Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Brand Are You Delivering?

Given the opportunity to recite your 30 second elevator speech, what words would you use to describe the service you provide? Typically, these 4-5 bullet points would be your core values for your business, the beliefs you have for the level of service you provide. The brand you portray will align with the values you have for your business.

Defining Brand
Bill Leider, in his book Brand Delusions, defines brand as "a widely held set of beliefs and expectations about what you deliver and how you deliver it." Bill goes on to say that the agent's brand is validated by the customer's experience.
In Ken Blanchard's book Raving Fans, Ken says the first step is to define your niche. Simply stated, what level or type of service do you want to provide? An example of this may be to help sellers who have had a difficult time getting their home sold. Another example may be providing a level of communication that keeps the consumer informed of events before they happen. The next step is to ask the question, "How do I deliver the service I want to provide?" Now brainstorm a list of steps necessary to deliver.

Build around Core Values
Continuing with the last example of providing a certain level of communication with the client or consumer, perhaps a chart or graphic representation of upcoming events would help or weekly phone calls.  Typically, though not always, the real estate agent is the first person the customer reaches out to when considering a real estate purchase. The agent, for example, through the initial buyer consultation interview can easily ask the customer what method and with what frequency the customers wishes to be contacted. The agent can easily communicate with the lender, title company, and any other party involved in the transaction the contact preferences of the customer. This just one example how an agent can increase the efficiency and raise the positive emotional experience of the consumer. It's this positive experience that creates the agent's brand. The goal in these two steps is to build your organization around this singular definition of what you want to deliver. All your planning, all your actions are focused on this value so it may be done beyond the level of expectation of the customer. Delivering a singular or set of core values is a company-wide effort. The company brand isn't departmentalized. The receptionist answering the phone is as important as the agent who is as important as the brokerage. One blown interaction can leave the customer FEELING undervalued. Each person has a significant and vital role.

The Corporation
The corporation's job in delivering the company brand is the development of name recognition. The corporation has to make consumers feel that this company has presence everywhere. The corporation also sets standards and performance levels.

The Brokerage
The brokerage has a key role as well. It's job is to set the tone and develop the image and expectations within the local markets. The brokerage recruits agents based on their desire to follow the company's core values. The brokerage completes performance evaluations of staff and agents. It also develops the local business plan setting short and long term goals based on patterns, trends, and projections of future market conditions.

The Agent
An overused but poignant phrase is where the rubber meets the road. These are the agents and staff members who come into contact with the customers. They represent and deliver the brand. Looked at differently, they are what the customer experience. It is the agent and the receptionist who will cause the customer to determine whether they will refer the company to their friends and family? It's the agents skills to listen, ask relevant questions, show up on time, return phone calls promptly, responsiveness, and accuracy that insure the quality of the service the customer receives. It's how the receptionist greets the customers on the phone or when they walk into the office that determines the quality of the experience the customers have. When these three key components, the corporation, the local brokerage, and the agents come together and deliver the consistent service, the brand is received with positive results. Failing to work together to deliver the core values of the company will also lead to the delivering of brand just not the one the company wishes to convey.
Customers buy experience and results. It's our job to determine within our niche what our customer needs and then deliver the service that keeps them coming back.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How to Create Engagement on Facebook

Facebook users are becoming savvy to marketers. You thought they would, didn't you? Instead they are looking for a social experience and engagement from their friends. This short video explains easy ways to increase your LIKES and engagement. Take a look!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Excuse Me! Five Social Media Faux Pas

Social media continues to be a great way, though not the only way, to create relationships and business opportunities. Like face to face contact, we have to make sure our message comes across sincerely. Nobody likes it when our friend invites us out for coffee or lunch to just pitch a product. The same insincerity comes across on social sites as well.

Watch out for social media faux pas in your online marketing plan:

