Get More Bang for Your Bucks When it Comes to Online Advertising

By Jaime Westman

Standing out in a crowded field could be determined by how we spend our online advertising dollars. Everyone wants to get noticed, but not all sites and delivery systems are able to do that. Expanding our businesses and brands is important these days, which is why I listened in on a recent webinar for a refresher course in ideas.

Exclusivity

This is a huge concept when it comes to marketing yourself. If you share a page, site or space with other Realtors, your recognition factor shrinks a great deal. You want to be able to showcase your skills and ideas without sharing the spotlight with others, so here are some things to keep in mind: Continue reading “Get More Bang for Your Bucks When it Comes to Online Advertising”

Stellar Social Media Practices

By Jaime Westman

There are a lot of social media networks available to promote you and your business. Some work better with real estate-related topics than others, but three of the biggies that work with anything are Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

One of the best things about those three is their versatility because you can you use them individually or jointly to engage your audience, build a community, generate leads, create business and stay in touch with current and past clients. In addition, Facebook and Twitter are great for letting people help you spread the word. A recent webinar touched on a few of the ways agents can connect with consumers using these networks.

Facebook

  • Grammar is important, especially on your business page. We live in a world moving toward texting, but business situations still call for full words and complete sentences.
  • Keep the message short. Facebook is set up for interaction and sharing, and people will be more likely to do that if something is clever or to the point.
  • Show your personality. Buying or selling a house can be stressful, so if people see that you’re someone they can be comfortable with, they’re more likely to contact you.
  • Be consistent. Posting a status update, tidbit or photo doesn’t take long, so doing one of those things daily is a good idea.
  • Continue reading “Stellar Social Media Practices”

NAR Launches Political Candidate Training Academy

Published by Jim Droz

If you like watching CNBC and C-SPAN more than ESPN and A&E, the National Association of Realtors has an initiative to help you hone your political chops if a run for public office ever grabs your fancy.

Launched a few months ago, the Candidate Training Academy was developed to give Realtors and industry-friendly candidates an introduction to how to run for elected office. It’s intended to give candidates a head start if they choose such a patch on the local, state or national level, in addition to supplying information on how to run a campaign.

The NAR says that while the academy is focused on the process of helping candidates win campaigns, issues related to real estate obviously are important to the group as well. That’s especially true in late 2012 and moving forward as the housing industry starts to recover and is seen as one of the engines to re-cranking up the U.S. economy.

Among other items, the core curriculum of the programs consists of topics covering fundraising, voter contact, analysis and budgeting. The sessions are also geared to help determine whether participants have the traits needed to run for office, among other things.

We all know politicians face pressure from peers, constituents and contributors to vote in certain ways, so wading into these waters can be murky for the inexperienced. So even though the NAR’s program isn’t intended to make participants fall in place on real estate-related issues, it does, however, “give you someone who understands the real estate industry and the demand for sound policy that protects the way Realtors do business,” Andy Fegley, director of government affairs for the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors in Arizona, said in a recent edition of Realtor AE magazine.

If this piques your curiosity, contact Kyle Lambert London at klambert@realtors.org or call 202-383-1203. For more information on the classes as a whole, visit the Realtor Action Center.

The academy is one of two political strategies being undertaken by the NAR. The other is an outreach program designed to engage consumers directly through e-mails and browser ads that introduce the NAR as their ally in homeownership. While the NAR already sends mailings to tout its agenda, this new campaign is massive and involves sending messages to the more than 80 million current and aspiring homeowners. The idea is to foster a relationship with consumers on behalf of Realtors and to urge recipients to contact their elected officials on matters relating to the housing industry.

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Short Sales Grow Business for Phoenix Agent

Published by Jim Droz

Numbers are an important part of real estate, with prices, closings, commissions, fees, interest rates and the like adding up to potential angst. Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to reach certain goals that we lose track of our main mission. So why not disregard the numbers and do what you do best? You might be surprised how quickly your transactions pile up without the added burden of expectations.

Kathleen Bliss Porter, an agent in the Phoenix-Scottsdale area, decided about four years ago to start concentrating on short sales as her primary way of doing business. Part of that was reality because of the housing situation in Arizona and part of it was she saw an opportunity to help struggling homeowners and to do something many other agents were reluctant to try.

