Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An Interview with REALTOR Eric Hardy

by Julie Escobar

As we head into holidays and turn our eyes towards the new year ahead, I was eager to get back to some basics by sharing agents stories of best practices for building solid businesses.  Customer care and attention to detail are two factors that are critical keys to success for top performers.  To tackle that topic, I touched base with my old friend and awesome agent Eric Hardy who put customer care on the top of his priority list. Here’s an excerpt from our interview:

Q: Hey Eric – thanks for sharing with us today.  Before we jump in, can you tell the readers a little about yourself?

A:  Yes, I am 45 years old, married, and a father of two. I have been in the wedding business for over twenty years, and recently decided to go back into real estate after a 15 year break. I currently work for Dennis Eric HardyRealty in Lutz, Florida.

Q: You’ve recently re-entered the real estate game. What do you feel is the most important strategy for fast-tracking a successful first year ahead?

A: A positive attitude, a genuine love for what we do. You have to enjoy your wok because it shows to people when you do, and when you don’t. We get to help people with a major event in their life.

Q: How are you building your sphere of influence and staying top of mind with them?

A:  Nowadays social media is key, and understanding the power of it. Along with keeping in touch with people with even just a simple phone call to see how they are. I always tell everyone what I do for a living. When they think real estate, I want them to think of me.

Q: What advice would you give other new agents for hitting the ground running?

A:  Get as much training and education as you can, knowledge is power. Be humble and listen to advice from jl-cards-2people older and younger. And most importantly put the time in, and try new things till you learn what works best for you. Don’t skip on the traditional marketing tools that work either.  Just Listed and Just Sold postcards always have been a staple in our industry for a reason — they work. They help market you as an agent, your listings, and your business.

Q: Do you belong to a mentor or networking group in which you can share ideas?

A:  I work for a great company. We all sit at a round table once a week and discuss marketing plans, odd questions and different scenario’s agents come across. This way when we see a new situation or issue we are prepared.

Q: You were in the wedding business, are you transitioning those clients and customers into your sphere and do you see a niche market there for yourself as an agent?

A:  Yes, absolutely. Most of my couples once they are married their next major life event is usually buying a home. After working with me on their wedding they see that I am competent, intelligent and easy to work with. I want their home buying experience to be a stress free and fun, the same as planning their wedding. There are bumps in the road you may run into, but we are here to help you through that. And thank you for thanksgiving2016v6thumbsstndletting me be part of your big day, and part of a major event in your life.

Q: How important is servicing and staying connected with your customer base to you?

A: It is crucial. One thing I really liked about the REALTOR that helped me buy my home, is he still keeps in touch. I get an email at least once a month and every holiday, and occasionally see him around town and he is genuinely happy we love our home. I strive to give that level of customer service everyday.  Monthly postcards, phone calls, and social media make it easy to stay in touch in today’s world. Your customer base is going to be your strongest line of referrals. Always take good care of them even when the transaction is completed, stay in touch!

Q: Are you working a geographic farm? If so – what are you doing that’s working?free offer door hanger

A:  For me I work best face to face with people. I love to knock on doors, talk to people in my area. I get into conversations with them, and have even made friends and have gotten to know some really great people. The person in front of you may not be buying or selling, but if they like you they will put you in touch with anyone they know who is. Treat every person with kindness, people always do business with people they like. We are not just trying to find the next “sale” but building a career helping good people.

Q: How can people reach out to you with referrals?

A:  I am always available by phone or email, seven days a week. You can reach me anytime at 813-770-2150 or at Hardysline@verizon.net, if you just have a question I can help you with.

Thanks Eric for your time and your advice for what’s working in your corner of the world! Agents love to learn from other agents. I so appreciate your sharing your experience.

Need help marketing YOUR real estate business?  Contact our team at 866.405.3638 today or visit www.prospectsplus.com. 

Staying Ahead of Your Competition

By Julie Escobar

The weather and the market are both HOT and agents are asking us for strategies and how to’s for august dominatordominating in a geographic farm.  To answer that – we turned to Todd Robertson for some tips and ideas that are working for Market Dominator Members across the nation.

Q:  Hey Todd, a lot of our readers don’t want to wait for the fall market to work on their competitive edge – do you have some ideas for them?

