Posts Tagged ‘Lead Generation’

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.

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.

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!

Where Will Your Business Be Four Weeks From Now?

April 13, 2011

Without intervention, it will probably be exactly where it is today.

Now, if you’re exactly where you want to be … great!

But if you are searching for more success, or you need a jolt of inspiration, you need to join us on Safari to learn how to make business-building changes that will carry your forward.

Are you ready to set aside your belief that “the market” will dictate your success?  (Hint: we are coaching clients who are having their best year EVER!)   Do you love the synergy that comes from a room full of people focused on making a positive change in their business?  Is it just time to plan for a better business – one that you’ll love for years to come?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, we want to see you at one of our upcoming Safari events.

Need more details?  Click here to learn more!

New from The Lones Group Design Team!

April 12, 2011

Toren’s direction on brand development made it clear that we absolutely, positively had to incorporate his love of water.

Having formerly served in the navy, it was important that the brand be both conservative and strong.   We incorporated Toren’s love of sailing with clean lines and we incorporated an “all-American” palette which is a nod to his military service.

We think Toren’s brand perfectly captures his key personality traits of dependability and loyalty.

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 Gallery: Investment Portfolio

March 29, 2011

“Investment Portfolio” is a great example of a “layered” look in a design.  The strong color palette features the prominent use of blue – a color that embodies a sense of trust and security.  If you’re looking to develop a powerful image, “Investment Portfolio” would be a great brand for you!  It’s just one of the many options available in our Instant Image portfolio of designs.

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.

Ask Denise: House Flyers

March 17, 2011

Q: With all the talk about high-quality online marketing, do I really still need to provide my sellers with a printed flyer? And if I do, is it better to do a one-page or a two-page flyer?

A:  While your online marketing will attract potential buyers, you absolutely still need printed flyers. There will always be people walking or driving by who want instant information, rather than going home and looking up the information online. They’re clearly interested in your listing and you don’t want to lose them. Additionally, providing very high-quality, two or four page printed flyers says a lot to other potential sellers in the neighborhood about your professionalism.

My bottom line is this: in the sea of ‘average’ agents, you must stand out with both your online presence and your printed materials.

New from The Lones Group Design Team!

March 17, 2011

Because she often works with historic homes, it was important to Sherrill that the brand we developed for her incorporated a sense of timelessness.  Drawn to muted colors and natural elements, Sherrill also requested that her brand had a strong “wow” factor, coupled with a feeling of sophistication and quality.

We’re happy to report that Sherrill is delighted with her brand.  She feels it captures her own great sense of style.  What more could you ask for?

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.

Out of Sight = Out of Mind

March 10, 2011

There’s nothing harder than running into a past client and learning that they just bought or sold a home … without you. It wounds your pride, it shakes your confidence, and it hurts your pocketbook. What I’ve learned over many years is that when someone tells me their story, I’m rarely surprised after I hear the full story. Here’s a hint: Out of sight = out of mind.

One of the most important truths in real estate is that you need to stay “top-of-mind” with your clients. You must be confident that when the people you know need real estate services, you are the first person they think of.

People today are busy. They have busy jobs, busy lives, and often they are juggling the activities of several family members – and everyone’s corresponding calendars. When they are ready to buy or sell property, they don’t have time to search for a new agent. If they have one who is already top-of-mind, that’s who they call. People call the agent who is in their mind, at the exact moment they decide to pick up the phone, look a house online, or send an email.

Are you that person?

Agents ask me all the time: “How do I cram one more thing into an already hectic business?”  My answer is simple: You have to.

It’s not your sphere’s job to remember to call you – it’s your responsibility to make sure they call you.

Another question I often get asked is: “What’s the best way to stay top-of-mind?”  My answer is always the same – and a bit frustrating for some agents. There is no magic formula, and there is no one “best” way. The truth is, you have to match your communication format with the way your sphere wants (and sometimes needs) to be communicated with.

Remember this: deciphering their communication code takes a lot of time! But it’s absolutely worth it in the long run.

First look at your database. Then determine the best way to stay top-of-mind with each of them. Is it in person? Is it by mail? Is it by phone? Is it via email? Or are they happiest when they see you at the grocery store?

Here is why this is so frustrating to some agents. It’s hard to put together a follow-up plan – a strategic and effective top-of-mind campaign – when you have so much to consider and not a lot of time to build a plan.

So, what’s the answer? Here are some things to think about.

  1. A great place to start is by thinking about how you are going to communicate. I firmly believe that for most agents whose client base includes a wide variety of age-groups and an even wider variety of communication preferences, a very high-quality, content-rich piece of mail is critical. It’s important that your clients get something they can touch and feel, and that reinforces the fact that you are their best resource for real estate expertise. A high-quality piece also says that they are important to you not only on a professional level, but on a personal level.
  2. Determine your message. Always send real estate-related information. (Note: If you have a sphere that really appreciates the college football schedule you send in August, that’s fine. But I consider that an “extra” mailing piece, not your August top-of-mind piece.) Top-of-mind mail needs to update your sphere on the real estate market. It needs to speak to the trends and news and also provide insight into the market. This piece needs to address the factors that impact your sphere’s ability to make wise real estate investment decisions. For example, you might include important changes to real estate laws. The content needs to include the kind of information that any buyer or seller wants (and needs) to have.

