap water any hotter. This works both as a safety measure especially if you have small children as well as a money saving tip. When you aren’t at home, remember to turn your thermostat down to 58 degrees so that you aren’t heating an empty house, but warm enough to keep things from freezing. In the winter, keep the temperature at 68 degrees Fahrenheit; in the summer, aim for 78 degrees. Installing a programmable thermostat is a fantastic way to ensure the device is always where you want it to be.

Finally, check all of your appliances for energy saving setting options and switch them over accordingly.

Additional energy saving tips and resources can be found at this US Department of Energy site.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Extra Dose of Productivity- get it while it's hot

What can I do personally to be more productive?

My friends over at
Accuconference have compiled an excellent list of personal productivity suggestions. Here’s the first ten points in a two part series.
Accuconference is the conference call vendor HouseValues uses for all their teleclasses and MasterMind Calls. Good bunch of people to do business with if you ever need any help setting up teleconferences.

Here are the 10 points- click
this link to see the full article. You may be surprised at some of the suggestions.

1. Utilize Technology
2. Stop Distractions
3. Establish Boundaries for Others
4. Reward Yourself. (I especially like this one :-)
5. Regular breaks
6. Have a Schedule
7. Goals (We know all about this one right?)
8. Procrastination
9. One Thing at a Time
10. Get Comfortable

After you
read the article, pick out one point and go about implementing it ASAP. Be the rolling stone that gathers no moss.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Taming the email monster

Help, emails are taking over my life

Successful AgentCEO’s learn early on how important it is to streamline repetitive activities. And what could be more repetitive than emails. An informal survey showed agent’s get from 50 emails a day on the low end and up to 500 A DAY on the high end.

In the past I have been email challenged and was desperate to get the tidal wave of emails under control. Over time I’ve discovered a few tips ranging from pretty basic keyboard shortcuts to tricks like setting up rules & filters. Here’s a few of them to try out. (These tips work in Outlook)

> Hold
Shift key to select multiple emails. Handy for deleting bunches of spam- be careful to not select a ‘good’ email.
> Use the
Control key to select specific emails all at once. Use this feature to select certain emails to move to a folder.
> Use Copy feature to put an email into multiple folders. This is really handy when it’s an important email and want to be able to find it. I figure if it’s in more than one folder I’m increasing my odds of finding it. Just highlight the email in the Inbox, go to Edit, select Copy to Folder, select folder and hit OK.
> Create folders for everything regular.

Here’s a sample structure






Clients------------(various client folders with sub-folders)--------

Vendors------------(various vendor folders with sub-folders)--------

Ezines------------(various ezine/newsletter folders with sub-folders)----


Family------------(various family member folders with sub-folders)--------

Friends------------(various friends folders with sub-folders)

I have a folder set up for just my boss, a folder set up for emails from other people in my department, and then a folder set up for company wide emails. It has made reading my email so much easier, just to have the ability to go directly to the appropriate folder. It also makes it so I don't miss important emails. Since I have a folder set up for my boss, I can see immediately if he has sent me any emails when I come in each morning. The whole set-up makes for much less "missed emails".

Use Rules:I also use rules extensively. In particular, when working on a project and I have a lot of communications between a client or partner, I will create a rule to place all incoming mail in their root folder and all my messages to them in a subfolder beneath their folder called SentTo for the individual or company.

You can
create a rule to automatically move specific messages into the appropriate folder. To create such a rule, open the “Tools” menu and select “Rules and Alerts.”

Finally, move old emails to Archive on a regular basis.

Now that you have all those emails tamed and in order, don’t you feel better?

Here’s a link to some
in-depth Microsoft training on how to manage emails.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Top 11 Marketing Budget Wastes—and How to Avoid Them

Part 4 of a 4 part series

Marketing Waste No. 9: Losing people on your Web site

Today’s Internet consumer, (which is a bit of an oxymoron given nearly 75% of US households have Internet access), start looking for real estate information online typically when they are in the early thinking about moving stage. This means you want all marketing roads to lead to your web site.

