Category Archives for "Prospecting Ideas"

Real estate prospecting is an important piece of the puzzle of real estate success, but unfortunately many agents are leaning their ladder against the wrong wall and spending time and effort on the wrong activities.

For example, many agents invest a ton of resources into getting more “leads” but don’t stop to consider whether they’re ever actually able to CONNECT with those leads. If you’re not having live conversations, your prospecting efforts aren’t yielding what they should be.

7 Viral Marketing Campaigns You Should Steal Ideas From

Viral marketing is a great, low-cost way to spread an idea, your name, your brand because if you have the right ingredients your idea can take off and spread like wild fire…without you even breaking a sweat.

The following is a list of some effective campaigns from 2006 and the first half of 2007.

The sheer range of these campaigns proves practically any marketer targeting any demographic online can use viral successfully. One note:

Micro-budgets still OK.

One of the most popular campaigns we picked was created on a $1000 budget. A few others were created by in-house shops or single-man operations. That’s not to say you shouldn’t hire an experienced viral agency to help (many of the best are represented here too.) But, if you can’t afford it and you are a *very* clever and/or lucky marketer, viral can still be do-it-yourself tactic.

Now…for that list. Real estate agents of all stripes–prepare to be inspired!

1. Known as “Real Estate’s Greatest Sales Legend,” the slimy Ted Truit and his interactive website (quiz and all!) created a firestorm of response from Virginia REALTORS, and birthed an effective image campaign for VAR.

2. 258,000. That’s the number of people Obama’s viral marketing machine has encouraged to donate to him during his Democratic nomination campaign.

3. I think the prizes are the best I’ve seen for an SEO keyword contest, but that alone doesn’t explain the success of v7’s viral campaign. This got press from USA Today even.

4. This campaign is proof that if you blatantly appeal to bloggers’ egos and desire for more traffic/attention, they will in turn happily link to you.

5. What I really liked about this knife website was that the viral element came out of left field: a police newsletter picked the demonstration video up to warn police officers about it. The article basically said “watch out for this.” Sales went crazy…all to police officers.

6. According to the Inman Blog, at the Real Estate Connect SF August 2 Keynote address, Hugh MacLeod explained how a viral marketing campaign he engineered for a South African winery, Stormhoek, has helped boost sales from 50,000 cases to a projected 250,000 cases in 2007.

7. Finally (and possibly my favorite because of the humor), this DVD video called The Pitch, Poker and the Public published on YouTube by Dave Lakhani created a sensation in the Internet marketing arena and sold a thousand books in one day.

So what did you think? Are you inspired to create a compelling video that will rapidly spread through your market? Maybe even the nation? Have any suggestions for effective viral campaigns that I haven’t mentioned here? Or am I off my rocker and viral campaigns are a waste of time in the real estate market?

I want to hear from you!

If you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog today!

SEO as a Marketing Strategy for Real Estate

So, would you like to know more about search engine optimization (SEO)?

Not sure? Not sure you should even care?

Well, let me ask you this: when someone searches for homes in your area on the Internet, would you like your website to be the first result to show up? In a nutshell, would you like to drive more traffic to your website?

If so, then this post is for you. Furthermore…

In a recent post I wrote an extensive article about creating a real estate marketing plan and…just recently realized that I failed to mention SEO in the web marketing portion.

Here’s why SEO is important to you and your website and SHOULD NOT be a strategy left out of your marketing plan:

In 2005 the NAR reports that nearly eight out of ten home buyers start their home search online. More importantly, as noted in an earlier study, 76% percent of people used the first agent they contacted.

That means if you can be the top agent on Google for home searches in your area, then you’ll hog all the business. Which means a lot in our 2007 belt tightening market.

Before you get started, however, the first thing you need to decide is whether you or somebody else is going to optimize your site.

You might be the type who likes to tinker with your website or you might be someone who doesn’t. If you don’t, then choose a seo company or consultant. (I don’t have any recommendations at the moment, so you’re on your own.)

After that, get to work…and keep some of these the following ideas in mind as you pursue your seo marketing strategy.

Eye tracking studies have shown that searchers scan a search results page from top to bottom and left to right, looking for a relevant result. Placement at or near the top of the rankings therefore increases the number of searchers who will visit a site. Cool, not-to-be-missed heat map stuff.

However, more search engine referrals does not guarantee more sales. SEO is not necessarily an appropriate strategy for every website, and other Internet marketing strategies can be much more effective, depending on the site operator’s goals. You make the decision, but my feeling is that every agent website should be optimized. This article is just to make you aware of those OTHER things, like viral marketing, out there to drive traffic to your site.

