19: 5 Ways To Establish Authority In Your Real Estate Market

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Having “Authority” in your real estate space/niche is the key to gaining new clients.  That’s because a real estate transaction is a big enough deal to most people that they not only want, but they feel they NEED, a true expert.

Here’s one of the definitions of Authority:

  • the confident quality of someone who knows a lot about something or who is respected or obeyed by other people

19 - 5 ways to authority
In real estate terms, consumers want an authoritative person that knows the area, average home prices, which schools are better than others, how to get the most money, or how to negotiate the cheapest possible price, among other things.

Real estate agents have traditionally tried to command this authority with having a ton of signs in the ground so the community sees their name.  And they try with direct mail farming, or door knocking, or picking up the phone 125 times a day and cold-calling their way to success.

More often than not, these approaches include some self-proclaimed authority such as:

  • The #1 agent in Springfield
  • I’ve sold more houses than anyone
  • I’ll get you 3.6% more money than another agent

But with a consumer’s instant ability to find out everything about you in a matter of seconds, isn’t there a new and better way to command authority?  One that’s easier over the long run and, in the end, more effective, powerful, and economical?

I think that the ultimate way to establish authority in your space as an agent is to consistently and predictably provide value to people.  Teach them something they didn’t know.  Earn their trust over time with knowledgable and thoughtful insight.  This insight is what they cannot get from a faceless algorithm on Trulia or Zillow.

Here are 5 ways to start creating and earning authority:

Provide Your Opinion

Real estate can be a very subjective experience.  One person’s “dream home” is another’s shack.  So, develop your own opinion and stick to it.  Stay committed to why you believe homes should be priced a certain way.  Don’t be afraid to state why you think a buyer might like a certain home over another.  Don’t be shy to give your interpretation of what they local real estate market looks like today and where you think it’s headed.

Consumers can find home-related facts anywhere.  But your opinion and interpretation of those facts is what makes you valuable.

Learn From Others

Your authority is directly related to the value of the insight you can provide.  Can you surround yourself with other agents who know more than you – or with agents who know different things than you?

Constantly be learning.  From this, your ability to teach your clients new things will be increasing and evolving.

Evolve To Meet New Demands

Real estate is changing like never before.  To stay relevant, we must demonstrate our ability to not only to keep up, but to be ahead of the trends to be able to provide our clients with new ways to sell and buy before they start asking for them.

Like every industry, real estate is evolving.  I don’t think you’re going to go out of business if you’re not tweeting 20 times a day or posting your new listings on Instagram.  But I do think that to work with new clients, you will need to be skilled with tools and techniques that consumers are hearing about in TV commercials, in the media, and through their friends and family.

Be Prepared To Reinforce Your Position

If you’re sharing your opinion and encouraging your clients and prospects to adopt new tools and new ways to think, be prepared to answer when people ask you “why.”  Leep in mind that an authority may flex, but typically does not change position for no reason.

Be prepared to stay true to your thoughts, methods, and processes.  Give people thoughtful structure and your perfect audience will cling to it and trust you.

Be Seen And Heard

It’s hard to become an authority if no one ever hears of you.  So, you need a platform to broadcast through.

What that platform is depends on your audience, but I’d suggest that it should be a digital presence.  More specifically, your website should be your main hub because that you own and can completely control.

Earn Your Authority

Authority you’ve earned is much more valuable than that which you’ve proclaimed upon yourself.

Demonstrate what you know in a manner where people can access it at any time and you won’t have to be convincing people to trust you.  Instead, they’ll come to you already trusting and believing that you’re the authority and, therefore, the solution to their problem.

 

17: [TOOLBOX] Discover The #1 Secret To Generating Facebook Real Estate Leads

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The Secret

When I talk to agents, I find that Facebook to most of them is the most confusing and misunderstood marketing tool out there.  People really have no idea how to harness all the potential that it has.  And, it’s no wonder because Facebook changes their system almost every week.

generating leads with facebook

But, one thing always stays the same.  And that’s that Facebook wants you to do one thing: PAY THEM

Yep, if you want to reach your current audience or build a new one, you will need to fork over a few bucks.

