Saturday, June 24, 2017

In Step with VIP Broker Cindee Cullingford

We often interview agents with success stories, but this week we had the awesome opportunity to share an interview with one of our power brokers who uses smart marketing tools to help her agents succeed at a high level and brand her business throughout her market.

Here’s what we learned…

Q:  Thank you for agreeing to our interview. Can you first tell our readers a little about yourself?

A:  I am a small-town girl with a big appetite to succeed!  I am the youngest and only girl with three older brothers, and I adore each one for different reasons.  I lost my middle brother in Vietnam when I was 14, so I believe that shaped a part of me for the rest of my life.  I flew off to one of the biggest cities when I was 18 years old.  I moved to Los Angeles, California with the blessings of my family.  I never looked back. Real Estate is actually my third career.  I was excited to join the Real Estate industry back in 2004, and continue to learn every day.

Q:  As a Broker/Owner, you’ve probably waded through many different marketing options, can you tell us what attracted you to ProspectsPLUS!?

A: Boy, have I!  I actually used ProspectsPLUS! many years ago, but stopped mailing postcards as so many agents tend to do.  When I opened my Brokerage, Coral C’s Realty & Property Management, LLC. just 4 years ago, I started receiving emails from your team?  The Just Sold postcard was completed for me and all I had to do was approve it and click “OK”.  So, it was Ramona and the ease of use of the postcards.

Q:  I know you offer Just Listed and Just Sold postcards to all your associates, which is awesome. What has that meant for you in terms of company branding, agent retention and recruiting?

A: It is in my best interest to make sure each of my Sales Associates mail out those important Just Listed and Just Sold postcards to keep my branding (and their business) alive.  So, I made the decision to include 100 postcards, complete and mailed out for each Sales Associate every time a home is sold or listed.  This is a great incentive to offer new Sales Associate for a small amount of money.  Even the seasoned agents find it a great tool and stay loyal because of it.

Q:  What advice do you have for agents eager to compete in this busy market?

A: Take every advantage offered to you in the way of marketing, but STAY consistent when you start farming.  ProspectsPLUS! offers a variety of inexpensive ways to keep your name in front of everyone that needs real estate assistance.

Q:  Can you share what’s working for your associates in terms of staying top of mind with their sphere and farm?

A: I can honestly say that all of my Sales Associates at one time or another have said “Thank you” for including the postcards in our Sales Package.  But more importantly, they have each had responses back from owners wanting us to list their home because they received our postcards.  The other awesome way to stay in touch with clients is to pick up the phone and prospect at least 5-10 people a day, five times a week.

Q:  Any fun ideas you’d like to add for agents or brokers for staying ahead of their competition?

A: Keep your sales associates happy because they are your bread and butter.  We spend considerable time inside and outside of the office together.  We love getting the agents and their spouses together for comedy night.  I know we have all heard of the “team environment”, but we actually have one.  If an agent can’t show for any reason, another agent will step in and assist.

Q: How can our readers connect with you if they have referrals they’d like to send your way?

A: We are always available for referrals! Coral C’s Realty office number is 321-613-5605.  We are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thank you so much Cindee! Your advice has been awesome. If you’d like to learn more about sending postcards for your team as a broker, or how to stay consistent and out front of your competition as an agent visit www.prospectsplus.com today or call our team at 866.405.3638.

 

The One Thing You Can Start Doing Today with Marketing Guru Stacy Stateham

By Julie Escobar

I’ve been really fortunate to meet some extraordinary people in this industry – bright lights who are always willing to share some brilliance with like-minded people.

One person I’ve really enjoyed getting to know and learning from is BloomTree’s Stacy Stateham. She’s witty and smart and has a lock on what it takes to elevate your career to the next level in this business. She was also recently selected as an Inman Connect Select Ambassador for the work she is doing and her contribution to our industry. She was kind enough to share some of that with us. Here’s what we learned:

Q: Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?

A: I’m one of the founders of BloomTree Realty, and my function is VP of Marketing and Branding. In addition to working on building our name as a company, I spend a lot of time training and coaching agents, and I also work on our tech and systems.

When we started BloomTree, we set out to create a company built around providing the absolute best level of service possible to clients and, to do that, we knew that we needed to create an environment where the best agents can grow and thrive.

Everything we do is built around our culture of collaboration, sharing knowledge and support. Not just the company supporting our agents, but agents supporting each other.  It’s awesome to see how successful agents can be when they work together!

