Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How do we interact in 2011?

To reach consumers it is necessary to understand how people interact today. More than likely, people meet online with 1 in 5 marriages originating from an online introduction. With the likelihood of personal interaction initiating online, a strong, widespread, dynamic, and planned online presence is a must for a real estate professional to grow a successful and productive business.
An online prospecting campaign must include a substantial amount of Facebook. Successful campaigns that create a measureable return on time and dollar investment usually include use of both the personal profile and a business page along with facebook ads.
Recently Facebook incorporated Facebook generated lists to help organize friends into manageable groups. Lists allow individuals to post status updates to specific groups of people allowing a great opportunity to target market. It would be beneficial to post an open house for friends in a specific geographic area. But it may be considered spam to others who live far away from the open house. Lists also allow facebookers to review or watch posts from specific groups of people. Many people today have more Facebook friends than they can interact with. Lists allow people to streamline friends into smaller lists. The smaller groups let posts move slower down the wall so it is easier to pay attention and interact with friends.

Social Media giants dominate the internet

Many agents believe a website will suffice in capturing online consumers. This is far from the truth. In a Comscore Report dated Tuesday, December 21, 2011, consumers spent 35% more time on social media sites than that of a year ago. Websites are too static for today’s online consumer who searches sometimes daily for updated information. Websites should change as the market changes and should provide current
detailed information customized for a targeted group of consumers. In many instances, blogs have taken the place of websites. Agent blogs have the ability to be changed easily, are usually controlled by the agent, and are preferred by search engines like Google.
An agent’s blog can be the hub for consumers to be drawn towards with other even more dynamic sites used as outposts to guide the consumer in. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube are constantly changing and highly trafficked. Youtube, for example, is the second most searched site
behind Google. Facebook has enough members to make it the third most populated country in the world. These, and other social sites, are excellent areas to find consumers who are searching for information about real estate. These sites are needed to help draw buyers and sellers to the agent’s blog. Social sites also allow the agent to create an online personality necessary to creating a personal brand.

Linkedin is a business related social networking site. Somewhat like an online rolodex, Linkedin allows members to connect to each other. Members can post their profile and job history along with updates. Linkedin, according to Wikipedia, has 21.4 million monthly visitors just in the United States and is growing at 2 members per second. Linkedin has over 135 million members worldwide.

Twitter is another fast growing social media site with more than 300 million posts called tweets and 1.6 billion searches a day. Limited to only 140 character posts, Twitter delivers short text like messages and links to its members. Twitter is great for posting links to blog articles and for public conversations within groups.

Youtube is a social media giant with postings of not just short videos but full length movies and music. Youtube, started in 2005, is now a subsidiary of Google. According to Wikipedia, Google reported in May 2010 that it served nearly 2 billion videos a day and nearly double the primetime audience of the three major television stations combined. Registered Youtube users can post videos and video blogs that are viewable by the public or to a specific audience.

Flickr, like Youtube, hosts videos but is mostly used to host photos for use by bloggers. Owned by Yahoo, in June 2011 Flickr had more than 51 million registered users and more than 80 million unique visitiors. This is a perfect place for real estate agents to posts house photos. It also is a great place to post photo libraries of communities.
Though not even scratching the surface of the social media sites, the final outpost of the online marketing hub is the social media giant Facebook.

Facebook Continually updating, Facebook allows users to create both a personal and business persona, posting information about the user’s life and business. Due to its popularity and strength, Facebook dominates the social media scene with over 800 million users. According to Wikipedia, by April 2010 nearly 42% of the United States’ population had a facebook account. In May 2011 Facebook announced it served nearly 140 million monthly users. Comscore's December 20th 2011 report stated that one in every seven online minutes is spent on Facebook while three out of every four minutes spent on social sites are spent on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Marketing Your Real Estate Business By Building Trust

Reaching today’s buyer takes a multi-level approach to prospecting. Though you cannot replace old fashioned face to face relationship building, the first contact an agent has with a prospective buyer is more and more likely going to take place in an online setting. Reaching buyers this way takes an organized approach just like any other advertising campaign.

Attracting buyers, and sellers for that matter, online requires placing findable information that will draw the consumer onto an agent’s online sites and keep them coming back for more information. In the end, an online relationship will be created that allows the consumer to trust the agent enough so the consumer reaches out. This new real estate consumer researches differently than the consumer just a generation or two ago. The new consumer searches topics not people. For example, the new consumer would much rather gather information about a specific community from many sources than reach out to an individual real estate agent. This way the consumer can analyze the validity of the information and glean what he wants instead of trusting that an individual agent is accurate and unbiased. In the end, the new consumer will more likely reach out to the individual agent that consistently provides quality information.
Some things only change on the surface. When farming a neighborhood in the past, a successful real estate agent would use many advertising tools to reach the consumer. The agent would use not just direct mail, but also phone calling, local newspaper advertising, and other community focused events to become recognized as an area specialist. Today’s agent needs to understand that consumers search many different online sources and need to spread information throughout the internet instead of relying on one single source to capture the consumer.

That's not my mountain. Mine's over here!