The first thing you need to make sure is that your Web site content is of interest to your prospects. The second thing is to have calls-to-action that will get your Web site visitors to engage—view a video, download a whitepaper, fill out a survey. Offering free information designed to appeal to the information gather’s will make it easy for the prospect to engage you on their terms. Offer CMA’s, updated listings, buyer/seller information packets, how prep home for sale tips, etc.

Last, you need to make sure that you can track these interactions. With this information in hand, you can fine-tune your follow up to match your prospects' interests and avoid wasting valuable marketing and sales resources.

Marketing Waste No. 10: Not knowing what you get for your money

Every marketing activity should be attached to a measurable goal. If it's not, you probably shouldn't be doing it. A measurable goal could be number of leads, number of new contacts, number of downloads, deals, all the way to revenue dollars. See more about it in
"How to Measure Your Marketing" and "Measuring Marketing ROI—How Low Can You Go?"

Marketing Waste No. 11: Not taking action on what you’ve just learned

One or more of these money wasters probably hit close to home. The key to marketing optimization is continually weeding out the budget drainers while seeking new ways to deliver greater market impact at lower cost. If you're looking to do more with less, you must be willing to embrace change. As the saying goes, "You cannot continue doing the same things and expect different results." Take the time to set a new, super-efficient marketing plan. Think about the savings.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Top 11 Marketing Budget Wastes—and How to Avoid Them

Part 3 of a 4 part series

Marketing Waste No. 6: Direct mail and rental lists

Email promotions to your permission-based list will usually generate response rates that are 5-10 times higher than email to rental lists and 10-15 times higher than direct mail, at a fraction of the cost. As a result, cost per response from your email list can be over a hundred times lower than for any other method. In addition, turnaround time for email promotions is shorter, which means you can communicate in a more timely fashion.

A good permission-based email list is your biggest marketing asset and your best lead-nurturing vehicle. At the same time, if your email is not permission-based, you run the risk of breaking the law and alienating your audience.

Marketing Waste No. 7: Failing to use your permission-based list

You don't want to inundate your prospects with too much communication, but keep in mind most agents fail to communicate enough. Newsletters and blogs and email drip campaigns are great vehicles to keep the communication flowing. One to two ‘automagic’ touches a month (emails) and a personal touch (phone call, handwritten note) quarterly is a basic formula. As your pipeline reaches into the thousands you’ll need to modify the formula.

Your prospect customers are eager for knowledge; so, as long as you keep your content relevant (see # 4) to your audience and tone down the sales pitch, most of them will welcome your emails. For those who don't, offer ways to opt out of specific items so they don't have to remove themselves entirely from your list.

Marketing Waste No. 8: Failing to get the most out of your email marketing

A well-designed message (not necessarily a pretty one) can increase response to your emails by up to 50%! That's a huge difference in the return on your marketing dollars.

There is no magic formula for a good email message. To make sure your message is well designed, you have to test every element of the message—from the subject line to the placement of the links and the call to action (offer).
To be continued tomorrow…

Come back for Part 4 with details on:
Marketing Waste No. 9: Losing people on your Web site
Marketing Waste No. 10: Not knowing what you get for your money
Marketing Waste No. 11: Not taking action on what you’ve just learned

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Top 11 Marketing Budget Wastes—and How to Avoid Them

Part 2 of a 4 part series

Marketing Waste No. 4: Killing the conversation

Killing the conversation means a couple of things that can waste leads. First is remembering you are making a service call not a sales call. Second is making sure there is a sequence or continuity to your conversations with prospects, whether email, phone or in-person.

Distinguish yourself by making service calls instead of sales calls. Crudely put, don’t call up and say “Are you ready to move yet, if you are I can be of service.” THAT is not a service call. A service call offers information relevant to each prospect.

For example you may have a number of homeowner prospects who have been in your database for a year or more. A “customized” conversation/email for this group might go something like: “Hi Mary, it’s [name/agency] again. I’m calling because I have a special offer for people who have been in contact with me for a year or longer, it’s a free report on [pick a subject like “Changing market conditions- Is now a good time to sell” or “Local real estate trends” using MLS info on average sale price, DOM, % of asking price, etc. Consumers love this kind of info when it’s local and just for them]. Would you like me to email you a copy?” Then end the conversation unless they want to talk. Surprising, many will.