“There’s a big need for short sales and helping people who are upside down or experiencing a hardship,” Bliss Porter said. “I just started working on them three or four years ago and now I’m mostly all referral-based.”

She’s mostly pretty busy, too, with at least 50 closings through August this year.

“If I price it right, I’m getting multiple offers the first day, and on some of them I’m getting up to 10 offers the first couple of days,” she said. “They’re selling pretty quickly; within a few weeks they’re under contract.”

By anticipating a need and jumping in early, Bliss Porter now has an efficient system and is known as an expert in short sales. She has become acquainted with a large number of lenders and investors in her area and knows what they require to net on a sale. Therefore she prices the houses appropriately from the get-go and doesn’t “accept really low offers.”

“I tell them, ‘this is where you need to be, so submit an offer at this amount.’ Then I submit it and things go quickly,” she said. “I don’t wait for two weeks and get the best offer. I get an offer, get it to the bank and get things going.”

Her results are proving that Realtors who see an opening, become an expert in that area and then go full steam ahead will most often benefit down the road.

“I don’t really worry or think about my numbers,” Bliss Porter said. “I just go to work.”

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How to Create Compelling Content Marketing

By Jaime Westman

A new buzzword among agents is content marketing, which basically means creating and distributing materials that will get you noticed. The goal is to attract, acquire, engage and drive consumers to your website, office and in the front door of a new home … with you holding the keys, of course.

Think of traditional marketing as talking at people and content marketing as talking with them. If you treat it like a conversation, your potential clients will be more engaged and, once a relationship is built, you can subtly start the process of working with them.

The goals of content marketing should be:

    Brand awareness: As people start looking to you for information and stimulation, they’ll link you and your company with expertise and reliability.
    Customer acquisition: This is the goal of all marketing campaigns but is done in a less sales-oriented way than in the past.
    Lead generation: Everyone who visits your website, reads your posts and gets your updates is a possible client. When they’re ready to take action, they’ll contact you because of the familiarity.
    Retention and loyalty: This is when your sales skills take over. Doing the job well and making a client comfortable will make them a salesperson for you moving forward.

The biggest challenge of content marketing is producing enough engaging content in a variety of forms to keep people interested. You can get help and ideas from colleagues and peers with weekly content meetings designed to get the creativity flowing. Whatever you come up, these goals should be at the forefront:

    Entertain: Make use of videos and contests, among other things, and update visitors about community events and fun things to do on the weekend.
    Inspire: Let other people tout your skills through endorsements, or have forums that lead to more involvement from visitors.
    Educate: Provide reports, guides, ratings, seminars, newsletters and the like to help visitors with the confusing world of real estate.
    Convince: Features, demonstrations and data are some of the things that work here.

Another way to inform people with a visual element is infographics. If you’re all thumbs when it comes to this sort of thing, http://lemon.ly/ is a good site to see for help, with a cost. If you’re experienced at creating graphics and are looking for ideas or tools, http://www.easel.ly/ is a nice free site to check out.

One of the most import aspects of online marketing is blogging. What you write doesn’t have to be profound or provocative, just informative and catchy enough to keep people coming back. It’s a great way to sell people on your personality and knowledge without them thinking the wiser. If you need help or ideas, here are a few sites to get you started:

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Beginning to Blog for Real Estate Agents

By Jaime Westman

If you’ve heard that blogging is essential to your marketing plan but haven’t put fingers to keyboard yet, perhaps you need a nudge. Pardon my elbows, but here goes. This idea came to me after I was alerted to a series of webinars focusing on real estate blogging. The first – surprise! – was on getting started.

Generally, there are two types of posts – those geared toward peers and others targeting consumers. The style, language, content and professionalism will vary according to the intended audience. You can be a little edgier and use inside terms when writing for other professionals but that might not work for the general public. It’s always a good idea, however, to have good sentence and paragraph structure and to be as professional as possible. Once posted, your words are out there, and typos and improper grammar won’t reflect well on you no matter your intentions or target audience.

Other tidbits to keep in mind:

Read all about it: Before you write, read what other agents are blogging about. Don’t do this to copy them but to get ideas and to see what styles are effective. Also, if you’re a fan of certain magazine writers or other bloggers figure out why that is and try to emulate those styles as best you can.