A:  Sure – the year is already more than half over and a lot of agents are looking at the calendar and thinking, “No way am I going to hit my goals.”  That’s a little intimidating, right? For some, it’s enough to make them already start to shut down.  Don’t.  Instead, realize it’s time to dig in. To put a source of accountability into your career – your weekly routine and create a game plan. You know, we’re really glad that we can be a source for agents. The Master Marketing ScheduleTM that you’ve created is a powerful tool to help agents stay on track and put some consistency into their marketing.  It takes the “what do I do?” out, which is a big stress for a lot of agents.  First step I would say, is to start there, and develop a game plan that will allow you to connect CONSISTENTLY, with your Sphere of Influence, a Geographic Farm, and a niche market. If you can work a campaign for each of those marketing segments without fail, month after month, your results will grow exponentially.

Q:  I agree!  We share a lot of strategies about staying consistent.  How often should agents connect withdominator back listing their sphere, farm, and niche?

A:  At least monthly. Those ‘touch’ points are so important in terms of staying top of mind and creating brand awareness.  Send something every month to all three, and not necessarily the same thing.  For your sphere, many agents choose a postcard campaign such as a holiday series (not just at Thanksgiving and Christmas!), recipe cards, content cards, inspirational postcards, or a newsletter each month.  For their geo farms they send our Market Dominator, or Listing Inventory, or the Free Offer/Neighborhood Specialist cards – all are popular.  For a niche, they are specific to that group – for example: Expireds, FSBOs, First Time Home Buyers, Investors, etc. Top agents are also diligent about sending out Just Listed/Just Sold postcards with every listing and sale they have. Without exception. Why? They spotlight you as the agent that can generate RESULTS – and they showcase the properties you are marketing. That’s a powerful combo. Then they do that thing that agents desperately steer clear of but shouldn’t if they want to fire up their career on all levels – they FOLLOW UP.

Q:  There’s the sticking point, right?  The old getting on the phone or walking the farm and knocking on doors part that stops agents in their tracks. Any suggestions?

A:  Yes, the first step we just talked about – putting a campaign in place that touches your customers and prospects every month. That makes it way less intimidating when you call them. Why? Because you have a reason to touch base with them.  It doesn’t have to be a “SALES call”, it is a follow up call – or visit if you are walking a farm.  “Hey there, Todd Robertson here, from Success Realty, just wanted to touch base.  We’ve got a LOT of changes in the market, and I just wanted to see if you had any questions.”  (Yes or no, doesn’t matter really, you’re just touching base, asking questions.) Or you can do a combination of touching base and letting them know that you have a big goal to hit.  “Hey there, Todd Robertson, Success Realty, how are you?  You may have seen me in the neighborhood and I hope you’re receiving my mailings.  I just wanted to touch base, see if you had any questions about our market or what homes are selling for right now?  By the way, I am committed to helping as many clients as I can take advantage of this market.  Who do you know who might be interested in buying or selling in the next 90 days? Maybe someone from work? Or your kids’ sport team?  Or church?  If you think of someone, I sure hope you’ll remember my name and pass it along. Thanks so much.”

This month we shared a great listing strategy one of our Dominator members uses — and that’s to take the extra 20 Market Dominators that he gets each month and bring them with him when he is walking his farm or going on listing appointments.  He lets people know that he is the only one in that market that is willing to consistently show up in a big way (12×15!) each month and that when they list with him – he will dedicate an entire 1/3rd panel of his Dominator to market that listing until it sells.  That’s helped him close for the signature again and again. You may want to give that a try as well!

Here’s a quick video I did for our members on the topic:

Q:  Awesome — lastly, what about those agents who need the extra push or accountability? 

A:  For a lot of agents coaching is a good investment, but it can be out of the budget for many.  Instead, perhaps consider starting or joining a Mastermind group in your area.  Think and Grow Rich has an entire chapter on this topic that is still incredibly relevant and powerful today.  Participating in a group like this costs you zero – but your return will be extraordinary.  You’re involved with like-minded people, all with the goal of lifting each other up, cheering each other on, and holding each other accountable. That’s the missing link for many agents.  If there’s not one in your area that you want to join – start one.  Your career, customers, and bank balance will all be the better for it!

We’re hosting  a new webinar next week, Wednesday, Jul 27, 2016 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT How to Own More Market Share & End the Year WIth 5 Extra Closings — we hope you’ll join us!

Click here to register. 

