Saturday, June 24, 2017

Success Advice from Power Agent Buddy Keene

by Julie Escobar

Tapping into what works for our customers is a great way to get a read on what agents need now and what is right around the corner as well. We caught up with one of our VIP customers Buddy Keene to learn what he’s doing to take his business to the next level.

Here’s what we learned:

Q:  Thanks for the interview! Can you start by telling our readers a little about yourself?

A:  Sure, I’m a Tampa native whose background as a business owner and executive brings a new and innovative approach to the sale of real estate. I take pride in providing personal and responsive service tailored to each client’s individual needs. I am a high-energy individual who delivers start-to-finish service with the sale or purchase of primary residences, vacation/secondary homes, and rental properties. My company, Great Blue’s mission is to become both the best respected and the most successful real estate brokerage in the state of Florida.

Q:  We know that staying consistent with your marketing is one powerful key to branding yourself and generating business. Can you tell us what you find most effective in terms of staying top of mind with your sphere and farm?

A:  I concentrate my marketing budget on direct mailings. I mail three communities every month. The total number of homes that I reach is just over 2,500. 90% of all of business comes from this mail campaign. If you want to be top of mind for the homeowners in your farm area, you have got to be consistent with your touches. If you intend to simply mail one time, or even on a quarterly basis, you’re wasting your money. I consider 12 touches per year to be the optimum exposure for my listing services.

Q:  We appreciate your trusting us to be the resource for your marketing tools – what drew you to our organization and what is your go-to tool for getting results?

A: I learned about ProspectsPLUS.com from a postcard that you mailed to me. So, I’m proof that direct mail produces results!

Q:  It’s a competitive market out there. What advice would you give fellow agents for creating an edge over their competitors?

A: For years, I produced my own Real Estate Reports for my farm area. I would gather the info from the MLS, analyze it, write a report, print it, and the envelopes, stuff them, and mail them. It was a massive effort to put the campaign together. My printing toner cost alone was $500 per month. At that time, I was only mailing on a quarterly basis. While I was surviving, the return on my investment just wasn’t where I felt it should be. After contacting prospects Plus, and learning about the Market Dominator product, I made the change, and hired your profession organization to produce my mailing pieces. This is by far the best marketing decision I have made to date. The mailings are always top notch quality, both the graphics, and the copy. My personal branded image has never been more professional. And I’m spending less time on my mailings than ever before.

The very first thing that homeowners tell me when we meet at the listing appointment, is that they love my mailers.

Q:  Many agents are reluctant to do any follow up activities with their book of business.  What words of wisdom can you share with them?

A: My farm areas consist of $400,000 properties. When you start charging people the amounts of money that I charge, you’d better bring some real value to the table. I have added services to my marketing plan, that most other Realtors simply don’t offer. For example, pay for a professional appraisal. The fact that we have a professional third party opinion of market value is very comforting to the sellers. It’s amazing how much stress this practice removes from the selling process for my clients. Another benefit to having this info, is that they sellers don’t go into the selling process with unrealistic expectations.

I bring in a professional photographer, and have him shoot High Dynamic Range photos, as well as aerial photos shot with a drone. I have a virtual tour software that I invested in, and it’s so much better than anything else that the sellers have ever seen. I also use an appointment center service, so that we never miss a call to show. I employ an internet service that syndicates my listings to over 50 websites, and delivers an email report to my sellers on the 1st, and the 15th of each month, showing how many view’s we have gotten, and from which of the website.

Q:  How valuable have you found it to be to stay in touch with your past clients?

A: Being mostly a listing agent, many of my past clients have actually moved out of my market area. So, the majority of my book of business is made up from buyers that I have worked with in the past. This is one of the areas where I have some serious room for improvement. While I have been fortunate enough to have very good relationships with my past buyer clients, I have not established a formal drip-mail campaign to keep myself top of mind with them.

My past clients have become a strong source of referrals. In fact, I have one family that has purchased, and or sold six properties with me. We’ve been working together for over 10 years. Many of my past buyers were first time buyers. Now that they are ready to move up, they are calling me to both sell their current property, and help them buy their new home.

