Archive for 'Local'

Local is As Local Does

It looks like search engines have officially trumped the Yellow Pages when it comes to customers looking for local businesses. Data from comScore and TMP Directional Marketing shows that this year more people are turning to search engines after last year’s showed that Yellow Pages were on top.

What the Data Shows

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Hey Everyone,

Well, I am snowed in down at my lakehouse in Branson, we are getting absolutely pummeled with snow right now, not even sure how much longer I will have an Internet Connection. Anyway, just a few minutes ago, I came across a perfect example of using your list of customers to generate business and even a better example of what I like to call “current event” marketing.

I get asked all the time how often should you e-mail your list of customers. The answer to this is as often as you have something seriously relevant to say and no less than once a month

I want to illustrate a perfect example of contacting your list with relevant information, although it isn’t real estate specific, it is a perfect example. So, I am sitting here snowed in thinking there is no way I am getting out of the house today, but I am getting hungry and there is nothing to eat.

All of the sudden I get an e-mail from a local Pizza place here in Branson called Luigi’s. Now, without commenting further I am just going to post it below and let you guys comment on it:

Subject Line: WE DELIVER…EVEN IN THE SNOW!

Hey friends!

Just wanted to let you know that even in the snow, we’re still delivering.
If you don’t want to leave the house, let us bring you lunch!

Also, four quick updates:

1. WE WON!!!
Luigi’s Pizza Kitchen was voted BEST PIZZA IN BRANSON & NIXA
by 417 Magazine’s 2008 Reader’s Poll! Thanks to everyone who voted!
Not only do we have the best pizza, but we also have the BEST CUSTOMERS!

2. KIDS EAT FREE on FRIDAY!
We’re glad to see so many of our loyal customers taking advantage of this!
Visit our website for more details: www.LuigisPizzaKitchen.com

3. SUPER BOWL SPECIAL!
Spice-up your Super Bowl Party with some Luigi’s Pizza!
All day, Sunday, Feb. 3rd, get Large (14”) 2-Topping pizzas for $9.99 each, no limit!

4. MONDAY MADNESS!
$5 Thin-Crust Pepperoni Pizzas…every Monday in Jan. & Feb.!
Plus, this week, after 4pm, get FREE FOUNTAIN DRINKS when you dine-in!

For locations, menu and more, visit us online at www.LuigisPizzaKitchen.com

LPK, Hwy 248 in Branson: 339-4544
LPK, Hwy 165 in Branson: 334-3344
LPK, Main Street Plaza in Nixa: 725-3336

-Mandy Jordan
Director of Marketing
Luigi’s Pizza Kitchen
417/294-2642 cell
mjordan@luigispizzakitchen.com

****So what did you learn from this everyone? I want to hear your comments as I sit here watching the snow come down and enjoy my piping hot Luigi’s pizza, even though I am supposed to be on a diet!

Length: 36:22

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Introduction to Pay Per Click (PPC) Advertising

This is the feature article in this week’s RealtyBiz Agent Success Newsletter.

Online advertising is becoming more popular among small businesses that want their site to display on the first page of search results for specific keywords. Pay-per-click advertising is a great way for businesses to do just that. PPC advertising allows websites to list their sites in search engines almost immediately by setting up an advertising campaign that displays your ads on the major search engines.

A PPC campaign works as follows:

  1. You choose specific keywords that are relevant to your topic and bid against your competitors for display spots in search results.
  2. You write ad copy that encourages people to click on your ad rather than all your competitors’ ads.
  3. When people click on the ad, they are taken to a “landing page” which should be a page you’ve created specifically for people who click on your ad. Your page should explain what you do, the benefits of buying your product or service, and some type of “call to action,” which may be to buy your product or fill out a form to contact you.
  4. You measure the results of you ads by analyzing specific metrics, revise your campaign, and repeat the cycle.

Search engines run your ad either above or beside the regular (organic) listings whenever someone searches for your specified keyword. If the searcher clicks on your ad, the search engine charges you an amount up to your maximum bid – the exact amount is determined by a number of factors including the maximum amount you are willing to bid, the maximum amount your competitors have bid, and how effective your ad is in getting people to click on it.

How the ads show up on the search results page depends on two factors:

  1. How much the advertiser is willing to pay – Advertisers bid on keywords much like an auction. They set a maximum amount they are willing to spend every time someone clicks on their ad. This is known as the maximum cost-per-click. Google analyzes all advertisers bidding on your keywords and sets a pricing structure. The higher you bid, the more likely you will show up in the No. 1 or No. 2 position, but the price you actually pay for each click is determined by what other advertisers bid. For instance, if you bid $1 per click but your nearest competitor is only bidding 50 cents, most of your clicks will probably cost in the 50-60 cent range.
  2. How effective the ad is at getting people to click on it – To encourage advertisers to write better ads, Google incentivizes its program by giving priority display space to ads with the highest click-through rates. A click-through rate (CTR) is the number of times someone clicks on an ad divided by how many times the ad is displayed. So if the ad was displayed 100 times and 5 people clicked on it, the CTR is 5 percent.