And so the secret to generating new real estate leads on a continual and predicable basis with Facebook is to invest in and learn to utilize the Facebook Advertising system.

Before you write Facebook off because you have to “pay to play”, consider that this medium is, by far, the most economical, efficient, and powerful advertising system you could possibly use in your real estate business.  Facebook truly is a game changer as far as generating leads is concerned.

In fact, in my humble opinion, Facebook is the biggest bang for your real estate marketing buck…ever. Of course, this assumes you’re doing it correctly.  Because, when done incorrectly, it’s an incredible vacuum sucking your marketing budget dry faster than you thought was possible.

If you have any thoughts about using Facebook in your business, you just need to accept the fact that the days of using Facebook for business purposes for free are long gone.  If you’re not wiling to fork over a few bucks, then Facebook really isn’t for you unless you’re that extremely rare exception of the total social butterfly who has thousands and thousands of friends on a personal profile (not business profile) and you’re really, really good at networking.  In that case, you could likely still be generating a consistent flow of new leads by referral.  But, for the other 99.9% of us, the advertising route is going to be the way to go.

What Can You Do With Facebook Ads?

One of the really amazing things about Facebook Ads is that they allow you to do pretty much any type of advertising you can do with other mediums, but in a better, faster, and cheaper way.  Here’s just a few basic ideas:

  • target a geographic farm
  • target a list of your past clients for referrals
  • keep advertising to A, B, and C-level prospects with various campaigns
  • offer items of value to current and new prospects
  • reach thousands (or tens of thousands) of people directly in your local area
  • promote an open house
  • promote a “just listed” or “just sold” campaign
  • target an incredibly-focused demographic of sellers and/or buyers
  • you can even keep track of those who clicked on your ad but did not provide you with their contact information

And you can do a lot of this for $10 to $50 at a time – and get results!!!

Here’s The Key To Generating Leads

Now that you know that the secret to using Facebook is to incorporate paid advertising, the key to generate leads is by placing ads that target a specific type of person with a specific offer.

You use various offers to entice people to take the action you request in your ad.  Maybe it’s to exchange something of value for their contact info.  Or, maybe you’re just promoting a piece of content that people interact with so that you can then track and serve more ads to these people.

There are a variety of ways to use Facebook Ads.  Remember that the Facebook platform cannot support over a billion users for free and the resources they give you to advertise in amazingly powerful ways are worthwhile to learn and invest in.

15: [TOOLBOX] Is Working With Renters Worth A Real Estate Agent’s Time?

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If you sell homes, should you also work with renters?  And, by the same token, should you work with sellers and buyers that are in a price range well below your normal home sale price?

renters worth your time?

These are tough questions because, as a real estate agent, you have to spend your time wisely.  It’s easy to get sucked into doing lots of different things that make you little to no money.  So, if your normal home sale commission is, for example, $5000, is it a wise move to work with renters where your commission is maybe 10% of that?

There are two schools of thought regarding how to approach this:

  1. Work with everyone: you never know who might end up being a long-time client with bigger deals you can be a part of down the road
  2. Work only with your perfect client and no one else

Personally, I’ve put together a fair amount of rental deals and I’m calling it quits.  I’ve worked on enough of these to get a pretty solid understanding of the average outcome and I’ve decided to now only work with those in my target market.

Here’s why.

In my local market, the average home sale price is roughly $400,000.  That’s somewhere in the $10,000 to $12,000 commission range per deal.  The average rental deal nets me about $700.

Hmmmmm….do I want $10,000 or $700?

Now, if rentals actually took me only 7% of the time that purchases did, then maybe this would be a fair deal.  But, they don’t.  Renters still want to see 3 or 4 or 5 or 6 or more places, just like buyers.  So, although they don’t typically take as long as a buyer may take in transacting a deal, there’s still a significant amount of time wrapped up in all the things that are required to get a rental to actually come together.

