Business Building: Establish and Convey Your Message

Business Building: Establish and Convey Your Message

From the experts at ByDesign

As a real estate professional you are energetic, independent, relatable, hardworking, forward thinking, and you have a corner on the market. Right? But what good are these qualities and how you use them if no one knows who you are? Once you’ve identified the characteristics that make you distinctive, you need to market yourself to others. This process of communicating and promoting your unique value is called personal branding, and it’s most effective when paired with a message. So before you plaster online and in-person bulletin boards with your headshot and contact information, you’ll need to establish your message and convey it effectively. Here’s how.

Know your audience and get their attention. When conveying your message, make sure you know your audience. Your approach and voice should always be an honest reflection of you, but also identify the needs of your potential client. How you communicate with first-time homebuyers on a budget will be different from how you work with luxury homebuyers. Once you’ve identified your audience, capture their attention with a clever and appropriate tagline. Now you have the opportunity to tell them more.

Tell them what they need to know and what they get. You have a short window of time to make a first impression, so don’t pull any punches with your audience. Get right to the point and communicate what you offer and how it will benefit them. If you don’t provide anything they need, want, or admire, they’ll quickly lose interest. Consider your message from the point of view of potential clients and adjust it accordingly. And keep it simple. Use numbers, taglines, and basic but intelligent language, and avoid industry jargon.

Use multiple platforms. Convey your message using multiple yet targeted platforms to reach as many clients as possible. Brochures, postcards, personalized magazines, and other printed materials are great options to send to target clientele. (Include appropriate, high-quality photos as well to make these items visually appealing.) Also, consider your online presence with written or audio blogs, and online videos of home tours or useful industry tips.

Visit www.ByDesignPublishing.com to see how realtors have utilized the customizable cover pages of our Home By Design and Your Home and Lifestyle magazines to convey their message and elevate their personal brand. To receive a free sample of these magazines, click here.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

Life in Mobile: Google Sides with Mobile Users

By Seth Kaplan

There is no better place to be than at the top of Google’s search rankings; for marketers, it’s the Holy Grail. The key component in reaching that milestone is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), a process by which your site and content is ranked based on relevance. Now, with so much search traffic coming to Google from mobile devices, they are taking a firm stance on mobile SEO, and there is no question that they are standing on the side of the people.

Google first announced their Googlebot-Mobile for smartphones back in 2011; their engine that crawls and indexes sites as if it were a smartphone user. Since then, there have been a couple blog posts, but no firm lines had ever really been drawn in the sand on what will impact mobile SEO. That all changed recently when Google released a blog post announcing that it would begin demoting sites in mobile search results if they are not mobile friendly or misconfigured. The move highlights the importance Google is placing on mobile users as the future of search and sends a clear signal to marketers that either they implement a mobile solution, or alter a current solution that does not meet their guidelines.

The recent guidelines extend beyond just having a mobile optimized site and, for the first time, go into detail about implementation. The goal of the guidelines is pretty straightforward: Get mobile users to the piece of information they are looking for as quickly as possible.

Google highlighted one of the more common changes/recommendations they suggest in their recent post. The first is with regard to faulty redirects. This happens when a user is redirected from a desktop page to an irrelevant mobile page—we’ve all dealt with that frustration. The key here is to implement what we have referred to in the past as “deep linking,” which ensures all desktop pages redirect mobile users to the corresponding mobile page, thus getting the user to the exact piece of information they are looking for. In addition, they urge marketers to ensure that there are no page errors for mobile users and to test across multiple devices to ensure the highest level of usability.

If you’ve spent time, energy and a vast amount of resources on climbing to the top of the mountain with a good SEO strategy, it would be a shame to see your work come falling down by not preparing for mobile SEO. Now that Google has drawn their lines in the sand—and clearly sided with ensuring a quality user experience—there isn’t much time left to get this right. Contact your mobile specialist today and ensure that your mobile assets are following Google’s guidelines for usability.

To see how your site looks on a mobile device today, visit www.TestMySiteNow.com.

Seth Kaplan is president of Mobile Real Estate. For more information, please visit 
www.mobilerealestateid.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Branding Power: Can Brokers Compete with Portals?

