Thursday, December 30, 2010

Listening is a Lost Art

"Those forced against their will, are of the same opinion still." Dale Carnegie
Its better to be liked, than right. You can corner someone to seeing your side of the issue as correct- you have summarily presented the facts, made your arguement, and have proven your point! But why didn't you win the other person over? Surely, they are just stubborn. YOU'RE RIGHT, and so are you - it's human nature.

For instance, a new referred client wanted to know why I was going to list his home $100,000 less than his previous agent? I listened to him, and understood he wanted to move near his grandchildren. I listened to him talk about his grandchildren. Did I argue with him? Of course not. The value he put on selling his home, is the time he gets to spend with his grandchildren. So, instead, I said we would go look at similar houses in the neighborhood, what has actually sold recently and make a determination based on that. When we revisited price after our viewings, we discussed his goals. You see, selling the house ws the means to his goal and not the goal itself. Afterwards, he agreed with the original listing price I came up with.

Try to see things from your client's point of view, and help people save face, as well as serve them. What is it they want? To move near their family? To wait and get the best price for their home? To downsize and save money? Try asking yourself, what is it your customer wants - and then you will be able to do what many salespeople cannot - EMPATHIZE.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Coldwell Banker Blue

Making changes is not always easy but sometiems drastically needed. David Knox in his Mentor II Series says people move away from pain or towards pleasure. Sometimes, in the midst of change, it may feel more like moving towards pain and away from our comfort zone.

Today began week two of my Success Training at Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS. As I learn the systems and tools now available to me I understand more each day why making the move to Coldwell Banker is the best move for me. Changing ALL the internet sites, learning the tools, understanding the systems of Coldwell Banker is taking time. There is no mind meld or transfer of data that is taking place at the speed of a processor. It's at my speed which is painfully slow.

Today, I updated my Houston Association of Realtors website and moved some widgets around. Thank goodness for Amanda Johnson and Addie Wiseman for all their knowledge...and patience.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Thanks Friends I Had a Blast

Recently I changed companies which is no big deal in today's business world. Most people change jobs on an averge of every three years. I was with the same company for ten years! That's 3 jobs and on to the fourth for the average person working today. Wow, that's a long time.
You can guess that after working with the same company for such a long time it was difficult to make a move. I had so many new experiences there and opportunities that I never even dreamed of. I can't find all the words to express my gratitude towards the owners who believed in my abilities even when I wasn't always so sure of them myself.

What happened after I left surprised me more than anything. I can honestly say that after ten years someplace you make a lot of friends. But I never dreamed of the flood of phone calls and emails that came from my change of companies. Starting early Monday, the day my leaving was announced, the phone began to ring. Colleagues from within my previous company, even people from related industries like title and inspection companies, and friends from out of state called to wish me well and offer their support in my new endeavors. I soon became overwhelmed by the kind, heartfelt words. I made a comment to my wife at the end of the week, "It was like being eulogized."

I never realized what I had accomplished and how I had impacted others in my nearly ten years at this company. Most importantly, I made friends and lasting relationships that will go beyond the walls of a company.
How can I put a learning "spin" on this? Easy! Isn't this what we want from our customers? Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles calls them Raving Fans. They wrote the book by the same title.
I'll just call them friends.

Thanks friends. I had a blast.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Want to gain followers for your blog or facebook?

Some people come up with the greatest ideas. They're great not necessarily because they're unique but because they're simple and they work.

I ran across a tweet about a blog called My Life, Such as it is.... In a specific blogpost the author, Elizabeth, is running a contest to give away a Thomas the Tank Engine. In order to enter the contest Elizabeth gives several options:

1 Post a comment on her blog
2 Tweet a link to her blog
3 Blog about her contest
4 Follow her blog

For those of us trying not only to post great content but to gain followers, Elizabeth has a remarkably simple idea. I hope she is successful in gaining readers this way. Think about the opportunities available to us to gain authentic followers within our community. Great job, Elizabeth!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

You Can't Manage Time

We all complain about not having enough time to work, play, work on a project or have a family life.
4 Things You Already Know – Now Commit to Them
Time wasters to watch:

TURN OFF THE TV – if you love sports, have a favorite show, enjoy a news program – watch THAT one, then TURN OFF THE TOOB. This is one of the all-time time wasters – we know it – yet we listen to the same news over and over, same weather forecast, even get caught up on classic movies we’ve seen 5 times and get sucked in to professional poker. You know how to use the remote – now commit to it.

INTERRUPT THE INTERNET– I’ll just check my emails, oooh- there’s a link to a YouTube clip, hey- I wonder if that comedian made any other clips…next thing you know you’re surfing the hours away. Don’t get distracted – allow yourself some recreation, set a timer, then LOG OFF.

SCHEDULE YOUR FAMILY TIME – and reading time, creative thinking time, and keep it like you would any other appointment. Otherwise you’ll look back on your month and notice you’ve given your business the attention it needs, but not your other desires. Your job will always compete for your time – you get to choose when to say yes (TURN OFF THE INSTANT MESSAGE CHIME ON YOUR PHONE).

