Posts Tagged ‘business branding’

New from The Lones Group Design Team!

May 31, 2011

Aranka Fruehauf is the kind of agent who immediately draws her clients in with her sense of warmth and a wealth of knowledge about her local market.  She was looking for a brand that would create a sense of quality combined with approachability, and that would allow the focus to remain on her marketing – not herself.  We think that’s exactly what she has achieved!

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Identity Portfolio: “Slim Line”

May 23, 2011

Stripes are classic, and stylish. “Slim Line” offers a beautiful stripe design, in a simple palette designed to focus attention on you and your listings.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Identity” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Image Portfolio: “Calming Nature”

May 18, 2011

If you’re looking for a brand that imparts a sense of nature and serenity, look no further.  “Calming Nature” does just that.  It would also be a great brand for agents who specialize in the “green” market.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

New from The Lones Group Design Team!

May 12, 2011

With a focus on family and an understated style, it was important for Kalani Davis that her brand reflect those values.  “Family first” is a catchphrase we often hear, but Kalani absolutely lives that ideal.  Her brand focuses on setting the stage for the kind of simple, worry-free experience clients have when working with her.  Kalani loves her new brand, and clients do too!

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Image Portfolio: “Evening Stripes”

May 5, 2011

“Evening Stripes” creates a luxurious feeling with the use of black with gold – a classic high-end combination.  It’s the perfect backdrop for marketing both you and your listings.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Powerful Home Presentation Tools

April 28, 2011

This is the sixth article in my series on powerful listing presentations. So far we’ve covered pricing, communication, technology, and marketing. This week’s topic is home presentation & photography.

Humans, by nature, are visual creatures. What we see with our eyes is what tugs at the strings of our heart, and engages us emotionally. Because of this, visual cues are extremely important in real estate – it’s the way we first connect buyers to homes, and it’s the way those buyers ultimately move beyond simply looking at homes, to mentally creating new memories in that home … before they even live there.

When you have fabulous home marketing materials to showcase at your listing presentation (remember — these are your “props”), you’re not only reinforcing the positive way the sellers feel about their home, you’re also visually showing the importance of reaching to the emotional side of buyers through home preparation, beautiful photography, and engaging video.

Sellers tell us over and over that home presentation is critically important to them. It’s one of the reasons they choose one agent over another. If your home presentation tools aren’t up to snuff, you’re going to lose business!

When you have “props” that show potential sellers what your home presentation tools look like, your ability to “wow” the sellers and get the listing goes up very quickly. This is especially true if sellers are comparing you to agents who have either poor quality – or very few – tools.

If you know you need to step up your game, but aren’t sure where to start, here are some ideas to get you started. None of these ideas are terribly expensive. But they will give you a huge return on your investment in building a long-term and sustainable relationship with your sellers, and in attracting potential buyers to every one of your listings.

Photos, photo galleries, and video: I’ve talked about these three items in previous Zebra Reports, including a recent Zebra Report titled Powerful Marketing – the Signature Virtual Tour, but I’m going to say it again. Unless you are also a professional photographer or videographer, hire professionals who specialize in showcasing homes. Your home presentation tools should include incredible photography that draws buyers in from the first time they pull up the listing. When you show sellers what kind of photography you invest in, they’ll instantly understand the value you bring to the table.

The Home Photo Book

This is different than what I call the “home book” (a book where you include items such as home care and warranty records, the most current inspection report, tax and appraisal records, and neighborhood and community information). The home photo book is a photographic tour of the home that draws the buyer in and allows them to envision living there. This is where you tell the story of the home!

Here’s how to build the home photo book:

  • Start with amazing photos. These photos must be very high resolution and print-quality. They should be so good that when you print them at 8”x10” they look even more amazing.
  • Many agents use an online company like Shutterfly to build their home photo book. For about $30, and just a little time, you can create something quite stunning. All you do is pick your style, pick your cover and upload your photos.
  • Other agents buy what I call the ‘wedding album’ book. You can find these at any craft or photo store. If you buy the version with the die-cut front cover, you can insert a beautiful exterior home photo for the cover. Print out high-quality photos on glossy photo paper and mount them to the pages. If you’re making this version, remember to keep it in great shape – it will get worn out as you show it to more and more potential sellers.