A successful Internet marketing campaign may drive organic search results to pages, but it also may involve the use of paid advertising on search engines and other pages, building high quality web pages to engage and persuade, addressing technical issues that may keep search engines from crawling and indexing those sites, setting up analytics programs to enable site owners to measure their successes, and, most importantly, improving a site’s conversion rate.

SEO also should, obviously, generate a return on investment. However, search engines are not paid for organic search traffic, their algorithms change, and there are no guarantees of continued referrals. Due to this lack of guarantees and certainty, a business that relies heavily on search engine traffic can suffer major losses if the search engines stop sending visitors. That’s why SEO should be one strategy among many that drives traffic to your site.

In addition to paid search listings, websites also often receive search traffic from free, so-called organic listings. These visitors are obviously no problem, except that you can’t count on them as a sustainable strategy, since organic listings can change without notice.

According to notable technologist Jakob Nielsen, website operators should liberate themselves from dependence on search engine traffic because of this fact. That is, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

And remember this: three or four months down the road, when you’ve got some mileage on your seo strategy, let me know how you are doing. Okay?

Here’s to your SEO success!

If you haven’t done so already, subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog today!

The Most Common Cause for Preforeclosure Failure

The 2007 List Issue printed by REALTOR magazine had this to say about pre-foreclosures:

If keeping the home isn’t an option, alternatives include Sale. The lender will usually agree to a specific amount of time to find a purchaser and pay off the total amount owed. The borrower will be expected to obtain the services of a real estate professional to market the property aggressively.

This is pre-foreclosure sale, short payoff or short sale.

If the property’s sales value isn’t enough to pay the loan in full, the lender might accept less than the full amount owed to cut its losses. This option can also include a period of time to allow the borrower’s real estate professional to find a qualified buyer. A pre-foreclosure sale could provide additional funds to pay other lien holders and a few moving costs, which in turn helps out a struggling human being.

But short selling appointments have to be handled very carefully. Once you’ve made contact, be mindful of these next steps. And keep in mind, as Thomas Lucier warns, don’t contact pre-foreclosures in person.

“When on a listing appointment the agent first suspects a preforeclosure scenario, and quite possibly an indicated short sale scenario… it is essential to provide the homeowner accurate information and quickly displace and reign in the seller’s unrealistic expectations with cold hard facts,” says David Petrovick.

The agent’s task is to tell the seller what it needs to hear, not necessarily what it wants to hear.  This is Honesty.

At this critical moment, however, as psychology has it, the seller will hear what it wants to hear, and remember what it wants to remember. Most sellers are in denial up to even the 11th hour. So, Petrovick points out, great care and attention must be paid to detail, both in the collection of information from the seller, and in providing information to the seller. Only this way can you avoid making mistakes like overfixing the home or misinterpreting the value of the home or giving the seller’s false hope.

Otherwise you could fail.

Though some may be put off by the predatory stereotype of the coldhearted foreclosure vulture, the reality is far from heartless., quoting Thomas Lucier, says it best:

“Bad things happen to good people. A lot of times, things happen to people that are completely out of their control. I’ve seen it happen, especially with medical bills or companies like Enron that run off with their pension.”

Should You Start a Real Estate Blog?

According to the blog tracking site Technorati, everyday an estimated 1750,000 blogs go online. That’s almost 2 blogs created every second of every day.

The question is: should you jump on the bandwagon?

Peter Alexander at things you should…if for no other reason than to take advantage of an effective marketing tool. Peter points out that in a recent survey  by research firm MarketingSherpa, blogs were voted the No. 4 tool for generating sales leads.

So, starting a blog doesn’t sound like a bad idea, does it? Okay, well, what exactly should you blog about?

The Technology Evangelist recommends “real estate agents should blog about things like market reports, updates on local developments, real estate finance and opinions on other local real estate news.”

But it’s got to be stuff that would set you apart from other agents in your market. Then the leads might roll in…

By proving your expertise on a blog, you’ll get more phone calls from highly qualified buyers and sellers. You’ll get more referrals from agents who get to know and trust you through your blog. Furthermore, you might even get media mentions from local reports who know they can turn to you for a quote when writing on a subject you’ve carved out as your own.

Yet, before starting a blog, you have to figure out what it will be known for.

For example, our Real Estate Marketing Blog is founded on providing real estate agents tips, ideas and strategies on the four profit-pillars of real estate: prospecting, negotiating, listing and selling. These are the only areas an agent makes money in real estate and it’s why you should read this blog. It’s our cornerstone content.

