Thursday, March 30, 2017

3 Steps to Showing Up & Creating a Connection

By Julie Escobar

Raise your hand if you’ve ever sent a marketing mailing to a list of folks that don’t know you yet and got discouraged when you didn’t get a call.  It’s frustrating for sure, but it is also one of the biggest marketing mistakes an agent can make. One and done has never been a recipe for success and in today’s world of over media saturation, it is certainly not the time to re-test that theory.  Bottom line? Branding takes TIME. Repetition. Consistency. And follow up.

That’s the heart of farming, and just like traditional farming, the success goes to those who systematically oct-16-dominatorplant the seeds, cultivate the crops and later reap what they have sown. Then repeat the process for as long as they want to continue to effectively farm.  For agents the process is much the same.

Step One:  Stake your claim. Start with a plot or a geographic neighborhood area that is…

  • Starting to see turnover
  • Has a high homeowner vs renter ratio
  • Does not have another agent already dominating market share
  • Has a price point that makes sense for your area

Step Two: Plant the seeds. For effective geo-farming, your monthly marketing should…

  • Capture people’s interest
  • Offers valuable content and fair trade itemsNeighborhood update postcards
  • Present you as the neighborhood specialist and real estate expert
  • Showcase your consistency and professionalism

Three of the most popular tools that many customers use to do this effectively are our:

Step Three:  Follow up. The best agents aren’t leaving anything to chance. They know that just as their marketing tools are the ‘seeds’ for market share success, they must also cultivate that farm with personalized attention.  Here are some great examples of cultivation activities:

  • Walk your farm area with powerful collateral material. Our Market Dominator customers use their extra 20 Dominators. You can also use Free Reports or offer to do a Free Comparative Market Analysis.
  • Set up a meet-and-greet either at the local community center, library or even coffee shop to let neighbors in that area know you are there with answers to their questions.
  • Use a gentle approach. Instead of the “have you thought about selling your house” as your opening line, just introduce yourself. Let people know you’re in the area. Explain that during this changing time, a lot of people have questions and you just wanted to let folks know how they can find the answer when they need them.
  • Invite to an open house. Once you get a listing, be aggressive about hosting open houses in that neighborhood and inviting all the neighbors in.
  • Have some fun connecting! Bookmark our Master Marketing Schedule today and see all the fun and creative ways you can make a GREAT impression on the folks in your marketplace and have a great time doing it.

Once you’ve done all three, start over again.  Branding and earning market share is much more of a long game – a marathon rather than a spring.  But in the end, you’ll reap what you sow.  Keep consistent.  Talk to people. Make your face and name they think of when the idea of real estate pops into their head. That way? You are positioned perfectly as the one to call when they are ready to buy or sell or know of someone who is.

When should you start?  The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll start seeing results.  Plant those seeds.  We can help.   Call our team at 866.405.3638 today or head over to www.prospectsplus.com and get started!

For the Next Master Marketing Magazine

by Julie EscobarMasket-Marketing-Magazine-3D (1)

Calling all ProspectsPLUS! Customers!  We’re thrilled to be currently compiling new content for the fifth edition of the Master Marketing Magazine.  We are interested in interviewing five to seven of you to be featured as contributors to share your experience as real estate marketers.  Our magazine goes out to approximately 40,000+ agents and brokers across North America, offering the potential for referrals and exposure.

We are interested in interviewing agents who are…

Any of those things sound like you?  Then reach out to me today for an interview! All chosen contributors will be featured in the January magazine and will receive:

  • $100 ProspectsPLUS.com gift card
  • 10 Magazines to use in your marketing
  • A chance to be featured alongside some of the best coaches and minds in the business
  • Referral opportunities across North America

If you’d like to read the last edition — Experts and Insights online, visit here.  If you’d like to be considered for one of the limited contributor spots, connect with me via email and let’s set a time!

Need more assistance?  Contact our team at 866-405-3638 or visit us online at www.prospectsplus.com. 