IMPORTANT OR URGENT– When I’m working on a report and someone comes into my office to ask me an urgent question, I get to determine whether it’s important or urgent, not them. I learned early, and well, in real estate, people can portray an item to be urgent, when they are really kicking tires, or don’t intend to turn that offer in until they come back from a two vacation. Buyers and sellers can do the same thing. Ask a lot of questions so you can assess, be firm, and redirect others from demanding your attention.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Brand vs. Logo

Recently, I was making a presentation to new real estate agents. A man in the audience made a comment about our company’s logo. He said that the logo was all wrong; the color was too bright and “hideous” was the word he used, and the font was old. He said if he had the chance he’d change the logo color to sandstone for one area of the country and other colors for other different areas. He thought it would be best to make the logo fit more into the local environment than to recognize the brand as a national leader.
Hmmm… Brand vs. Logo?
Without much need for reflection I responded with, “I WANT a nationally recognized logo or even a regionally recognized one! It isn’t the logo though that makes the brand. It’s the quality of the relationships that make the brand. The logo helps you find it.” And the great debate was on!
I think he missed the point. It’s worth repeating: “It isn’t the log that makes the brand.”
Leave the logo alone and work on the service given. It isn’t the brand that makes a successful agent. It’s the service the brand and individuals that perform the services of the company that truly define the brand. Chris Brogan in his blog post “When You Are the Brand” makes several excellent points about being community minded. The brand is created because of the quality of service the company or individuals of the company provide. Chris goes further by saying that you can never rest on your reputation. The reputation of your company rests nearly solely on your next relationship not the last one.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mighty Casey has struck out!

In real estate, or in sales for that matter, we only get so many chances to exceed the expectations of our clients. Are you recognizing and acting on your opportunities?
Recently, I received a Mission Control email from Jimmy Vee (Five Foot High Marketing Guy) and Travis Miller (The Big Idea Guy) of Gravitational Marketing. Have you ever heard of them? I always read their emails even if I have to leave them in my inbox for several days until I have the opportunity to pour through their reflections, thoughts, and ideas. Like many, this too sat for a few days until I could give it the attention it deserved. I wasn’t disappointed. Here is what it said:
“A few years ago the transmission went out on my Acura TL. No bueno. Thankfully it was under warranty. I only had a few months left on my lease anyway.

I was going to be without my car for about 2 weeks. Last time this happened, Acura paid for a rental (that's part of the deal). But I ended up with a Dodge Neon or something. No bueno #2. You feel a little silly driving a Neon and making an Acura payment.

Anyway, I fully expected to get the same deal this time - and was not looking forward to it.

I called the dealership and let them know I was coming down - they said they would have a car waiting when I got there.

Sure enough, I meet the guy right at the curb and he says the car is waiting - and he has it started with the AC on so it's nice and cool when I get in.

The only difference was this time it was not a Neon - but a brand new Acura TL. Yeah!!
He explains that they felt bad about the problem and wanted to take care of me. Whatever. I was just mucho happy that I didn't have to drive the Neon again.

Then it occurred to me. I'm not sure if they did this on purpose or not, but this was a brilliant marketing ploy.

First of all, they get to look like heroes by taking good care of me.

Second, I get a 2 week test drive of the brand new model. Since my lease was up in a few months, "what to get next" was on my mind.

I didn't foresee any other dealership giving me a 2 week demo. So if the product had proven to be exceptional I would have been that much closer to closed when I turn it back in.

If they're really smart, they would have called me in a week or so, and ask how I like the car. Maybe suggest that I just leave my old car with them, they'll take care of the remaining few payments, and I just keep the car I've got. "We'll mail you the paperwork, Mr. Miller." I wasn't expecting that, but it would have been pretty clever.
Didn't happen.

Anyway, it's a great example of thinking a few steps ahead, turning adversity into pleasure, and using any customer interaction as a chance to build value.”
My first thought after reading this article was of Earnest Thayer's "Casey at the Bat"
"Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville - mighty Casey has struck out."

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School - for You Too!

It’s the Beginning.
The beginning of the school year, the beginning of fall. The kids have their backpacks packed, your college students have moved into dorms, registered for classes, hit the books.

What about you? I’m reminded at this new school year, as my own kids open their new books, and don their highlighters and pencils, that I too, need to re-commit to reading a new book. Now is not the time for summer reading, as my wife likes to do.

What Have You Done For Me Lately?
Is your brain asking you this question? It’s time to feed your brain. Once you land that job, attract a new client, complete that report, don’t get comfortable. Even though classroom learning may be over for now, your necessity to learn and grow doesn’t stop. No matter what your age, you should continue expanding your knowledge and your value for your company. In these changing times your ability to contribute and be creative equals value and therefore – compensation.

It’s time to hit the books.

Never stop reading. Never Stop learning.

The last three books I’ve read:
Goals, by Brian Tracy

Trust Agents, by Chris Brogan

Raising a Modern Day Knight, by Robert Lewis

What are you reading or what have you recently read?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Six Steps to Increase the Success of Open Houses