By Reva Nelson

It’s no secret that the big real estate portals are on top of their branding game. With big advertising budgets, multichannel consumer branding campaigns, and ample, frequently updated content, you’d have to be living under a rock to be unfamiliar with players such as Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Homes.com and realtor.com®. Even amid complaints of poor data accuracy on some portals, the flow of traffic to these sites is considerable.

According to aggregate website visit metrics compiled by Experian Marketing Services, the top 10 real estate websites captured 42 percent of total visits in the space during January 2013; Zillow (9.17 percent market share) had the most visitors, followed by Trulia (7 percent) and realtor.com® (6.09 percent). Agent and broker sites, on the other hand, aren’t generating nearly as many pages views or unique visitors. Is the exposure REALTORS® can gain on these well-branded sites good for business? Moreover, are brokers and agents missing the boat on their own branding?

It depends who you ask.

Some, like Jim Abbott, owner and managing broker of San Diego’s ARG Realty Group, argue that portals are bad for brokers’ business. His firm made the decision in January 2012 to pull their listing data out of portals. Other firms, like Minnesota-based Edina Realty, came to the same conclusion in 2011.

“When we looked carefully at this after three years of metrics, we realized these weren’t good for our agents or our clients. These sites extract a very heavy cost for that exposure…your future business is the cost.” Even on portals that capture a lion’s share of home searchers, Abbott cautions that when REALTORS® outsource their marketing duties to portals, they are trading new listings and sales for hits on a website. “In no uncertain terms, hits on a portal’s website and an increase in my business could not be more unrelated,” says Abbott.

Others say all that branding attracts daydreamers – not real buyers. Saul Klein, industry principal at Point 2/Yardi, says that most consumers searching these portals are not actually interested in buying real estate. “The traffic counts of unique visitors continue to increase, but the sales numbers do not.”

Many see benefits of partnering with a portal to increase their exposure. “There are few brokers who can afford to conduct user behavior studies or run TV spots for brand awareness, so it’s useful to extend out your brand awareness by partnering with a trusted company,” says Wendy Froehlich, vice president of marketing for Homes.com.

Dan Forsman, president and CEO of Prudential Georgia Realty, describes his company’s partnerships with the big portals as “coopetition.” He describes a robust syndication strategy that includes partnerships and programs with the big players, as well as syndication to 40,000 websites worldwide. “We realize there’s a significant amount of traffic, and our agents value that.” At the same, Forsman notes, “We do extremely well with our company and agent websites, which have better and more relevant data than the portals.”

Certainly, the big portals have mastered branding. What can agents and brokers learn from these sites about promoting their own brands?

Master the local market. Real estate is local, and brokers have a distinct advantage over the portals when it comes to local data. “Over time, we will continue to fare better because our data is better and more relevant than the portals’ data. What it comes back to is we simply have better insight and knowledge locally. If we’re smart in the way we design our websites and our local apps, we can take advantage of that,” says Forsman.

To win in the local space, Forsman notes that first you have to be found. “We’ve done a lot to our own websites to make sure they’re found prominently by search engines. And, you have to provide more relevant information than the others. For example, our websites and mobile apps can do accurate school searches, whereas national databases lack accuracy. Our information is more accurate because it comes directly from the MLS and listing agents. The portals can’t keep up with our high degree of local knowledge.”

Ramp up your social media strategy. Froehlich recommends that branding efforts among REALTORS® need to be focused on social and mobile platforms, or they risk talking to an empty room. In particular, she urges REALTORS® to keep their agent profiles up to date and complete on sites such as GooglePlaces/GooglePlus, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest. GooglePlaces is particularly useful, she notes. “It’s important to be getting recommendations there. That’s where their brand is getting built.” In addition, encourage satisfied clients to post reviews of your business on social media.

Master the basics. The simple details still matter in how you present your real estate business. For example, own your own domain, since this is your brand online. “Be consistent online and offline,” says Klein. “Don’t use a Gmail or Yahoo email address for your business. Instead, use your domain for both your web address and your email address. Put them both on all of your marketing materials, signs, cards, riders, flyers, and everywhere you advertise. Don’t overlook using signatures on your mobile devices that includes your brand and contact information.”

Control your data in a way that leads new business to you. It’s important to be very aware of where your data is going, and what’s happening with it. If you “set it and forget it” with portals, you are not controlling your data in a way that leads new business to you. “You’ve decided you don’t want to answer those calls,” says Abbott. “Other brokers can gather those leads and then sell them back to you for exorbitant referral fees.”