What is cornerstone content?

Chris Garrett asks “Is there anything that you could point to that your blog really owns?”

“It could be a single post, a series of posts, an over-arching ‘message’. This is cornerstone content. Over the course of time, the post, series or “message” is added to and referred to repeatedly over time, increasing the original value and relevance and also keeping content fresh. And while the main benefit is branding and educational value, there are other benefits as well.”

Brian Clark, the Copyblogger, says,

“And when approached in a strategic fashion, this content can rank very well in the search engines. The key is creating compelling content that’s worth linking to, and then finding a way to get the word out.”

But as you might imagine, writing good content is hard and time-consuming.

However, the web usability guru, Jakob Neilson, writes a compelling argument on why you should make the effort. In a nutshell, you should write content rich articles to avoid commodity status. Otherwise, you’ll get lost in the garbage and your effort will be wasted. So if you are going to do it, then it’s worth the time to do it right.  In depth content is value added content that demonstrates authority, gets people to trust you and link to you and helps you rank in the search engines.

So tell me: if you don’t have a blog, are you considering starting one now? If so, when? If not, why not?  Looking forward to hearing from you!

Subscribe to the Real Estate Marketing Blog today!

12.5 Tips to Building Better Rapport on the Cell Phone

An 18th Century politician once said “The art of building rapport is making people feeling ‘connected’ to you.”

Fast forward to the 21st Century.  

Geoffrey Gitomer, author of the Little Red Book of Selling, says “You don’t need more prospects – you need more friends.”

And since we are a nation locked in it our cells with over 203 million America’s owning a cell phone, that’s why it’s important as ever to learn how to make friends on the phone.

But it’s also easier than ever, especially when you use NLP techniques like pacing, mirroring, voice tone and just plain old, everyday good manners.

Here are 12.5 tips to turn strangers on the phone into friends fast.

1. They need to be receptive. It is a good habit to always ask upfront if the person has time to talk. After the greetings, simply say, “Do you have time to talk?” Saying this makes you courteous and unobtrusive on the person’s space. When we do not have the time to talk, the only thoughts we have in our mind are wondering “How long will it be until this damn person shuts up because I’m driving in bad traffic!”

2. Let the caller know you are on a mobile phone so they can anticipate broken signals and other potential interruptions. When you are struggling with a bad signal, tell the caller you will get back to them when it is stronger.

2. Make up for no body language. Vary your voice expressions an extra 30%. If you are happy for the person about something, put an extra 30% of energy in your voice when saying “That is awesome. Congratulations.” If you are sad, then lose 30% of energy in your voice. The change of energy communicated through your voice will build a connection with your prospect.

3. Watch your voice level. Even though you’ll want to vary your voice expressions, be aware: people tend to talk louder on cell phones. And if your signal is bad, talking louder isn’t going to make it better.

4. Drop the tonality of your voice a degree. An enthusiastic, high-pitched voice will key everyone off that you are in for a sale. Lower your voice and ask to speak to the person like you were a police detective and you’ll get receptive prospects.

5. Be real. Expose yourself. During the short conversation, offer something personal: a minor flaw, the struggles you went through when you were trying to sell your house, what it was like to look for house while you were pregnant (if you were a woman, of course). This provides charm to your character.

6. Repeat their name. Our names are a sweet tune of music to our ears. It is a fast way to build a relationship.

7. Gain insight by listening. Prospect mood, hometown, and personality will all be revealed in just a few minutes on the phone. Listen for an accent.

8. Be sensitive for the mood of the prospect.If he is hot or gruff, just say “I can tell you’re busy. Why don’t be pick a more convenient time for me to call?”

9. Sell the appointment with a personal touch. If you know the prospect is a football fan, you might say, “I know I can help you sell your home. With a twenty minute appointment I can show you how I can help in fifteen minutes and with the remaining five minutes we can discuss who the Rams should draft.”

10. Get a person to talk about themselves. People love to talk about themselves, which allows you to discover important information about themselves.

11. Be aware of time. In the Northwest people expect you to get to the point immediately. In the Midwest, you might have ten minutes to build rapport. The key is to make a friend before you make a presentation.

12. Mirror speech. Words, phrases and images people use give us important information about the inner worlds they inhabit. By pacing this aspect of their speech, you are telling them that you understand them and they can trust you. When you’re talking with other people, it’s a good idea to incorporate as many of their words, phrases, and their images into your conversation as comfortably as you can. Don’t mimic other people’s accent or speak a jargon you don’t have mastery of. You should be sensitive of their level of vocabulary and imagery and try to reflect it as closely as you comfortably can. Avoid in your own speech any jargon that the other person doesn’t understand.