Be sure and leave a voice message with the same offer. Start thinking of voice messaging as highly targeted, personalized marketing. Don’t worry if they don’t call back- you’ve already left a positive ad impression.

Second, make certain your communications have continuity and relevance to your prospects/clients. Example- don’t send “First Time Buyer” information to your homeowner prospects.

So don't leave it to chance: If you're putting together an email drip campaign, make sure you have several templates for different prospect categories. For example,

Market Leader has 7 pre-written drip campaigns to subscribe prospects to, like Long Term Buyer or Short Term Seller, Past Clients, even one for FSBO’s. Some last a few months, some years. This type program enables the Agent CEO to have Systematized Prospecting and Personalized Transactions.

Marketing Waste No. 5: Overemphasizing new leads

While “old school” agents might dismiss some leads as "old”, today's savvy agents know those are actually the best leads. Consumers typically require multiple touches before they are ready to engage in any type of dialog. They usually prefer their anonymity until they're ready to raise their hand to take the next step. Multiple ‘soft touches’ (see #4) builds trust with your prospects.

If you continue pursuing only new leads, you may find yourself out of budget. It takes far less money to cultivate long term relationships with existing prospects than only going after new ones. This doesn’t mean stop marketing for new leads, but rather find a balance of resources to manage your existing prospects/clients.

To be continued tomorrow…

Come back for Part 3 with details on:
Marketing Waste No. 6: Direct mail and rental lists
Marketing Waste No. 7: Failing to use your permission-based list
Marketing Waste No. 8: Failing to get the most out of your email marketing

Make it a successful day

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Top 11 Marketing Budget Wastes—and How to Avoid Them

Part 1 of a 4 part series

Hopefully by now you have put together a
business plan that you are in the process of implementing. Marketing is usually a major item in the plan being that most of us need to keep generating new business. It’s also a category that is easy to overspend and waste money in.

Take this opportunity to re-evaluate what you have been doing and how you have been investing your marketing dollars to build your real estate business. Below are a few suggestion on how to do more with less.

To help you get started, here are some common marketing budget drainers to avoid.

Marketing Waste No. 1: Customers dictating were to spend to market their house

I hear agents saying “my customers expect me to advertise in the newspaper/magazines if I’m going to get the listing”. This is nonsense. Position yourself as the marketing expert, showing your client
comparison charts of where consumers are going for home buying information (hint, not the newspaper since 70 percent of consumers start the buying and selling process on the Internet.] Demonstrate why your marketing plan is more powerful and back it up with proven results, like fewer days on market than the local average or higher percentage of asking price than market average.

AgentCEO’s are showing clients innovative and effective marketing strategies like where, once a listing is entered by the agent, it automatically starts showing up on google, oogle and other search engines.

Marketing Waste No. 2: Trying to generate only ‘qualified’ leads

Regardless of what type of marketing you use and the type of leads generated, they all have value. Attempting to reach the ready, willing and able buyer at the moment they are ready to take action is not only costly but puts you on par with every other agent trying to reach this tiny market. Move upstream. Plan marketing that reaches consumers in the thinking about moving stage. This can be accomplished by advertising information offers like “BEWARE FIRST TIME BUYER’S” guide with new home buying tips. Or, “FREE HOME EVALUATION” to attract seller inquiries.

Develop as large a pipeline of prospects as possible then follow No. 3.

Marketing Waste No. 3: Failing to follow up on leads

Invest in lead-development software commonly referred to as CRM (Customer Relationship Management).
HouseValues customers use a product called Market Leader to manage a pipeline of leads ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands. Market Leader features automatic email drip campaigns, ePostCards, text messaging lead notification and links from their websites to capture prospects and dump the data directly into Market Leader.
Other online and software packages can accomplish similar marketing tasks. Having automatic follow up software enables you to treat all leads the same in your pipeline with little additional effort.
Many AgentCEO’s don’t just rely on email communication to follow up. Occasional phone calls, direct mailings, even ‘drop-by’s’, keep you as the agent of choice when the prospect is ready to take the next step to move.
To be continued tomorrow...
Look for Part 2, details on Marketing Waste No. 4: Killing the conversation &
Marketing Waste No. 5: Overemphasizing new leads

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Which trend in 2007 do you think will most affect your business and why?