My Big Ah Ha: I can't measure my life unless I use my measuring stick.
Social media and the internet in general has made it much easier to see what our friends are doing literally all the time. Mine, just so you know, are doing some pretty incredible things. Two are on cruises, while a couple more are in Florida on vacation. I'm here at home. For Christmas I put in a new cooktop. It took me two days. I spent Christmas at home like always trying to keep my kids in bed until it got light out (like always). My mom and dad, sister and brother in law came over. Jerry brought coffee and my mom made french toast. Lisa and I supplied the early rising kids and the pozole on Christmas Eve. Christmas dinner was at my sister's house like it always is. Her dinner surpassed the feast she prepared last year which was the best ever. The wine we chose on our annual pre-Christmas Spec's run was perfect. We played dominoes. As perfect as that all sounds, I have felt more than a little unsatisfied of late. We didn't spend Christmas in a beautiful cabin in the mountains, we weren't on the beach some place sunny and warm. No exotic backpack trips!
Then something dawned on me, those weren't my goals. I hadn't aimed at those peaks and I definitely hadn't reached them! Instead, I had plotted a different course this year. My mountains had other names: Mt. Training Job, Merit Badge Counselor Summit, Hill Country Peak. I bagged all of those and more this year. Sitting in my alpine meadow, the view below looks pretty good. I can see part of the route I took to get here. Some of it I hope I never have to cross again. Some areas I hope to visit frequently or plan to visit similar places. Turning back around, I can see the new summits ahead. some I'll never ascend and I'm ok with that. They aren't my mountains. Mine have names like Davis Mountains.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Prospecting for a New Consumer

Statistics continue to point that the trend of using the internet to learn about literally any topic and to interact is not only not going away but is getting greater. We continue to see individuals reaching toward their peers to get information about products and services instead of relying on advertisements to help them identify brands and make purchases.
Real estate consumers are always becoming more adept at researching without the assistance of a real estate agent. They easily obtain information on communities, researching schools, proximity to amenities, prices, and more before reaching out for the services of a real estate professional. This new consumer is a confident researcher able to make choices based on the availability of endless information.

Though stated many times in the previous decade, real estate agents are no longer the gateway to the information. The role of the agent is changing rapidly as much of the control of the real estate transaction is moved into the hands of the consumer. The availability of information is only paled by the ease of communication. The new consumer is relying on peer recommendations, referrals,
and independent rating systems to aid in choosing a real estate professional. This savvy consumer bases service provider selection on relationship over advertising. Simply stated, the consumer demands a relationship based on trust. This trust relationship must be earned by the
agent and cannot be underdeveloped.
Looking positively at the new consumer, the agent can now truly focus on providing superior service and invaluable intricate knowledge about the real estate transaction. Agents can focus more on providing a singular place to gather information regarding specific communities and the transaction. Agents can once again truly specialize and provide develop a niche market.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The New Facebook Timeline

The new Facebook Timeline is creating a lot of stir. People are beginning to add it to their profile making it available for all to see. With the excitement comes a lot of questions.
Facebook has a video illustrating how the timeline is set up. On the page with the video are photos explaing the different parts of the Timeline page. It includes an explanation of your Cover which is a larger picture that you can use to help illustrate your personality. Here's mine:
My friends would, hopefully, agree that this picture exemplifies me. I love my wife and children more than anything. The outdoors is important to me. I enjoy a nice glass of wine. And, that dog drives me crazy.
The second part of the new Profile page highlights our Stories. These are the events in our life. We can highlight events so they show up on our Timeline. I added, for example, the date of my wedding, and the birth dates of both my sons. I felt those dates were fairly significant in my life. If not for the good, at least, they definitely changed my life!
The third part of the Profile page shows the Apps that you use.
Initially, The new Timeline page won't replace your Wall. But seven days after you get the new Timeline it will automatically become visible. Go on, give it a try. I think you'll like it! To create your new timeline, click on this link and click on Get It Now. Happy Facebooking!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Service Starts with Hello

In many ways I am a bit conservative and set in my ways. And, I’m ok with that. I like routines and the certainty of knowing what to expect.

Because of this characteristic, I tend to shop at the same places even if it is not necessarily the most convenient. I’ll actually drive past several similar stores to go to the one I know even if they’re the same brand. Peculiar?

Recently, I had to get an oil change. I mean really had to get an oil change. I’d been putting it off because the place I usually go is clear across town now and Saturdays have been so packed with events. So, I’ve been circling this place at lunch checking it out the last couple of days. Yes, there is medicine for people like me. I choose not to take it.

Finally, yesterday I bit the bullet and actually pulled into the driveway. As soon as I did, a worker (Sorry, but what do you call someone who works at an oil change place?) walked to my car and greeted me. He actually welcomed me to the established and asked how he could serve me today.

Dumbfounded by his enthusiasm, I was speechless. I rarely get greeted so eagerly by hosts at restaurants or sales people let alone by a mechanic. He kept his side of the conversation by asking several key questions until he understood what kind of service I needed. Professionally and succinctly the service-minded worker explained the procedure and then guided me into the shop. His crew took over from there while he offered me coffee and magazines to occupy my time.

I didn’t need a magazine, I was lost in thought. Imagine if real estate was done this way? I mean a hearty welcome. Ok that’s common. But then a series of questions by the salesperson so she could understand the needs of the consumer and then a presentation. It’s not a unique idea nor even new.

Ken Blanchard focuses on customer service in Raving Fans. So do many other authors and business trainers and coaches. But, do we? Is $ally our $eller truly our main focus? Or is the consummation of the transaction our goal. My head was swimming!
While deep in these ideas, the worker drew me back to the room. As promised, my newly found service hero had delivered my car to me. He then reviewed the service his crew provided, and then (get this) genuinely thanked me for choosing his shop. Unbelievable. Thanks, Jim! I will be back you can guarantee it.