Archive for 'Advertising'

Following Up: The Secret To More Sales

This is step 4 of a five-part series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market.

Most small-business owners (myself included) are guilty of not following up with all leads they generate. When leads pour in, it’s tempting to cherry pick the low hanging fruit while ignoring all the others who aren’t quite ready to hire you yet.

In yesterday’s post, I discussed how to create education-based marketing materials that your prospects will want to read. The purpose of creating those types of marketing materials is to get prospects to self-identify themselves as interested in what you have to offer by giving you their contact information and permission to follow up.

Let me be clear: Just because someone provides you with contact information in exchange for information doesn’t necessarily make them a lead – yet. (The same is true for most lead-generation services that charge you big bucks per “lead.”) Inquiries and registrations are not the same as “qualified leads.”

Yet what do people think to do? Call all those people who downloaded their free report and pitch their services. And often, those calls are a waste of time – worth just slightly more than cold calls.

So how can you weed out the low hanging fruit from those that aren’t yet ripe? One option is to ask them their timeframe for buying and provide a checkbox that states “Please contact me for a free consultation.” Those who say their timeframe is immediate or within 1-2 months and who request a free consultation are good candidates for “leads.” Everyone else probably falls into the category of “not yet ready to buy” and should go into your lead-nurturing system rather than tossed aside and forgotten.

What is Lead Nurturing?

Simply put, lead nurturing is what you do to keep in touch with people once they’ve given you permission to market to them. The best types of lead nurturing are systematized, automated or fall under your regularly scheduled marketing activities.

What does that mean? Well, if someone downloads a free report from your website, several things should happen:

  • They are added to your email newsletter mailing list
  • They receive a series of follow-up emails from you (generally these are autoresponders that are triggered when someone adds their email address to your mailing list).
  • They receive offline follow-up such as sales letters, thank you notes, or other correspondence.

These follow-up emails, newsletters, and correspondence should be written in an informative way with the intent to get readers to engage with you. In other words, you don’t want them to just passively read it – you want to get them to do something because of it: like provide feedback, ask you a question, request other freebies, register for a seminar or workshop, visit a blog post, buy a product from you, give a testimonial or referral, or request a consultation with you.

The more people interact with the content you provide them, the more likely they are to see you as a trusted advisor who is a local real estate expert.

Why Bother with Lead Nurturing and Follow-Up?

There are a few reasons why you should put a lead-nurturing system into place:

  • Nurturing leads is cheaper than prospecting – You spend considerable amounts of money trying to acquire leads – why throw them away because they aren’t quite yet ready to buy? Many will buy at some future time – and since you’ve already gotten their attention, gotten them to respond, and gotten them to allow you to follow up with them, why wouldn’t you spend a few cents each month sending them your email newsletter, your series of follow-up reports, and maybe invite them to a seminar down the road? That sure beats advertising or sending direct mail to people who have never heard of you and have no interest in what you offer in the hopes that someone, somewhere, might need a real estate agent.
  • Nurturing reduces risk. When you sell a service, you’re selling something intangible. People don’t understand the value they’ll get until you’re actually working for them – and they’re hesitant to hire because it requires they make a decision. Which should they choose? What if they make a mistake? What if they can’t sell their house or can’t find a home in their price range? What if something goes wrong? What if they get ripped off?

    Prospects have a laundry list of fears they must overcome before they’ll hire someone and, to justify their decision, they’ll pick and choose evidence around them. They’ll look at how you sell your services, the quality of the information you provide, what your office looks like, how you dress, whether you tell them information that contradicts what they think they already know.

    When you continually follow up with them by offering them new information and interact with them via your newsletter, blogs, sales letters and other marketing materials, you start to build a relationship with them. As they get to know and trust you, working with you seems much less risky.

  • Nurturing builds relationships and trust – The more people interact with you and your content, the more likely they are to get to know, like and trust you. People prefer to do business with those who understand their business needs and express a genuine concern for their well being rather than those who are looking to make a quick buck at their expense. As you follow up, show your personality, and continue to offer great advice, you become a trusted advisor – the person they will turn to for their real estate needs.
  • Nurturing educates prospects – When prospects call you, you are at a disadvantage. Often these prospects have certain expectations about what a real estate agent should do for them – and in many cases, those expectations are misguided and run counter to what it takes to actually buy or sell a home. They might hear negative things from the media, or watch HGTV programs designed more to entertain than sell a home, or hear stories (good and bad) from their friends and family about what real estate agents did or didn’t do. When a prospect is in your nurturing system, you can re-educate them about what to expect. You can bring up issues they probably haven’t thought of and guide them through the process so when they’re ready to buy or sell, they already know the right way to go about it.

Your client list is your business’ most valuable asset. Your prospecting list is probably its second most valuable asset, as these people have a much greater potential to evolve into clients than the average person on the street.

Tomorrow I’ll conclude this series by addressing how you can generate leads with referral partners.

Importance of Direct Email Marketing!

