Author Archives: Gary Elwood
Author Archives: Gary Elwood
AIDA: Attention. Interest. Desire. Action.
It’s a very old ad formula that’s made hundreds of advertisers and copywriters the golden boys and girls of business. And it’s perhaps the most effective tool, or framework, you can use in real estate marketing.
In fact, with a simple little tweak, it could be a very potent inbound lead generation strategy for you over the next year.
I know this for a fact.
Since the beginning of the year I’ve been systematically testing this formula on Craigslist–and the results have been outstanding.
First things first: What is AIDA?
AIDA is a simple formula that guides you down a step-by-step path to writing compelling and powerful ads. In a nutshell, you simply attract attention, capture interest, provoke desire and ask for action.
What makes your audience tick?
That’s the #1 question you have to answer, especially when clutter, media and noise dominate our culture. You need to find their hot buttons, pleasure boxes, value ranges. You need to be specific, enticing, dramatic and bold.
Fortunately, inside Craigslist’s real estate listings, you don’t have much competition. I mean, really: Browse the top 100 listings for the day and you’ll fall asleep. Posting after posting of boring, eye-twittering copy.
However, with a minimal investment of ten minutes, you can create a post that people simply can’t turn away from. More importantly, a post that will bring you quality inbound lead calls.
So, how do you demand attention?
Ask yourself, “What’s the most beneficial promise my subject line can make to the reader? Is it compelling, unique and powerful? Or is it easily dismissible? Will it stand out?”
One of my favorite examples of a headline that rivets eyeballs to the screen:
“Ferrari-driving, High Tech Recluse to Sell Westgate Hideaway: it’s on 2 lots and has a 5.5 car garage”
Here’s another great headline.
Now, once you’ve got their attention, here’s what you do next: Satisfy their curiosity and give them what you promised.
In the example above, ask them if they are a ready to buckle up for a ride through a sensational home with an astounding story to tell.
Then tell them how the home will sooth their housing pain or satisfy their housing pleasure. Really stroke that ego. If you don’t, they’ll go away.
And by the way: don’t just give them the price without teasing them with it in the ad. Ever. I’ll explain how in a minute.
At this point you need to build a strong desire for the home.
Paint a picture of bliss, ease, prestige, pleasure. Tell a real-life story that causes something to stir within their hearts. Something that touches their deepest fears and desires.
Furthermore, make everything you write unique, useful, urgent and ultra-specific. But don’t cross the line: Overstate, and you’ll blow your credibility.
What is the most-overlooked element of advertising?
Unfortunately, it’s the call-to-action.
Too many people either neglect asking for action or simply tag “call or visit today” as an afterthought to their ad. Wrong.
If you want action, you have to direct your reader to the next step. This is the point where all your hard work pays off.
Here’s the little gem I used to make my real estate posting on Craigslist light up my cell phone with 57 leads in 48 days on 1 listing:
Automated Information – 24 Hours
Call or Text 1-800-959-6550 ext. 1000
The call-to-action is the most important part of your posting. It’s an essential piece you cannot forget. Neglect it, and you’ve wasted your investment.
Think back to an ad that you found irresistible. One that compelled you to lose sleep until you acted. Likely that was AIDA in action.
Any ad that persuades and charms you into action probably owes its success to AIDA. This holds true for real estate listings on Craigslist. My testing and experiences are proof that it does.
Well, if you didn’t figure it out already, teasing with the price is the bone-weary, panting fox hunted by a relentless pack of baying hounds. It’s what creates the hot pursuit after your listing.
To conclude, inside your ad write a line of copy that says “Due to changing market conditions, for current up-to-the-minute pricing call or text our 24-hour automated information line. Again, for current pricing call 1-800-959-6550 ext 1000 anytime 24 hours.” Something along that line.
And I promise you: this call-to-action tweak is the number one strategy to trigger a significant flow of inbound lead calls for you.
By the way, Let me know what you think. I’m curious to hear if anyone else has a Craigslist success story to share.
Recently I was blind-sided with a comment that left me almost speechless.