For those of you that do take on renters, I’m guessing that you’re now thinking…

  • but renters could be deals down the road
  • renters could turn into buyers right now if (fill in the variable here)
  • you should help anyone and everyone all the time
  • why turn down a potential client who could refer other people to you

All these are valid points, but…

…the bottom line is that if you don’t run your real estate business, your real estate business will run you.

renter textAt this point in my business, I’m not drowning in more awesome leads than I know what to do with.  However, I am busy every day and I definitely don’t make all the “follow up” and “stay in touch” calls that I should because I am working on active deals.

So, my point is that, if I don’t have time to make the “perfect” day every day by making all the calls I should to people who can result in relationships that are worth $10,000 within the next few months, why do I have the time to work with renters who might possibly be worth a fraction of that within the same time frame.

In the same 8 hours I might spend on a rental deal, I could have had great conversations with large number of prospects and past clients that are worth more both now as well as in the long run.

Sure, it’s possible that I might lose out on a rental deal that turns in to a buyer next year when their lease is up.

But, it’s also definitely possible that the 4 leads I got from an open house last weekend at a $700,000 home are going to buy something really soon.

I’ll take my chances with the buyers.

What’s your take?  Do you work with renters?  Do you work with buyers/sellers below a certain price point that doesn’t make financial sense to  you?  Leave a comment and let us know.

13: [Toolbox] How To Create A Target Market Persona For Your Real Estate Business

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Every business has customers.  Those customers should ideally come from your target market.  The target market is important because that is the group of people that is most likely to use your services.

Does your real estate business have a target market in mind?  And, more specifically, a target persona?

Let’s talk about what these things are and why they’re important to getting more real estate leads.

What Is A Target Market?

Traditionally, a target market is defined as the group of customers that a business focuses its marketing efforts on.  Identifying a target market is the first step in understanding how, where, why, and when you’re going to market your product or service.

In real estate terms, the broadest target markets you might go after could be identified as:

  • Home buyers
  • Home sellers

real estate target market and persona

Why You Need A Target Market

Knowing who you’re going after as a client helps you stand out to that particular person.  They will notice you because you “speak to them” in your marketing.  For example, if you were a home shopper looking to buy a condo in the west side of town that cost about 900K, wouldn’t you want to work with an agent that happens to be a specialist in the luxury west side market?  If you’re like most people, you definitely would.

On the flipside, if you don’t know who you’re speaking to, then you’re actually speaking to no one.  You won’t have any parameters to work within because you’re willing to work with whomever.  And if you work with whomever shows up, you’ll take on clients who don’t get you to your goals.

For example, when was the last time you had a difficult client?  Or took on a rental when you really didn’t want to?  Or took a listing at a price that really wasn’t worth your time?  Or drove to showings that were way too far away?  If you’ve done these things, then you’re not addressing a target market that’s getting you to your goals.

Having a target market in mind will help you avoid these common real estate pitfalls.  That’s because having a target group of customers you focus on gives you boundaries to stay within.  If you know exactly who you’re going after and why they’re important to you, then you’ll know when you’ve reached the threshold of what you’re willing to do.

How To Define Your Target Market

Here are some simple ways to define who your ideal clients are:

  • buyers and/or sellers
  • location (county, city, area, neighborhood/subdivision)
  • timeframe to buy/sell (how long are you willing to nurture leads?)
  • home price range
  • age (do you identify better with a certain age range?)
  • …and there are others, which leads us into thinking about client personas

What Is A Persona?

A client persona is essentially a target market that’s taken another step further.  With a persona, we’re considering not just broad segments of people in a certain area or price range, but now we’re also taking into account very personal items such as the exact goals and behavior patterns that your “perfect” client will have.

These are important because they help us relate to customers as real human beings (not just “leads”) and allow us to best pursue each of these people in all regards to client acquisition and retention.