One of the most popular and cost effective strategy of internet marketing is direct email marketing. With instant feedback from your customers, you are able to frequently monitor your web site’s performance too. If you are into an online business, then your quest for newer forms of internet marketing or advertising grows.

Direct email marketing outsmarts the traditional forms of advertising like the printed newsletter, brochure and pamphlets. It’s simple yet effective form of Internet marketing, reaches out to bulk at the same time.

Use direct marketing post or presale. Utilize this form of Internet marketing to promote products, provide news, and to send confirmations and thank-you notes. If you don’t have time to send the emails yourself, you may choose to use email auto responders. Email auto responders are triggered when an email is sent to you. If you are unavailable, email auto responders can contact the customer for you, providing order confirmations, etc.

Every time you correspond with your clients, prospects, vendors and other key audiences by email, include a convenient way for them to opt-in to your list, giving you their permission to market to them more regularly.

Things you need to follow while you send out a mail for your business or marketing purpose:

A professional signature along with your email: This is a must as it offers a professional look to your email. Include a professional signature at the bottom of your business email, do not forget that, as it’s a vital part of direct email marketing. It usually includes your name, business name, and full web address.

Need to search an affiliate: A signature buddy acts as an affiliate to your internet business. He/she can help you step up your Internet marketing campaign and allow you to reach more customers. Ask someone to include your web address below their own signature every time they send an email. And have a reciprocal link of their web address below your signature too.

E-Newsletter – this should be your next Internet marketing strategy, it is an effective form of email marketing and can be used to promote your products or services.

Send coupons: send complimentary coupons to your customers once in a while.

After sale service: This would be a thank you note, set it in your auto responder, which is a polite way of thanking them after the sale. Read extensively before you venture out your marketing skills.

Kirthy Shetty, expert author, Platinum status

Guide to Direct Email Marketing Services:
Direct Email Marketing Services

For more information on direct response personalization:

Please visit http://personalizationprecept.com to register to download our complementary special report entitled “The Personalization Precept” that is jam packed with personalization tips and statistics to help you improve your marketing ROI.

I’m in the process of working out an outline for an Internet Marketing Teleseminar Series that I’d appreciate getting some feedback.  Included with this particular entry today is a 3 minute podcast that goes over the program.  If you don’t have three minutes to listen in on the podcast, here’s an overview of some of the topics we’re kicking around:

  1. Article writing / content generation
  2. PPC advertising
  3. Affiliate programs
  4. Blogging / Podcasting
  5. Search Engine Optimization
  6. Social Media Optimization
  7. E-mail marketing
  8. Direct / personalized marketing
  9. List building
  10. Live event marketing
  11. Co-registration techniques
  12. Researching and segmenting your market

If you can, listen in on the podcast as it goes into a little more.  It’s quicker to speak than to type. 😉

I’d really appreciate your feedback and input on this – is it a good idea?  What would you pay for something like this?  Have any guests you’d recommend to include in the mix?  Let me hear from you.

Stupid Slogans – Where's the Creativity?

The past two days, I (Roger) have hoarded myself up in a hotel outside of Cincinnati (Florence, KY to be exact). The main reason for the trip was to attend the Social Media Breakfast, but the secondary reason was to get myself out of my own comfort zone to hopefully stimulate some creativity.

During my stay, I’ve watched limited television, but I happened to catch a couple of commercials that stood out for their complete lack of creativity. There are a couple of outfits in Louisville that use “slogans” (loosely stated) that I was shocked to hear duplicated in Cincinnati.

Yes, Cincinnati and Louisville are not far apart so it’s not crazy to see or hear such a thing, but I’m guessing the companies utilizing the slogans paid very little to a professional agency or developed them in house. When someone develops their slogan in house, they are hesitant to listen to anyone outside of the organization because they believe “it’s cute,” or (worse) the money they saved allows them to air the ad more frequently which means we, the public, have to endure the crap. No, scratch that–we have to change the channel when their garbage pollutes the airwaves.

We Sell ’em Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

For instance, Springhurst Chevrolet in Louisville uses the phrase “we can’t be beat because we sell them so cheap, cheap, cheap.” Isn’t that a stroke of creative genius? Another rhyming slogan. Wonder how much the decision makers paid their children to come up with that one? They probably treated the kids to a night at the local ice cream shop next door. If so, they paid too much although the kids probably appreciate the treats. I thought that was bad enough, but there is an outfit in Cincinnati using the same slogan to push their product. Unfortunately, I was only halfway paying attention so I can’t call out the business by name and link to them but when I heard the phrase, I couldn’t believe my ears. Who thinks this is effective? If you’re claiming to save me money, just say that. Nobody wants cheap, but we do like to save money. On second thought, Chevrolet does produce a lot of garbage, but I digress.