When you’re showing your sample home photo book to your sellers, be sure to let them know that you’ll be creating a book similar to this for their home. That book would be prominently displayed in the home (perhaps next to the flyer stand) for buyers to look at when they’re touring.  And don’t just make one of these books!  When you create the book, order (or make) two!  After closing, one can stay in the home for the buyers, and you can give the second copy to the sellers at closing. They will love having this beautiful book to remind them of their former home.

Home Staging

Be careful here, because sometimes sellers think that when you offer to stage their home you are actually going to change their home so much that you make it unlivable for them. Or, when you say you stage a home, you are offering to spend hundreds of dollars to get their home ready for the market. Make sure you are clear in what you are going to do, so your expectations of service will match your seller’s. Some agents are now calling this service “home merchandising” rather than “staging”.

Here’s how it might sound as you talk to sellers: “One of the things we need to consider is how to merchandise your home properly to engage potential buyers. I know you might have visions of us drastically changing your home. Don’t worry!  We don’t need to change the way you live – we just need to help buyers see how they might live in your home.”

Be sure to use your home merchandising props – the before and after photos that show sellers exactly what you mean by merchandising, and the value that it brings to them. If you have statistics that show how your merchandising efforts lead to a shorter days-on-market number, or a higher sales price, use them in your props! Create a visual board that has some beautiful “before and after” photos, and a flyer that displays the statistics to back you up.

As a wrap-up to my six-part listing presentation series, let’s talk about where we started and where we are ending. I’ve talked about everything you need in your listening presentation – the powerful tools that will set you apart and really build your business. You need pricing tools. You need communication tools. You need technology, marketing and home presentation tools. The reality is that you need them all!

However, I don’t want you to feel so overwhelmed that you never get started creating your listing presentation props. So – start small if you need to, and create one or two pieces from each of the categories I’ve covered. Once you see the value (and I guarantee the value will be BIG), you will be ready to create more and more visual props that reinforce your professional skills as a listing agent. Your goal should be to have a very compelling, very professional presentation … one that is so impressive that sellers hire you on the spot.

Want to get hired every time you do a listing presentation? When you have powerful listing tools that’s exactly what will happen. 

Based on the feedback we’ve gotten from this series it sounds as though many of your really like a multi-part format. Well, here’s some good news!  Next week I’m beginning a brand-new four-part series, sort of a “how-to” on holding highly successful open houses.  In fact, I like to call it the “unforgettable open house”. Stay tuned – this is going to make you think about open houses in a whole new way!

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Image Portfolio: “Argyle & Stripes”

April 28, 2011

Are you looking for an Instant Image brand with style and pizzazz? “Argyles and Stripes” may be just the ticket! As timeless design elements, both argyles and stripes resonate with clients of all ages. The use of blue solidifies a design that might otherwise be too whimsical for some. If you’re considering a brand that really “pops”, look no further!

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Powerful Print Marketing Tools

April 21, 2011

This is the fifth article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss the power of your print marketing tools … and why you simply must spend time creating a portfolio of materials that represents your professional expertise and shows your sellers exactly how you’ll market their home.

As I’ve said in each of the previous Zebra Reports about listing presentations, sellers want to see how you are going to sell their home. They expect you to outline the steps you will take, and they want to see “real life” samples.  You probably remember from previous Zebra Reports in this series that my term for these samples is “props”.

If you’ve ever taken one of my classes, or read any of my previous Zebra Reports on marketing, you’ll remember that one of the cornerstones of my business is my belief that agents need to develop their own personal “brand”.  The materials that we’ve talked about throughout this “Powerful Listing Presentations” series should all be created using your brand.

If the materials you use when marketing homes – the same materials you showcase during your presentation – aren’t beautiful, colorful, and extremely high-quality, you are doing your sellers a disservice. A seller’s home is a huge investment – they deserve nothing but the absolute best from you!

Before I explain what I believe are the most important items, I want to talk for just a minute about what I often see. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven by a house and stopped to take a flyer out of a flyer  box … only to find it printed on plain white paper. And sometimes the colors aren’t even accurate. Here’s an example: That lovely taupe house that I’m standing in front of … with the crisp white trim and black front door? On the flyer it looks dingy yellow and muddy brown! And the interior photos on the flyer certainly aren’t going to get me excited about seeing the home.

