Archive for 'sem'

Tip’d: A Social Media Site on the Rise

Tip'dWith so many open source variations of social media sites, there are new ones launched every day.  Most cater to a very small niche and rarely make it to 100 registered users.

Tip’d is the exception.  After its official launch last week, it has already made some amazing strides as of October 20, 2008:

  • 750+ registered users
  • 1000+ articles submitted
  • Approaching 10,000 Tips received
  • 600+ comments made

The real splash, though, is in the quality of users.  Social media powerhouses like zaibatsu, tamar, jaybol, Emit, nowsourcing, weblaunches, webaddict, 1only, coloneltribune, ritubpant, TunisianGuy, and  adrian67 have been active on the site.  Many of them came because of the endorsement of another social media powerhouse, msaleem. (more…)

A 5 Step Marketing Plan for Single Property Websites

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

One of the best ways to differentiate yourself from other agents is to offer more value for your commission than what other agents are providing. One easy way to do this is to create a website for your client’s home with its own unique domain name. These types of websites are quick and easy to set up – and because you can add virtually unlimited information to the page, you can use the website as a marketing hub for the home.

Any good website takes some planning to get set up and running. Let’s start with the basics:

Step 1 – What do you want your website to do?

This seemingly basic question is something that 99% of all webmasters never ask. If you don’t set goals for what you hope to accomplish, you’ll never achieve them.
In this case, your website has a number of goals, including:

  • Impressing Your Sellers – The main reason you are creating these websites is to show sellers how much more value you provide over other agents out there. You’re not simply putting up a quick listing on your website. You’re giving them their own site that you will market in all the home’s promotional materials.
  • Marketing The Home – Most means of home marketing are extremely limited by space and price. If you want to run a full-page advertisement including all the home details, it will cost you. The same is true for mailings and any printed materials. With a website, you can put up as much information as you want, without adding cost. And because 77% of home buyers search on the internet, you’re putting your listings out there for people to find.

Step 2 – Who is your target audience?

You might not know exactly who your target audience is, but it’s more specific than simply "a buyer" ready to buy within the next month.

Take a look around the neighborhood. Who else lives there? What are their income levels? What kinds of cars do they drive? How many kids do they have? Take note of the types of people that live in this particular neighborhood. Here are some things to get you started:

  • Demographics – Where do they live? How much do they make? How old are they? Their gender? Their ethnicity? Their education?
  • Geography – Where do they live? Why do they live there? What type of lifestyle do they have in their geographical area?
  • Lifestyle – What do they do for a living? What motivates them? What types of interests and hobbies do they have? What type of car do they drive? Where do they go on holidays or vacations?
  • Life Cycle – Where are they in their life cycle? Are they single, just married, expecting their first child, divorcees, empty nesters, retirees?
  • Motives – What motivates them to buy? Are they emotional or rational buyers? What do they care about – the economy, investing, security, stability, the American dream?

You might ask, why does this matter? The answer is because your best prospects will probably share a number of these characteristics with the current neighborhood residents. Your marketing will work only when you understand who you are trying to target and why they might buy. The best way to understand their motivations for buying is to find out why others bought within this particular neighborhood.

And I mean "neighborhood" – not city or township or several square mile radius. I’m talking specifics. Who lives on this particular street? What about the adjacent streets? What can you learn about them just by their home decorations, landscaping, cars, kids toys, etc? Once you know this type of stuff, you can mention these specific characteristics within your home description on the website.

Step 3 – What is the competition like?

This might be difficult to answer, so here are two places to start:

  1. Check the neighborhood – Are there any other homes on this street or on the adjacent streets that are currently up for sale? If so, what makes them distinctive? What advantages and disadvantages do they have over the home you are listing?
  2. Check the MLS – What homes are in the MLS that have similar features and price to the home you are listing and are located nearby? What are their advantages and disadvantages? What makes them distinctive?

To effectively market a home, you must know what competition you have – and what unique features and benefits your listing brings to the table. Knowing this information helps you distinguish and differentiate your home from all the others on the market.

Think of it this way. Buyers are overwhelmed with choices. When they search through listing after listing, they are looking for something that stands out and grabs their attention. Something that says to them "go see this house!"

If your marketing can do this, you’re going to start attracting a lot more buyers who want to check out this "must see" house. And that means there’s a good chance you’ll close the deal faster- and get paid for your services sooner!

Step 4 – How can you differentiate this listing from others on the market?

At the bare minimum, your website should include the features of the home (price, location, the number of rooms, baths, and amenities) and lots of photographs, but if you want to really generate buzz about the home, tell the "story" of the home.

What’s special, unique or distinct about this home? Why did the current owners buy this home? What do they love about it? What amenities are nearby? What’s the best pizza place in the area? Are there any annual neighborhood picnics or special events? How do the kids like the schools they attend? What’s within walking distance? A 10 mile drive?

Why bother? Because people make decisions based on emotion, not logic. They want to fall in love with their new home – and they’ll justify their purchase with reasons later. People buy homes they can see themselves living in. They have to envision how they’ll arrange the rooms. How they’ll paint the walls. How they’ll set up the nursery. All of that stuff is emotional. That’s why your marketing needs to appeal to their emotions as well as give them the facts and features.

Step 5 – How can you market the website?

The final step is getting the word out. Here are some ideas for marketing your new website:

  • On your blog and website
  • In your ads and mailings
  • On house fliers
  • In your newsletters
  • On riders for your signs.
  • In your online classified ads (Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, etc)
  • In your social media profiles like MySpace and Facebook
  • Twitter (or tweet, if you like) the URL
  • Add to social bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us
  • In your email signature
  • In blog comments you leave (don’t spam blogs, but most software asks for your URL – use your listing URL instead of your blog or website)
  • In listing presentations (to show other sellers what you can do for them)

Get Started Today

You don’t have to be a technology genius or pay a web developer lots of money to set up a page for you. It’s relatively easy to set these types of sites up

  1. Set up a free Blogger.com account. You’ll be able to create a new blog for each listing and the process takes about 3 minutes. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.
  2. Once you have your blog set up, go to the Settings tab and then click on the "Publishing" link. You’ll see something that says "You’re publishing on blogspot.com." Underneath, it will say "Switch to: Custom Domain" Click on the "Custom Domain" link. Go through Google’s easy step-by-step system to buy a domain for your blog for $10/year. Watch a video tutorial on how to do this.

Easy, right? Alternatively, you can set up a free account on Postlets.com – or pay $5 to upgrade to a premium listing.

Setting up single property listings for each of your clients’ homes can be a great way to demonstrate how marketing and technology savvy you are to potential sellers – and they’re simple, fast and affordable to set up.

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..

.
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.

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.

Daughter Of Yahoo CEO Tells Guard To Google Her

There are some statements that live infamy: I didn’t inhale; They misunderestimated me; Google me, you dumb f@#k. That last one comes is new, courtesy of former Courtenay Semel, daughter of former Yahoo CEO Terry Semel.

Actually the complete phrase was: “Do you even know who I am, f@#king idiot?. . .Google me, you dumb f@#k.”

read more

 Page 1 of 8  1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last » 

Switch to our mobile site