Reel them in: You have about 10 seconds to capture the imagination of a reader, so putting some words or sentences in bold type will at least get important words noticed. If that proves to be captivating they’ll likely Continue reading “Beginning to Blog for Real Estate Agents”

Buyer Strategies in Tightening Markets

Published by Jim Droz

Tight inventory is putting the squeeze on homebuyers who are jumping into the market after finally seeing positive signs of a housing recovery. Talk about your good news, bad news situation. That means it’s time for the talk. You know, the one where you have to be blunt with clients who will be competing with a host of other buyers, including cash-wielding investors.

“The poor buyer’s agents, which I mostly am, have to be super aggressive,” said Jackie Cartwright, a Realtor in the Las Vegas area. “They have to coach their clients from the start about what to expect and find out how comfortable they are doing certain things.”

Some of those things might be asking clients to offer twice the earnest money deposit or asking for no closing costs or HOA fees. Having them prepared to offer more than the listing price also is being done a lot in Nevada’s Clark County, which has about a third of the listings compared to a year ago but nearly the same number of closings. Continue reading “Buyer Strategies in Tightening Markets”

How to Tether Your iPhone, iPad for Internet Anywhere

By Jaime Westman

If you’re like me, you’re tethered to your mobile devices. As agents, we have to be, right? So when I try to use my iPad in a non-WiFi hotspot and find it useless, it can be frustrating, to say the least.

What to do? More tethering, of course – if possible. Some smartphones have the capability to act as a mobile hotspot that supplies Internet access to nearby computers, tablets and other devices. The phones connect to a mobile data network and then act as a Wi-Fi router to send bandwidth to nearby clients. That’s good news for multi-tasking agents who don’t want to drive around looking for a public Wi-Fi hotspot and who don’t want to add to their device stockpile by buying another product. The bad news? Most of the major networks charge from a little to a lot to allow you to tether a notebook or tablet to your phone. Since things can change quickly in the mobile world, check with your carrier for pricing plans before making any decisions.

Getting Started

Make sure your phone and data plan support hot-spot use and has Wi-Fi functionality. If it can be and your provider allows it, then the monthly charge will be your biggest concern. To see if your phone has the capability: www.computerworld.com

The type of program you choose to install will vary depending on the operating system and hardware of the phone.

Pros & Cons

A hotspot is a convenient way to retrofit a tablet or notebook for faster connections, which seem to get speedier every few months.

Many new smartphones allow you to tether a laptop or tablet to the phone through a Bluetooth or USB connection, which, for all intents and purposes, makes it a hotspot.

You can get Internet access in areas where you wouldn’t otherwise, which is handy if you need to quickly download or upload files to show or send to clients.

Your phone’s Internet capabilities while tethered to your computer might not be as strong, especially if you’re using it through a router.

Using your phone as an Internet source for your computer is more likely to rack up the data usage and affect the payment plan with your provider.

The battery on your phone or tablet might drain quicker if you use it for tethering.

Apps for iPhone

If you have an iPhone, there are apps that allow you to tether. Some to choose from include: Apps for iPhone

Apps for Android

The same is true for Android phones. For a list of some apps, visit:

Apps for Android

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Managing Your Online Reputation

By Jaime Westman

Our reputation is on the line at all times in the real estate world. That’s even truer today with it being online in multiple platforms and being dissected in many formats. How we handle our business and conduct ourselves has always been scrutinized, but now it’s available to a wider audience with a simple click of a mouse. So it’s important to monitor our online reputation and business and make sure both are displayed in the best light. Internet and blogging tools have made it easy for prospects and clients to voice their opinions, which could be aimed at us. A recent Webinar pointed out ways to ensure that our reputation doesn’t take a hit. Here are some bullet points to keep in mind:

Research Yourself

Conducting periodic Internet searches will help you find out what’s being said about you, if anything. Go to a search engine and type “your name and city,” “your name and business,” “your name and real estate” or “your name and real estate review” to see what pops up. You can also check review sites such as Yelp or Craigslist to see if anything is listed there. Continue reading “Managing Your Online Reputation”