During a training call we had a guest, who by most agents’ standards was CRUSHING IT! He did 121 transactions over the last year. Of his 121 transactions, 38 buyer sides came directly from our system. A good number of his listing transactions came from our system too, but in my state of utter disbelief I was completely thrown off and didn’t think to ask him that question.
See after we introduced Thomas, the first thing he said was, “I want to open with a disclaimer, because we are struggling with these Proquest calls.”
I have to admit, I was blown away. Struggling?
After splits with his agents, he added at least 100K to his personal income with our system and yet he seemed frustrated.
However, as the call went on it was clear that our guest had a valid point.
While many agents would be thrilled with 38 transactions and a large number of listings, this guy absolutely knows his team could have closed at least twice as many transactions given the number of quality inbound lead calls we helped his agents generate.
It turns out Thomas generates over 100 warm inbound lead calls a month for his agents, month-in, month-out. And remember, these are live conversations with prospects asking for assistance, not internet leads in a drip campaign or a phone number you call back and get voicemail.
The bottom line is Thomas’ agents could have done better with their lead conversion. Many agents struggle transitioning from the typical hound ‘em until they buy mentality into the Prospect Centered Sales skills needed to attract today’s buyers and sellers.
Yes, 38 transactions is good. However, Thomas’ frustrations are legitimate.
That said, I’m certain he’ll use his frustration as fuel to help his agents continually improve their PCS skills. And with a little bit more determination and training, I’m confident his team will blow the doors off their buyer-side business, and grow it to over 75 transactions next year.
In business there’s always room for improvement and work to be done. While we should never ignore the work set before us, we also need to remind ourselves to take a moment and gather enjoyment from the journey.
The greater satisfaction in life and business comes from helping people, encouraging them, and taking a moment to celebrate some of the small, but meaningful victories along the way.
38 extra transactions is certainly a victory, and I can’t wait to see what number Thomas’, or for that matter, YOU crank out in the next 12 months.
If you'd like to find out how Thomas uses our system to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to him income each year...
It’s ironic, frustrating and sad at the very same time…
…agents wasting thousands upon thousands of dollars
…endlessly chasing poor quality leads (people who are actually avoiding you)
…all to convert a measly 1-2% of those leads!
The worst part is 1-2% conversion is actually pretty good, considering all the garbage that agents are calling “leads” these days.
How would you like to convert 5-10% of your leads, in some cases even more?
Well it all starts with the right mindset and focus.
Real estate is all about building relationships…client relationships…networking relationships…COI relationships…that all lead to a growing real estate practice and more closed business year after year.
Seems pretty straightforward and on the money, right?
Then why do so many agents miss the single most important part of the lead generation/lead conversion process and screw up the development of real relationships with social media and various other technologies?
It’s because agents lean so heavily on technology to do their “relationship building” for them. It’s as though agents think they can “automate” the development of quality relationships.
Maybe if we were robots…
(Here’s a thoughtful article on this subject that will definitely make you think. It’s by David Byrne titled, “Eliminating the Human”)
…but humans are a little bit different than robots, aren’t they?
Can you really develop a quality relationship with an email drip campaign?
Can you build a relationship with auto-posted tweets to your Twitter account?
Can you “outsource” your social media and expect to be seen as “authentic?”
Don’t get me wrong. I love all these things.
I love quality marketing that drives people to call or text for info, or opt-in to your email drip campaign. I love it when our clients generate 100-150 leads a month with our MVR technology. I think technology is amazing!
Then there’s “social media.” I love the social media movement. I think it’s the next great frontier of potential “relationship building.”
The issue I have is agents are chasing all these things, while leaving out the most crucial elements…the basic fundamentals of success in real estate.
Again, it’s all about relationships. And relationships are with those people (human beings) who KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST YOU!
All the tools, all this technology, all these amazing social media outlets…they all do one thing and one thing only. They speed your ability to communicate.
Quality marketing makes your phone ring…giving you the ability to what?
Forms that get people to opt-in to your email drip campaigns do what?
They give you the ability to communicate.