  • Outsourcing your social media The first word of social media is social. Keep it that way. Use your source sites to interact with your friends and customers. Have fun and show your personality. It isn't easy to do that when you give someone else the responsibility of posting for you. A compromise would be to let others research, gathering data and articles, and then posting yourself. Use a site like to maximize your posting instead of delegating posting to others.
  • Automating responses "Hi. Thanks for following me. I look forward to sharing with you valuable information." Yikes!! Thanks< Mr. Automatron.
  • Syncing social media sites Different sites have different nuances so let them stay unique. It may save time to post once and sync so the same message populates to all other sites but the rules change from site to site. Facebook users can spot a Twitter post a mile away so why not #keepitonTwitter.
  • Promoting listings only As far as I can tell, very few people use social sites to look for real estate. So perhaps bombarding your friends, followers, and connections with just listings isn't the best way to go. Instead, brainstorm a list of topics and key ideas that your friends would like to learn and hear from a real estate agent about. Using "How to's" and other informative posts will endear while just advertising may drive friends away.
  • Being a broken record I haven't forgotten that interest rates are low. Yes, I know NOW IS A GREAT TIME TO BUY. I get it. Do you have anything else you want to tell me? If not, I might quit paying attention to you. Consider this instead. What group of people do you want to attract? What information do they need from you? Look at you from their perspective. With a variety of information, you'll stay relevant.
Yes, we sell real estate. But isn't our job really to represent the best interest of our clients? Are there other faux pas that I'm missing? Let me know.

Friday, December 7, 2012

An Easy to Use Posting Tool

Hootsuite is really cool!!

This is the big time saver and organizer. Hootsuite organizes Twitter and Facebook into usable columns for easy targeted viewing. Scheduling tweets and posts to reach followers and friends at predetermined times allows for less time online and more focused posting. Hootsuite has great analytics, too!

Hootsuite has a free side that allows for pretty decent usability. Sign up and add your accounts. It's easy to do and quick. Scheduling posts to trickle out is just a click away.

Two Simple Truths for Success with Facebook

Success on Facebook starts with two simple ideas:

Be consistent. I've seen it over and over. Pages with daily activity are the ones that see BIG results.

I often get asked, "How many times should I post a day?" The sweet spot, based on many studies I've read, tends to be about 2-5 times a day.

If you don't yet have a lot of fans or massive engagement, posting more than 5 times a day can lead to unlikes. In fact the #1 reason people unlike Facebook Pages is because people post too much. Posting 2 - 5 times a day is the sweet spot.

Call to Action 
Include calls to action such as, "Click Like," "Please Share," "Click This," "Watch Now," "Enroll Here," or "Check this out." Check out the image I created with a strong call to action - this post spread like wildfire!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Characteristics of Successful Agents Show Bent Toward Social Media

With 2012 coming quickly to a close, agents are looking toward next year and its promises. These certainly include financial success with growth in brand recognition. Interestingly, the same old prospecting methods of 2012's highly successful agents will hold true to start out 2013. Of course, we'll see social media cloud based newcomers in 2013, but we can count on the strength of now the familiar avenues to get us moving in the right direction.

A few statistics that Chris Smith of Inman shared at Agent Reboot have stuck in my head. I keep working on how to make these create a return for my business:

  • 51% of the people who follow you on Facebook and 64% of those who follow you on Twitter tend to buy from you.
  • 65% of bandwidth is used on videos.
  • 50% of real estate agents who have more than 500 friends on Facebook make more than $100,000 while only 33% of the agents who make $34,000 have more than 500 friends.
  • 75% of real estate agents who make more than $100,000 use an iPad whereas only 50% of agents making less than $100,000 do.
  • There are more cell phones in the world than toothbrushes.
If Facebook is Good then Twitter is Great!
  • Make sure your Twitter Bio is up to speed - 160 characters that describes you. Jay Thompson, The Phoenix Real Estate Guy @PhxREguy has a great Bio
  • Follow local people. Twitter isn't about having a lot of followers. It's about having local followers. Use to find what is trending in your area
  • Create lists - Local News sources create great local content
  • Use to manage Twitter and Facebook
Video, Video, Video
  • Positioning in a room should be driven by what you want to show
  • Go wide for size
  • Get in close for detail
  • Use a slow pan
  • Camera against the window
  • Face the light to minimize shadows
  • Camera = Blackhole
  • Turn up the energy consciously
  • Smile BEFORE pressing record and through the stop record button
  • Introduce
  • End with a call to action
  • Economy of Language - 10 seconds per sentence
  • One feature per shot
  • Don't mimic the shot "Here's the kitchen"
  • Use your own voice
In today's market, video drives sales. Consider the following when creating a real estate video:

What to Shoot: If you were looking for a home, what would you look for? When the sellers bought their home, they saw certain features in this home.That's the same thing other buyers are looking for too. Video these features. Watch you lighting. It's tough to shoot towards windows.

What to Say:  Have you ever walked into the kitchen and wondered what room you were in? I'm going out on the limb to say, neither has anyone else! So, focus on the features of the room instead. You've got about 15 seconds in a room to talk about its awesome features.