How To Create An Effective Persona

You can craft your target market on your own because those are your own preferences.  But, with a persona, you want to enlist the help of some of your best clients because they are the ones that will tell you what is important to them.  And sometimes the results will surprise you.

For example, I asked one of my seller clients why they used me after we had closed on a home.  He said it was my use of technology.  Now, all I’d done that he had really seen was use my iPad during my initial consultation with him.  And, from that alone, he thought I was Mr. Technology.  I didn’t think it was much of a big deal but it turned out that this was pretty important to him.  Feedback like this has helped me craft a client persona that values the use of intermediate to advanced tech skills during the buying and selling process.

To better understand what your clients value and where you can stand out in the crowded real estate agent market, do brief interviews with 5-10 of your favorite clients.  During your next “keeping in contact” call with each of them, ask them if they can do you a favor and answer these questions:

  • Why did you choose me over other agents?
  • What did you end up liking best about how I was able to help you?
  • What fears did you have before the buying/selling process and how did I help alleviate them?
  • Did you have any pre-conceived notions about working with a real estate agent?
  • What did you feel was going to be your biggest challenge in buying/selling a home?
  • (remember to keep asking “why” to really drill down to the base of their emotions and logic)

This Is Your Ideal Real Estate Client

Want to know what your perfect real estate lead looks like?  Here are the items you’re looking for:

Client Objective

  • Do you work only with buyers?
  • Do you work only with sellers?
  • Or, what is the ratio of buyers to sellers that you’d like?

Demographics

  • Education, hobbies
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income, home price range
  • Location

Goals

  • What are your perfect client’s goals?
  • And their biggest challenges?
  • How do you help them overcome problems to get to their goals?

Identification

  • Turn your perfect client into a “real person”
  • What is their name?
  • What are their most common objections?
  • How will you appeal to them so they identify with you?
  • What do you want them to say about you after the closing?

Once you’ve gone through the process of figuring out your target market and client persona, you’ll have your perfect real estate client.  You’ll have an exact understanding of who you want to target, what they need emotionally, how they rationalize their decisions, and how you can describe your services in a way that appeals to them and makes them want to work with you and you alone.

Your Target Market & Persona

What’s your target market?  Who is an example of your persona.  Leave a comment below and let us know.

11: [TOOLBOX] How Many Just Listed/Sold Postcards Should I Send Out?

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If you’re going to try direct mail postcards to broadcast your new “just listed” or “just sold” listings, you may be wondering how many postcards to send out.

The general consensus is roughly 300.

Here are some things to consider to see if maybe you should be sending the same, more, or fewer.

just sold just listed postcards

Consistency

Sending out your just sold / just listed postcards one time isn’t going to do you any good.  Consistency is key if you’re trying to target a farm with direct mail.  So, one of your first considerations should be how many cards you can send out on a regular basis.

Budget

How much can you afford to regularly spend on postage and printing?  Again, consistency is key so you may want to consider your budget in terms of a monthly spend or, if you have a consistent flow of deals and listings, how much you’re going to invest for each new listing or sale.

Split Testing

Are you sending out one card or are you doing any type of split testing to see which version of a card works better?  If you’re doing a split test, you’re better off sending more cards than fewer.  That’s because you’ll start to see more statistically accurate results if you can send out at least a few hundred with each version.

Your List vs. New Clients

Is your goal with your postcards to gain brand new clients or to reinforce your top-of-mind awareness with your current clients?  If you’re going for new blood, then you’ll want to consider a larger list so you’re more likely to reach people who are ready (or nearly ready) to buy/sell right now.  If you’re advertising to current clients, then just stick to that list.  If it’s a huge list of current clients, then try segmenting or prioritizing that list to target just those who are most likely to refer you or use you directly again.

Value of Homes

If your farm is homes that have an average value that is very high or low, this should be a major consideration for you.  Your fixed costs (postage, printing, etc.) will be exactly the same either way.  So, if your average home value is $700,000 and the commissions are going to be pretty good, that may be incentive to send out more just listed postcards than if the average value is $95,000.

