Episode 5: Scott Stratten Interview
The Honest Real Estate Agent Podcast
Respect Your Customer’s “Inbox”
I sign up for a lot of email and newsletter lists online to see how other people market themselves.
I feel the most important takeaway I have learned from email marketing is to respect your customer’s inbox. You might be wondering why I use the word “customer” in this context? It’s appropriate because it was an exchange of value–I gave the person my email address with the expectation that I would receive emails which were of interest and helpful to me. A fair trade. We get bombarded everyday online by websites wanting our email address. Remember this when you get an email address from a prospective customer. Be responsible with your email marketing.
I’m writing this post this morning because last week I signed up to be on a person’s email list to have access to a training type video–I signed up on the evening of September 30. Since then I have received 14 emails from this person trying to sell me one of his products. Crazy!! I have lost respect and admiration for him even though he is recognized as an expert in his field.
Have you had a similar experience lately? I sure hope not.
I’ve been a Realtor since 2003 and I have paid attention closely to training programs provided to new and experienced Agents. I’ve noticed three fundamental problems with most of the training programs offered to new Agents by their respective company:
The biggest problem I see with most Realtor training programs is they don’t spend enough time helping Agents understand how important it is to build their own website and do content marketing. What usually happens is most of the training consists of the following: “You need to get a Facebook page and start a blog.” That’s it and then most Agents don’t know where to start.
This is why I have created a new Group Coaching and Training Program Online to help Agents build their digital presence in a cost effective manner that will help them get new clients (not fans, not likes, not traffic) but real, genuine customers in a relatively short timeframe. My program is called “The Internet Real Estate Agent.”
There is no one way to be a Realtor but it is important to look to the future and think long-term. When you build a strong website and online presence it’s going to help you generate new clients year in and year out. One of the challenges we face as Realtors is the up and down nature of our compensation—we can have 5 Closings in one month and then we might go 5 months without one closing. The beauty of generating new clients through your website is that your website is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. We get busy helping our Buyers and Sellers and then we stop or slow down marketing full-time. A strong website designed to connect you with new clients will help offset the up and down nature of our business.
This is a proven method I have used myself and each year I get a minimum of $1M to $2M directly from my personal website. These are customers that contact me by calling me or emailing me as a result of seeing my website and then ask me to be their Realtor.
For more information and to sign up: The Internet Real Estate Agent, click here: http://mariojann.com/
The class starts on October 14th so sign up today because enrollment is limited.
A significant number of people ask me:
“How do I find a listing?”
I am going to offer some specific, real, anecdotal ways here. First, I am going to give you some interesting (I think) personal facts and/or statistics with regard to my experience finding listings. This is mostly from my experience only, having sold for about ten years since age 24:
This is not to say these marketing media do not work; they can and definitely do, for some people. It is safe to say, however, that too many agents rely on the tools above to “hopefully” fill their pipelines. It is also safe to say many agents spend way, way too much time with these illusory marketing tools (especially when practiced without intent and consistency).
Here are some (surprising?) ways I actually get listings:
1. DRIVING. Yes, driving. The statistically significant majority of sellers still hire someone they like and get along with. These are interpersonal phenomena that require human contact. When I am stumped for business, I go on slow drives, talk to people, engage them, and let them know I am looking for sellers. Consider this: who knows about a listing first? Generally, the people who live around that person know for months, or years, in advance. These people, neighbors, freely offer great market insider information. Additionally, and importantly, people see my face in the places I want to sell. I would say this tactic leads to 20% of my business.
2. LISTING BAD PROPERTIES. This is a joke, kind of. No property is a bad property, but, if a seller has a unique/tough situation, even having tried to sell, if you can list, market, and sell that property, you develop a perceived “expertise” for that category of sale. This expertise is referred more than easy, conforming sales. An example might be a piece of land with wetlands. It might be a little tougher to sell it, but, when you do, you have a specific competitive advantage over other agents for this type of parcel. I would say this accounts for about 20% of my business.