Some agents send a newsletter, and some agents send an oversized postcard. Again, the format should meet the needs of your sphere – which may be different than the format a colleague of yours sends to their sphere. And it should always be designed using YOUR brand. Remember – your sphere may be getting information from other agents in your area. If everything they get looks eerily similar, the reader will think the content is the same too. You have to stand out – and you must provide relevant content.

If you want to make your mailer more personal, consider sending out a quarterly neighborhood review. Collect data on every active, pending and sold listing and provide commentary on what the market is doing right now. One note of caution – do not just send a chart or a graph or a list. You have to also tell your reader what the data means, and why that is important to them as potential sellers and/or buyers. People like to know what’s happening in the real estate industry. They like to be kept up to date so they can feel ‘in the know’.

I often get asked about sending out an online newsletter. My answer is this: If you are very confident that your sphere is best served by an online newsletter, or a blog that you write and they follow, then that’s a good option. However, as I said earlier, most agents have a very diverse sphere. Some folks may not be connected to the online world. Or they are bombarded by email every day and what you send will get deleted along with every other email they aren’t reading. If you have a tech-savvy population within your sphere, by all means customize an online piece just for them.

The bottom line is this:

  • To stay top-of-mind with your sphere, you have to have a strong follow-up plan.
  • To have a strong follow-up plan, you have to take the time to determine exactly who your sphere is, and what your plan looks like.
  • Once you have everything mapped out, make it easy on yourself by setting up a regular schedule that ensures your sphere hears from you each and every month.

Want to go from out of sight and out of mind to top-of-mind? A strong follow-up plan will get you there.

The Evolution of a Brand

February 17, 2011

In case you haven’t noticed, the Zebra Report has been given a makeover. Even zebras need to be freshened up from time to time! Basically, this is called a branding update. It’s not changing the components, or the message, or the primary colors – it’s giving our brand a tune-up. A makeover. Our zebra has enjoyed a day at the spa.

Companies do this all the time. Two companies in particular – Coca Cola and Pepsi – have done great job of brand evolution over the past 50 years. Their marketing gurus know how to take a look at what’s happening in the market and what’s happening with the consumer, and then rework their brand to better suit the needs of their ‘now’ customers. It’s very interesting to look at the evolution of their brands over the years. The elements stay the same. There are just subtle changes. But they are important changes.

So why did we freshen up our Zebra Report? For many reasons.

A major concern of ours has been that our readers – you – are busy people. They have a short amount of time to read articles online. Because our Zebra Report is sent out each and every week, we didn’t want it to get lost in the weekly communication shuffle.

We also wanted you to have a new, fresh, and better experience when you open up the Zebra Report. We wanted to continue with a similar look & feel, but also develop an easy way for you to remember our articles. So now, each week, our zebra – and other elements of our Zebra Report – will have a distinct color, which is drawn from the Design Spotlight section of the report. This gives the Zebra Report a pulled-together, cohesive feel, and will help you when you’re trying to remember an article. You’ll be able to say to yourself, “Oh, I know. It was the blue zebra from two weeks ago.” We want you to have an easy memory marker.

Note that we didn’t divert from our main color scheme: black, white, and shades of gray. We simply added a flexible accent color to create a memory marker.

Lastly, we felt that it was time to bring in a more elegant element to our zebra and our brand. We all know that zebras are black/white and can look somewhat harsh. We wanted to better match our zebra to our product line. We are not a mass-marketing company; we offer customized high-end solutions and very effective custom training. We want our brand – and our Zebra Report – to truly reflect who we are and what we do.

How does all this apply to you?

As a real estate agent, your branding says a lot about how your services will benefit potential clients. Let’s say you have personalized branding and marketing tools which were created for you ten years ago. Your brand fits you, it reflects your personality and your business, and yes, it worked wonders when you first implemented it. But how does that brand speak to clients in 2011?

Buyers and sellers in 2011 are more media and tech-savvy than ever before. They’re looking for agents who not only know their market, but who are current with the tools and marketing platforms that the most successful agents – and companies – are utilizing. You may be at the top of your game when it comes to technology, but if your marketing materials look like they were crafted ten years ago, your potential clients may not be so sure. Before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself and explain your services, they may have already made an assumption about you that is quite inaccurate.

Ask yourself this – does your look, or your brand, need refreshing? Does it need a day at the spa?  I want you to really think about it. I want you to think about how your sphere and clients have changed over the years, and make sure that your brand is still relevant to them.

Our Zebra Report needed an update – and we couldn’t be happier with the final results! We’ve had fantastic comments, and we’d love to have you let us know what you think. Does it give you a strong memory marker? Is our new format easier to navigate? You can offer your input by taking our short survey, below.

One last thought: this week’s Zebra Report topic is so near and dear to me, that I’d like to share a recording of a presentation that I gave about branding. If you’d like this free recording, click here to download.

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