Your Facebook page with 5,000 “friends” does what?
(5,000 friends…whatever! No one has 5,000 friends. BUT…where else would you go to exchange messages with people you didn’t like in high school?)
They all speed your ability to communicate.
MVR lead generation that brings in 100-150 warm inbound lead calls every month…what does it do?
I think you get the idea. It speeds your ability to connect and communicate.
The point I’m making is that the key is not the technology. Yes. They’re great. In fact they’re amazing and powerful tools. But that’s all they are…tools.
I like the way Scott Stratten (social media guru and viral marketing genius) puts it, he says, “You are your company’s CRO (Chief Relationship Officer). You are the one who has to take all this ‘technology’ and all these amazing platforms and take it to the next level.”
If you’ve got 5,000 friends on Facebook…how many times have you connected with someone of influence and invited them out for coffee?
If you’re a Twitter fanatic…how many times have you reached out to someone you knew could influence greater reach for you in your community?
If you’re on LinkedIn with 500+ “connections”…how many of those relationships are you nurturing, building and developing?
Worse yet, if you’re using MVR and generating 100-150 warm real estate leads a month, how many of those people (human beings) have you engaged, initiated a warm easy-going dialog, and began building a relationship?
With the various social media platforms…be authentic, be real and take it to the next level. Relationships are not digital. They’re one or more real live human beings having a conversation or meeting for coffee. Take it there.
With your lead generation, polish and perfect your scripts. Internalize them and make them a part of you…so they’re natural. When you engage an inbound MVR lead call you’ve got to know what to say and how to say it.
Then, you need to bring more value to the table for that person. Be a value creator. Be a servant. No. Be a Super-Servant with a genuine servant’s heart.
Again, it’s all about building relationships. And relationships start with real live conversations. Start having them. Perfect your skills and read books on communication. These are core fundamentals.
Lastly, I’d like to recommend a book that was first published back in 1937. It’s a book that is even more applicable today. It’s a book that can and will change your life. It’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie.
Get it. Read it. No…read it 2-3 times and then apply it to all that you’re doing as an agent…marketing, prospecting, lead generating, your social media platforms. Then, once you’ve seen its impact, shoot me an email telling me how much it’s meant to you.
It’s time to get back to the basics. And you can’t get more basic than people do business with those they KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST. That’s a relationship!
My word (or words) for the day!
Despite the endless talk about social media–Twitter or Facebook, for example–-emails are still the workhorse of online prospecting.
Why? Clickthrough decay. Twitter time passes 10 times faster than email time.
One of the big downsides of stream-based communication compared to email newsletters is the highly ephemeral nature of the postings: Once they scroll off the first screen, they’re essentially 6 feet under.
A look at clickthrough statistics for links posted to Twitter vs. those circulated in email newsletters shows a drastically steeper decay function: lots of clicks the first few minutes, and then almost none. In contrast, email continues to generate clicks for days as people work their way through their inboxes.
So, since more and more and more people are checking their e-mail on cell phones or smart phones and archiving, it’s wise to keep grooming your emails so their readable, relevant and powerful.
1. Reason Why. First, what’s your most compelling reason to send the email? If there’s no good reason for it, consider taking the day off.
2. “From” Line. The “From” line and subject line work in tandem. And an effective “From” line starts with name recognition. If you’re not famous in your market, then maybe your company is. Use the most famous.
3. Subject Line. Something that stands out in their inbox. Use this tool to test your subject lines AND “From” lines.
4. First vertical inch or two. Many people won’t see images—your header, wrapper, or photos—because their e-mail software turns them off. Or they may be getting your message on their mobile phone. Consider what’s in this precious real estate. And make it count.
5. Scannable. Since very few people read it all the way through, is it easy to scan your email? Can they get the point at a glance?
6. Headline. You do have a headline, don’t you? Okay then, if you don’t, then the first sentence is your headline. Does it make the point and provide a link for action? Is the call to action simple and clear, making a single point and with no more than a sentence or two at the most?