Three Strategies for a Constantly Changing Market

by Julie Escobar

As competition grows more fierce, you may find yourself like many agents asking, “What’s my next move?” Savvy sales professionals are negotiating the turn by investing in smart systems and tools that will help them compete long-term in today’s real estate arena. Who will take the lead in both listing and selling homes as we navigate this constantly shifting market? Those who stay strategically focused on one-to-one marketing, negotiating effectively up front, and committing to consistent business development through monthly prospecting.

1. Set Your Standards High: In any market, taking listings that just won’t sell is far worse than having no listings at all. While you may be tempted to take at any price, terms or commission to secure the listing, this is a recipe for failure. Consider instead, raising your standards using a strong, effective tool which spotlights the homeowner’s commitment to getting the home sold in the quickest possible time, with the best price and terms. We call it our Merchandising Review and there are three very successful ways to implement this valuable tool.

First: Make the right mutual decisions at the listing appointment. In all likelihood, throughout your presentation your sellers will have an objection or two regarding terms such as price, commission, etc. Our suggestion is to agreeably shelve objection handling until AFTER you have obtained the signatures for the listing. Then close your appointment by going over the Merchandising Review to make certain everything is MerchandisingReviewTHUMBin order.

Sample dialogue: “I want to thank you for listing your home with me. Please know that I will do everything in my power to get it sold. To help me do just that, let me take a few minutes to go over our Merchandising Review. I use this the same way pilots use a pre-flight checklist. This list of 18 different seller-controlled factors actually will help generate a quicker sale for the best possible price and terms. What I need from you is a commitment to check off at least eight of these items. Let’s review.” Then simply walk them through the list and negotiate where necessary.

Second: Get non-selling inventory back on track. Go through your inventory and red flag problem listings. Walk through the problems using the Merchandising Review. Contact your sellers by phone or visit in person to help them understand those review items that are hindering the sale of their home.

Sample Dialogue: “Mr. and Mrs. Seller, we’ve had your property on the market for ____ days now and we are not getting the results that either of us had hoped for. We have a new tool called the Merchandising Review that helps us identify problem areas, and I’d like to sit down with you to discuss those issues. I believe if we walk through these items we can get your listing back on track and help exact a faster sale for your home. Would tomorrow at 6:00 pm be good or would 8:30 pm be better?”real estate fsbo marketing postcards

Third: Capturing the attention of EXPIREDS! While expired listings have been remote in recent years, they are back and can be difficult to maneuver. The Merchandising Review offers you a great foot in the door for these sometimes soured-on-salespeople sellers. We’ve found the following dialogue captures their attention and helps you better negotiate both appointment and listing.

Sample Dialogue: “Hello, Mr./Mrs./Miss ____________. My name is ________and I’m with _________. The reason for my call is to see if you are still interested in selling your home. I’m sure you must be disappointed that it didn’t sell the first time, but I think I have something that will help keep that situation from happening to you again. It’s called a Merchandising Review, have you heard of it before? It is a special tool I use to make a comprehensive analysis of why your home didn’t sell and what needs to be done differently to guarantee it will sell should you decide to put it back on the market. What I’d like to do is to set a time when we could sit down to go over the Merchandising Review. It only takes about 20-25 minutes, and there will be absolutely no cost for this service. Would Wednesday at 6:15 pm be good or Thursday at 8:30 pm be better for you?”

Now, simply walk them through each item, correct the problem areas and review your marketing plan!

2. Price It Right Pyramid! Take advantage of this guerrilla-style objection handling tool when explaining to PricePyramidTHUMBsellers that the key to selling their property faster in a difficult market is to price it right from the beginning. Use this strategy in conjunction with the Merchandising Review and you have a great foundation for a successful sale.

The 5 most common mistakes sellers make when choosing a price:
1. Not choosing the right price when a property is first listed. In other words, thinking “we can always come down.”
2. Putting the property on the market at an unrealistic price. A property must be priced on a comparative basis to the other similar properties.
3. Not relating marketing time to price. Generally, the quicker you want to sell, the less you should be willing to take.
4. Calculating brokerage fees on top of the sales price. A home is worth what it’s worth, with or without a commission.
5. Thinking that buyers aren’t comparing your home, on a dollar-for-dollar basis, with every other home on the market.

