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 marketing 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 lower 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 postcards (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 firstname.lastname@example.org. They are eager to help make your job – and your life a whole lot easier!