7. Precision. Omit needless words. All of them. Here’s a rule of thumb to follow: Once you reduce the email to half it’s length…try to reduce it again.
8. Call to Action. Will the person feel like he’s losing big if he decides to sit this one out? That’s the kind of feeling you want to give people.
9. Tone. Conversational. What do I mean by that? Does it feel like one person writing to another? As impersonal as e-mail can be, you still want it to feel like one person’s message to another.
So what about you: are you still using email to prospect? Have you given it up for Twitter or Facebook? If so, how effective have you become? Or has spam and the crowd noise chased you out? Is email dead and anybody who uses it wasting their time and money?
Share your thoughts. Looking forward to hearing from you.
Ever wonder how you could get more people to believe you?
It’s easy, actually. And quite odd the way it works.
What’s the secret? Never tell a man more than he’ll believe.
Sounds like a moron statement, right?
Let me explain why it’s not.
There’s a law of diminishing returns directly tied to the law of diminishing credibility.
Even if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a home will triple in price in the next 5 years, if you have any concern that the buyer might find what you say hard to believe, it’s best to leave that information out.
See, the moment your claim passes the point of believability, credibility drops off like a rock.
In the 60’s some brilliant ad men took advantage of this.
Remember the old Volkswagen sedan with the rag top that hadn’t changed in 20 years, the round top one?
One of the ugliest cars ever made.
In addition, it didn’t have any extra features that any ad man could talk about. Only later years did it have a gas gauge.
You could get so many miles on a tank of gas that you simply drove it until you ran out of gas and then switched to a small reserve tank that held more than enough fuel to get you to the closest gas station.
When the Doyle, Dane + Bernbach agency was given this account, they must have groaned.
What could you say about the car?
It only had two features: it was cheap to run and it was reliable. But everyone already knew that.
What more could they say about it?
Then they hit on a brilliant flash of inspiration: they decided to tell the truth.
I can imagine every ad man in America coming off their chairs and saying, “You are going to do what?”
Doyle, Dane + Bernbach ran a whole series of ads that said, “This car is ugly. It looks like a bug. A beetle.”
“This car is slow. You’ll be lucky if you ever get a ticket.”
The results of the campaign?
Phenomenal. People loved the campaign and sales shot up.
The truth. Simple, pristine truth is an astounding force. And these ad men had touched on a very important key of persuasion: if you point out the disadvantages, it makes everything else you say more believable.
In real estate this might mean being frank with others about a house with some real issues, like its small, only has two bedrooms or one bathroom. The roof hasn’t been shingled in 25 years. It’s so old there isn’t central air and heating.
But once you have the disadvantages out of the way, then you can share the advantages.
“Quaint cottage with a historical background. Nice for one, maybe one-and-a-half, with ambition and muscle and a tad bit of cash.”
Isn’t that curious how that works?
By positioning the disadvantages first, you view the advantages in a whole different light. And it is a whole lot easier to swallow.
Besides, when we see an ad for a home that says “great home, lots of potential” don’t we immediately think, “Money pit.”
This rule of persuasion says this: never tell a person more than you think they’ll believe.
In fact, tell them the truth, share with them the disadvantages first, then move onto the advantages and you’ll have a captive audience.
Most good agents have at least 50% of their business coming from repeats and referrals.
If you’re in this category, I’m going to suggest an idea that may very well shake up your sense of security when it comes to your sphere.
See the “lead generation” tools you may be using could be unknowingly undermining your efforts. You’re capturing data and plugging people into automated systems.
Here’s a little secret…prospects get it. They already understand it. And what’s worse is, so does your sphere.
The challenge you run into with your sphere is when they visit your web site and “opt in” to your drip campaign…they become “data.” And the automated systems you plug them into lack warmth and feel impersonal.
Sure, everybody does it.
But from the eyes of someone in your sphere, they expect to be treated differently. Even though everyone else does it, they know you and expect more from you.
An automated email to your sphere doesn’t deepen the relationship. It feels cold and lifeless. And from their eyes your relationship with them should mean more than that.
Those relationships closer to you require a much higher level of touch and on occasion a real live meaningful conversation.