Follow Up is a vital component if you want to have a successful business. Many of the customers you come in contact with at open houses won’t be ready to buy or sell right now. If left alone, most of the people you meet will work with someone else to meet their real estate needs if you do not remain fresh on their minds and show that you understand their needs and can meet them. Follow up so when they are ready to make a move, they’ll choose you!
Use a contact management system – Whether it is on paper or electronic, a contact management system should include not just contact information like phone number, email address, and physical address, but also a contact log that shows date of contacts, conversation notes, interests, and other information that will help the customer reach their goals.
Listen to others – There are many sales coaches and trainers that have exceptional dialogues that can help you determine what to say when you contact potential customers. Taking the opportunity to learn from others can save a lot of time. Listen to the greats: Tom Hopkins, David Knox, Floyd Wickman, or others make following up easier.
Plan follow up time – To maximize your success and reach income goals, plan your follow up phone call and email times. Do not allow other activities encroach on this time. Follow up phone calling is a true income producing activity. Keep the time sacred on your calendar by treating it like an appointment.
Ignore success – Many agents make calls until they get an appointment. I disagree with that approach. Make a certain amount of calls each time you call or call for a predetermined amount of time no matter how successful you are.
Use a call flow chart – Every call you make should follow essentially the same pattern.
Start by establishing rapport or reconnect. Use the information you gathered from previous conversations to re-engage the customer.
Probe for more information by asking questions. Your questions will depend on the answers you receive from previous questions. Take a lot of notes!
Close for an appointment. Whether a buyer or seller prospect you’ll need to meet in person at some point.

Set the stage for the next contact. Whether you plan to meet in person or just agree to the next follow up conversation, let the customer know what they can expect from you.

Much like all prospecting activities follow up phone calls will begin to produce results over time. Occasionally you’ll get lucky and successfully close for an appointment your first call. Often, it will take multiple contacts to gain the level of trusted advisor. Be prepared to go the distance so you can close more business through a consistent regimen of follow up phone calling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What, me worry? Nah! Pass the Prozac, please.

When faced with a problem that keeps you up, has you worrying, and doubting yourself, how do you approach it?

If you’ve been in real estate very long, you have come across at least one, but likely more, of the following: an irrational seller, a pushy buyer, an egotistical agent, or disgruntled client.

It helps to have a methodical approach to dealing with worry, and feel free to use these in your personal life, provided you have need.

Dale Carnegie studied Worry. To begin with, he researched books written about worry and found 189 books about ‘Worms’ and only 22 about ‘Worry’ New York public library. Most of what was said in these books was about the physical problems that can result from worry.
I’m sure by now most of us are aware of the illnesses that can result from a lifetime of fretting.

After spending countless hours with people, teaching, and counseling, and collecting data, he came up with some methods to help nearly eliminate worry in his book published in 1944. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living:

1. Get the facts. Dean Hawkes, Columbia University said that half of the worry in the world is caused by people trying to make decisions before they have sufficient knowledge on which to base a decision.

2. What can I do about it? What are possible solutions?

3. After weighing all the facts come to a decision. Here is what I’m going to do about it.

4. Once a decision is reached- ACT! Get busy carrying out your decision, and dismiss all anxiety about the decision.

By the way, I still think the reward and satisfaction of helping someone buy their first or next home, assisting them to move on to the next phase of their life, still outweighs the problems.

Keep your focus on the big picture.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Candlelighters Fun Walk

Weichert Realtors – Wayne Murray Properties supports Candlelighters ChildhoodCancer Family Alliance. Candlelighters mission is to provide emotional, educational, and practical support to children with cancer and their families. In addition, Candlelighters desires to promote childhood cancer awareness, and the need for childhood cancer education and research in the Houston community.

Please click this link to watch a video about Candlelighters.

In September, Candlelighters will hold its annual fun run to raise much needed money for its Camp Cliff. Will you please take a moment to read this letter from a father who has been touched by the loving volunteers and staff of Candlelighters?

Dear Friends:

You can make a difference for a child with cancer, Right Now, Today!!!

We are the Camarillos, a Candlelighters family. My name is Gerardo Camarillo and with my wife, Dilma Camarillo, we were blessed with one beautiful daughter, Ivana Laura. Even before birth, Ivana had a tough time. Mom had to undergo surgery on her second trimester to remove some tumors that were outgrowing Ivana. It was at this time that a doctor first touched Ivana, moving her to get to the tumors. Having beaten the odds at such surgery, it came as a tremendous shock when on October 15, 1999 a pediatric oncologist told us that our ten month old Ivana had, among other things, Infant Leukemia. Despite a very poor prognosis, Ivana once again beat the odds and after chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she is now a happy ten year old child.

During her long treatment period, we became a Candlelighters family, joining other families that have been touched with childhood cancers and finding some joy amongst the nightmare. First it was just finding someone to talk to at parent meetings, someone who had gone through what we were going through. We were overjoyed when Candlelighters honored Ivana at the annual Lights of Courage Luncheon in May of 2002. The greatest surprise, however, came when we first attended Candlelighters’ premiere family outing, Camp CLIFF, a weekend retreat for children diagnosed with cancer and their families.

The experience of Camp Cliff is unlike any other. It is the one place where a family can go and talk of childhood cancer with families that understand the horror you live through. More than that, it is a camp where you remember to have fun again, to laugh, to have a conversation that can be about cancer or about football. Ironically, it is a time to forget, at least for a moment, that childhood cancer can overtake your life. For our family, like many others that have been financially devastated by cancer, it is an opportunity to enjoy a family vacation that we could otherwise not afford. Candlelighters offer this wonderful, magical camp at NO COST, NOT A SINGLE PENNY, to their families.