Remember – even if the contract and the negotiation phase of real estate is where you shine (and what you enjoy!) you can’t get to that point if you don’t market the house properly and attract buyers to the table.

I want to start by addressing how you present your marketing plan. Do you have something in writing that tells your sellers exactly what you are going to do, and when you are going to do it? Do you have a calendar that you leave with them that they can refer to? A lot of agents over-promise and under-deliver when it comes to marketing.  When you give your sellers a calendar of activities you are reinforcing the fact that you do what you say you will do.

Now let’s talk about all of the printed pieces – the “props” – which you need for a very polished and professional listing presentation. I’m going to give you lots of ideas, but it’s up to you to choose the ones that best fit you and your market.  However, regardless of which tools you use, it is absolutely critical that those tools be created using your brand. If the sellers are interviewing multiple agents, the use of your brand will absolutely elevate you from “ordinary” to “extraordinary” in terms of memorability!

Here are the tools you may want to consider for your next listing presentation:

1. Marketing Binder: One of the most impressive items you can give your sellers is a full-color copy of your customized marketing binder. This is the package that pulls your marketing calendar and all of your samples together into a ‘leave-behind’ for your seller to review and refer to. The cover must have a beautiful photo of the seller’s home. Where appropriate, each of the sample pieces in your binder should also include that photo.

2. Flyers: Regardless of whether you create one-page, two-page or four-page flyers, the photos you use must be amazing. I also encourage you to use high-quality, gloss paper. Remember – your flyer says a lot about you to other potential sellers, as well as to buyers. Keeping the flyer box full of extremely well-done flyers reinforces the fact that you are a true professional.

3. Photo gallery CD: Many agents create a photo gallery CD, which they reproduce and leave at their listing for prospective buyers to take. Print an exterior photo for the CD jacket and include the same photo on the CD label.

4. Advertising: It goes without saying that regardless of whether you are marketing your listings in a newspaper, a magazine, online or on your flyers, including truly engaging descriptions is imperative to attracting buyers. Before the listing appointment, spend some time thinking about the profile of likely buyers for the home. Then write two to three different ads based on that target audience. Preparing in this way will definitely impress a potential seller!

5. Marketing Boards: These boards are the perfect way to present a visually compelling story of how you are going to market the seller’s home.

6. Just Listed postcards: Never underestimate the power of a beautiful postcard. Send these cards to the neighborhood, your database, and other potential buyers. Postcards don’t cost a lot, and your potential sellers will love that you send them.

7. Home Book: This is one of my favorite pieces. You might remember that I mentioned it recently when talking about your communication tools. The home book is a notebook that you leave at the house during the time it’s listed. Include items such as home care and warranty records, the most current inspection report, tax and appraisal records, and neighborhood and community information. Show potential sellers what their home book will look like. They’ll immediately understand the value of the book, and of hiring you.

8. Home marketing cards: This is another idea that my coaching clients have found particularly useful … and that sellers love! Print business cards that feature the home (a photo on the front, and details on the back), and give them to the sellers to pass out to their friends and neighbors. It’s their home, and they are undoubtedly proud of it – so let them be a part of your marketing efforts!

9. Open house materials: Most sellers still want you to hold open houses, regardless of how much other marketing you are doing. It comes up at nearly every listing presentation. When asked, the typical agent simply responds: “Sure, I can do an open house for you.” Or they might even say: “You know, I don’t do open houses and here’s why.”  Open houses can be a gold mine when done correctly! Without going into a lot of detail, here are the open house props that will ‘wow’ the socks off of potential sellers.

  1. Open house invitations: Postcards are quick and easy. Let your sellers know exactly who you are targeting, and why.
  2. Open house display boards: Many agents use small easels that fit on a kitchen counter or dining room table to present neighborhood information. These could include maps of the area, as well as information on schools, parks, and shopping.
  3. Open house feedback forms: Sellers like to know what buyers are thinking! Show your sellers what your feedback forms looks like.  Even better, ask them if there is anything in particular they want buyers to provide feedback on.

10. Database marketing: I talked about this in the Zebra Report just a couple of weeks ago. Show your potential sellers the type of marketing you are doing with your databases, and where their home may be featured in this marketing. Do you feature your listings in a newsletter, or send out your ‘just listed’ postcards to your database as well as targeted buyers? If so, bring samples! Sellers will appreciate your extra efforts to find a buyer for their home.