Thanks Todd.  Great stuff.  If you’d like to learn more about the kind of tools that we have to help keep YOU on track and ready for the fall market and beyond, head over to our Master Marketing ScheduleTM  or main site today.  If you’re interested in dominating a geographic farm and would like to speak with Todd about that directly, click here to learn more.  Our team is here to help you with all your marketing needs, call us today at 866-405-3638!

Building Blocks for a Hitting Your Goals

By Julie Escobar

Top agents know that the key to longevity in this business is to build a better book of business.  Referrals are their stock and trade, but to keep them coming IN– they know they need to constantly be reaching OUT. Let’s take a look at some powerful and productive ways to do that WITHOUT a lot of stress or hassle.

Strategy #1:  Commit to the list.  Whatever database system you’re using, inputting your customer information is step one.  Even if you don’t have EVERYTHING you need , or all the information you want, start somewhere.  I’ve talked to agents who never get around to marketing at all because they feel like they have to do everything at once.  If it seems overwhelming – start SOMEWHERE.  Pick 50 or 100 people to add and knock it out in a couple hours – even if you’re simply using excel to add name, address, phone, email.  Start SOMEWHERE.  Then pick another day and do the same thing so you can get your list to the 200 mark. (Virtual assistants these days are very affordable as well – so that may be an option for some of you.  College students are always looking for some extra money too, especially this time of year – so ask around!  Not sure who to add, refer back to the BusinessBASE we talked about last week that shared the 150 people who should be in your sphere.)

Strategy #2:  Opt-ins & social media.  We’ve got some powerful tools in our resource section.  Terrific free reports that are a perfect addition to your website as an opt-in piece.  Here’s a creative multi-use way to useSaveDownPayment_thumb (1) these tools to help you build your list, feed your social media stream and entice your customers and prospects to continually return to your site for more resources!  You’ll become the go-to agent for information!  Simply click here to go to our resource section and download the free reports that will work best for you and your market.  Go ahead and download as many as you like and bookmark this page because we add new ones all the time.  These are going to now become part of the campaign you’re about to kick off!  Now, take one per week or one per month and break the contents down into bite sized pieces to share on your social media and on the backs of your postcards.

I’ll give you an example:  Take the How to Save for a Down Payment free report.  It has seven tips for saving for a down payment.  A fun strategy would be to kick off your Facebook posts on a Monday with a post something along these lines:

As a professional Realtor, it’s a privilege to help people invest in their future and find the home of their dreams.  Often times, it is the down payment that can be a sticking point.  This week I’ll share with you seven powerful ways you can save!  Tip #1:  1. Get in the know. Like any good budget or savings plan, the first place to start is to determine where you are NOW in relation to your credit score, your monthly bills and assets. Contact me or a trusted mortgage professional to see how much home you qualify for and how much you’ll need to save to purchase your home. We can help you take a look at things like credit scores, loan requirements and interest rates now so you can be simultaneously doing ALL the things right during this savings period to ensure the most favorable rate and terms.

Say you made this your “Free report for August” in your business plan.  When setting up your postcard timing is everything cardcampaign on Prospectsplus.com – choose the alternate back and add a little verbiage to that fact.  Here is an example:

As a professional Realtor who specializes in helping people find the home of their dreams, I’m always eager to share resources that can help consumers just like you make the best financial decisions for their family!  Please visit my site today at www.yoursitehere.com and download a copy of my new free report:  How to Save for a Down Payment.  No cost or obligation and please share with friends!  Call me if you have questions at xxx-xxx-xxxx!

Then do the same for month two and three of your campaign.  This way your social media and your postcard marketing are all working in tandem.  Keep copies of each report on hand so you can mail or email them out easily.  (I would make a file on your desktop specifically to house all these reports to make finding them easier!)time is now card

Strategy #3:  Commit to a campaign.  Even if you’re not sure which campaign is right for you – choose one to use for at least three months.  Breaking projects down into bite-size pieces makes the process less stressful and more manageable for most people.  I love the idea of a three month campaign because you can add your list, choose your card campaign and let that run for three months.  Then make whatever revisions are necessary to your list once a quarter such change an address, add a new customer or referral, change an email, etc.  This makes your database management less time-consuming as well.  By breaking your campaigns down into quarterly increments – you also have the flexibility to try a new campaign on for size.

