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.