3. Data Mine for Marketing Gold! To compete in today’s arena it helps to have a few high-tech tools in your arsenal. Data mining is a simple, highly effective tool which allows you to be very specific in your search for lifestyle interstnew prospects.  You can use our list services to find niche market clients such as boat owners looking for waterfront properties, golf enthusiasts searching for golf communities based on Lifestyle Interest Data. It’s perfect for customizing a targeted new potential customer mailing list so you easily match your message to your ideal market.

What kind of information can you access with our Demographic Search Option?

  • Tax assessor data supplied by Acxiom
  • Over 128 million deliverable addresses
  • 97.3% of US counties available
  • Radial, polygon or pinpoint search function
  • Identify and mail to owner/occupants or absentee owners

Whatever you do, make sure your message is clear and marketing consistent. Call, see or send something to everyone in your base of business at least every 30 days and you will weather the market changes with both ease and profit!

Need help? Visit www.prospectsplus.com, or contact our team at 866.405.3638 today. They’ve got the answers you’re looking for! 

Real Estate Agent Success

Insights from the Front Line with Ramona Williams

By Julie Escobar

When it comes to knowing EXACTLY what real estate professionals, and specifically our ProspectsPLUS!
customers want and need to grow their businesses in today’s market, I knew that there was one person who would be perfect to interview. My closest friend and always one of the smartest people in the room, our Director of Business Development, Ramona Williams.  With both an MBA and more thirty years of experience working with real estate agents and brokers, she’s the go-to resource for insights and ideas.

Here’s what we learned:

Q:  You are on the phones with customers every day, where do you think agents are needing the most help in terms of marketing their businesses and their listings?

A:  Consistency – hands down. That’s honestly where most agent’s marketing breaks down.  One and done listing inventory snapshotmarketing doesn’t work, never has and never will.  Secondly, what hurts agents is having no strategy at all.  That’s not a new problem of course. That’s historically where agents fail to grow their businesses, and why so many don’t make it.  Unfortunately, the majority of agents try lots of little things, including whatever the “shiny new idea” is in the office at the moment and never commit to anything consistently.  The result is they end up all over the place in terms of the message they are sending out into their market, and they’ll actually spend considerably more money trying every new thing that comes along than they would if they just put a solid, strategic plan of tested direct marketing that works in place and stuck to it.  Consistently sending branded, direct response marketing every 21-45 days to a sphere and farm is still the best means of driving results in our industry.

Q:  We’re seeing a huge rise in agents using EDDM® as a means to strategically market for less – what is your take on that and what advice do you have for others eager to do the same?

A:  I think Every Door Direct Mail® is a terrific way for agents to cover a large geographic area because of the Dominator April 16lower postage costs.  It makes it really affordable for agents to get back to those basics like working a geographic farm.  What I really like about seeing agents return to geo-farming is that it helps them focus their marketing efforts. For a long while we saw agents just chasing the next deal. They’d follow internet leads wherever they took them – sometimes driving hours to take a listing.  EDDM helps them to find a geographic market area that makes sense for them and literally get in every door. When used consistently, it creates a much more predictive business and income model than constantly chasing new business.  Here’s what else I can tell you – the great agents get that. They know that it’s not only OK to be in control of their marketing and business, it’s a must if you want to create a consistently growing business with commissions and referrals you can count on.  I think so much of the time you see agents who look at the business of real estate as risky to start with or unpredictable because it’s commission based.  So their mindset is that their business is supposed to be all over the place, or unpredictable as well.  Savvy agents know that real estate is a business and can be a very lucrative one if they treat is like it is and work a plan.

Q:  What product do you see the most demand for in today’s market?

A:  I’d say in most areas of the country inventory is still historically low, so agents are looking for any vehicle that can help them get listings.  So we’re seeing a lot of EDDM, Just Listed postcards and Just Sold postcardsjl js cards (which are great for pulling double duty – marketing the listing and the agent), our Market Dominator, Listing Inventory cards, FSBO and Expired tools, and our Neighborhood Update/Free Offer cards. The last take a little more work to input the listing data, but it’s what consumers want to see, and they make direct response offers, so they work.  Again, it’s getting back to taking control of your marketing.