Q:  Lastly, how can agents get hold of you if they have a referral they’d like to share in your area?

A: I can be reached at Buddy.keene@greatblue.us, or by phone at 813.727.7110.

Awesome information. Thanks Buddy!  

If you’d like to learn more about growing your book of business, earn more referrals and brand yourself in a geographic market, visit us online at www.prospectsplus.com or call our team today at 866.405.3638.

Making Connections in Unexpected Ways

by Julie Escobar

While a firm believer in the power of consistent top-of-mind marketing using series such as our neighborhood update postcards or content postcards, I always like to remind agents to also include an element of surprise in their marketing efforts as well.  It’s terrific to keep people informed — that brands you as an expert and resource people can trust and call on for their real estate questions or needs.  When combined, however, with a genuine thank you and note of appreciation, you now also brand yourself as someone who cares about your customers — and about details!

This week’s Master Marketing Schedule tip is to send the Out of the Blue postcard from Customer Appreciation Series to 200 of your past clients.  What if you did that at least four times per year?  Or took a few moments to send these kind messages to a block of your sphere of influence VIPs per month?  Do you think it might be worth a few transactions or referrals?  You bet it would!

For the reverse side of the card, I would recommend choosing the “standard back with message” – it has a little more room for a message.  Here are some ideas for customizing your message:

  1. Invite to a customer appreciation event.  Spring is a great time to host a party!
  2. Offer something of value.  We have some terrific Free Reports that are easily customized and downloadable that you can offer.  Nine Strategies to Get 17% More For Your Home or 10 Renovations That Reap Return on Investments are two great ones you can offer.
  3. Offer a service. Let them know that the market, and mortgage rates are changing — and that has a lot of people asking questions about what that potential means for their home value.  Offer to meet with them to share a home price evaluation and answer any questions they might have.
  4. Let them know when you’ll be in the area!  Schedule a time for you and your team, if you have one, to walk your geographic farm or be available for a meet and greet at a local coffee shop or community center. Then share that information with your fans and offer to answer any questions they might have and even tell them to invite a friend!

Then follow up.  Block time to connect with at least 25 past clients per week with a kind word, a thank you and an offer to assist.  We’re in the business of people, and when you reach out on a regular basis and let people know you genuinely care — you’ll be rewarded with new business and customers for life!

Need help with your marketing? Contact our team today at 866.405.3638.

A Guest Blog About Every Door Direct Mail 

by Brian Fox. VP Business Development, Benutech

Okay, so you probably know about the value and benefit of mailing postcards via Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) by the United State Postal Service (USPS)… They are plentiful.  The postage rate for delivery is attractive (17 cents a door).  The residences are all in a close, neat geographical location.  This allows you acquire the best postage rates for your mail marketing and when it’s time to walk your farm to meet homeowners – the residences are all in a neat geographical location for easy walking and knocking.

The challenge is… How do you find the “right” EDDM Group to deliver to?  Well, that’s a bit tricky – but not only is there hope, there are real data solutions to solve this tricky challenge.

Let’s break the moves down step by step for you.   There are 4 very important steps in choosing the correct EDDM location(s) to farm and here they are:

  1. Locate EDDM Groups within a zip code or city by finding the EDDM Groups with the highest turnover rates available. In other words, the higher the ratio of homeowners that move annually, the higher the chance of finding more sellers within those areas in the future. Why?  Every real estate coach in the U.S. teaches their paying clients to find areas of “high turnover” defined as 7% turnover rate or higher.  Statistically, they have shown that finding areas where homes are selling provides agents with areas that will continue to sell at high rates.  This will help make your marketing more efficient.
  2. Once you have the EDDM Groups ranked from highest to lowest turnover rate – Locate the EDDM groups that have “Sales Price Points” that interest you. In other words, if two EDDM groups have similar turnover rates, but different home price selling points – it’s much better to sell a home that sells for $600K vs. $350K, right?
  3. Now, this is important: Compare the number of “owned homes” in the EDDM Group against what the USPS will deliver to in the same EDDM group.  Keep in mind – EDDM via USPS delivers to every resident (homeowners, apartment renters) within the EDDM group. Most agents don’t want to mail to renters – Agents mail market to find potential sellers.  So, you wouldn’t want to mail to 500 residences via EDDM if only 300 of them are “owned” properties.  If you did, you would be employing the USPS to deliver to 200 apartment renters in that EDDM Group that can’t be sellers because they are renting.   Look for EDDM Groups on the USPS Website that have a similar number of “delivery” vs. “properties owned within the EDDM group” – See the examples provided for zip code 98006 in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle, WA.  Two EDDM Groups with similar turnover rates 7.95% and 7.84% – but the 7.84% group (Carrier Route C037) has 536 owned properties within the EDDM Group of 543 units that the USPS will deliver to. Therefore, Carrier Route C037 has a much higher “ownership deliver rate” than Carrier Route C028 – providing a better value for you as a paying customer.
  4. As a last step – look to see what the “average years owned” is for the EDDM group you select. Average home ownership rates in the 7-10 year range seem to indicate areas that folks purchase into and then sell rather quickly – possibly to upgrade to a larger home or to a home in a more desirable location – which results in higher sales rates annually.  Also, look to see what the Non-Owner occupancy rate is for the EDDM group.  Much of the time, Non-Owners will sell property more frequently than Owner Occupants, so high Non-Owner Occupancy rates could help facilitate more sales, more often.

In the example provided for Zip Code 98006 in Bellevue, WA – the perfect EDDM Group was found utilizing Benutech’s “Title Toolbox” data.  Carrier Route C037 had a high turnover rate (7.84%), it had 536 owned units within a 543 unit EDDM Group, it had one of the highest sales price points in Bellevue at $1.3M, and had an average years owned of 8.6% – indicating that this area could be an area where folks purchase and sell rather frequently. If you are farming in Bellevue, this would be the place to farm!

Okay, yes… This may seem like a lot… and it is… so just do this:  Contact ProspectsPLUS! and have them help you with this process.  They are mail marketing experts, and by utilizing Benutech data and their technology – they can complete these steps for you and place you in the perfect EDDM group to start your successful farming campaigns. 

Oh, but please realize, you are not done once you find that perfect EDDM Group to market to! Now it’s time to make you known to the homeowners within the EDDM Group.  Let’s go back to those Real Estate Coaches… Their expensive advice is to market monthly.  You have just located the perfect farming location – so FARM it!

Step One:  Get the mail marketing pieces out to this EDDM Group once per month.  ProspectsPLUS! will help you select the perfect mail pieces.

Step two: Once the mail is out… You need to get out.  Homeowners are not going to hire you to sell their
home unless they get to KNOW YOU. It’s that simple.  Having homes in EDDM Groups allow you to easily walk and talk to the homeowners within the EDDM groups.  Don’t rely just on the mail… You are way more powerful than a postcard… Meet the folks in the EDDM Group so that they can hire you when it comes time to sell.  Seize the day, meet some folks – and take new listings!

About: Brian Fox, VP Business Development, Benutech, Inc. Benutech, Inc. is a real estate data company out of Costa Mesa, CA and is the creator of “ReboGateway” (for Real Estate Agents and Investors) and “Title Toolbox” (for Title Companies and other property related business). To contact Brian Fox:  Brian@benutech.com or 714-580-8099.

Need help choosing the right EDDM piece for you? Contact our customer care team at 866.405.3638 today! 

Take the March Challenge! 

By Julie Escobar

Why leave all the “March Madness” stuff for the basketball fans?  This month, we’re looking at ways to inspire agents to take the ACTION they need to drive their numbers and build momentum.  That means being pro-active, and working ON your business as well as in it.  There’s no doubt agents are increasingly busy, but when they fail to time-block for business-driving activities like prospecting and database building, they often fall into the commission-chasing category as opposed to having a steady business and referral stream they can count on.

Statistics tell us for every twelve people in your sphere of influence that you regularly connect with, you can expect a deal or referral per year.  That’s valuable information to know. Yet, how come so many agents lose business because they failed to stay top of mind and connected with their sphere?  And when you find a farm that has the a healthy turnover and you’re NOT actively marketing to that area? You’re leaving money on the table.