Some sphere of influence favorites are:customer-appreciation-direct-mail-real-estate-postcards (1)

  • Listing Inventory Series
  • Holiday Series
  • Recipe Series
  • Call to Action Series
  • Neighborhood Update Series
  • Customer Appreciation Series

Strategy #4:  Add a niche.  One of the fastest ways to grow your sphere is to take what you’re passionate about, the people you like working with the MOST and create a niche for yourself.  I’ve always said it’s tough to be #1 in a geographic market – but not in a smaller niche that you are excited about.  From traditional (first time home buyers, fsbo’s, expireds) to out of the box (Harley riders, health and wellness seekers, boaters, fishermen) – find something you love, then get out there and meet THOSE people and start putting them into your list.  The secret ingredient in a sphere of lifestyle interstinfluence is INFLUENCE.  Taking people from being “on a list” to knowing, trusting and liking you enough to want to do business with you.  That process happens fastest when you’re working with a group of people that you like and know about in return! Not sure where to start? Take a look at our Lifestyle Interest Series which helps agent match their messages to their favorite marketing segments such as boaters and golfers.

Now you’re ready to get STARTED!  Make this spring your best!  And don’t forget – our inside account management team is here to help you make some of these decisions and walk you through the processes.   You can reach them at  866.405.3638.

Oh – and don’t forget to join in on this month’s contest!  Share your favorite ProspectsPLUS! strategy or experience by  heading over to our Google+ page and leaving a comment.  Each month we choose three different agents to share in winning $400 in gift cards!  It could be you!  Click here to get started!  

Expanding Your Marketing Options and Opportunity

By Julie Escobar

it’s good to have options–right?  Especially when you are building a brand, and growing your business. That’s what our customers tell us every week — and it’s why we continuously work to deliver exceptional options to agents all across North America. One of the features of our site that our customers tell us they love having is the Upload Your Own option.  Why?  It gives those of you who’ve already had branded materials created and just need print resource and those of you who are pretty handy, creative and tech-savvy to create the exact pieces you want for your marketing and STILL have a means to get them printed, shipped and sent to your book of business or to yourself quickly, easily and best of all – AFFORDABLY.

Let’s face it.  Printing up all your materials yourself and getting them the way you want them on your home printer isn’t always a walk in the park.  And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve hit crunch time only to find my printer is (NATURALLY) out of INK.  And for agents who like to have their marketing materials on-hand presentation foldersand professionally printed and looking sharp – this really is the best of both worlds.

What are agents printing using the UPLOAD YOUR OWN option on our new site?

  • Pre-listing packages:  (This is a great one because all that collated and matching everything up is a pain for most agents!  And now we have really cool, branded presentation folders as well that they can just tuck each one into!)
  • Feature Property or Open House flyers:  This is especially handy if you’re using an InfoBox and need to print a lot of them at a low cost so you can keep replenishing your supply.
  • Pre-designed and branded marketing pieces:  Many of you have spent considerable time, effort and flyersenergy to create branded personal brochures, notecards and stationery – but just need a reasonable source to get them printed that you can rely on for short-run ability, good pricing and reliability.
  • Large files:  No burning up your ink jet with large files that need printing – we’ve got it! (For Less!)
  • Brochures:  Having the right brochures on hand for open houses, presentations, leave-behinds at local businesses and more is vital to your business.
  • Invitations:  Invites to community events, fundraisers, client appreciation parties or real estate workshops are easy and fast to reproduce.
  • Posters, Postcards and Print Outs – Oh my! Anything you need printing – we can find a way to
    Spaccommodate.  From the postcards or printouts that you design yourself to the event pieces you might need for your sphere, farm or community.
  • Magnets: Many agents like to print out sports event calendars, regular calendars, recipes, top marketing tips with a magnetic back (way to STICK around for your sphere.) By the way – our Football Schedule Series is a super popular marketing tool. See them here. It’s easy!

There are so many options you can now choose and we’re thrilled to bring them to you.  Whether you would like ready-made marketing tools such as our free reports, postcards, stationery, niche kits, presentation folders or if you prefer to create your own and just choose to print it offsite – we hope you’ll discover how simple, affordable and service-focused we are to work with.

Make sure your artwork is sized to fit our printing requirements by visiting our Artwork Specifications Link here.

And if you are NOT a do-it-yourself kind of guy or gal — head over to our Specials Page and see what agents across the nation are sending this month!