We are also seeing an uptick in agents struggling with pricing listings correctly and that’s where your eBook 21 Ways to Get Your Listing Priced Right the First Time (Despite the Seller’s Objections) is a terrific tool that’s really affordable and filled with the kind of objection handlers agents need today.

Q:  You and I go way back in this business – we won’t say how far!  How do you think the market has changed and what do you think agents can do to best get in front of those changes and be competitive?

A:  You know, surprisingly, it really hasn’t changed all that much.  Our business is and always be cyclical.  What is different, of course, are the amount of technology options agents have and how many different organizations are selling to them.  Many of which are amazing and game-changing solutions for agents, no doubt. It does, however, make it really easy for agents to take their eye off the ball and look for that “magic pill” that will skyrocket them to success.  While that’s understandably tempting, the keys to being the top in your field is the stay focused, build inventory, price listing right, have a strategic plan, and find areas you really enjoy working and stay the course.

Q:  Excellent advice! You work with top producers and high volume teams quite a bit as our Director of Business Development.  What are some factors from a marketing perspective do you think they deploy that allow them to continuously rise to the top?

A:  Much like we just talked about, top teams and top agents don’t roll the dice with their results. They build their businesses exponentially by putting systems in place so things don’t fall through the cracks and understand and implement the power of consistent marketing.  In other words, they don’t wait and they don’t shy away from marketing at high levels.  They prioritize immediate lead generation, but they also have systems that allow them to build their brand and their businesses long term.  They are also typically service-minded professionals.  They take excellent care of their customer base, and communicate effectively and often with their sphere and farm.  That’s smart business.

Q:  Awesome. Any last words of wisdom for the readers?

A:  Well I guess I would say that this is truly a great industry where people can make an excellent, lucrative living that is relatively affordable to get into with a strong return on investment.  I would tell them to be strategic, consistent and be mindful of who you model yourself after.  You and I have both seen, countless times, agents who have been in this business 3, 4, 5 – even 10 years or more in this industry and have never put a sphere of influence database together.  While some may do all right at that, it makes you really wonder where COULD their business be if they had put that basic but so important piece in place? That’s a lot of missed opportunity and money left on the table.  I’d challenge agents to not do the same.  Get back to the basics.  Have a plan. Use strategic, consistent marketing (both in terms of timing and branding) to build your inventory, price them right, follow up, and take care of your book of business and your farm.

As always, you’re a tremendous source of advice for today’s professionals. What’s great for our customers to know is that you’ve done such an amazing job of both training and managing our support and marketing teams that they have incredible skills and insights as well and are wonderfully adept at helping agents and brokers figure out the best plans for them, and helping them strategically implement those plans every day.  Kudos to you for that!  Thanks for sharing!

If you’d like to connect with a member of Ramona’s team, you can call them at 866-405-3638 or email us at pmc@prospectsplus.com.  They are eager to help make your job – and your life a whole lot easier!

Getting the Inside Scoop to See If EDDM is Right for YOU and Your Business

By Julie Escobar

Wow.  We’ve had a lot of calls recently about this powerful (and affordable) service now provided by the U.S. Postal Service.  It allows you to literally get in EVERY DOOR in a geographic area for as low as 18.3 cents in postage per piece.  But there are a LOT of questions out there – and a lot of folks unsure about which way to go in terms of getting their message in the right hands to help brand themselves in a market.  So I put on my fact-finding hat so that I could give you guys the inside skinny on some things you need to know about this service to determine if it is really right for you.

Fact #1:  According to direct marketing statistics, businesses which get the majority of their clients from within a 3 mile radius of their office are:  REALTORS®, mortgage brokers, insurance agents, dentists, chiropractors…(the list goes on – but did you catch that first one?) Love that!

Fact #2:   This is the most cost-effective means to deliver your message to an ENTIRE market area.  As a SATURATION mailing tool – you can literally send up to 5,000 pieces each day (to be delivered to EVERY SINGLE mailbox on your chosen carrier route) still pay no more than 18.3 cents in postage per piece.