3. SPECIFICITY. Many people just ask for referrals. I ask for specific referrals: “Jim, do you know anyone with a really bad fixer? I need listings like that right now, they are selling easily in my market.” Or: “Samantha, everyone seems to be calling me for lakefront property right now. Can you please keep an eye out for lakefront for me?”
I haven’t seen a study published on why this might work, but, my hunch is a specific request is more personal, and, requires more thought from the person you are addressing. As a result, I think it lodges in folks’ minds better than “Know anyone selling?” This probably accounts for about 15% of my business.
4. ANGER. I love this one. I look for people whom dislike agents, or, had a bad experience. If they are upset, they really wanted to sell, but didn’t. I repeatedly call on people whom have shown angst for real estate practitioners, because I know they have energy for the process. I would say after someone reacts with anger 3-5 times, they say (about 90% of the time, no kidding): “You really are persistent, aren’t you?” To which I reply: “I knew you would come around!”
Ironically, once they come around to trusting you, they generally are the easiest customers to work for. This is probably only about 5% of my business, but, it’s fun so I do it.
5. SECONDARY QUESTIONING. If you are talking to someone about selling, and, they clearly aren’t going to be a customer, take advantage of the fact you have someone in person. Ask them anything, anything, anything (!), about real estate in their locale with respect to real estate: “Okay, it’s clear you love where you live and are going to stay here for a long time, what’s the other coolest house in your neighborhood?” They may introduce you to that person, for another conversation. The idea is to be continuously keeping real estate in the front of your, and their, minds. By doing this, you are cultivating a garden of leads. This is probably about 10% of my business.
Listings do not grow on trees.
Unless, you plant forests.
Plant a listing forest by talking a little longer, asking a little more, and laughing a little harder. This insignificant amount of extra energy has made all the difference for me, and many other tenured agents.
Find Your Marketing Groove as a Realtor
The other day I attended a webinar on Social Media for Realtors. It was interesting and there was a lot of information coming across the screen. I wanted to see how all of the material was presented to Realtors. After about twenty minutes I was overwhelmed by all of the social media programs that are out there today. It’s mind boggling how many programs are available for us in the real estate business to market our companies, ourselves, our business, our listings and our services. As I sat there taking it all in I had a mini epiphany. How in the world can one Realtor and especially new ones use ALL of these programs? It’s just too much.
Here’s the list of programs out there today, and in no particular order: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, Google +, and LinkedIn. These are the biggies, there are many more new ones popping up.
Then you need to blog, the most popular choices there are ActiveRain, WordPress and Tumblr.
And to top it off you need to have your own website.
In addition to social media you have to do Sphere Marketing to everyone you know to generate business and get referrals. And once you get past your first year you need to stay in touch with past clients for referrals and repeat business down the line. Sphere marketing is the heart of any Realtor’s marketing tool kit since 70-80% of your business comes from this area.
Other marketing you will be doing are direct mail, networking, phone calls, door knocking and canvassing neighborhoods for some, newsletters, and leaving goodies at the door.
Wow! Is all I can say. It is overwhelming. Can any of us do all these forms of marketing? Especially if you are an individual Realtor working on your own—a lot of us are not on a team and don’t have a personal assistant. In reality it’s really impossible for us to do all of these forms of marketing in addition to our responsibilities of being a day-to-day Realtor helping Buyers, helping Sellers, submitting Offers, reviewing Offers, negotiating, doing deals and holding deals together.
So what do you do, especially if you’re new? I believe you just have to take it one step at a time and here’s the best advice I can give you.
Try to map your marketing up with your innate talents and abilities. For example I am comfortable doing YouTube videos, I can talk in a relaxed and informative manner and develop a relationship with a potential customer through my videos. But nowadays I don’t like to do hard core prospecting so I don’t canvass neighborhoods by knocking on doors—not that it’s a bad idea it just doesn’t fit my style anymore.