At the time when Ivana was diagnosed, and throughout her treatment, family friends would always ask, “How can we help, what can we do?” It is human nature to try to alleviate the burden, to help in anyway you can, to be part of the solution. Some of you may be in this situation at this time. Well, the answer is as simple as “take a walk.” On Saturday, September 11, 2010, the Candlelighters Fun Walk 2010 will be held at Hershey Park once again. The theme this year is “Rock the Walk.” Now the Fun Walk is, as everything Candlelighters does, itself a celebration with a Kids area, food, music and fun for everyone. It seems like a carnival where you can’t help but have fun. The walk is part of the festivities.

Candlelighters Fun Walk is also a fundraising event to support families at Camp Cliff. Candlelighters provide everything for the family at Camp Cliff, at an expense of over $500.00 for a family of four. Candlelighters make it easy for you to participate. There are several ways to make a difference and help families of children with cancer:

You can start by raising “Walk money.” Simply ask ten (10) friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, etc. for ten dollars ($10) each. Of course the more donations, the better. Every walker who raises $100 or more will receive a walk t-shirt.
You can be a Team Captain to recruit at least ten (10) walkers. A walk team can consist of family, friends, co-corkers, church members, neighbors, etc. who each collect money on Candlelighters behalf and walk with us.
If you can’t participate in the walk, you can make an online donation. Simply go to, and click on donate. Click again to make a donation. Under event donation select Fun Walk, either team or donation. Fill out the Team Name Team Weichert Gold, if any, and the rest of the information requested. It’s that simple.
If you prefer, you can send a tax-deductible contribution of any amount, made payable to Candlelighters to help, to 8323 Southwest Freeway, Suite 435, Houston, Texas 77074.
The Fun Walk monies support Camp CLIFF, so we hope that you will participate this year in helping us. Every dollar helps send one more child and their family to Candlelighters Camp Cliff. This year Candlelighters, like most charitable organizations, is facing funding problems due to our economy, so this year your participation is more crucial than ever. I am enclosing a walk brochure with more details, but if you would like more information about the walk, please don’t hesitate to call the Candlelighters office at (713) 270-4700.

Thank you in advance for your support and we hope to see you at the Fun Walk on September 11th. Remember, You can make a difference for a child with cancer, Right Now, Today!!!


Gerardo A. Camarillo

Ignore it and it might go away!

All real estate trainers and other sales gurus have some system or plan to overcome objections. Novices in the business and agents with little or no training may just ignore the objection and hope it goes away. Objections often occur when customers have strong positive feelings about a particular home. They are an inevitable part of the buying process. Handling objections appropriately will help an agent close more sales and have satisfied customers.

Six Steps to a Positive Outcome

Pause: Pausing after an objection by a customer allows the customer the opportunity to solve the problem themselves. It also allows the agent the opportunity to gather his thoughts before responding to the objection.

Acknowledge: Waiting too long may make the customer feel that you have fallen asleep. Simply acknowledging the objection by restating it allows the customer to understand that yes, you did hear the objection and clearly understand it.

Isolate: The objection may be no big deal or it may be a reason to not buy a particular home depending on the opinion of the buyer. So, it’s best to ask. Looking to our video for an example, instead of pushing forward with information about schools, the agent could have isolated the buyer’s concern by simply asking, “If it weren’t for the malevolent energy and the dead clown, would you be interested in this home?” If the answer is no, then move on. But, if the buyer answered yes then move on to the next step.

Question: Simply put, asking the right questions will allow the customer the opportunity to solve the problem on his own. For example, “If you bought this home anyway, what would you do about the malevolent energy and the dead clown?” The problem may be solved.

Answer: Yes, sometimes an objection really does have to be answered. Use a question to help move the objection towards a positive outcome. Something like, “What if we got rid of the energy and the clown? Would that work?”

Re-close: There are many closing questions that may be used here. My children often close on me. They have learned not to ask if they can have dessert because I may say no. Instead they give me an alternate of choice. “Dad, may I have ice cream or cookies for dessert?” Choose your favorite way of asking.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ready, Fire, Aim

No, that’s not a typo!
You have a plan, maybe you wrote out your goals on January 1st, 2010. New decade, new goals,new you. You wrote your long term and short term goals, where you wanted to be in a year, month to month benchmarks, the works, and are tweaking it as you go along.

Failure to Launch...
After I get this started, or once I have this much in the bank or if my spouse starts helping more…what has delayed your plans?

Do Something…
The time to Act in NOW! Some of us have the propensity to plan, plan, plan, waiting for the conditions to become just right before we move towards our goals. This stagnancy can gunk up the flow of action, leaving us floating in a pond of scum. Sometimes we over-think a situation. Yes, by all means, plan your financial strategy and in the meantime, listen to a webinar. Take a class, read a book or talk to 5 new people while working your plan.

Some of us have tendency to act first, think second. This may not be a bad strategy – moving in a forward direction, not waiting for all of the planets to align before commencing activity. Your attitude of ‘Do Something Today,’ can propel your activity, leading you one step closer to success. Attitude, Activity, Success. Don’t wait, Act Now.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Her Only Bad Habit is Me

So the song by England Tyler goes.
Habits are hard to start, or stop. I'm really bad about them, ask my wife. But I have started the evening habit of watching less TV and reading more. I am continuing my education and talking with my wife more.

After staying in her room, doing nothing, feeling depressed, a teenager shares her story of developing a good habit in an article in Success Magazine, David Lee, August, 2010.

