Google Nexus Tablet: Is It Right For Your Real Estate Business?

By Jaime Westman

Keeping up with Technology

Priced at $199 and $249 for the 8 GB and 16 GB models, respectively, the Google Nexus 7 is currently blowing the competition out of the water. It’s only been out on the market a few months, but as of now, the Nexus 7 is probably the best thing that’s happened to the tablet market.

At only 7 inches and 340 grams, this tiny tablet is considerably smaller and much lighter than the iPad, fitting easily into purses and briefcases. Plus, the Nexus 7 is fitted with scratch resistant glass made from Corning Incorporated, makers of the popular Gorilla Glass.

While the Nexus 7 boasts that it was “designed with gaming in mind” and built specifically for Google Play, there is potential that it can be used as a tool for business related activities and web browsing thanks to the NVIDIA Tegra 3 quad-core processor and the latest Android OS, Jelly Bean 4.1.1. The tablet also comes with 1 GB of RAM and either 8 or 16 GB of memory. A front facing camera and microphone make it ideal for videoconferencing and for Google Hangout.

For business purposes, you’d have to rely on cloud services like Dropbox or Google Drive but once installed, you’d automatically lose about 2 GB of storage on your tablet. The Nexus 7 is also excellent for tracking and setting up appointments via Google Now, which can be compared to Apple’s version of Siri as the program is speech focused. Another terrific selling point is the battery life; the Nexus’ battery life is good for up to 9 hours and 300 hours of standby time. You also get a built in Bluetooth for headsets and keyboards. Continue reading “Google Nexus Tablet: Is It Right For Your Real Estate Business?”

Do Your Leads Have Baby Fat?

By Jaime Westman

baby

So while I’m at the gym trying to work off the day’s stress (and the last 18 pounds to my goal), I’m looking around my gym, watching how everyone is working super hard to achieve their goal—whether they’re trying to lose their baby weight, prep for the next marathon, or are just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle—and I can’t help but wonder, “Are my agents doing the same thing?” Not working out, I mean, although I’m sure a lot of them are doing that too. I mean in the sense of cultivating and following up on their leads, farming within their HouseHunt territories, and maintaining a presence in their potential clients’ minds.

Unfortunately, a lot of times this isn’t the case and that makes me sad. Why? Because that’s new and future business just going down the drain and who do these agents have to blame? Let me tell you, it’s usually not themselves that they point the fingers at first—it’s the lead generating company that gets yelled at, whether it’s HouseHunt or another one of our competitors. This isn’t acceptable and let me explain why before everyone starts getting out the pitchforks and lighting up their torches.

You all know that I’ve been on a journey to get myself back to my ideal post-baby weight. It’s significantly harder to do so when you have a full-time job, a 16-month-old baby boy at home, and you’re trying to work out like crazy in between. But the way I see it, I’m in it for the long run and to do that I have to work smarter, not harder.
Continue reading “Do Your Leads Have Baby Fat?”

Instagram Sets the Stage for More Imaginative Photos

By Jaime Westman

You know a social media company is on the right track when it gets the attention of Facebook, which Instagram has done. The company recently paid $1 billion for the free photo-sharing network, which gave the app instant celebrity and credibility. Have you tried Instagram yet for your real estate marketing? If not, snap to it, because more and more agents are discovering how useful the service is for sharing photos on their social media sites from their phones or other mobile devices.

Sharing photos of listings, the neighborhood and other nice facets of your community are great for your business, and Instagram is rapidly becoming the platform for doing it, as well as for editing, cropping and filtering your images. If it sounds intimidating, Instagram’s site can assist you there, but here are some ways the service can help real estate agents in case you need a nudge:

Open up: If you’re active on Facebook you can port your connections to Instagram to build a new foundation of people to follow. If you need to expand your Twitter network, follow real estate hashtags to find Instagram users active in the market, or follow hashtags from your area to connect with potential clients. If you “like” and comment on other users’ photos, those people are likely to reciprocate on your photos, thus getting more views for your property.

Extra shots: With Facebook’s new Timeline format you have more space at the top of your personal and business pages to display photos. Using InstaCover is a great tool for that because you can turn your page into a smorgasbord of Instagram photos that include both business and pleasure shots. Once your collage is finalized you can tweak the appearance every once in a while to keep things fresh.

Filters: Instagram filters can add character or a dynamic element to your photos. The Sierra filter, for example, can add a cloudy and mysterious quality while the Lo-Fi filter adds vibrancy and warmth. The Inkwell filter is good for modern houses because it accents clean lines and the Toaster filter gives the photo a sunnier appearance no matter the weather at the moment. It’s fun to experiment with different filters and eventually you’ll get good at highlighting the best features of your property that will enhance its story and that of the neighborhood.

Location, location, location: Instagram’s Photo Map allows you to note the location of your listing photos on a Google map. The “geotag” capability also lets you log the coordinates where the photo was taken while you’re connected via Wi-Fi or 3G. Sharing that information is a handy way to add context to your photos and provide prospects with relevant information they can use and appreciate.

Shoot away: Since agents are always on the move, taking photos of cool and interesting stuff around town might make a good conversation piece and let people see your personality, particularly if you add a clever caption. If you work in a big real estate office, posting pictures of peers enjoying themselves might also make a prospect feel more comfortable about stopping by and seeing you at the office.

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Getting Started with Google AdWords

By Jaime Westman

Most real estate agents are searching for ways to get their message out faster and more frequently. Naturally, Google has a way to help with that. Google AdWords is a pay-for-performance product that lets you determine your costs based on objectives. You pay only when a prospect clicks on your ad to visit your website, which also enables you to track visits. Since Google can target users by location, it allows you to reach home buyers and sellers in your areas. Whether the service is right for you depends on numerous factors.