Here are three pieces of great advice for getting ahead in this business:

International Speaker and Coach Darryl Davis: “I tell my students and coaching members to focus on the activity rather than the results. Why do people fail? Because they don’t see immediate results. So, they do what? They QUIT. When you switch your thinking to focus on the ACTIVITY, not the results, it helps you get past the fear. Think of it like baseball averages. Ballplayers know the more times they get up to bat and take a swing, the more likely they are to get a hit. After a while of playing, they know their numbers… their average. The same is true in prospecting – you’ll get to know your numbers. So maybe out of 10 calls, you get five connects and two appointments. I tell my students that their goal should NOT be to get the appointment; it should be about building relationships. Why? Because it takes the pressure off.  Focusing on getting an appointment is a win/lose scenario. If you don’t get it, your reaction is, “I lost. I’m bad.” When you focus on building a relationship, every call is a win. The truth is, you’re not going to get an appointment unless there’s trust. By building relationships, you build trust – and the appointments will happen by themselves.”

Power Agent Denise Buscemi, Florida:  “My advice? Several things. First, remember when you are meeting customers and clients, make everything you do be about that person and only that person–the rewards will naturally follow. Next, read more – be a lifelong learner. It makes you more competitive.  Be a great listener – not only does it make you a better communicator, buyers and sellers will tell you everything you need to know to help you close the deal.  Send the postcards that keep your name in front of them. Do your homework and always go the extra mile.”

Power Agent Kathy Casarin, Pennsylvania: “I would say first, there are no timeouts for replays!  Engage your client get back to them fast whether it is on Facebook, email, in person or a phone call.  Don’t wait or you’ll find they’ve already called upon someone else. Next, assure your client you are the professional. You are experienced, successful and know what works and what doesn’t. Earn your clients trust upfront. Become your absolute best at communication. Keep your client in the loop every step of the way, whether it is periodic emails as to how their listing is doing vs competitors.  Make that phone call to discuss price, home improvements, showings, open houses etc.  Regular contact reassures the client you haven’t forgotten about them or their listing or the homes they want to buy… so when you have to advise them on say a market adjustment on home price they agree and know it is in their best interest because you are always with them to get this SOLD. Stay current and do what works.  The truth is it all works–but only if you do it — so don’t forget to post on your social networks, answer real estate questions on Trulia, use ProsectsPLUS! to send out postcards, attend social gatherings to see and be seen and be that constant reminder to say, ‘Hi! I’m in Real Estate!’”

Our challenge to you this month? 

  1. Calculate your SOI. See how many people you need in your sphere to hit your goals this year by
    heading over to our SOI Calculator.
  2. Thank people. Send Thank You Postcards from our Customer Appreciation Series to at least 100 people on your sphere of influence list this month.
  3. Pick up the phone. Make at 20 calls per day to your sphere of influence. (100 per week is a big goal!) There are some really fun connectivity ideas on our Master Marketing Schedule if you’re looking for interesting reasons to connect! Consider Darryl’s advice above if you’re nervous about talking to people.
  4. Knock on at least 100 doors. Use door hangers so that even if folks aren’t home they’ll know you were there. According to the Master Marketing Schedule, March 12th is National Flower Day, it might be the perfect time to attached a packet of flower seeds to your door hangers and walk your farm! Have some fun with it!
  5. Add 100 people to your database. Now, this one may sound hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Some agents are on top of their game, adding new people all the time. But a LOT of agents that we talk to don’t really have a handle on their lists.  Hire a college kid or virtual assistant for a short-term project to get this done. It’s one of the most important things you can do as an agent. Here are some sources that you can pull from:
    1. Past purchased lists. (Think of all those Just Listed and Just Sold postcards you’ve sent out. Have you done anything with those saved lists you’ve purchased? Put them all in a database and use it to send Listing Inventory postcards or Neighborhood Update/Free Offer Postcards)
    2. Past buyers and sellers. Hand over those files to someone who can pull all those contacts and put them into a database for you. These people already have trusted you enough to do business with them.
    3. Get creative. Download our BusinessBASE, to see the 250 people who should be in your sphere and start adding.

