Posts Tagged ‘personal 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.

Open House Preparation … it’s More than Signs and Flyers!

May 19, 2011

As the third installment of my open house series, I want to discuss how you prepare for your open house, and then how to actually host a highly successful open house. 

In order to have a highly successful open house you must prepare, prepare, prepare. Simply showing up at an open house with a couple of directional signs and some flyers is not enough! If you’re like many agents who tell me “Open houses don’t work”, I’m willing to bet that signs and flyers are your only open house tools. That simply is not enough!

Let’s talk about what you do need to do in order to create the kind of open house success you are looking for.

BEFORE THE OPEN HOUSE

It goes without saying that having systems in place will simplify your life – and your open houses!  Once you know exactly what you need for each and every open house you’ll find it extremely easy to get prepared ahead of time.

I recommend that all of your printed pieces – from signage to marketing materials – feature your custom brand. This is one of the best ways to stay top-of-mind with potential buyers and sellers, and stand out in the crowd of open house agents.

Some agents like to have an open house planning list to keep track of what needs to happen the week prior to the open house. Using this kind of checklist is very helpful because it keeps you on track.  You won’t forget one of the key essentials of your successful open house program if you’re managing your activities with a checklist. Regardless of whether you do or don’t create a list, below are the items that I think you must have on your open house checklist.  These can easily be customized for every open house you do.

  • Do the research. I talked about this in last week’s Zebra Report. In order to have a successful open house, you need to strategically select properties that offer the best opportunities for buyer and seller traffic. Do you remember what I said last week?  Instead of letting the property choose you, you need to choose the property. If you’re not sure how to do the research, go back and read last week’s Zebra Report, entitled Put on Your Thinking Cap”.
  • Plan your advertising. I also talked about this last week.  You must take the time to prepare a well-executed online and print advertising campaign. Simply putting an ad in your local paper will never generate the kind of traffic you want – or should expect.
  • Create an “Open House Book”. Provide additional value to attendees by offering a take-away open house booklet which includes full-color pages of information on your listing, as well a “tour of homes” sheet that has information on other comparable listings. You can also include a map showing each home’s location, and a one-page profile detailing your expertise.

  • Create custom branded display boards. A little later in this Zebra Report I’ll talk about display boards – what they are, how to use them, and why they are so important to your business. There is preparation needed for display boards – but once you have the format, it’s easy to update them for each house, or each neighborhood.
  • Plan your signage. If you’re looking for a very easy and inexpensive way to create a buzz around your open house, consider attaching an open house rider to your yardarm sign. This works well if you typically hold open houses on the same day and time … say, Saturday from 1pm-3pm. Attach your sign-rider on Thursday to alert people ahead of time about your open house. (Remember to remove the sign after your open house, however, or your sellers may be surprised the following weekend by a knock at the their door!)
  • Create invitations. If you’ve done your research, and you know who the most likely buyers are for the home you are holding open, send them a personal invitation. Postcards are a great option!  They are inexpensive to create and mail, and they offer a quick and colorful way to catch potential buyers’ attention. Don’t forget to go through your database and think about people who would also be good move-up or downsizing buyers.
  • Plan for a “neighbors only” open house. Again, use postcard invitations and explain that not only do neighbors get a private viewing of the home, you will also have valuable market and/or neighborhood information that you can share with them.
  • Plan your technology. There are a lot of options here, depending on whether you use video, social media or email invitations. Think about what will work best for you, what technology skills you have, and how savvy your market’s buyers and sellers are.
  • Shop for snacks and beverages. Depending on the home and the seller’s wishes, consider providing bottled water and some sort of snack. When you buy in bulk, you’ll save money upfront, and you’ll not be scrambling at the last minute to buy what you need.

DURING THE OPEN HOUSE

It’s what happens during your open house that will ‘wow’ attendees, elevating your open house from lackluster to amazing.

Even if you’ve done an amazing job preparing for and getting people to your open house, that’s only the beginning. Unless you provide a welcoming and professional atmosphere, visitors will likely walk in, and then walk out. Capturing their attention with eye-catching visual props (and accompanying information) is critical to building relationships – and building your business.