Q: You’ve been around this real estate game for a long time and, in your position, you’re helping agents get their careers started off on the right foot. As we’ve spoken of many times, one BIG component of developing a long-term real estate success story is really focusing on building a database that represents your book of business. Can you expand on that for us?

A: A database? I’d say it’s one of the biggest differentiators between agents who earn the national median income and those who earn three-plus times that. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the things agents are most likely to neglect – not just having one, but constantly building on it AND really leveraging it as a regular daily function of doing business. Agents should be constantly building their databases over time – whether the real estate market is good or not – from the start of their careers to the time they retire.

Think of it this way: We all know that when we invest money long term, we can weather the ups and downs of the stock market. Investing by a consistent trickle – whether the market is good or bad over time – lets us ride out the lows, leverage the highs and, in the long run, earns a higher rate of return. Just Google “dollar cost averaging.”

If we see our database as a “fund” of business for when the real estate market fluctuates, the effort that we invest in building it is not only a source of business when times are good, but it also is a safety net for when the market is down.

If you’re going to start doing just one thing today to set yourself up for a successful business in the long term, get started on building a strong database.

Q: If putting your database together is the first priority, helping agents understand the importance of CONNECTING with those folks in a consistent and effective way so they stay top of mind as the agent to call is definitely equally as important. How do you recommend agents stay in touch, and how often?

A: In any business, clients and potential clients are a salesperson’s most valuable asset, yet many agents keep their contacts on sticky notes, in their Gmail contact lists, try to manually update spreadsheets, etc. Working that way, it’s easy enough to see which contacts have turned into clients, but it’s nearly impossible to see which haven’t.

So the first step is to use a CRM. We have all of our agents on FiveStreet for lead routing and TopProducer for their CRM as part of our overall tech package, so that all of their leads feed to their databases without having to do manual entry. It helps us as a company to have our agents use one system, because we’re better able to offer support and training. But whichever CRM is best for an individual agent is the one that they’ll actually use. They all have benefits and downsides, so just choose the one that fits best.

How often to stay in contact? As often as possible, provided that it’s done the right way (don’t be creepy). With so many tools at an agent’s fingertips today, it’s easy to mix it up with methods and platforms – newsletters, social media, postcards, in person with a friendly call, holiday greetings and so on. The key to success is to be approachable, genuine and human. Be consistent with your style and content. Give information in an honest way, and be a resource. People don’t like being sold to, but they love someone who’s there to help and guide them.  

On average, people move every seven years. And even though NAR stats say that most would refer a friend to their agent when they’re asked immediately after closing, a dramatically lower percentage actually do. That tells me that many agents aren’t staying in touch as much as they could. Most people will use the agent that’s front of mind when their need arises, so being that agent whom they know and trust is crucial to being the one who gets the phone call.

Q: I know you’re a fan of making a strategic plan for marketing a real estate business rather than that whole “throw enough things against the wall” approach. Can you share what you believe to be some must-have elements to an effective marketing plan?

A: A balanced marketing strategy is like a balanced diet. We can’t stay healthy on just French fries (but wouldn’t that be awesome?). We need protein, fruit, veggies, etc. too.

I see so many agents focusing on just one or two marketing platforms because they like them and they’re comfortable with them, and not layering those with other points of contact. They’re great at calling, so that’s what they do, while they ignore print and online. Or they have a killer website, so they don’t take the time to reach out in person. Or they’re great in person, so they don’t think they need a strong website.

Agents absolutely should focus on what they’re best at, but they can offset their weaknesses on other platforms through training, learning over time or by finding a great solution provider who can help them.

Eating a balanced diet every day keeps you healthy, and maintaining a balanced marketing strategy can do the same for your business.

Q: You’re also a social media strategist. Can you share some of your top tips for using those resources to build a strong real estate business?

A: It wasn’t all that long ago that social media was considered optional in marketing. It’s not anymore!

If you’re only going to use one, use Facebook. Agents should have both a personal profile and a business page, keep both active and use them in the appropriate ways. It’s super easy to set up a list in “friends” to keep clients and prospects separate from school friends and Aunt Harriet, and it allows us to be more personally connected than ever before.

Business pages not only help keep business posts separate, but they also allow agents to use Facebook Ads (I looooove Facebook Ads!). They’re much less expensive than regular pay-per-click, and the targeting capabilities are downright awesome. Probably the two coolest things you can do with Facebook Ads are to target only people who have been on your website (low cost, and you know they’re interested because they’ve already checked you out online) and to aim ads only to people in your database. There we are with the database again… yes, you can upload your database to your Facebook Ads account and send ads specifically to those people.  

Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, etc. are all extremely powerful tools too.

Q: You’ve been a ProspectsPLUS! fan for a long time. Can you share which tools you most recommend to other agents?

A: Is all of it an option? If I had to choose, I’d say Just Listed/Just Sold campaigns and property brochures. The neighbors around your listings are a great source of business for the next one, and people always want to know what’s going on in their neighborhood. Just Listed and Just Sold campaigns are a solid way to let them know that you’re actively selling in their neighborhood.

Pro Tip: Getting back to Facebook Ads, did you know that you can layer over Just Listed/Just Sold mailings with a Facebook Ad that runs just to that neighborhood? In the geographic options in ad setup, you can drop a map pin to exactly where your listing is and limit the radius to as low as one mile. Doing both print and online together dramatically increases the likelihood that your marketing will get seen. Go ninja level, and tie that hyper-targeted Facebook Ad back to your listing on your website, collect a lead, and have that lead go to your CRM.  

Consumers today expect something better than an MLS printout on the kitchen counter at a listing. Aim for something modern and sharp and, for heaven’s sake, don’t go DIY unless you’re awesome at graphic design. Make sure your photos look amazing, then check out the Luxury Marketing section on ProspectsPLUS! (your listing doesn’t have to be high end to look high end!). How you market this listing not only helps get it sold, but also may very well be the tipping factor in whether or not you get the next one.

Q: Any last hot tips for agents eager to knock it out of the park this year in terms of their goals?

A: What I tell our agents? First, do a business plan. Second, stick to it. Third, set one hour aside every week to focus on long-term improvements to their business.

Let’s be real… our future selves can’t be trusted. Thinking to yourself that you’ll do it eventually doesn’t get the job done. Actually put it on your calendar as a critical meeting with yourself so you actually do it. One hour once a week spent on setting up systems, automating a process, learning something new, setting up a long-running ad, training an assistant, adding SEO to a website or whatever will pay back big time in the long term.

If your goal is to earn $100K a year, one hour is worth about $48 if you’re only working 40 hours a week. In our market, commission on one side of a deal averages about $5,000 for the agent in earnings. So if you spend an hour once a week building your business for the long term, the math works out to a time investment annually of about $2,500, or half of one of our average deals. But what we see with our agents is that those who actively work their plans do more deals and, with just one more closing, it’s a win. Some have as much as doubled their business by working smarter.

Q: Awesome! How can readers connect with you if they want to learn more or send referrals your way?

A: Hit me up on Facebook! I’m there more than I am anywhere else online. I don’t personally list and sell anymore, but if you need a great agent in Arizona, just let me know. We have three offices full of amazing agents who can take care of a referral client for you.

Terrific, Stacy! As always, thanks for your amazing insight. You’re a treat to talk to and learn from.

If you’d like to know more about building your book of business, staying in consistent touch with your sphere and farm, and generating more listings and leads, visit our site at www.prospectsplus.com, or call our marketing team today at 866.405.3638.

Insight and Experience from Agent Debbie Figueroa

by Julie Escobar

We have the best customers. They’re insightful, fun, professional and willing to share what’s working for them. That’s gracious in today’s competitive market, and we truly appreciate their candor.

I was eager to learn what’s working for top agent Debbie Figueroa, so I reached out to get her thoughts on growing a real estate business. Here’s an excerpt from what she shared:

Q: Thank you so much for sharing your insight, Debbie. Can you start by telling our readers a little about yourself?

A: Sure. My name is Debbie Figueroa of the Real Estate Power Houses. I’ve worked in the real estate industry for more than 25 years – as a full-time REALTOR® for almost five years. I primarily work with residential homebuyers and sellers in the El Paso, Texas, area.

Q: It’s a competitive market. What’s your go-to tool for staying branded in your market and getting results?  

A: The Just Listed/Just Sold postcards are a huge tool for my business. They not only help promote my listed or sold properties, but they also help get my name out in the marketplace. I obtain at least one solid buyer or seller lead from each mailing. It’s a huge tool to utilize during listing presentations as well.

Q: How are you staying consistently in touch with your sphere and farm, and what advice do you have for agents eager to boost their listings and referrals?

A: I reach out to my sphere of influence every other month by mail, at least three times a year by text message, twice a year by phone and once a year with a personal marketing “pop by.” I also email a monthly newsletter and send an electronic postcard for each of my listings to my sphere of influence. Some of my contacts in my sphere of influence have not directly done business with me, but they’re fabulous at passing my name along to their friends and family.