Got questions?  Call us today at 866.405.3638 to get the help you need printing the marketing pieces you want to help you grow your business and get those phones ringing!

Six Powerful Reasons Direct Mail Should Be Part of Your Spring & Summer Marketing Plan

By Julie Escobar

One thing for sure is that our world has become more connected than ever because of ever-evolving technology, and that’s terrific.  We do live in a digital world certainly, but we also live in a world where people still appreciate personal touches, tangible visibility and human interaction. Done right, direct mail helps connect you to the customers and future customers in your market in much different way (and without any spam filters to fret about!)

In fact, according to a study done by the Direct Marketing Association,  56% of consumers think print marketing is the most trustworthy of all marketing channels. And here’s a stat that surprised me in the age of smartphones:  56% of consumers think print marketing is the most trustworthy of all marketing channels.

In an article put out by Sappi Fine Papers, “Print has more emotional pull for consumers than digital, according to scientists. A neuroscience study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and conducted by Millward Brown discovered that paper-based marketing—i.e., direct mail—leaves a ‘deeper footprint’ in the brain than digital—and that difference can even be pinpointed on functional MRI brain scans. The physical act of handling tangible material feels more “real” to the brain, the study claims. It produces brain responses that trigger emotional reactions, which get internalized in your memory. In other words, the printed piece itself becomes part of the subliminal messaging.”

Here are six reasons direct mail is both relevant AND results-producing!

  1. It’s targeted.  Advertising is one means of reaching out to consumers in your market, but it’s expensive Do it Yourself Real Estate postcardsand casts a wide, but not specific net. With direct mail you can match your marketing pieces specifically to your market or niche dramatically increasing your response rates. You can even now find the mailing lists for those you most want to market to by taking advantage of the specialty data selects from our friends over at Nielsen or look for our Lifestyle Interest data like the one suggested in this week’s Master Marketing Schedule for Do-It-Yourself fans. Head over to our Mailing List page to learn more about all the affordable list options available to you.
  2. It’s personal.  Direct mail is your canvas.  You can address your customer by name, share specific offers, communicate information that’s specific to your area, and begin to create a top-of-mind awareness and trust. All of our marketing tools are editable, from postcards, to newsletters, to SaveDownPayment_thumb (1)brochures — and you can be as creative as you like.  Offer fair trade offers such as Free Reports, lists of homes, a CMA and more – and lend your personality and voice to each piece.  Note:  review your edits carefully for spelling errors before moving to the next option!
  3. It’s flexible.  From postcards to flyers to letters to brochures, your direct mail options are extensive.  Add direct response offers and timely information and you again increase your response rates.  Some agents wisely choose a campaign with similar branding to send month after month or quarter after quarter that helps consumers develop a recognition of their brand more easily.  Others mix and match their marketing messages – preferring to keep consumers alert and eager to see “what they’ll send next!”
  4. It’s tangible. The truth is, as human beings we’re tactile people. Engaging different senses is just smart business.   If I get a message from a professional I touch via email for example, it registers in the moment – but not necessarily long term.  If I get a message that’s directed to me and offers something of importance to me and my family and I can feel it, touch it, put it on the refrigerator or tack it to my bulletin board, etc. – then that message has a much longer shelf life-right?  And a better chance of getting a response – not just once but again and again. 
  5. It’s measurable.  Direct mail is one of the few media channels that give you the ability to track your success.  Use a unique URL or make a specific offer on a direct response piece and keep tabs on how many people click or call on that offer.  Adjust future mailings based on that response rate.  I always recommend making a direct response offer on every piece of direct mail as opposed to just a generic, ‘here I am’ type mailing.  Give people valuable reasons to reach out to you and they will!
  6. It’s easy and cost-effective.  Direct mail doesn’t have to mean big bucks.   Now with Every Door Direct Mail costs are low and market saturation is high.  One of the things our customers appreciate most about our services in fact is that we do have the ability to provide short-run orders at extremely affordable rates unlike big mail houses which require you to order thousands at a time.  Not sure what pieces will work best with your budget?  Give us a call-our team is terrific about helping agents match their marketing to their market as well as their budgets!

Hope that gives you some insights into why direct mail is on so many agents to-do list this season! If you need help finding the right pieces for you at the right prices-we’ve got you covered.  Call our marketing team at 866.405.3638 or email us at pmc@prospectsplus.com to learn how we can get your production hopping this next quarter in a very budget friendly way!