12.5.  This bears repeating: establish rapport before you begin your appointment pitch. The best way to win the appointment is to win the prospect.

Do you consider yourself a master of rapport…especially on the cell phone? If so, please share any tricks or tips!

The Art of Disqualifying Buyers as Rapidly as Possible

Disqualifying buyers? Is this common wisdom turned on it’s head?

You bet it is.

See, some leads that you generate don’t have the appropriate DNA (desire, need, ability).

If leads are just kicking tires, move on. If they’re looking for a house for their Aunt Mimmie who’s moving here in thirty years, move on. If you just don’t feel good about them, move on.

They’re just going to waste your time.

That’s why it’s so important that while prospecting, you need to politely identify if a lead has the right DNA. In essence, your challenge is to disqualify them as rapidly as possible using questions.

It’s the old 80/20 rule. It’s the reason the vast majority of salespeople produce a FRACTION of what top performers on the very same sales teams produce.

When you generate 100, 200 or even 300 or more buyer or seller leads a month you must thin the herd.


For instance, as your prospect base rises, you will see a diminished level of quality. But as your prospect base lowers, you’ll see a rise in the level of service you can provide. And you will also see more transactions as a result.

Imagine if you were working with 50 prospects this month. If that’s the case, then you’ll fill up your days helping those 50 prospects. Each one of those 50 prospect gets a very small sliver of your time.

This has become known as Parkinson’s Law.

Now, if you were working with 25, you would fill up your time helping them. Now, each prospect would get twice as much attention from you, which naturally means better service.

The end result: you’ll be able to develop a closer, more trusting relationship with each prospect. And the likelihood is high that those who you gave up were high-maintenance and demanding, a dangerous combination when time is scarce.

I think you’ll agree: most professional real estate agents are afraid to give up prospects. But if you focus on your highest quality prospects and devote 90% of your time serving them then you’ll reward yourself with a consistently growing business.

Got any horror stories of working with the wrong clients? Please share your story!

Top 8 Reasons Why Copywriting Is Important to Real Estate

First, what is copywriting?

In a nutshell, copywriting is nothing more than salesmanship in print. In fact, a good sales letter, website or mailer is just like having a salesperson on your team. But with one critical difference. Let me explain…

Salespeople are trained to sell or promote to one customer at a time. However, one well-written, highly-persuasive sales letter can sell to 1,000 people (or more)…at anytime of the day…in the time it takes a salesperson to sell to 10 people.

For example, if you send 1,000 postcards, 1,000 people will probably see it in a day. That’s why it’s important for you to have a persuasive message on your mailers or website. You will promote more in less time.

Now, I’ve shared one very good reason why copywriting is important. Here are seven more. And after reading each, you’ll get a better feel for copywriting. You’ll understand what it can do for you. And you’ll see why you or your team may want to invest time or money in copywriting to help your business grow to the next level.

1. Creates Selling Power. The most obvious reason why copywriting is important is this. It creates a force that will generate that lucrative, heart-pumping “I must have this or do this” buying response in customers. Result…leads triple, appointments double, commissions increase.

2. Creates a Conversation. Great copywriting is a conversation between you and your customers. And a good mailer is the perfect way to break that ice.

But it doesn’t start with you. It starts with your prospect. It speaks to him. Where he is. His hopes, dreams, fears and desires. It makes the customer feel like you have the right answer.

3. Melts Sales Resistance. Good copy will appear transparent to the reader. It will not draw attention to itself. In fact, great copy will lead the reader to think that it was his own idea to call you.

4. Boosts Response. Before launching into writing a mailer or ad, research the prospect. Probe potential and past customers. Perhaps spend some time studying human behavior in general. Your goal? Understand people’s deepest desires, fears, hopes and dreams. And when you can convince readers that you will be their answer to these desires, fears, hopes and dreams…response rises.

5. Builds Profits. A successful agent has a healthy dose of leads, transactions and profits constantly flowing. Copywriting can help you do that, too. Copywriting is the fastest and most economical (I’ll explain why it’s economical in a few paragraphs) way to propel profits in your business.

6. Improves Search Engine Rank: Great online copy does double duty. It not only knows exactly how to push a reader’s hot buttons. It not only knows how to trigger an emotional response like “Christ, my money is doomed if I don’t do something about it now!” Great copywriters know what search engines like Google are looking for. Which will help you open a floodgate of free traffic to your website.