"Complaining the entire walk, Emily reluctantly followed her mom through the neighborhood. But by the time they got home, she was actually starting to feel better. “I felt as if a ton of bricks had been lifted from my heart,” Emily said. “I didn’t know how to handle it.”

Emily had been depressed for so long she didn’t know how to be happy. The bad habit of isolating herself from others was hard to shake. Still, that walk made her life almost feel right again. Soon she started walking her dog every week. As spring bloomed, she discovered different fields and paths to follow on her walks that were filled with flowers. Before she knew it, Emily had developed a healthy habit of walking. And she loved it."

What Happy Habit are you doing?
What can you start or stop doing? It's easier to replace a habit, than just stop it. Are you blogging for 20 minutes in the evening? How much TV do you watch? Are you reading a book every evening to learn about your industry? Are YOU walking every day in the sunshine?

What Happy Habit are you going to start tomorrow?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our brand is built on our service

What you do matters
I helped Mrs. B with her keys and the security code in her new townhome ,a 50 minute drive clear across the city from my neighborhood, after teaching all day Saturday and Sunday at real estate school. Mrs. B is a couple of years older than my mother. Though I was tired, it was my privilege to drive across town and go through her keys to her new home with her. We had looked at townhomes in her price range in less than desirable parts of town – music blaring in the middle of the day, people playing basketball and yelling up the street. The homes she found in her price range made her feel like she was definitely settling – you can’t have low price and safety after all.

Or can you?
With some research, elimination, and weeks of previewing, I found her a gem. As my wife and I drove to her home Sunday evening to meet and go over her keys with her, my wife was commenting on the pretty neighborhood, with mature trees, stately homes, and the quiet. When I asked her if she would pay $65,000 to live in this neighborhood she said “Of course”! The homes were obviously in the $300-400,000 range. Well, that’s what I helped Mrs. B do. We pulled up to her little townhome community on the edge of the neighborhood – quiet, treed, wide streets, and neatly trimmed lawns, and walked to meet her at her updated, clean, lovely, home.

Why so much work for so little money?
Mrs. B is the mother of a previous client. I received a phone call from her son a couple of months ago. He asked me if I could help his mother. Talk about validation of personal service.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Facebook Hits 500 Million Users

Facebook is the third largest country in the world.
Fastest growing demographic group on Facebook - 55 to 65 year old females.
Facebook has more weekly traffic than Google!

As expected, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook surpassed 500 million users today. (Wouldn't it be cool to know that you were the 500 millionth?) Zuckerberg in in his blog, says it isn't about the numbers but about the mission, "to help make the world more open and connected."

To better understand Facebook's mission and to commemorate this milestone, Facebook also announced it's new Facebook Stories, asite to share how Facebook has impaced you and your friends' lives.

In an effort to keep updated on the impact social media has had and presently is having on our lives Erik Qualman has updated his video Social Media Revolution.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Enough About Me…Now I Want to Hear What YOU Think About ME

Selling is Just Shared Enthusiasm
An old saying worth repeating, "Give your customers what they want and they will come back, over and over." Better yet - they will tell their friends and family. Selling is really shared enthusiasm, says Dan Miller, career coach guru.

Oh! Let me Tell You About This Place!
When you eat at a great restaurant or watch a fantastic movie- you can’t wait to tell others about it! You are selling them on it. If you love what you do and believe you can give your clients the best customer service – you will sell yourself, and others will sell you.
If you can sell:
  • Quality service
  • Positive personality

  • Ability to communicate clearly
  • Get the job done

People can’t wait to tell others about YOU!

Goobers and Viruses
My wife’s computer got a virus and searching for a solution, I asked one coworker her experience and she said she had just paid $400 to get rid of it. I found one online who claimed they were cheaper than the “GooberSquad” and quickly booked them. A disaster – I fired them and got my money back.
Then my friend, who had overheard my wife and me talking, came over and insisted we use this indiscriminate little company in a little strip mall. I would have never gone there on my own. They surpassed my expectations of just fixing the computer – my wife kept asking them every time they called to update her– "Are you sure it’s still $64.95?" We would use them again because of their customer service and are telling others we know about the low price and great service!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Brand Called You

When selling residential real estate, many individual agents spend more time trying to sell specific properties than they spend trying to sell themselves. Sadly their focus is misplaced. Selling residential real estate is more about reaching a specific group of customers and helping them understand the value of having you (the product) help them buy or sell real estate. To win the loyalties of the consumer, the individual sales person must understand the unique set of qualities and level of service they offer to their target group of consumers. Communicating that set of qualities and level of service to the group becomes the paramount activity in generating income within the real estate business.

Reflecting on other products to understand brand awareness is an important step in creating a personal brand. Many products target groups of consumers by identifying the characteristics of the group and then explain why their product is needed to reach the completeness of the personality of the group. A nearly ridiculous example of this can be found in the individual who has decided they need to exercise more perhaps by riding a bike, walking, or running. Even though all that is truly needed is the time to do the activity, many people first look at the specific clothing they feel is necessary to do the activity. Specifically, they buy new clothes to become more active. This happens because they have identified a certain set of characteristics with people who exercise. False or true, to become fit, you have to look the part.
The underlying question then is what are the characteristics of the personality or brand that you want to portray? This can be answered in many ways. In doing so creates the niche and target of the sales person. A niche is a specific defined set of characteristics that define a group of people, holding it separate from the whole. This can be determined by many different parameters including socio-economic or geographic location. The group may also be defined by hobbies or lifestyles.