I want you to remember one thing about marketing that is easy to forget in this high-tech world. Print marketing – if done well – still has enormous impact. While buyers may be looking at homes online, they still want a beautiful brochure or flyer to take home, to look at again, and to share with friends and family.

Remember – sellers expect their home to be showcased in full-color and beautifully presented to potential buyers, both in print and online. Don’t let them down!  With your brand as a starting point, create beautiful printed materials for your next listing presentation.

Next week we’ll feature our sixth and final topic in our “Powerful Listing Presentations” series: home presentation & photography. Be sure to watch for next week’s Zebra Report!

Fresh From The Lones Group’s Instant Image Portfolio: “Fireside Chat”

April 20, 2011

Our “Fireside Chat” brand evokes a sense of calm, while the use of various shades of brown reinforce a feeling of safety and security.  A sliver of red brings the brand to life – offering just that little touch to ward away the expected and keeps this brand from being too predictable.

Whether you want to develop a completely custom brand, or select from one of the amazing designs in our “Instant Image” portfolio, we are here to help.

Interested in learning more about developing your custom branded image? We can help with that too! Please send an email to support@thelonesgroup.com or call us at 360-527-8904 to learn more.

Powerful Technology Tools

April 14, 2011

This is the fourth article in my series on powerful listing presentations, where we’ll be covering pricing, communication, technology, marketing, and home presentation & photography.

This week I want to discuss powerful technology tools and the importance of these tools in your listing presentation.

Regardless of whether technology is important to you in your personal life, you must step up to the technology plate when it comes to your business. In today’s world, providing the widest possible array of online marketing tools is critically important to your success as a listing agent.

Here’s why: Sellers are hiring you to expose their home to the largest potential group of buyers available. Online marketing is a very important part of this process. Gone are the days when can you simply rely on flyers, yard signs, newspaper and magazine ads, the MLS, and other agents.  I’m not saying to stop using these traditional methods, just trying to make sure that you’re integrating technology into the mix.

Yes, there are buyers who likely only look for houses through print media, or only with their agent. And there are also buyers who rarely look at houses online, and would rather spend their weekends attending open houses. However, many buyers today are completely plugged into online real estate search sites, as well as Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. It’s part of your job as an agent to understand the value of technology, embrace it as part of your overall business plan, and apply it to get results.

And your listing presentation is the perfect place to show that you “get” technology. According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2010 Profile of Buyers & Sellers, more than 90% of sellers today expect enhanced online marketing. The message is clear — online marketing is extremely important to sellers!

While there are lots of technology tools to choose from, and even more opportunities for online marketing, the way you present your technology plan to sellers is immensely important to meeting their needs and expectations. If you can show your expertise in this area, you’ll immediately increase the likelihood of walking out with a signed listing agreement.

So just how do you articulate your value to today’s tech-savvy seller? You create visual tools!  Remember those? They are the ‘props’ I’ve been talking about in my recent Zebra Reports. Use your props to show sellers how you will expertly market their home online.

Below is my list of the technology “musts” for today’s successful agent.

1. You must have a custom website: It would be hard today to find a real estate company without its own website. Since the late 1990’s, real estate companies around the world have built websites that: 1) help buyers search for homes, 2) help sellers market their homes, and 3) act as a marketing tool for the company itself. Some are amazing … and some leave a lot to be desired. Regardless of how robust your company’s site is, you need your own custom website.

Often an agent will say, “My company offers nicely done template websites at very low cost. That’s good enough for me.” I disagree! Imagine this: you work in a market where you and many of your company colleagues are competing for the same listings. Each of you shows up at your listing presentations with the same basic template, and very, very similar online tools. OK, so maybe there are a few changes – your personal photos are obviously different, and maybe a couple of you have changed a background photo on the site — but it really is the same website.  Who stands out to the seller? Nobody. Remember that statistic above? Sellers are telling you that they want more – they want to know that you have stepped up your technology game to a whole new level. They are looking for technology that meets their expectations, and exposes their home to the largest number of potential buyers.

They also want your website to showcase their home – not simply advertise their home as one of the many listings you may have. Just as you want to stand out from the agent crowd, your sellers want to know that their home stands out from all the other listings on the market.