Everyone's putting out their best guesses for what 2007 will look like. Do you know how the different trends might effect your business?

The (part of Wall Street Journal) says “Home Prices Expected to Rise,Sales to Drop Slightly in 2007”.

In its latest forecast, the NAR said sales of existing homes are likely to decline about 1.2% this year to 6.42 million, following a sharp drop last year, while sales of new homes are seen falling about 9.7% to 957,000.

Which trend do you think will have the most impact on your business?

Will it be:

* Interest rates

* Higher inventories

* Longer Days On Market

* Consumer demands

* Other ____________?

Which will impact you?

Thanks for sharing, next week we'll discuss stumbling blocks to success.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

13 tips for selling your home in winter

  1. We’re in the middle of winter and the buyers are scarce. The good news is the buyers that do come along usually are motivated. But given current market conditions, sellers need to be aware of what they can do to put their home at the top of a buyers wish list. offers some practical, easy to implement tips for sellers to improve the showing of their home. Keep this list handy for the next listing presentation- your sellers will be impressed with these easy tips and thank you.

    Click on any of the tips for more details.

    13 tips for selling your home in winter

    1. Keep snow and ice at bay.
    2. Warm it up.
    3. Take advantage of natural light.
    4. Get the windows washed.
    5. Play music softly in the background.
    6. Make it feel comfortable and cozy.
    7. Emphasize winter positives.
    8. Set up timers.
    9. Make it festive.
    10. Give the home a nice aroma.
    11. Protect your investment.
    12. Use the season to your advantage.
    13. Consider the area.

    Tips provided courtesy of

Monday, January 08, 2007

Is TV advertising possible?

In the last few months I’ve watched as HouseValues has been introducing Agents on TV to a few select markets, wondering how TV could work for agents? Until now television had generally been thought of as too expensive both in air time and production costs for a decent commercial.

The other day in the hall I ran into one of the Agent on TV Account Executives and asked how it was going. She said great and how excited she was to have heard back from one of her first Agent on TV customers. This email she forwarded to me from her client pretty much answers my question.

Hello Debra,

Just wanted to send a quick note and let you how the first couple months have gone with the Agent TV program. Although I was promised 10 commercials per month Our commercial has played an average of 38 times per month driving significant traffic to both my Homepages website and in turn to my personal website. In November my impressions on Homepages jumped 305% compared to September which was prior to the commercial airing.

Those numbers, and having the ability to feature someone's home on REAL TV channels, has been a definite selling point during listing presentations. I have narrowed my presentation down to 8 pages now and the Agent TV and Homepages are two of my key staples. This has already been more than I expected honestly, customers are already saying yes to me after page one! Plus, I am able to charge a premium for my services as I am offering options almost no one else can.

A huge addition (and please don't charge me additional for this!:) is that I have had a homepages account for my area (Rogers, MN) for a year and averaged maybe 1 lead per month, over the last 3 months I would say I've averaged 5-6 new Homepages leads per month, some of which I have already started communications with. This to me is just a bonus as I really signed up for Agent TV for the listing support and market branding. I truly feel at this pace, these leads alone will pay for the product. I'm sure other agents who are signed up for Homepages in my area are also seeing a big increase in leads and are probably wondering what's up!

Bottom line, I'm really happy with the product and a large part of my satisfaction has been working with you. Your responsiveness and dedication to the start up of this product has been really appreciated. Getting me an express DVD copy of my commercial so I could show off my new advertising to other business professionals at a business expo was really awesome and beneficial. Also, assisting me in getting additional advertising items has been extremely helpful.

I just wanted to thank you for all that you've done. This is a great opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from the competition! Between receiving the leads through and in turn selling them on services like Agent TV and Homepages, HouseValues has been great for my business and will be an integral part of my business plan for years to come.

Thanks for everything Debra.

James Berg, REALTOR®, e-PRO®

Go to to see commercial demos, take a tour, and get other information about Agents on TV.