The Advantages of Pay-Per-Click Advertising

Pay-per-click advertising offers a number of benefits to businesses who want to get listed in search engines quickly, such as:

  1. It’s inexpensive to get started. You can get started with Google Adwords or Microsoft adCenter for a nominal $5. Yahoo Search Marketing has no setup fee.
  2. You get immediate results. It can take months of work to get a first-page ranking on Google. With pay-per-click advertising, you can set up an account in a few minutes on Google and start generating traffic to your site that day.
  3. You can target your audience. Google and Yahoo make it simple to target your audience by location. You can choose regional and city locations, or even use their local search capabilities to target prospects within 25 miles of your business.
  4. You pay for only those who click on your ad. Many online advertising opportunities ask you to pay each time they display your ad (called an impression). They usually sell advertising blocks per 1000 impressions (called CPM or cost per thousand). With PPC, search engines keep track of impressions, but they bill you only when someone clicks on your ad.
  5. You have control over how your site is displayed. Those sites that show up in the organic results have very little ability to affect how their site is displayed. Google chooses the page from your site that it calculates as most relevant to the query and pulls some content from the page to display. By contrast, with PPC advertising, you have complete control over the ad’s title, description, and even which page it links to within your website.

Pay-Per-Click advertising is a great place to start for any online marketing campaign because it gives you control over how searchers find your site and which page they land on when they enter your website.

International Last Minute Travel On A Budget

I’m traveling to Northern Spain (Priorat) for a week in wine country the last week in May. The trip was somewhat of a last minute decision – I had wanted to go as part of a tour (through The Wine School of Philadelphia, which I cannot recommend highly enough. Seriously, if you love wine and you’re close to Philly, stop in for a class – you won’t be disappointed.), but the tour sold out before I could join. A few days ago, there was a cancellation and I seized the opportunity.

So now, I have less than three weeks to plan my trip (and learn enough Spanish to get by!) The tour is providing accommodations, but each of us must find our own way to the villa. Here are some tips I’ve picked these last few days about planning a last minute trip.

Logistics

Of course, you can’t travel out of the country without a passport these days. I already have one, so thankfully, I don’t have to worry about applying for one and hoping it arrives in time.

As a safety precaution, I’ve checked the CDC website to make sure I don’t need any obscure shots or medicine to take with me. Spain seems to be fairly safe, but having traveled to Belize and Guatemala previously, I can say it’s best to get your appropriate shots well in advance – and stock up on any medications you might need (like Malaria drugs). I’ve also been assembling a basic medical kit.

Currency

You hear how bad the US economy is every day, but it doesn’t hit you until you go to exchange your Dollars for Euros. The going rate today is $1 = .648 Euros. (Last year at this time, it was about $1 = .74 Euros.) And if I’m reading this website correctly, a gallon of gasoline (3.78 liters) is around $7.00. On the bright side, AAA doesn’t charge you an exchange rate.

Getting Cheap Airfare

Trying to get a cheap flight without too long of a layover has been a fascinating experience. I’ve learned that there really isn’t much rhyme or reason to how airlines price tickets – other than they’re seeking to fill as many seats as possible at any given time. What that means is that in a matter of hours (or the next day), you can be quoted a drastically different price for (seemingly) comparable flights.

On Sunday/Monday, when I checked various airline sites (Sidestep.com, CheapTickets.com, CheapOAir.com, Priceline.com), I was looking around at least $1100 for a flight from Philly to Spain with unless I was willing to take a 12 hour layover (no thank you). Tuesday morning when I checked back, I found a brand new option – I could fly through Paris with a four hour layover for around $750 (but I only found this deal on one site – all the others are much more expensive.) Not wanting to press my luck too much, I jumped on that. (For comparison, that’s about one-third the price of a non-stop flight.)

Some other things I picked up on saving money besides shopping around:

  • If you can, be flexible with the dates you’ll be traveling.
  • Try flying to a cheaper airport.

Neither of those applies to my trip, but they’re good to know.

Rent a Car

I had no idea that virtually all cars in Spain were manual transmission (I guess it’s not surprising, given the gas prices) – which means renting one is considerably cheaper than renting an automatic transmission. Compact, manual transmission cars start at about half the price of the cheapest automatic car I found – and most were much more expensive than that. Most of the travel sites have car rental options, but the cheapest site I’ve found (so far) is AutoEurope.com. I’m also told that it’s far cheaper to book your car in advance than at the airport.

On another note, if you plan on renting a car, it helps to pick up an International Driver’s Permit from your local AAA. I talked with someone on the phone today, and she said the process is fast and painless – you just need to bring two passport photos and the $15 fee. They can create them on the spot in about 10 minutes.

I’m still looking into options to save on auto insurance. I believe AAA and (possibly) some credit cards will cover you so you don’t have to pay the outrageous rental insurance prices.