For example, let’s talk about someone in your sphere who’s a distant contact. Contrast your email drip campaign with, that same person, calling into a “recorded message.”
They listen and, at the end the recording, it asks them if they would like current pricing. They say, “Yes” and a couple seconds later you’re on the phone having a real live conversation with them.
No they weren’t expecting it, but it comes as a pleasant surprise. After a few minutes of discussion you discover their daughter just gave birth to their first grandchild. You congratulate them and a couple days later you send them a nice handwritten card.
Again, contrast that against your automated email campaign that does nothing to deepen the relationship.
Please understand that person knows 2-3 other real estate agents. Is the cold impersonal feeling of being “data” in your email drip campaign going to keep them committed to you?
Sure, some of those people will still do business with you and refer others. But over time, step back and really think about the effects of this cold, impersonal “technology-insulated” world we’re building around ourselves.
A conversation, like the one I described, with a handwritten note will bank you a listing, because they’re downsizing, a buyer side transaction to help them move, and a few years down the road another listing because they’ve decided to move into an assisted living community.
Isn’t that amazing?
It’s the power of having meaningful, perfectly-timed conversations combined with solid repeat and referral systems…vs. data capture…
Honestly confront the reality of today’s consumer and the fact that they can see through all the automation tools and there is no real connection unless you have a meaningful conversation.
I’m not one of those “touchy-feely” kind of guys, but facts are facts. Real estate is all about relationships and you need to fight hard to initiate, build and deepen your relationship base…or the network you thought was solid may soon be at risk.
As real estate professionals we’ve got to get back to basics. Real estate is fundamentally always going to be a relationship driven business and relationships start by talking to people…having perfectly-timed conversations and bonding with people.
Now here’s my challenge to you, over the next couple days find an hour or two to deeply contemplate the effects of lead generation vs. having perfectly-timed conversations.
Have you been to a government building lately? Where you had to grab a number, wait in line, and have your number called?
Your number gets called, you walk up, and the employee behind the counter is nearly expressionless. They look at you as if you’re not really there and ask, “May I help you?”
It’s a lifeless interaction that makes you feel kind of like the number on that little slip of paper you just handed over.
Well, I’m going to suggest that your lead generation efforts could be having the same effect on people you would like to do business with.
Agents are implementing highly-sophisticated lead generation strategies that capture tons and tons of “data.” Agents are generating names, email addresses and phone numbers right and left. One agent bragged to me recently that she was “generating over 300 leads a month.”
My response was, “Really? So how much business are you closing from those leads?”
It’s funny, ironic and sad.
I thought we had gotten disconnected. The phone went stone cold dead. I almost hung up to call her back when she quietly said, “I’ve only closed 3 buyers in the last four months from these leads.”
Those three buyers cost her over $12,000 to generate and by the time she was done with broker splits, she had almost nothing to show for it.
See the massive problem our agent didn’t seem to grasp is that she wasn’t having real live conversations with her leads. She turned lead generation into nothing more than “data capture.” She captured a lead, plugged them into an email drip campaign, and somehow expected that system to do the work for her.
It’s kind of like having a drive-through restaurant and not going to the window and saying, “May I help you please?” Customers are in need of help, no one is attempting to engage them in a meaningful dialog, and they drive off frustrated.
Imagine if that were you. If you drove through, saw people inside, yet no one came to the window to see if they could be of service.
Would you ever go back?
Well, consider what’s happening when your leads begin to feel like data, and you’re not engaging them in a meaningful conversation. In fact, the ill effects of that model could be reaching far deeper than you may realize.
In my next post I’m going to shed some light on how this impersonal trend in real estate lead generation could even be costing you repeat and referral business too.
So keep your eye out and we’ll talk soon.
Over the last 5-10 years there’s been a conventional wisdom develop that “real estate is all about lead generation!” After all, if you don’t have leads you’ve got no business, right?
Well, the fact is you could have hundreds of “leads” and still have no business.
If you have 100 leads and you call them all…how often do you get voice-mail?