  • How to welcome attendees. You’ve put your open house signs on the street corners and at the curb, but have you considered how effective a ‘Welcome’ sign would be either on the front door or as a tent-sign on the front porch? What an engaging way to tell people “come on in – this is the right house – take a look around.” Most agents have never thought of doing this, but in fact it’s a very nice way to welcome your guests. And, if you use your custom branding on your ‘welcome’ sign, you’ve now set the tone for a higher-level, professional experience for your attendees.
  • Do you have a sign-in policy? Some agents have no problem putting out a sign-in sheet; other agents feel it can destroy a budding relationship in seconds. Personally, I have rarely seen this done well. If you are comfortable asking people to sign in , that’s great. If you’re using an excuse such as “my sellers are requesting you sign in for security purposes” be aware that open house visitors have been hearing this for years, and it may backfire on you.
  • Really know the best features of home and the surrounding area. People not only buy houses, they buy neighborhoods and surrounding areas. Identify at least five or ten area features and be able to talk about them comfortably.
  • Display features and benefits visually. This is a must-learn skill – not only for your open houses, but for every piece of home marketing you do. For every feature you want to highlight, there must be a corresponding benefit. Here’s a great example: if the home has a solid oak front door with heavy-duty hardware, the benefit is a heightened level of security, as well as exterior noise reduction. Once you have your list of features and benefits, create tent cards that you can place around the house to describe these to visitors.
  • Provide a personal brochure. Granted, you are selling the house.  But you are also selling yourself and your professional skills. A brochure is a terrific take-away that explains more about you, how you work, and the services you provide to both buyers and sellers.
  • Provide custom display boards. Most of us have visited a new-home subdivision and walked through model homes. These folks are experts at the display board business! They have boards that feature the neighborhood, the surrounding community and the features of the homes. You should have similar boards for the community (see below), plus boards that also showcase market data such as neighborhood appreciation rates, days-on-market statistics and recent pending and sold information. Determine what pieces you want on your boards, and then customize them for each house (and neighborhood) that you hold open.
  • Provide historical sales. People want to know what sort of investment they might be in for, especially if they fall in love emotionally with the house. Show visitors historical data going back far enough to highlight positive appreciation rates, and what they may expect going forward.
  • Display a “community board”.  Your board should include information on the community, such as population, demographics, parks, city services (police, fire stations, city hall), schools, and shopping.  You may also want to create a portable flyer version that visitors can take with them. Show where this house is in relation to other community amenities. It’s easy to overlay a street map with indicators for parks, schools, shopping and restaurants, and create a flyer that attendees can take with them. You may also want to include an aerial view of the neighborhood with the home clearly indicated.

  • Have open house book available. I talked about these booklets above. Once you have your system in place and format done, it’s simply a matter of adding your “open house tour” pages.
  • Provide extra amenities that set your open house apart. Offer shoe covers (also called “booties”) for those people who prefer not to remove their shoes. Or lay down carpet runners in high-traffic areas.  Some agents I know set out a basket of toys and coloring supplies for kids. You’d be surprised how easily this can build additional camaraderie with parents, while also providing a welcome respite for kids who were tired of having their parents drag them from open house to open house.

There is a lot of information in this Zebra Report, and many ideas for how to create a memorable open house for every attendee. It may feel overwhelming at first.  Just tackle one piece or idea at a time and start building your system and plan.  Before you know it you’ll have everything you need to really ‘wow’ your open house visitors.

Are you a real estate agent working in Washington State?

If so, we want to invite you to attend our “Unforgettable Open House” event on Tuesday, May 24th.

We’ll teach you how to design and conduct a truly unforgettable open house experience. You’ll learn the secret “props” needed for success, and how to captivate open house visitors. Discover the art of truly showing a home, rather than simply standing in the kitchen while potential clients walk in (and out!) the door. Hear the simple secret to capturing client contact information, without seeming like a pushy salesperson, “man talk” versus “woman talk”, and much, much more!

We’re offering this amazing opportunity in support of the Washington REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® Open House Weekend, which will be held June 4th and 5th this year. Master all of the insider secrets to a successful open house … then participate in the Open House Weekend by holding your best open house ever!  Public awareness of open houses will be high, and their expectations will be as well. You need to be ready to deliver!

There is no charge for the class; however, if you wish to participate for clock hours a fee of $35 ($40 at the door) will apply.

If you want to create an unforgettable open house experience – one that will generate income for you – you must attend this memorable class. Register Now!

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.


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