There are hundreds of features available, such as simple map searches, common-feature searches, school-proximity searches, and pre-mapped neighborhood searches. You don’t need them all, but you must have enough custom tools on your website to ‘wow’ your sellers with your ability to reach and engage buyers.

A custom website allows you to do all of that.

Take a look at John Hurlbut’s website, below.  John was in my EVOLVE coaching group last year, and is part of this year’s ENCORE group. We developed John’s website for him in 2010.  A tech-savvy agent, John knew that a website was a key component in building his business. John’s website utilizes an IDX (Internet Data Exchange) service to pull in listings from the MLS and display them front and center on the website. Visitors have the ability to perform as simple or complex a search as they desire, can save search queries and favorite listings, make notes on listings, receive updates, plug numbers into a mortgage calculator, and so on. In addition, a custom website allows you to include other helpful pages, such as details on your client services, an area resource section full of information for anyone who might be new to the area, and a blog.

While you’re building your custom website, consider including a private client area as well. This is a username and password-protected area where your sellers have access to a wide variety of information about their individual listing.  The private client area is the perfect spot for feedback reports, showing reports, local and neighborhood market data updates, your marketing calendar, and – once there is an offer – your pending-to-closing calendar. While this doesn’t replace having person-to-person discussions with your sellers, it provides them with another layer of service that few agents provide.

2. You must engage in social media: Gone are the days when posting your listing to a website is good enough. Long-gone are the days when every evening an anxious buyer sits down at his computer and weeds through all of the new listings. Today’s buyer is instantly plugged into the latest information on new listings. Even though real estate is still about building relationships, and those relationships need to be personal and face-to-face, sites like Facebook and Twitter have fast become the communication tool many people use on a daily basis.

If you’re not engaged in the conversation – and talking about your listings and real estate – other agents will be filling in the gap. And their listings are being put in front of thousands of potential buyers every single day. Your sellers deserve the kind of global marketing that social networking sites offer.

3. You must syndicate your listings: It’s not enough to have a website and use social media to market your listings. There’s one more step you must take – and it’s listing syndication!  What is listing syndication?  It’s a way to is a way to promote your listing in a national – or perhaps – global way.  When you “syndicate” a listing, you post that listing on a large number of websites … and in turn, those sites share their website content (a part of which is your listing) with other websites.  Syndicate strategically, and you’ll be able to promote your listings to hundreds of thousands of potential buyers searching online for real estate.

Listing syndication is a terrific tool, but you need to do a little research before syndicating. Take care to only post to sites that accurately represent your listings, and which provide a way for you to quickly and easily update pricing information or additional photos.

Look for websites that offer you the widest amount of buyer-friendly tools, including the ability to add multiple and virtual tours. Determine who their online partners are (who they syndicate to), and the depth of the exposure your sellers will receive. Create a visual ‘prop’ that indicates not only where you post your seller’s home, but where those posts are syndicated and the number of visitors that each site has every day. There is value in numbers – and your sellers will instantly understand how that value impacts their goal to get their home sold.

If you want to syndicate, but you’re not sure where to start, look no further than your real estate company. Find out where they post your listings. Then look at regional and national sites. There even companies that will syndicate your listings for you. You simply post your listing information once, and they do all the work for you.

Many of the agents I work with tell me the sites below are ones that they regularly use to take advantage of listing syndication. You should do your homework, however, to find websites that offer you the most benefit.

The technology board below is a terrific example of a listing syndication ‘prop’ that one of our clients uses during his listings presentation. This allows him a visually compelling way to explain what listing syndication is, and the considerable benefit it brings to his sellers.

I know this focus on technology may sound a bit daunting at first blush.  It will take you some time to do your homework, determine the best ways for you to market your listings online, and learn how to articulate that value to your sellers.  But I promise you it will be well worth it in the long run. Listing competition is tough these days, and if you want to successfully build your business (and increase your income!)  you absolutely must use technology to your advantage. If you do, your listing presentation will have yet another layer of expertise that will dramatically set you apart from the competition. And that means sellers will look no further than you when hiring their listing agent.

The fifth topic in our six-part “Powerful Listing Presentations” is marketing … and we’ll be unveiling that next week.  Be sure to watch for our next Zebra Report!


%d bloggers like this: