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