7. Slashes Marketing Costs. It’s extremely easy to judge whether a direct response piece of copy is performing or not.

According to John Kennedy, legendary copywriter for Lord & Thomas (the world’s largest ad agency in the early 20th century), “Advertising should be judged only by the good it is conclusively known to sell, at a given cost.”

Copywriting is easy to measure. To judge. To replace if it’s way under-performing. To leave well alone if it’s pulling its weight. To test if you think it has untapped potential. And then you can strike oil in places you never expected.

Quick and Dirty Guide to Foreclosures

At this moment, there are 4 good reasons to work foreclosures.

First, there is an abundance of foreclosures.

Second, working foreclosures adds to your toolkit of buyer services.

Third, working foreclosures at pre-foreclosures stage helps out a struggling human being—the seller who is on the brink of defaulting on his loan.

Fourth, there is very little competition.

Most agents view foreclosures as junk prospects, but when RealtyTrac released some numbers on Tuesday, June 12, 2007, relating to foreclosures, all I could see was leads aplenty.

As the Good Books says: the fields are white for harvest but there are so few laborers.

According to its data, RealtyTrac said, more than 176,000 people got foreclosure notices in May, an increase of 90 percent since the same month one year ago and the highest figure ever recorded in their monthly report.

90 percent. That’s scary. But also an excellent opportunity for you to help another human being save credit, equity or face. Rewarding in itself, of course…but you’ll make a few thousand for your time, too.

Now, the first step in working this niche is finding the best ways to locate foreclosures. Bandit signs, courthouses, banks, other real estate agents and loss mitigation specialists are all good sources.

One of the best places to find foreclosures, however, is by subscribing to an online foreclosure and pre-foreclosure service.

After you’ve located them, your next step is to contact the foreclosure.

In addition to pursuing foreclosures, you could also establish some ads that would bring the foreclosures to you. There may be a higher cost, but the quality will be supreme, because these people are looking for help and have sought you out. The following message, on a flier, in the Classified section or in a homes magazine would be sufficient and to the point:

Don’t lose your home to foreclosure.
Learn your options. Preserve your credit.
For a Free Recorded Message 24 Hours a Day
Call 1-800-xxx-xxxx
Enter Extension #XXXX

Let me know in the comments if I missed something that isn’t covered by one of these resources. Happy reading!

How to Get Buyers Off the Fence Without Breaking the Law or an Arm

Only one tool can sway buyers.

It can make you persuasive beyond what you thought was possible…put people in total confidence with you…broaden your sphere of influence so fence sitters in this market will see what you recommend as the right thing. And they will act that instant.

That tool is emotion.

Famed real estate trainer Tom Hopkins once said, “You are in the emotion-building business.”

That is, you’re not selling houses—you’re selling swing sets, fireplaces, backyards, school districts, swimming pools, kitchens and Jacuzzis.

It’s the order taker who says, “Do you like this house? Would you like to put an offer on it?”

But it’s the emotional-conscious salesperson who says, “Mary, I can really tell that you like the fenced-in backyard…you would feel comfortable letting your children play for hours back there, wouldn’t you?”

When she says, “Yes,” you’ve just sold a backyard. The house just happens to go with it.

I wrote about emotions and buyers a couple of months ago and my favorite tip was the call to urgency.

For instance, pointing out that interest rates are rising will push emotional buttons that cause people to cringe at the thought of spending more money than they’d like…or even worse, losing money.

Jeff Tucker in the Agent Inner Circle forum suggested another positive way to close the deal:

“Once we wrote up the ‘Offer to Purchase’ contract I submitted it to the listing agent with a cover letter. I took a photo of the young couple and imported it to MS Word and pasted it on the cover letter with their names under the photo. My cover letter described the couple and why they wanted the seller’s home to be their home. I brought the logical transaction to an emotional point of view.”

On the buyer side of this, take a photograph of the buyer in front of every house you visit with them. Then, when they are sitting on the fence about a particular home, pull that picture out and remind them of how they felt when they stood proud in front of that home.

Another great way to use emotion is simply to maintain an enthusiastic tone—even during tense situations.

When under pressure and buyer’s are confused and indecisive, it’s easy to slip and get frustrated. The moment you do that, however, and introduce a negative emotion, your buyers will back away.

But maintain composure and say, “That’s a good topic. I’m glad you brought it up. Let’s talk about that…” and your buyer’s will see you as a strong pillar in a difficult storm, which creates feelings of awe and loyalty to what you ultimately say.

And one final word of caution: use emotion sparingly. Like former Hilton CEO David Michaels says, “Emotion is a valuable too—if you don’t over use it.”

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