See according a study done by Pew Research Center and the American Association of Public Opinion Research, in 2012 the total number of people answering their phones had dropped by more than 76% over the last decade.
What’s worse is that same study concluded that less than 9% of all calling attempts ending in an actual conversation…more than 91% of all calls were not answered or ended in less than 30 seconds.
Prospects have Caller ID, voice-mail, free email accounts, social media and every other imaginable technology to make us more… Social?
No… Whether by fate, accident, or grand design these tools are building massive barriers, like stone walls, between you and your prospects.
Now let’s take this challenging picture a step further. If you go to the time, effort, and expense to generate 100 leads and you call them all, based on the Pew Research stats, you’ll talk to less than 9 people.
While they’re sitting down to dinner with their families?
As they’re heading out the door to take the kids to the soccer game?
When they’re thinking…“Gee, I hope a real estate agent calls me right now?”
Now I’m being facetious to make a point.
The point is “lead generation” is a challenging uphill battle in today’s market. Prospects are fed up and have had all the interruptions they’re going to tolerate. And if they don’t answer their phones and talk with you…do you actually have anything?
Well actually…you do!
You’ve got a big fat expense of $1,000-$2,000 or more and generally little to nothing to show for it in the way of new business.
However, there is a better way. Focus all your efforts on attracting perfectly-timed conversations with interested prospects who actually want to talk with you.
Thank God for email. As a real estate agent you can get a ton of work done without having to pick up the phone. Furthermore, when you have an email of a conversation you also have documented proof.
But not everyone knows how to use email correctly. Here are the mistakes you need to avoid.
We all want to do more in less time. This is one of the reasons that we build teams. We start to delegate work. When a finite amount of labor is delegated to a staff more things get done.
But that’s an awfully expensive way to do it.
Wanting to be more productive is also another reason why we fall for the latest technology fashion. This tablet can save you more time while this email autoresponder can communicate with leads while you sleep.
These new technologies also come with a cost.
What you and I want is to be able to do more stuff without having to write a check or swipe a credit card. Is that even possible? It is. Let me show you.
Making money is not enough. I mean, it is enough when it comes to paying bills and clothing your children. But when it comes to motivating you to perform at your highest performance level, money alone is not going to do the trick. You also need praise and recognition for your work.
Perhaps you prefer it to be quiet and in private. Or you might prefer it to be verbal and in public. Find out what your sweet spot is and work to get more of that particular self-esteem reward. Make sure it has impact.
For example, this could be kind words from satisfied clients. Make sure you are asking them along the process on how you are doing. Seeking validation is okay. You will work hard when you do a good job, but when you are recognized and praised for doing a good job you will work even harder.
When you are happy you will work harder.
We all have them: things that we do that were once important but are no longer important. So why do we keep doing them? Good question.
Sometimes we keep doing something because other people expect us to keep doing them. This could be a report or a memo. Why not contact those people and ask them how you could improve that particular task? Ask them what sort of impact it would have if you stopped doing that particular activity.
Measure the cost and benefit of everything you do and eliminate those tasks with little benefit but high cost. Next in line eliminate those tasks with little benefit but low cost. Then look at all activities that are high benefit and high cost. Finally, any activities with high benefit but low cost should be kept.
Ask yourself “What one thing could you remove that would make your work easier?” It could be keeping track of paperwork or making follow up calls on your 800 hotline. Is there a way you can delegate these activities to an intern or low-paid high schooler?
The goal is to get you to focus on the the four most profitable tasks of real estate–and forget about everything else.
When it comes to being insanely productive it is helpful if you are insanely focused. This means you have to be harsh about what you accept. And you have to be a Nazi about what you don’t accept.
One thing that I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten more successful is that more and more people approach me about opportunities. I used to listen to all these opportunities until I realized it was a waste of time. There will always be opportunities–and rarely will they ever be as successful as the person suggests. This is why I will only accept opportunity ideas via email. I’ll review the idea and then let the person know if I want more.
In the end, your main focus should be on negotiating, prospecting, listing and selling. Those are the only activities that will make you money.
Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog.
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