Manage your online reputation. If someone is talking about you positively or negatively online, you need to comment on it or address it, says Froehlich. “Keep that conversation going online with consumers.” Some portals, including Homes.com, offer specific tools to help brokers increase their online presence and manage their online reputations.

At the end of the day, it’s not about competing with the behemoth brands of the portals. It’s about attracting buyers and sellers by fostering credibility, trust and relationships in your local community, via traditional as well as mobile and social media channels.

Reva Nelson is a freelance writer and marketing consultant based in Chicago. She has been writing about real estate and professional services for more than 15 years. Reva lives with her husband, their two sons, and a Russian tortoise.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.

Internet Lead Conversion: Improving Results with Better Response Time

Improving Lead Conversion with Better Response Time and Consistent Follow up

When it comes to Internet lead conversion arguably the biggest challenge is follow up. If you are at all serious about leveraging the Web to increase business, you must continually follow up with prospective buyers who take the time to sign up at your site.

It is a no brainer when a lead provides a valid phone number (that’s maybe 10% of inbound leads) to call that prospect. If only an email address is provided then a reply is in order. If you are doing your job both types of leads go into a drip email campaign. Your CRM may even prompt you or the buyer to create a listing alert.

Many agents go no further than that, relying on the drip email or listing alerts to keep them top of mind. The result is often an unsubscribe because they found a home through Zillow, Trulia, or another agent’s Website.

A great example of an errant lead recently occurred within my own team when one of my buyer agents’ leads called me to see a house. When I checked the history, there was but one “welcome” email, even though this contact had been viewing leads for months. He found me on Zillow and had no recollection of the agent he was assigned to (another caveat: buyers are looking everywhere).

Only by following a regimen of consistent follow up can you ensure success working Internet leads. Check out this Infographic to see how lead response time effects lead conversion:

How Lead Response Time Effects Lead Conversion

How Lead Response Time Effects Lead Conversion

Real Estate Marketing: Increase Referrals to Increase Success

Increase Referrals to Increase Success

From the Experts at ByDesign Publishing

Referral ExchangeEveryone has to start somewhere. Whether you’re new to the work force or only new to the real estate industry, your literal or metaphorical Rolodex might be a bit bare. But as a real estate professional, your success relies on who you know, and more importantly, who knows you. So gather your contacts to get a jump-start on increasing your business referrals.

First, start by assessing all of your existing personal and professional contacts, regardless of the industry. Although agents, stagers, and mortgage brokers are essential components to a referral network, you’ll want to include as many quality connections as possible; everyone—from a mail carrier, to a hairstylist, to a restaurateur—will have real estate needs at one time or another (or know someone else who does). But it’s important to have a strategy behind your networking. Make sure you’re making the right connections for the right reasons, and your business will soar.

Once you’ve established your existing network, look to expand in your local market. Either join a networking group or establish your own. Sign up with your local chamber of commerce as a registered business and attend their meetings. Also, consider going to business-related neighborhood association gatherings and your personal neighborhood meetings. It’s imperative to be an involved member of the community to make connections and encourage referrals.

In addition to your personal website, establish and maintain social-networking business profiles for a comprehensive online presence; use these online tools to interact with your clients on a regular basis, and keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your community and beyond. Be careful not to use this resource as just another platform for a sales pitch. Instead, it should make you relatable to your current and potential clients. You’ll also want to offer universal real estate and home design insight to give your business some additional value.

Because you can’t shake every potential client’s hand in person at first (as is the case with faraway buyers), it’s important to brand yourself both online and through print marketing, as an approachable, local expert. Out-of-town buyers are significant referrals; they are often more motivated to make purchases, and because they don’t know the area well, they’ll look to you for additional referrals for the best dry cleaner, pizza place, and more, which only enhances your professional connections. Before you know it, you’ll be providing referrals to agents outside of your local network and collecting a handsome referral fee, too.

For more information, visit www.ByDesignPublishing.com.

This post has been authored by Eric Slifkin, REALTOR® serving South Florida’s Treasure Coast. You can reach me at 888-288-1765, or visit my Web site. As your resource for information on new or resale homes throughout the Treasure Coast, please be sure to contact me about any home you may find on the Web, yard sign or ad and I will research the property, arrange showings and handle all the details.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2013. All rights reserved.