The easiest group to define is a geographic area, set specifically by a boundary around an area like a subdivision but not limited to that at all. Instead, major streets may create boundaries. Target areas may also be defined by the groups of people an individual socializes or recreates with including children activity groups.
What activities do you do that define you as an individual? What are the characteristics of people who do this type of activity? Spend a few minutes outlining these characteristics. Be specific. In looking at the example above of the well dressed runner, why do runners run? As far as I can tell, when I see people running, they always appear to be in pain and near the point of exhaustion. The very characteristics that drive the runner to keep running are exactly what enable the sales person to be effective. In other words, how do these traits enable the runner to help others buy or sell real estate?

By answering these questions based truly on your niche or target group, you are beginning to create a set of features that you possess and the benefits the consumer receives when they buy you the product.

Simplify and Package the Sale

Revising a wordy article this morning I took a break to read Chris Brogan's blog post this morning titled, Simplify and Package the Sale. After reading it I simply deleted better than half the words in my post. I looked to simplify my message so the consumer could hear what I had to offer. Thanks Chris. I can save a lot of typing and words now.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brand Your Passion

Do what you’re about! Brand your passion and be patient while you’re doing it. Gary Vaynerchuck at Web 2.0 Expo September 2009 had a bit to say about brand equity. According to Vaynerchuck, building brand equity takes four things:

Love what you’re doing. If you believe in what you’re doing then you’ll have passion for it. Think of it this way, you don’t have to sell something if you believe in it. Selling, according to Dan Miller, is only shared enthusiasm.

This is the most important word EVER! You can work a regular bill paying job so you can have money to pay your bills and position yourself now to succeed by working harder than your ever have. People come home from work every day and then spend hours tinkering in their garage or watching television until they are exhausted. Imagine what you could produce by spending that time on what you really want to do every day for the rest of your life. Work at night for yourself. If you’re working on what you feel passionate you’ll be energized and have plenty of time to accomplish what you set out to do.

This is a business. You need to know your stuff. The game isn’t changing. The game has already changed! The old groups no longer have control over information. The days of the real estate agent having the listing book and controlling all the information are long gone! We now see 24 of 25 major newspapers losing readership every year. Television and radio don’t control information either. Content and information is shared everywhere by everybody. You have to get yours out there. In the old days you had to have mainstream media to build your brand. Not anymore. Nowadays if your content is good then you can get talked about and build your brand recognition.

Care about your community by listening to your community’s needs and then do something about it. If you for a half a second don’t believe in what you’re selling or you don’t believe in yourself, then get out. If you are doing what you love then people will see it.

Build your brand by getting talked about by people in your community. Your niche needs to hear from you and about you every day. Some people get lucky and they are an overnight success but their success can be short lived. Work hard knowing you and your business can succeed. And, have patience. Building a career brand takes time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Does Twitter Really Work in a Social Media Marketing Plan?

I hear a lot of skepticism about the return on investment in using social media sites to prospect for new customers and market real estate for sale. Let's face it, unless you see actual dollars coming from the use of any marketing tool then it's useless, right?

Well, what if you used Twitter as a messaging device? I mean, use it to tell and show people what you are really doing so they could see what your likes are. Maybe they could begin to get to know you and even like you by following you on Twitter. Couldn't this happen on Facebook too?

Interestingly enough, my son and I were out this morning putting flags out for his boy scout troop. The troop raises money by charging people to put an American flag in their yard on national holidays. Unfortunately, this morning one of the flags was missed. Thankfully, it wasn't me and my son although it completely sounds like something I could very possibly do. I know the flag was missed because the woman whose flag was not placed in her yard called me. After a pleasant conversation I asked how she came across my name associated with the flags. She replied that she hadn't, but couldn't remember the name and contact information for the person in charge of the event so she googled searched the troop number. A twitter post I made about a recent campout showed up which is why she called me.

I love Twitter.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

What’s your Social Marketing Plan?

I’ve got a Facebook account with two different business pages, a Twitter account that I use every day, a LinkedIn account that with a network that is growing in size literally every day, my own Youtube channel, two blogs, and a Flick’r account. How am I using this amass of social media sites to make money? Does any of this sound familiar?

I talk to a lot of people who were told they could generate income for their business if they had a Facebook account. Now, granted they have had a bunch of fun playing games and getting caught up with people they have talked to since college but the only thing they really have to show for it is a lot of nostalgia. Friends are great, don’t get me wrong, but most of the people I’ve talked to about this say the same thing, “I haven’t gained any business from all this. In fact, I’ve used a lot of time with nothing to show for it.”

Emily Soares Proctor in Social Media Examiner gives 5 easy steps to a winning social media plan including Find your Audience. Let's look at how to create a social media marketing plan strating with finding our audience.

Find Your Target Audience
Before venturing any further into social media marketing, you’ll have to identify your brand. Jeremiah Owyang details two types of brand: personal brand and career brand. Emily Soares Proctor asks, in personal branding, “what unique aspect of your product or service attracts your target population?” She follows up with a great career branding question too. “What do your readers want from you?” Emily recommends writing out a basic profile of your most common customer.
Specifically, look at the geographic or spherical group from which you want to draw business. What are the characteristics of that group? Include income level, education, hobbies, and even their ability to navigate the internet.