Experience the Dumb Company Difference

Two former employers of mine used the <sarcasm> highly creative phrase </sarcasm> “experience the [company name] difference” as their slogans. What difference? Spell it out for me! You telling me you’re different doesn’t make you different. Tell me something that would make me take notice of your company or your brand, or at least tell me what you’re trying to do for me from a benefit perspective. “We save you money on [whatever]” is better than “experience the dumb company difference.” Unfortunately, both companies are competitors in the same industry so that makes them stand out even less.

We’re the Best, Forget the Rest

Another pet peeve slogan is where a company suggests “we are the best so forget the rest.” Isn’t that cute that it rhymes? Unfortunately, I can’t call one specific company out for violating this failed slogan, but it would be nice to know what the thinking process is when a company signs off on utilizing a slogan like this as their advertising and marketing centerpiece.

What’s Your Least Favorite Slogan or Catch Phrase?

What’s a slogan you have heard lately that grates on your nerves or is flat out stupid? Let me hear from you. I’ll create another post that puts your name in lights on the site. Ok, maybe not lights, but I’ll gladly quote you and link back to you if you’re looking for some SEO love.

Zing Social Media Overview Seminar Review

Yesterday (April 23, 2008), we hosted a very small group to discuss “10 Ways to Increase Sales from Social Media” at Zing’s offices in Louisville. For those that didn’t get the opportunity to attend, here’s a summarization of what all was discussed.

We started off the discussion with a quick round robin to see who all used various social media sites in some of the different categories. Included in the mix were sites such as LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, Facebook, Scribd, HubPages, Squidoo, EzineArticles, and WordPress (blogs). Our small group had mixed reactions to the sites mentioned whether they had heard of them or not. A lot of the sites were unheard of before our chat today so it’s fair to say that those sites aren’t being utilized yet by all of our attendees.

We had interesting debates throughout, but one thing stuck out to me that is both encouraging and puzzling all at once–a lot of people are very unaware of what is out there from a new media, web 2.0, on-line social aspect, but they realize it’s becoming more of a necessity for businesses to get involved. It’s no longer a novelty or kids’ playground anymore. Once you see large corporations investing major dollars on internet marketing and new media interests, the rules of the game change quickly. Usually new technologies in business follow a progression like this:

  1. Younger generations test out something because it has that “cool” factor and it’s new
  2. Solo entrepreneurs start to dabble thinking it might give them an edge and allow them to compete with larger competitors
  3. Small and medium businesses begin to realize that the solo entrepreneurs are onto something and begin to jump into the pool
  4. Finally, corporations see this wave of activity and understand the technology has matured enough to begin to invest substantial resources

Once the corporations are involved, it’s no longer a phenomenon or cool technology–it’s a full fledged strategy and set of tactics to make money. They may not have it mastered when they first enter the fray, but it won’t take them long to figure out how to capitalize.

So why is all of this happening so fast these days that some companies feel as though they’re getting left behind unless they act soon? Today’s consumer is tuned out to traditional advertising and media so it’s forcing the marketplace to become more creative in their approach, and that’s where social media comes into play. Believe it or not, there are still quite a few business executives out there that are reluctant to enter the social media space, and their reasonings vary greatly. Some of it is a generation gap, and some of it is a mindset that isn’t quite as “inclusive” by nature as a lot of us that are more comfortable with social media and sharing our lives publicly. I’m personally old enough to understand the apprehension from the “traditionalists” yet young enough to get the fascination with so many avenues for self expression.

All of that being said, there is no magic bullet where social media is concerned, but there are business applications for just about every sect of social media that need to be understood before making a decision to implement a strategy for one’s company. My recommendations for social media success, from a business perspective, to the group today were:

  1. Commit to a social media strategy or don’t bother
  2. Be yourself (hiding behind a pseudo-name isn’t going to win you points over the long haul)
  3. Transparency rules because people can sense a phony very quickly
  4. Be consistent
  5. Understand the time involvement–this isn’t like traditional advertising where you pay for a block of time or space and the returns are predictable. It may take a year for a social media strategy to begin to pay dividends, but those dividends could be huge. Can you afford to a) wait that long? or b) miss out on a great opportunity by passing on social media?
  6. Don’t try to sell–as mentioned above, people are tuned out to traditional advertising methods so showing up on a social media site trying to pitch your product or service isn’t going to be well received. It’s just like walking into a party where you know a couple of people–you wouldn’t barge into the middle of a group you didn’t know and immediately start trying to sell them something would you? I’d hope not. If you would, please skip my parties. 😉
  7. Follow the golden rule–give to receive and remember, it’s not about you first.
  8. Add value–become a resource or educate somehow if at all possible. Eventually people will notice and take action accordingly.

Finally, I’d summarize the overall message I was trying to convey to the group today as it’s all about an inclusive vs. an exclusive mindset. Traditional ways and methodologies versus new age and progressive strategies. We’ve gone from a business model of doing things FOR our clients to doing things WITH our clients. The firms which view things in that legacy view of “for” instead of “with” might find things a little rocky one day as we travel further down the path.

The rules of marketing have definitely changed, but have you changed with them? Either way, I’d like to hear your take.

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