Do You Enjoy It?

Any prospecting must be fun (or at least tolerable) to ensure you’ll keep doing it.  How many just sold postcards will you have the time and interest to do?

You Can Always Do More

Once you start, you can always send out more cards as you find that they’re working for you.  There’s no point in doing 1000 and then cutting back to 400 three months later.  You’re much better off starting smaller and then growing as needed.

Frequency Level

We talked about your consistency over the long-term.  But what about frequency – how many can you send out each month or quarter?  Sending out 2 cards a year for 10 years might be consistent, but that frequency probably isn’t enough.  How many cards can you send out each week, month, or quarter and keep the consistency up?

How Are You Mailing?

What is the method you’ll be using to mail your cards?  If you’re doing everything by hand like writing addresses by hand or manually sticking stamps and address stickers, that’s going to be a big investment of time.  Or, do you have some type of mailing service like Every Door Direct Mail from the US Post office?  The effort involved in mailing will have an impact on how likely you are to consistently do this well.

Turnover

What is the turnover of the homes you’re mailing to?  If it’s pretty active and people are moving in and out of the area regularly, this could be good news for you because there are going to be more ready and willing clients.  If turnover is low, you’re going to have to be especially patient before this type of advertising starts working for you.

Summary

When you start your just listed/sold campaign, make an effort to send roughly 300 on a frequent and consistent basis.  As you see how the program is working, you can alter your advertising message as well as the number of homes you’re targeting so you can reap the biggest bang for the buck.

Do you do direct mail like this?  Leave us a message and let us know how many you send and how it works for you.

9: [TOOLBOX] Win Over The Pet To Win Over The Client

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I can tell you from experience in owning a national pet services company that, if you can win over the pet, you stand a great chance to win over a new human client.

That’s because people love their pets.  And, they often trust their pet’s intuition.

how to do listing presentations with petsHow does this apply to real estate?  Well, how often do you go to make a listing presentation at a potential client’s home and are greeted at the door by a furry four-legged friend?  With roughly 66% of American households having a pet, there’s a good chance that there’s a dog or a cat waiting for you in that house.

In my pet business, we do client consultations at the client’s home and our normal practice is to make a HUGE deal out of meeting the dog or cat when we first walk in the home.  We basically pay more attention to the pet than the person for the first 30 seconds in the house.

That’s because we want to let the client know that we care greatly about their pet.  Of course, we also want the pet to feel comfortable around us so they like us.

And, when the pet likes us, then the clients normally do, too.

So, again, back to real estate, why is this important?

It’s because pet owners are usually pretty enthusiastic about their cat or dog or other pet.  They typically have an affinity to the type of animal, the breed, the size, the personality, and more.  If you can identify with this and bond to it, there’s an immediate connection between you and this potential new client.

I’ve literally had people not hire me (for the pet business) because they flat out said that their dog didn’t like me.  Now, that’s a little extreme and a home seller may not take fluffy’s opinion into too much consideration when listing their house.  But, none-the-less, people trust their pets.  If Rover is normally a well-behaved dog but is growling and barking at you incessantly, it may set off a small alarm in their heads.  On the other hand, a normally shy pet that comes to sit on your lap for no reason will probably elicit a positive response from the home owner.

I understand that a pet dog or cat isn’t your main concern when visiting a home.  But, keep it in mind that bonding with a pet is often a huge and easy step towards connecting with this new home seller or buyer.

If you get to a home and they have a dog or cat that you’re not a fan of, don’t do things to give the impression that you don’t like them.  Many pet owners will be conscious of making sure you’re not uncomfortable but, if you clearly don’t like the pet, just fake it until you leave.

Pet/Client Bonding Suggestions

When you have the opportunity to meet with someone at their home and they do have a pet, make a point to ask things such as:

  • the pet’s name
  • age
  • male or female
  • breed
  • their personality
  • if there are other pets in the house
  • any tricks they can do
  • and basically anything else that gets them to start talking about their pet

Also, try and pet the dog or cat.  Make it apparent that you like the client’s pet and that you’re not afraid of it.