Learning the Language

If only there was more time… I admit, my choice for a crash course in Spanish isn’t cheap, but so far, the lessons have been pretty good. I bought the Pimsleur Spanish series, and have been practicing for one-to-two hours each day. My goal is to at least be able to give taxi-drivers directions to my villa (not that I’ll be taking a taxi, but I’ve had some crazy experiences in Mexico with Spanish-only speaking cab drivers and I’d prefer not to go through that again.)

More..

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So, have any of you been to Northern Spain? The place where I’m staying is about a two hour drive west from Barcelona, so I’m open to suggestions for day trips, restaurants, wineries, etc.

This is a bonus sixth step in the continuing series on how new agents can successfully break into the real estate market. (FYI disclosure: I use a few affiliate links throughout this article.)

I’ll close this series by going back to Mike’s original question. As a new agent, if I had $2500, how would I spend it?

  1. I’d negotiate with the most successful agent in my office (or who I know) to mentor me for my first few weeks. If I had to pay them, I would probably budget 20-30 percent of my budget. I would also look for an agent to partner with so I could market our services as a “team” and thus boost my credibility and reduce risk in the eyes of prospects.
  2. I’d spend considerable time talking to my target audience and learning the geographical area I chose to get the basics down. I’d then spend about 20 percent of my marketing budget creating marketing materials including:
    • Getting free/cheap business cards printed – maybe at VistaPrint or another online printing company.
    • Creating a quick web presence. – I’d spend $10 at GoDaddy for a domain name and would sign up for the Plus Package on Typepad ($8.95/month – or for more technical people, I’d recommend getting their own web host and setting up a WordPress blog, which would be about the same price) to create a few informational pages about myself and my services. I’d blog each day about what I learn about my target audience, my geographical area, and the key problems and concerns they’re having. I’d use my blog to organize my thoughts while starting to communicate with the blogosphere.
    • Writing a free report (or recording a free CD) directed at buyers in my target audience who were looking for a home in my geographical area. – I’d then spend $200-400 on Elance for an editor to proofread my report (that’s how I found my current copy editor, Monica, who I highly recommend!) and a graphic designer to format it so it looks nice and has an attractive cover (but I’d realize I couldn’t be too picky because I’m not paying for perfection).
    • Creating an e-newsletter. – I’d spend $20/month on Aweber so I could start building a list of newsletter subscribers. I’d place the Aweber subscription box on my Typepad blog and set up an Aweber autoresponder to deliver my free report whenever someone subscribed to my newsletter. I’d then start publishing a newsletter each week once I got at least one subscriber.
  3. I’d spend 40-50 percent of my budget to advertise my free report. Keep in mind that $1000-1250 is a tiny ad budget, so I’d need to be extremely strategic. I’d research all local publications: real estate circulars, classifieds, local newspapers, etc., for their audience’s demographics (does my target audience read this?), ad rates, and what competitors are offering.
    • I’d first start testing my ad’s headline, offer, and landing page (the page people “land on” when they click my ad where I offer my free report if they sign up for my newsletter) on Google Adwords (If I knew nothing about Adwords, I’d buy one book – so not to overwhelm myself or waste my money – on Google Adwords to help me understand how it works. This free Stompernet video is also pretty good.)
    • Once I got my headline, offer and landing page down, I’d start advertising my report in local publications, again testing the results!
  4. I’d then spend considerable time trying to get free advertising:
    • I’d send press releases about my free report and pitch articles to the press.
    • I’d go to organizations (Chamber of Commerce, churches, women’s groups, etc.) where my target audience participates and offer to give a talk or provide them free copies of my report for members. If I felt the organization was worthwhile, I might attend a few networking events. (I’d sign up for a free Highrise account to keep track of my contacts.)
    • I’d participate heavily in the blogosphere and on social media sites – both on real estate blogs and on blogs focused on my geographical area.
    • I’d consider podcasting (If I didn’t have the equipment, I might subscribe to AudioAcrobat for $20/month so I could record my talks by phone and then embed the code they give me into my TypePad blog.)
    • I’d talk with as many people as possible – preferably people in my target audience – but also people I know – to help me get those first few clients.
  5. I’d spend the remainder of my budget on follow-up techniques: such as any offline correspondence, printing charges (for instance, if I need to print and mail my free report), postage and mailing supplies, etc.

As you can see, I’m taking an extremely thrifty guerilla marketing approach to this. What I don’t want to do is spend money frivolously, and I accept that if I don’t have the marketing budget to advertise heavily, I’m going to need to put in the work to make initial connections and build my prospecting list.

My primary goal is sales – not a fancy website or clever ad or cutesy postcard or slick letterhead – and it’s my job to stay focused on that goal above all else. That takes discipline and putting in a lot of long hours up front. As I figure out what works, start taking on more clients and build momentum, I can worry about upgrading the look of my marketing materials, but at the beginning that shouldn’t be my focus.

So, that’s what I would do. (This, of course, is only one of many, many ways to market a new business. You should choose the marketing tactics that work for you – and always be testing!) Agents, feel free to chime in – what other marketing tactics would you recommend to a new agent on the cheap?

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