How it Works

Google uses an “auction” to determine which ads show on a particular results page based on keywords and other target settings, such as geographic location. Google then determines where ads are ranked and displayed based on a quality score.
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Be Outstanding on Social Media Sites

By Jaime Westman

The opportunity for us to find clients online and close more transactions through social media has grown by leaps and bounds the past few years. But if we don’t do it right it likely will just be a waste of time and effort. That’s why expert insight comes in handy, and Matt Heinz, the author of “Successful Social Selling,” was gracious enough to answer a few questions regarding the best way real estate agents can accelerate their marketing efforts and get more referrals, among other benefits. Continue reading “Be Outstanding on Social Media Sites”

Share your Wealth of Knowledge through Social Media

By Jaime Westman

Build an Audience through Social MediaAs real estate agents, we need to keep up with the changing landscape of social media. That’s why I found a recent webinar featuring marketing guru Matt Heinz so interesting. The author of “Successful Social Selling” held positions at companies such as Microsoft, Boeing and Market Leader before launching Heinz Marketing in 2008. Some of his tips can be a big help to us as we formulate or beef up our marketing plan. Here are a few ideas from him and other social media experts I’ve recently talked to about the concept.

If you use your social networks to filter information that specifically targets real estate prospects, they’ll gravitate toward you. And when they follow you and their friends see that, you’ve increased your access to even more prospects.

To earn trust and credibility, you should always comment, connect, engage and interact with prospects and other agents. Also, find other places online where your prospects are participating and join in. That way you’ll be seen as a peer and not a seller.

Continue reading “Share your Wealth of Knowledge through Social Media”

Make Videos the Star of your Marketing Campaign

By Jaime Westman

If a picture says a thousand words, what can a video say about our listings? It’s a trend occurring more and more in real estate as agents tap into the power and popularity of videos with today’s consumers.

“I truly believe video, when done right, can really help Realtors get more attention and close more deals,” said Rudy Bachratz of WellcomeMat, a video publishing service for real estate agents, brokers and videographers. “Videos showcase your personality and can take your listings to a whole new level.”

Bachratz, who previously worked as a real estate agent and broker, has identified several video trends and shared some on an ActiveRain webinar. A few might require a professional but some you can do at home, or, in our case, at someone else’s home.

Robo Video

This is basically a slideshow with a voiceover. Bachratz isn’t a fan of these efforts because they’re often too stiff and static to appeal to today’s consumers.

Hyper Local Video

These videos focus as much on the neighborhood as they do the listing and work well because clients are buying a way of life as well as a house. You can also let others tell the story for you by interviewing neighbors or nearby store owners for their perspectives.

Continue reading “Make Videos the Star of your Marketing Campaign”

SEO for Blogs

By Jaime Westman

SEO for Blogs

Let’s face it. Ernest Hemingway would have a hard time getting discovered these days if he didn’t know how to play the SEO game. That’s how important it is to know the tricks to effectively implement SEO for blogs: be seen, re-seen, shared and everything else that’s needed to move your blog up to the first page of search engines, most importantly, Google.

In general, search engine optimization (SEO) is improving the visibility of your website or posts by how frequently they’re viewed. If you think of SEO as a pyramid, the upper parts would be social media and link building and the foundation layers would be keywords and content. The latter two will be the focus here.

Content

  • Create useful posts: The more people click on your posts – and actually stay a while to read them – the better. If you have useful and fresh content that people are searching for, the Google folks will notice, and up you go.

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Turn Interaction into Transaction with Facebook

By Jaime Westman

Since we’re in a relationship business, it only makes sense to use the biggest relationship tool out there to our advantage. No, not Match.com. I’m talking about Facebook, the undisputed hub of social media. Nothing will completely replace face-to-face meetings but this is a fantastic way to get noticed and stay relevant. And if you know some tricks to turn your business or personal pages into a modified search engine for your services, all the better. Here are a few things to try:

Your About section is crucial, so make sure your profile picture and timeline cover photos are vibrant, professional, playful or clever, depending on what type of image you want to portray. For help creating or customizing your photos, go to www.timelinecoverbanner.com or www.thesitecanvas.com. You should also include a link to your web page. Continue reading “Turn Interaction into Transaction with Facebook”

Speaking of Effective Communication…

Published by Jim Droz

We’re nearing the end of another year and if one of your goals (or resolutions; remember them?) was to be a more effective communicator, how’d that go? If it’s still something you’re leery to talk about, perhaps you should because it’s an intricate part of real estate. There are numerous ways to deal with prospects and clients but most successful agents have good communication skills and a consistent presence.

If you have a lead-generating system, a fast response is essential. You don’t want it to be pressurized but people expect quick acknowledgment these days, especially online. So an introductory reply while they’re at their computer and in a “house-searching” mode is good to do. Most top marketers also try to ensure that their e-mail isn’t lingering in someone’s inbox overnight or over the weekend. That’s because a lot of people tend to have a morning ritual of ridding their inbox of spam and junk mail. If your message is mixed in with those, it could get caught in a deleting sweep and not be seen. That makes the middle of a weekday an optimal time to get your message across. And don’t forget about a follow-up plan such as a drip system that will keep your name in front of prospects until they’re ready to buy.

Build good name recognition by tailoring your correspondence to suit a prospect’s specific needs. Southern California agent Josh Levin uses an introductory e-mail and immediate call to gauge what a visitor to his website has in mind for housing. He uses the time to assess their desires and avoids generalities. He then sets them up to receive new listings in the ranges discussed, puts them on his MLS, encourages them to stay in contact with questions and updates them on market conditions. “It comes down to staying active and staying in touch and letting them know I’ll always be there,” Herbel said. “That way they associate me with their real estate needs.” Continue reading “Speaking of Effective Communication…”