Become a Trusted Advisor
Use your social media sites to help people learn about their shared concerns. For example, one of my blogs is titled Quail Valley Real Estate. I have recently written several articles about the Quail Valley Golf Course. In the past year I have included reports on the Turtle Creek Drive construction project. Currently I am reporting on the road construction project on FM 1092. These are items that concern all the residents I Quail Valley. Brainstorm a list of topics that are of interest to all your readers. Research the topics and start writing. By writing on shared concerns and providing current information, your readers will begin to rely on your site for the information they need. You’ll become their “go to” person.

Mix it Up
Write on a variety of topics and in a variety of forms. Do lists, post videos, interview local experts, write personal interest stories, and include controversial topics. Don’t forget to have fun and let your personality to shine through. To get someone to reach out to you first you have to get them to know, like, and trust you.
Post Consistently
To me, this point is the toughest part, consistently providing information so the reader will know when to expect information from you. I know, for example, if I turn the television on at 7:00 in the morning on weekdays I can watch Good Morning America on ABC. It’s always there. I can count on it. Get the point?
In order to have that consistency I have to schedule a lot of my posts to go out at times different than when I write them. I can’t seem to write everyday and produce quality information. Instead, I write a lot on the weekends or at night. I can then break my articles into smaller pieces to be posted at regularly scheduled times. Some blogs allow for posts to be published at scheduled times. There are also sites that can automatically publish posts at scheduled times. Check out SocialOomph, HootSuite, and even to some extent TweetDeck. There are others as well.

All this writing, researching, planning, and posting takes time. It's just like any active marketing activity. You've got to schedule the time and do the work. The greatest reason I can see for including a good dose of social media in my marketing plan is that most real estate customers are beginning their buying and selling experience online. If they have already made a connection with a real estate, their trusted advisor, they will turn to that agent for help.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Branding: Company vs Personal

Jeremiah Owyang, on his blog Web Strategy, recently wrote about Personal versus Career Branding. In his post Jeremiah describes the difference between creating a personal brand and a career brand.As expected, Jeremiah described personal brand as focusing on the individual. Interestingly enough, I thought Jeremiah would describe career brand as developing or helping to develop the brand or the company identity. But he didn't do that. Instead he said that career branding is focusing on what you can do for the consumer.

This is not what I had expected at all! It sounds a bit familiar though. Help me here, I'm feeling a little yellow!

Today in Fast Track training new agents were introduced to the DOORS Listing System, one of Weichert Realtors greatest tools. It isn't great because of its success rate although that helps generate income. It isn't great because of its customization or the size of the portfolio. The greatness of the Door Listing System stems from the focus of the presentation. It's all about the seller and meeting the seller's needs. WOW!

I am encouraged as I hear current marketing leaders write about company values. Their ideas reflect the solid appproach that Jim Weichert has been talking about for years. Weichert Realtors' Core Values reflect the foundation of real estate agency, serving the customer. Wayne Murray loves quoting Jim Weichert, "We are not confused."

Monday, June 7, 2010

Setting up a Google Analytics Account

Setting up a Google Analytics account should only take a few minutes. Like most things when you are working on your own on the internet, nothing is as easy as everyone else says. I have used the Google Analytics help site more than once not only to set up my account but also in making it find my blogs and websites. One of the most benficial help pieces I have found, however, has not been on Google at all. It was on Youtube. This video shows step by step how to set up a Google Analytics account. Googgle Analytics for Dummies? I think so. I watched it more than once. Though the audio is not so hot, the content is great. Wrttnrd, the maker of the video, has several Google Analytics "How to" videos. I think all of them are "should watch" level videos.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Have You Ever Used Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has given me the ability to accumulate statistics about my blogs and websites in one place. I can view statistics of hits on particular posts on any given day. I can also see average time on sites and bounce rates. Google Analytics helps me set up goals and track benchmarks completed toward the goals I've set.

For real estate agents using internet marketing as a part of their overall marketing plan, Google Analytics helps determine the effectiveness of reaching my target group of consumers. Google helps Analytic users by holding seminars throughout the country. The seminars range in levels of knowledge to help best meet the participants' needs. The schedule of seminars is on the Google Analytcs site. They're called Seminars for Success. The Analytics site also has a help menu to guide first time users through setting up accounts and a trouble shooting section for those of us who never seem to get things right the first or second or third times.
Google Analytics has helped me formalize my internet marketing campaigns from a haphazard shotgun approach of marketing to a specific set of actions designed to reach specific consumer groups. I can watch and analyze the effectiveness of the implementation of my marketing plan, making changes to continually improve online marketing and time use.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Trying to add cool Facebok buttons

Learning new things isn't always easy. If you are watching others and then trying to figure out how they did what they did and then searching and trying to replicate it, it can be difficult. It would be much easier if I actually knew someone who would say something like, "Whoa dude, check this out. It's sooo cool."
Google serching a problem is getting easier and easier.
Today I tried to add a Facebook Like button. My first attempt landed me a I like Milk facebook link. Nice move, Byron! It looked good on my blog though. I learned by searching how to on google and then on facebook that I had to actually create my own application and then copy and paste my coe to my widget on my blog. Sounds hard but it really wasn't. The big deal is actually having the time to figure these things out. Back to "Whoa dude, check this out." I could use a friend like that!