Fact #3:  There is no postage permit necessary – only the required indicia which is fairly small needs to be placed on your mailing piece.  (We’ve got that for you- no worries!)

Fact #4 – You don’t need a mailing list.  This is a biggie!  One of the toughest components that agents find in building their book of business is developing their LIST.  While it IS one of the best practices you can ever do to build long-term referrals and keep your customers and clients calling YOU back for the duration of your career – it is a stumbling block for many.  So while you’re waiting to get your list together (go ahead and hire a broke college kid to start data entry today – they need the money and you need a database!) – the EDDM™ system is the perfect way to start branding yourself and discover NEW PROSPECTS to put into your sphere!

Fact #5:  You can send standard mail flats, irregular parcels, periodicals, and bound printed flats.  But – your
Dominator April 16mailing piece cannot be more than 15′ long, 12′ high and .75′ thick.

Fact #6:  The common mailing pieces for EDDM™ used by REALTORS® are newsletters, open house postcards, just listed postcards, just sold postcards, introduction/neighborhood specialist announcements or workshop invitations (first time home buying seminars, short sale seminars, workshops for seniors, renters. buy workshops, etc.)

Fact #7:  You can select whether or not you want your mailing delivered to P.O. Boxes and Farm mail routes!

Fact #8:  Your mailing will saturate every consumer within your carrier route AND  it can also include delivery to businesses.  However – you CANNOT just send to businesses.

Fact #9:  When choosing your carrier routes – remember to choose WISELY.  With this system – you must mail to EVERY home on the carrier route.  So it’s important to look at the market you want to saturate and budget accordingly.  If your route has 1,000 homes in it – then you’ll need to provide mailings for every home.  The average carrier route has about 250-500 homes in it.  When using the carrier route selection tool from USPS – we always recommend ‘de-selecting all’ first – when you get to that screen so it doesn’t pull up every route in your zip code (that can be a little intimidating!)  Then, based on YOUR budget, you can choose the carrier routes in your market with the number of homes you can comfortably afford to send to repeatedly.

Fact #10:  To piggyback on #9, while this is a much more affordable mailing option for most agents, contentremember this is still direct marketing.  So if you can only afford to (or care to) send a mailing ONCE to an area – then it will more than likely not glean you the results you are looking for.  Keep that 3-7-27 rule in mind.  It takes 3 impressions for someone to recognize your name, 7 impressions to put your name with your business and 27 to become a ‘top of mind’ brand name in someone’s head.  So better to mail to 300 people ten times for example than to send one mailing of 3,000 if you want to build that awareness and trust.

Fact #11:  You’ll need to include a form (PS Form 3587) with your mailing that identifies the carrier routes, number of homes in the route, etc.  It’s a government form so – while it’s a little mind-boggling – it’s not too bad!  (And with our service we’ll even fill it out for you so no worries!)

Fact #12:  Your mailers have to be bundled and banded in groups of 100 and include a “facing slip” on each bundle.  So that’s not a lot of fun – but again – we do that for you if you like.  Besides – you’ve got to think about those delivery folks!  Can you image if you gave them one giant stack?  Yikes!

Fact #13:  If your best target market is actually in other cities or states, you can use Priority Mail® to ship your Every Door Direct Mail mailings to the Post Office in that area.  How cool is that?  This is especially helpful if you are working with vacation properties or investors.

Fact #14:  You have OPTIONS.  Whether you’re an all-hands-on-deck kind of person and want to do everything yourself or whether you just want to choose your mailing piece, pick your routes and have the rest all done for you – we’ve got a solution that works for you, your market and your budget.  Learn more about how Every Door Direct Mail – just click here!

Fact #15:  You don’t have to do it BY YOURSELF.  The truth is, this is an exciting and affordable opportunity to saturate a market with your message but there are variables, budgets and geographic areas to consider.  Sometimes (all right – most of the time) it’s good to have another person to help walk you through the process.  Our EDDM specialists have the experience and knowledge to do just that – just give them a call at 866.405.3638.  They’re happy to help. 

Hope that helps!  Happy marketing!