Q: What are your thoughts on differentiating yourself from your competitors in your market?

A: It amazes me when I meet clients who have either purchased or sold a home in the past, and they don’t remember the name of the agent who helped them. Staying in constant contact with past clients and your sphere of influence is key to helping your business grow and continue in the future.

Q: What brought you to ProspectsPLUS!, and what’s your favorite marketing tool?

A: The broker I was with when I made the transition back to selling real estate full time recommended the site. The Just Listed/Just Sold postcards are such a helpful tool in growing your business. Obtaining at least one lead from each mailing pays for itself multiple times over.

Q: Any last fun advice for agents?

A: Enjoy it! No one is perfect. Mistakes will happen, and you need to learn from them.  Make sure to take time during the week for yourself to relax and enjoy life and laugh.  Humor is needed to get through those tough times.

Q: If agents would like to connect with you for referrals, how can they reach you?

A: They can reach me directly at 915.261.8077 or via email at debbie@debbiefigueroa.com.

Awesome advice, Debbie! Thank you so much!

If you’re ready to get the kind of terrific results Debbie is getting and take your business to the next level, visit our site today at www.prospectsplus.com, or contact our team to get started at 866.405.3638.

Success Spotlight Q & A with Power Agent Jennifer Ingiald

By Julie Escobar

When you really want to know what’s working for your customers, you reach out and ask them.  We are so fortunate to have extraordinary customers who are willing and happy to share their experiences of what works, and sometimes what doesn’t with our readers.  Agents love to learn from one another and we love sharing their stories.  This week?  We caught up with power agent Jennifer Ingiald to see what she’s doing to knock it out of the park in her market.

Here’s an excerpt from our interview:

Q:  Can you please tell our readers a little about you?

A:  I’m a Realtor in the central Wisconsin area. I focus mostly on waterfront homes and condos in the Castle Rock Lake area and Wisconsin Dells. Being originally from Schaumburg, IL, my family always vacationed in the Wisconsin Dells area and Castle Rock Lake is the fourth largest lake in Wisconsin, so it’s a lot of fun to work with buyers and sellers purchasing or building their dream vacation home.

Q:  How long have you been using ProspectsPLUS! and what made you choose us as your resource?

A: I’ve been using ProspectsPLUS! for about a year and a half now. My broker had recommended the site as she had great success with it as well. She was absolutely right! The website is very user-friendly, and so easy to navigate and create awesome postcards.

Q:  Can you tell us what you believe is the most important part of your marketing plan?

A: Listing photos and direct mail campaigns.  I like to utilize a professional real estate photographer for listing photos which I can then import into ProspectsPLUS.com postcard templates for a “Just Listed” or “Just Sold” campaign.  The end result is a completely professional postcard that always yields amazing results.

Q: I know you wisely use Just Listed and Just Sold cards in your market – can you tell us what kind of results you are getting and why you are so passionate about using these time-tested tools?  

A: This is by far my most important marketing tool.  Every single time I send out a Just Listed or Just Sold card, I get at least one new listing.  With the last Just Sold card I sent, I received two new listings.  I prefer to use the Jumbo postcards as opposed to the standard size, as I think they catch the eye better and help me to stand out amongst my competition.

Q:  Any advice for agents eager to get more results from their sphere and farm? 

A: I would absolutely recommend a ProspectsPLUS.com direct mail campaign, especially for farming.  It may seem like more money than you’d like to spend at first, but if you get one listing, and thus one sale out of it, it is worth it!  I like to use the postcard templates with a lot of photos as I think photos grab a reader’s attention. I also think it’s important to consistently send out either a Just Listed or Just Sold once you have a new listing or sale in a particular area you are farming, as you will start to become viewed as the market expert in your area.

Q:  Awesome – thank you so much Jennifer! How can readers connect with you if they have referrals in your market?

A:  If anyone has any referrals in the Wisconsin Dells or Castle Rock Lake areas, please feel free to call me at 608-548-3307 or www.CastleRockLakeAreaHomes.com.

If you’d like to learn more about consistently marketing your listings and yourself in your market, call our marketing team at 866.405.3638 or visit us online at www.prospectsplus.com. We’re happy to help you develop the plan that can help you take your business to the next level.

If you are a ProspectsPLUS.com customer and would be interested in potentially being featured on our blog or in our next Master Marketing Magazine, please email me today and set up a time to connect!

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!