Maybe you are an above average photographer. You have an eye for taking great pictures. Then you can focus your marketing efforts on Instagram and Pinterest.
Or you love to write and have a real talent for writing interesting posts and articles. Then a blog is the area for you to focus your marketing activities.
Each of the marketing options we have as Realtors can match up to our strengths based on our life experience.
Another thought is maybe you love taking videos of the outdoors—that is a great fit for YouTube. Potential customers love to see videos on local places such as parks, lakes, beach, mountains, schools, local events, etc.
What is great today about social media marketing is they can all tie in together—you can take pictures of your area and you can post the pictures on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Your Blog, Your Website. YouTube videos are highly portable on all of the social media sites and you can take the embed code from a YouTube video and post it directly to your blog.
The other benefit of all of these social media sites when you post pictures, videos and the written word is they are easily accessible on mobile devices and this is where more and more people today are reading and following content providers. You have to make sure the content you are creating is available on mobile devices.
So what do you do if you need to start on creating a social media marketing plan for yourself? A lot of new Realtors need to do this as well as many experienced Realtors who need to create one. You’d be surprised at the number of Realtors who have been in the business for over ten years do not have a strong presence on the internet. For them they can get by with marketing to their past clients and people they know in addition to their traditional marketing methods through direct mail, personalized cards, customer appreciation parties and leaving goodies at the door.
Here’s my advice to any Realtors looking to build a presence online today—create a step by step plan, starting with the easiest and doing it all for free. A quick point here is you need to have a philosophy online of providing valuable information for your target audience. I talk about this in my book and my videos. “Content Marketing” is the popular term nowadays. The best book out there on content marketing is: “Launch” by Michael Stelzner. An easy book to read and it’s filled with tons of valuable advice and tips on how to create and build a strong content marketing program. OK, here’s my list on developing a digital presence to start today.
I hope this helps, especially those of you who are new to social media. You have to start slowly and build it over time. Don’t let all of the programs out there intimidate you. Stay with it, the more content you build the more visible you will become and the more value you will add to your potential clients.
Over time I will talk more about social media but this is a great start for you.
Most new Realtors will not have their own listings so see if you can host an Open House for an Agent’s listing in your office.
What is best is to search the MLS and see if you can find a listing which fits your niche or area of expertise and is a listing of an Agent in your office. Ideally try to find a listing in a high demand area so you are assured of getting good traffic. New Realtors who work in big offices will benefit here. Quick side point, if you expect a ton of traffic then ask another new Agent to double up with you so you can share the customers as they enter the house. I’ve held some Open Houses where I’ve gotten over 40 people attending.
Once you have found a listing and gotten approval from your colleague then plan accordingly. Quick note here if the Listing Agent asks you for a referral on any leads then find another listing. You are helping the Listing Agent by holding the Open House so you are not obligated to offer a referral fee.
First step for the Open House is ask the Listing Agent or admin in your office to update the MLS and post when you will be holding the Open House–day and time in the MLS.
Post the Open House info on your blog, social media and craigslist. Network with your sphere and let them know you’re holding an Open House. If you have time and money I recommend doing a post card mailer promoting your Open House to build even more buzz.
Marketing material for Open House–MLS sheet on the listing and have a nice color marketing sheet on you–in fact, have two, one for Buyers and one for Sellers. Bio on you and describe your expertise as a Buyer’s Agent and Listing Agent. Get a simple sign-in sheet so you can put at the front door for people to sign in. Name, phone number, email.
Day of Open House–get the signs up around the neighborhood. Get to the property early to make sure everything is OK, place is clean and tour the property then or prior to make sure you know it well. If the Sellers still live there you can ask them to make chocolate chip cookies to get a nice smell going in the house. Or you can boil a pot of water and put in vanilla extract. Avoid the strong plug-in air fresheners. Buyers hate them.
When people come to the front door, welcome them in, introduce yourself, name and company. Be a professional and dress accordingly. Ask them to sign-in and say it’s a request of the Seller and that your company also wants to have a log of attendees.