It’s a good month to go above and beyond. To stretch yourself, your goals, and your reach in your community.  Take some time this week to plan your calendar then go for it. We’d love to hear how you’re doing.  Connect with us on Facebook (and be entered into our March Contest), or leave a comment below.

Need help? Our marketing team is amazing! Call them today at 866.405.3638. They’ll walk through any questions you might have and help you get your marketing on track! Have a great month ahead!

Leaving Nothing Left to Chance

By Julie Escobar

Competition hasn’t been this fierce in years so savvy agents are using every tool at their disposal to generate new listings, stay top of mind, and brand themselves as the neighborhood expert to call.  Staying in touch with the VIPs in your sphere of influence makes sense. Those folks know you, trust you, and are already willing to do business with you. But how do you cultivate new relationships in markets that you really want to make an impact?  You use smart tools that connect you with consumers in communities. You offer items of value. And you get out there and meet the people.

Todd Robertson recently shared five tips for making the most of your geographic farm and sphere:MD Jan

  1. Ask for referrals. Never be afraid to ask for new business. When you get comfortable with the level of service you provide, asking for the business gets easier. Get to the point where you KNOW that you have a marketing plan that helps sellers get the most from their house. Know that you can assist buyers in finding the perfect home for their family. Know that you are an advocate for consumers, and know that you are the best person for the job – then you have an obligation to let people KNOW that you are a real estate professional who can help.
  2. Mail consistently (3-7-27 law). We’ve shared before the 3-7-27 law of branding, which is that it takes three contacts for someone to recognize your name, seven to put your name with your business and twenty-seven to become a brand in someone’s mind. If you are losing business to other agents in your market area, is it because they are consistently md jan backmaking more contacts and staying more top of mind than you are?  It’s a tough question to ask, but if you can show up, and show value consistently, then sellers and buyers are going to consider you the brand to trust with their real estate investment questions and needs. Mind-share equals market share.  Our Market Dominator members know that they are showing up month after month with the 12×15 Market Dominator to ensure this kind of consistency and value are creating that mind-share and market share.
  3. Let people know what areas and price points that you service. Through your marketing and prospecting, let people know where you do business. If you’ve ever lost a listing because a friend or acquaintance said, “Oh, I didn’t know you worked that area,” you’ll get the message behind this step.
  4. Train on how you take referrals. Let folks know that their referrals are important to you and how they can best deliver that information to you. “Shoot me a text, an email – or give me a call if you know someone who is looking to buy or sell a home.”
  5. Thank your VIPs. Thank everyone for their referrals. Go the extra mile. Send a card or letter to them after the fact. Say, “Thank you for your kind referral. It’s the lifeblood of my business and no small thing, I know, so I appreciate it. Know that I’ll treat them with the highest possible level of care and you can rest assured they, and their interests, will be well taken care of. I’ll also keep you posted on how that referral is going so that you know your friends or relatives are in good hands.”   Stand out in every way. People want to do business with those who they know can get the job done with the least number of headaches and the highest return on investment. They also want to work with people who are service-minded and extraordinary in their client care.  That old adage, “they don’t care what you know until they know that you care” has never been more true.

Spring is right around the corner. Showing up in every way possible in your market place is critical to owning that market share.

  • Take the time THIS month to put your plan in place to ask for referrals. Can you make ten extra calls this week towards that goal?
  • Be consistent. The 12×15 Market Dominator is a powerful way to show up each month with value-added content and calls to action. Follow those mailings up with phone calls and door knocking in that geographic farm to help folks put your face with your name and know you are a resource they can count on.
  • Review your marketing tools, your website and social media. Are you letting people know the areas you serve?
  • Remember to let people know how to reach you if they have referrals. Review your business cards, email signature line, and marketing tools.
  • Send thank you messages weekly. We’ve got some easy-to-order Thank-You postcards that can streamline that process.

Make geo-farming a top priority this season and you’ll start to see returns on that investment. Stay strong, and let us know if we can help you. If you’d like to learn more about the Market Dominator, call Todd Robertson at 702-683-1967.

Need additional marketing help? Contact our team at 866-405-3638.