Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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.

With inventory in high demand, and buyers eager for deals, sometimes it takes a little objection handling skill and myth-busting to turn these sellers into happy clients.  

So, let’s put on our “Myth-busters” hat for a moment and take a look at some common misconceptions:

1.  All FSBOs are hard to work with. Really – all of them?  In truth, most sellers who are trying to fly solo to get their homes sold are eager to save money, not well-informed as to what it takes to price right in today’s market and usually fairly motivated.  Are they distrustful of agents?  Sure, many are — but that doesn’t make them difficult – it makes them human beings.  It’s YOUR job to earn their trust, treat them with respect, develop a relationship and make them raving fans.

How do you help develop that relationship? Consistent communication, professional real estate fsbo marketing postcardspresentation tools and a can-do attitude.  Try the “7 touch” series of our real estate FSBO marketing postcards – they’re perfect for getting your foot in the door and raising those questions (and answering them) in the minds of the sellers that get them to then call you for help.

Or our FSBO door hangers are very popular (and perfect for keeping a stash in the car for a quick leave-behind every time you see a For Sale By fsbo door hangers Owner! Many of our direct response tools, and any time you are reaching out to get in the door of a potential listing, especially a FSBO, be sure to offer something of value.  A fair trade item.  A reason to contact you. (And a reason for you to contact them!)  Great ideas for this are free reports, market information, list of resources, our Pricing Pyramid.  You can find lots of fair trade items in our RESOURCE section of our site!

Click here or on the video box below to see how easy it is to order these door hangers!

2.  All FSBOs Are Overpriced. Don’t you just love sweeping generalities?  In truth, (again) – many probably are.  But surprisingly, with all of the internet information out there, and the fact that it is a buyer’s market — many for sale by owner sellers DO get pricing a property right. But more often than not, they don’t get that they can get MORE for their home, statistically, using a real estate professional so it’s your job to help them understand that!  

 

Many time sellers think, “how hard can it be?” Especially when they want to tack your commission onto the top of what you’ve already determined to be Fair Market Value so they can get every penny possible from their investment. When you say no to the higher price point, you’ll often get hit with the “I can just sell it myself and not have to pay anyone” response.

Here’s a technique to try:
“Mr. and Mrs. Seller, I can appreciate your thought. Many homeowners weigh out that option when they decide to sell their home.  The top priority for most home sellers is getting the highest amount possible from their home. Is that your top priority as well?  What I can share with you with you is a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors every year called the annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
It shows that in the last year, the average FSBO home sold for *$185,000 compared to $240,000 for agent-assisted home sales. So, you can see that even with paying a commission, I can still get you a higher dollar amount for your home than you could selling it on your own.

Would you like to know why? The biggest reason is the exposure I can create for your property as opposed to what you can do on your own. With an agent, the property is entered into the MLS where it is broadcast marketed to not only consumers via the paper, home guides, and a wide range of internet sites, but to the ______ agents in our area as well. By creating greater exposure for your property we create greater buyer competition which leads to a higher selling price.

That, and as a real estate professional with ___ years of experience and because I’m a third party, I’m better able to negotiate on your behalf, getting you the best deal for your home. You have to remember that a buyer working with a For Sale By Owner knows that you aren’t paying a commission, and more often than not, they’re well versed in the price of the comparables in your market, so they are already in “bargain hunting” mode.

When you take all of that into consideration, as well as how much of your own valuable time will be taken up with trying to do your regular job plus take on showing the property, trying to negotiate, searching for the necessary legal documentation and trying to qualify buyers, can you see how you could be saving more by using a licensed agent?”

This may be a good time too to introduce the Merchandising Review.  If you’ve never used it, give it a whirl – you’ll make it a part of your listing tool chest from now on!  It’s a great way to strategically walk sellers through ALL the components of salable listing and even helps to answer some questions (price at the top!) before they’re even raised.  Download your copy for free and start using it today.   By the way – here’s a little Merchandising Review dialogue you can use when contacting FSBOs.

As soon as you see that FSBO pop onto the market, you should contact them by telephone and attempt to use the Merchandising Review as a reason for them to set an appointment to talk with you.