Make them feel welcome, smile, tell them a few highlights of the property and then tell them to feel free to go check out the house. Don’t hover around them, sales resistance is at its highest when you first meet a prospective customer.
Biggest key to making a connection and getting Open House attendees to work with you going forward is that you have to get them to like you and trust you and have confidence in your abilities and skill as a Realtor. They have to feel comfortable with you and you need to develop a strong rapport with them in a very short time. This is huge, I know the times I have gotten clients from Open Houses is when I was able to connect personally with them. It is very simple, make a strong personal connection and assure them you have the skills and abilities as a Realtor to help them.
After they tour the house a bit I will check in with them to see if they have any questions and then do the best I can to make a personal connection and answer their questions. I always ask after I have spent some time building rapport if they have a Realtor, I don’t do this right away because I want them to feel special. If they have a Realtor then you know and you can move on to the next prospective customer.
Make sure if they don’t have a Realtor they get your business card and color flyer on you. Get their contact information as well, phone and email are ideal–just make sure they have it entered into the sign-in log.
Follow up accordingly after the Open House with your potential new Client.
I have been a Realtor with RE/MAX Alliance in Louisville, Colorado since 2003. I have tried many different ways of connecting and finding new Clients over my career. Generic newsletters, trinket mailers, calendars, cold calls, leads groups, and I could go on and on. I know you’re all very familiar with all of the “old-school” methods used by Realtors over the years to meet and connect with new customers.
In September, 2009 I started recording videos on my back deck and posting them on YouTube. My first videos were very low tech–you can hear the wind blowing in some of the videos. I then started recording them in my home office using a web cam—-again very low tech.
Every year since 2009 I always connect with at least 8-10 Buyers who are looking to move to Colorado since my niche is Relocation. And every year I close at least 3-5 Buyers who initially watched my YouTube video and then decided they wanted me to be their Realtor. The average sales price for these transactions are in the $400,000 range.
I just closed on a home yesterday with some Buyers from CA. The wife found my website online and watched one of my videos and then they got in touch with me. Very simple.
I feel like I am one of the few people out there in the world of real estate agent training banging the drum on YouTube Videos. If you want to increase your business then you HAVE to start recording them. I talk about doing videos in my book as well.
I know you can still generate leads and make contacts with new clients through traditional methods and I do these as well.
Here are the reasons why YouTube Videos are the best tool for Realtors to connect with new Clients:
1. It’s FREE. Yes, it costs no money. All of you have a video camera on your phone and on your computer or laptop.
2. It’s FREE!! I want you to remember this the next time you get a call or email from a company promising you “Hot Leads.” We have Buyers!! We have Sellers!! Yes, but how much does it cost you?
3. YouTube is the second largest search engine on the web. Everyone watches YouTube nowadays.
4. YouTube videos are portable and easily watched on mobile devices and tablets.
5. You can embed your video from YouTube into your Blog or Web page–very easily. (I have a number of videos I have embedded on my website)
6. YouTube works 24 x 7. Once you upload your videos to YouTube they are on the web all the time. This is a great tool to connect with new Clients because it’s always working for you—while you’re sleeping, while you’re working out at the gym, going to a yoga class, while you’re on vacation—I just love this aspect of YouTube videos. Put the work in up front creating good content, record it and then it’s working for you all the time. Awesome!!!
7. Your videos are online forever. (As long you follow the guidelines for YouTube). I am connecting with clients from videos I did back in 2009. Very cool!!!
8. Being a successful Realtor is a relationship business. Videos show so much more of you than the written word.
9. Once new customers approach me after watching me on a video they want to work with me. Our relationships are very strong as a result of this.
10. YouTube videos are a great way to set yourself apart from your competition by adding value to your potential clients with strong content. The ability to build a niche library of videos for your potential clients is endless.
So, what are you waiting for? What are the reasons why you are not doing a YouTube video? I am sorry but there are no valid reasons why you should not be doing it.