Thursday, March 11, 2010 encourages social media marketing through

Using the Tools section of your site can feel a bit overwhelming. There are so many tools and so little time to learn what they do! Before logging into TEMPO, look down the sidebar for the Social Networking Plug-in link. Clicking it will allow you to link your listing activity to your Twitter account. Check out how the link looks: 3119 Mullingar Walk

You don't have a Twitter account? Join me on April 14th at Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce for a 4 hour MCE class on Social Media Marketing. Sign up by calling Champions School of Real Estate at 713-629-4543 or online at

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just Dive In!

Dive into the unknown
Originally uploaded by aknacer
When you go to the beach or to the pool, how do you get into the water? We've all seen those who test the water before getting in; first a toe, a short pause, a step or two reaching shin deep. This process goes on for a while until finally they get completely in the water.
What about the opposite scenario? Have you seen the person who, without testing the water temparature, throws all caution to the wind takes a running dash and with a huge splash completely submerges himself in the water? Crazy, huh?
It's like the person who plans to plan to prospect. Whether it's a geographic farm, a sphere of influence campaign, or a system to contact expired listings, just dive in.
There'll be things that don't work exactly right but it won't matter. Jim Weichert's proven open house system doesn't have a 100% success rate. Instead, Jim Weichert encourages agents to look for success in doing the activity. Floyd Wickman uses different words to describe activity: "Great results are the sum of small things, done well, repeatedly."
Just dive in!

Pssst...It's the Systems!

Marty Rueter, President of Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, wrote an enlightening account of recent visits to two different Waffle Houses. (Waffle Houses? Yes, Waffle Houses!) Marty’s experience describes the systems that Jim Weichert perfected and Wayne Murray sought when becoming a franchise office of Weichert Realtors.

Enjoy this well written article.

I had my first BAD Waffle House experience recently. Toni and were driving down I-65 from Nashville and stopped at our favorite
breakfast stop on a Saturday morning. I should have known
something was awry when no one greeted us as we entered –
Maybe they didn’t see us, I thought to myself. The waitress at the
register finally promised she’d be right with us.
It wasn’t an abnormal Saturday. There were sojourners there like us but locals also -- enough to
warrant two cooks. It took about ten minutes to get some water (“the decaf was still brewing”) and
another ten minutes to place our order (still no coffee). We watched and waited ... and waited,
expecting to hear the whir of the egg beating machine that makes Waffle House omelets so fluffy (still
no coffee). The cooks seem frazzled, overwhelmed. The wait staff chit-chatted, idly watching the cooks
trying to keep track. Finally after consuming thirty minutes with still no decaf, I interrupted our
waitress and asked if she had called in our order yet. “There are two orders still ahead of you,” she
responded, “We’re very busy.....”
I’ve been to hundreds of Waffle Houses all around the country, and studied (admired) how they
operate. They have a marvelous SYSTEM for offering tasty, quick, hot food (albeit high cholesterol).
There was no SYSTEM in this particular Waffle House; no automatic greeting, no “condiment code” to
keep track of multiple orders (I’ve seen as many as fifteen cooking at a time), no system for having
fresh hot coffee ready to pour. I noticed the cooks weren’t wearing sanitary gloves. The posted health
notice was 87. Starving but frustrated, we walked out, much to their disinterest.
Toni still wanted her coffee. I wanted an omelet. So a few miles down the interstate, we stopped at
another Waffle House, this time dubious of our next Waffle House experience. “GOOD MORNING!”
two staffers called out. “Coffee?” one asked us right away. And within nine minutes we were inhaling
two delicious omelets with extra cheese and our second cup of decaf. A real Waffle House!
I relayed our disappointing experience to Kim, our Waffle House waitress in Pensacola, FL. “Must be a
franchise.” she responded matter of fact. “We’re trying to get rid of them. They’re costing us business.
They ignore our way of cooking, always skipping steps like our ordering code, and skimping on the
fresh coffee. Why would anyone franchise with us if they’re going to ignore our proven methods?”
“Beats me?” I said, unfamiliar with the problem.
“They’re not a real Waffle House like this one,” Kim shook her head. “They’re just making pretend.”
“And failing,” said I smugly.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

8 Steps to Writing a Bio Like a Pro by Chris Brogan (in fact)

Chris Brogan writes (in fact) in the Undercover Recruiter how to write a top notch profile that may be used in all your online media sites. He recommends having a full profile, a short profile, and a long profile to use depending on the online media source. Undercover Recruiter also has a post on how to maximize your Linkedin profile. Statistics show the importance of having a top Linkedin profile. The 8 Steps to Writing a Bio like a pro is a must read and do for all agents, new and veteran alike.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Success Track Training for Weichert Agents

Weichert Realtor's Success Track classes are held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:00 to 2:00 PM in the Riverstone office in Missouri City. All Weichert, Realtors - Wayne Murray Properties agents are encouraged to attend.

If you are interested in receiving more information about becoming a real estate agent or in particular a Weichert professional please call Byron Underwood at 281-208-1700.

Thursday January 14th Scenarios for the Outgoing Phone Call

Tuesday January 19th Generating Listings and Sales through the Open House

Thursday January 21st Succeeding with For Sale by Owners

Tuesday January 26th Creating Listings by Contacting Expired Listings

Thursday January 28th DOORS - A Two Visit Listing part 1

Tuesday February 2nd DOORS - A Two Visit Listing part 2