And, before you leave, make sure to say “bye” to the pet as well as the pet owners.  It will make them feel more confident in the fact that they just signed with you.  Because, who doesn’t hire a pet-loving real estate agent when the clients are pet lovers themselves?

 

7: [TOOLBOX] My Favorite Open House Visitor Gift Idea

charles shaw two buck chuckWhat do you think is the best open house gift idea?

When you do open houses, what do you do to welcome visitors and encourage them to stay?  What do you do to sell yourself and to make home buyers feel comfortable in the home?

For example, here are the more popular ideas that I typically encounter:

  • cookies or other treats to give out
  • adjusting the temperature to a very cool setting on super-hot days
  • small sandwiches from the local sub shop
  • canned drinks
  • branded marketing materials like pens, note pads, etc.
  • salads, pastas, or finger foods from the local deli or caterer
  • running contests or drawings to win a prize

These are all fine and good.  But the one that I’ve had the most overall success is…

A Free Bottle Of Wine.  Specifically, Trader Joe’s Charles Shaw variety (commonly referred to as “Two-Buck Chuck”).

Now, am I the only real estate agent in the history of the world to offer a free bottle of wine?  Of course not.  And I’m not saying it’s any better or worse than any of the ideas I’ve mentioned above.

But here’s why I love using this as my go-to open house gift strategy.

It Impresses People

You want to make a great impression as a real estate agent, right?  Sure you do.  So, what makes a better impression: a can of pop or a bottle of wine?  A plate of pasta salad or a bottle of wine?  A one-out-of-15 chance to win a $10 Starbucks gift card or a guaranteed bottle of wine?

Again, I have nothing against these other ideas I’m comparing to.  It’s just that I’ve found that the free bottle of wine make people think “wow, this is pretty nice” more than those other items.

Proof:  it’s common for people to give me a questioning look when I give them their free bottle.  It’s common for people to say something to the effect of “really?  I can take this?”  or “no thanks, I couldn’t possibly take this as I’m not a serious buyer right now” or “thank you very much.”

It’s Cheap…And Good

Am I a total wine snob?  Nope.  I really couldn’t tell you the difference between this wine and a $40 bottle of something else.  Luckily, most of your buyers also couldn’t tell the difference.  So, this one, in my humble opinion, certainly tastes good enough to hand out to people and be confident that they’ll actually like it.

I personally think these bottles taste just fine.  Even pretty dang good, especially considering the price.  Further, this line has garnered a few wine awards, so there are at least a few fancy-pants wine people that like it, too.  And, with 800 million bottles sold, there’s some social proof that it’s good stuff.

And, like I said, this stuff is cheap.  Like, $3 cheap.  Roll out of your local Trader Joe’s with a case for about $40 including tax.  That’s a pretty good value.

It’s Reusable

When your open house is over, what do you do with all those extra cookies left over?  Or the pasta salad?  Or the sandwiches?  They probably go into the garbage if they’ve been sitting out or you can’t find enough mouths to feed them to.

But with an unopened bottle of wine, just pack it back up and store it until the next open house.

If 10 people come, it’s cost you about $30 (10 X $3/bottle) to do that open house.  And, if no one comes, your open house was free.  You didn’t have to spend and waste money on food that no one came and ate.

It’s A Marketing Tool

Attach your business card to the bottle so when people go to open it later on, they’ll see your name…again.

Let People Leave On A High Note

Don’t mention the free bottle until they are about to leave.  If they liked the house, it’s a great extra add-on to their positive experience.  If they didn’t like the house, it’s a great lasting impression for you.

Where You Can Get Two-Buck Chuck

You can get Charles Shaw wine at any Trader Joe’s location.

My personal favorites are the Merlot and Shiraz varieties.

What else do you do for your open house guests?  Leave us a comment below.