“Hello, Mr./Mrs./Ms/Miss ____________, my name is _______, and I’m with ______.  The reason I’m calling is that I see you have put your home on the market and I’m sure you’re eager to get the best price for it – right? (Wait for their answer!)

Wonderful!  I wanted to offer you a very special tool that we use called a Merchandising Review Form…have you heard of it before?  It is what I use to make a comprehensive analysis of whether a home is salable in TODAY’S market and what you can do to guarantee that it will sell for a great price and terms.

What I’d like to do is set a time when we could sit down together and go over the Merchandising Review.  No cost or obligation – just something that can help you get your home sold.  It takes about 20 minutes. (Set a time.)

Walk them through each item and negotiate the issues that were might keep the property from selling.  Correct these issues, and ask if they would allow you to show them your marketing plan.

3.  FSBOS can just do this on their own. I love this one.  Truth is, statistically, most FSBOs do end up using an agent.  In recent statistics only 8% of the homes sold according to NAR were FSBOs. And of those – 31% don’t even market their properties. So, they NEED someone like you to lend them the expertise to not just get a great price, but to make the process as headache free as possible.

Most Difficult Tasks for FSBO Sellers:

  • Getting the right price . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  18%
  • Preparing/fixing up home for sale: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13%
  • Understanding and performing paperwork  . . . . . . . . .  12%
  • Helping buyer obtain financing: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  6%
  • Selling within the planned length of time: 3%
  • Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 3%

FSBOs really are the “low hanging fruit” for many agents – why?  Because they’re usually still motivated to sell!  But the keys to success are that  you have to consistent (can’t show up just ONCE – remember MOST deals are sealed after the FIFTH contact), timely (most successful FSBO experts make reaching out to FSBOs a DAILY business practice – no half-stepping it!) Know your business and your market (practice, drill and rehearse your presentation and you’ll create a presence as the turn-to agent in your market for FSBOs.

So go ahead – time to CRUSH IT and start listing those FSBOs and start maneuvering, out-selling and out-smarting the competition in your market place!  And remember -we’re here if you need us.  Call our team today at 866.405.3638 to help choose the marketing materials you need to capture this market!

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 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.

Was YOUR Name Drawn?

Wow! A big thanks to all our amazing contestants this past month! We had fun changing it up with a prize of Google Home Assistant.  We had some terrific entries – and we thank you all so much for sharing your ProspectPLUS.com experiences! If your name wasn’t drawn – no worries!  We’ll choose three MORE winners May 2nd. Congratulations everyone!

Jennifer Ingiald who shared, “I have been using ProspectsPLUS! for all my direct mail
campaigns for about two years now, and have yielded awesome results! The last jumbo postcard I sent was for a Just Sold campaign, and I received two new listings just from that postcard. I love how they are always adding new design templates too so I can choose a new one each time. Phenomenal customer service too!”

 

Carmen Wieck who shared, “A few months ago, when I started working with ProspectsPLUS!  I
had some hiccups. HOWEVER, when I called to talk about my issue, Hayley was beyond helpful and made everything smooth for me. I got a listing from that mailing and then a referral from that listing – BOOM, two in one shot! Now I am ‘addicted’ to ProspectsPLUS! I do all my marketing with them. Love the quality, customer service, the professional copywriting on their marketing pieces. I am a customer for life.”

 

Steve Turner who shared, “I love how easy and fast ProspectsPLUS! is. Whenever I need postcards or mailings sent, their online ordering is so easy to use and creates amazing results in just minutes! Great prices, easy to use and full of helpful ideas.”

 

Kathleen Carhart who shared, “I have used ProspectsPLUS! to market my farm area with great success. They have a terrific selection of marketing materials to choose from and the quality is excellent!”

Thank you to everyone who entered! Join us for our April contest where we will be giving away $500 worth of Gift Cards! It’s easy!  Leave your review of your ProspectsPLUS.com product or service on our Google+ Page  or our Facebook Page today!  

We’d also like to invite you to join us in our goal to raise $50,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®! We are matching every donation this year, dollar-for-dollar! Learn more at: blog.prospectsplus.com/st-jude.