15 Power Prospecting Tips for Lead Generation – Merrily Hackett

Merrily Hackett of Sutton Group West Coast Realty Vancouver

Merrily Hackett, CEO of Sutton Group West Coast Realty is enjoying a phenomenal career in real estate. I’ve talked about her a number of times because she’s a great role model for any salesperson or business person.

Having built 3 separate brokerages in the Vancouver area, and leading SG-WCR’s 25 office brokerage, she’s showing us how to outcompete the competiton.

Last year, U.S.-based author and speaker Stefan Swanepoel ranked Hackett at No. 15 on his list of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Residential Real Estate. Sutton – West Coast made 16,500 unit sales and over $11 billion in sales volume in 2014, which Hackett calculates brings them in at No. 5 in North America.

Create Quality Time for Relationship Building

Let’s not say “prospecting” anymore. Let’s call it relationship building.

You absolutely need to develop productive relationships with mortgage agents, renovators, landscapers, home inspectors, and prospects that include seniors and young couples.

Comprehensive Agile Digital Marketing Programs for Realtors

In an interview with Real Estate Magazine, Merrily talks about the importance of relationship building and how realtors need to focus on this key business development activity.

“It’s what I see over and over with agents that fail. I used to block off three to four hours daily for lead generation. That included calling expired listings, door knocking and cold calling, reaching out to a sphere of influence on a daily basis, asking people for referrals and to keep me top of mind. I was on the phone connecting with people, ensuring that pipeline was full. Consistency was key. You need to believe in yourself. Many times as a commissioned salesperson, you have those fearful thoughts and moments. A new agent has to have the expectancy and positive feeling that it’s going to come together.” — Merrily Hackett interview in REMonline.

15 Prospecting Tips to Build your Focus and Optimism

Here’s 15 useful prospecting tips –  a process to optimize your realtionship building.

  1. Vary your approach and method. Know your scripts, but go easy. A script is just a testing tool, not a final approach to relationship building. Be a friendly person first because people may find talking to a realtor boring. A warm introduction, maybe a comment on weather and economy to gauge their mood, then tell them your call is short and to the point – do they know anyone in their neighborhood, and about their family and friends that might be moving, BECAUSE, buyers are very eager to buy and you’d like to help them get a better price. Those are legitimate reasons.
  2. Segment all your prospects into relevant groups (hot, cold, buyers, sellers, advocates,mortgage agents, home services, etc) so you can develop unique approaches to each and have unique value for each. Think about how you’ll describe and present your unique value proposition for each type of prospect or advocate.
  3. Coach your advocates and give them support –  the people who may refer business to you sometimes need a little guidance if they have a hot lead. Tell them how to present you to them. Find out why they’re buying or selling — what’s the payoff for the person? With that knowledge, you can explain to your advocate how you’re relevant. With a little purpose, your advocate will make you look good, as opposed to you being part of an offhand comment.
  4. Relax — if you can afford it, you might want to consider getting a massage before you do your prospecting on the phone — you’ll appear friendlier, less threatening, more trustworthy, and more fun to talk to. Call them with a smile on your face and with your goal being networking, enjoying the moment, and finding good prospects. Sales comes later. Right now, you’ve gotta be thinking people and fun.
  5. Set aside 3 hours every day for phone calls to generate interest, gather information and make appointments. Build a positive attitude toward prospecting, that it’s the most important part of your day.
  6. Forgive prospects who waste your time and forgive yourself for wasting their time — this helps you to avoid guilt and other feelings that’ll weigh you down
  7. Remind yourself often that what you’re doing is important.  You’re helping people achieve their dreams and that’s more important that anything they’re doing right now. Their friends and contacts should be glad you’re in this to help them.
  8. Spend more time with your hot or top prospects — when you’re getting close, keep in touch and always be ready to offer help, information, and support for their decisions
  9. Have more value to offer — the more value you have to offer, the less likely prospects and advocates will consider you irrelevant. They’re not rejecting you really, you’ve failed to provide value in insight, help, and support.  How about mentioning the mortgage calculator on your website, the great mortgage agent you know who could save them money, or renovator/designer who could help them with a quick remodel to lift the selling price?
  10. Use consultative selling techniques to find every person’s most important needs and hurdles — be the person who creates a path for everyone to their dreams
  11. Spend your face to face time wisely by discussing the buyer/seller’s dreams – find out what their success symbols are and their favorite places to visit. Whether country or city, new home or old, the faster you find out what they want, the more likely they’ll choose you.
  12. Calculate how much prospecting/phone time and marketing effort it took to generate a successful lead.
  13. Keep in mind what buyers and sellers really want — a better lifestyle and ask them what their key priorities are as they begin to plan for their purchase/sale. In the end, it’s all about lifestyle and knowing what it is they’re really after is vital
  14. Study up on a new community that you haven’t explored and become an expert on the lifestyle value of that community
  15. Ask prospects what’s holding them back and ensure you develop a list of responses to help

Here’s Kevin Ward with his tips on prospecting. How about finding more people to talk to via Google and Social Media? Just a thought.

And Liz of Keller Williams with social media prospecting. Build relationships first then nurture them along with value, entertainment, and recognition.

Prospecting is a key part of good sales process and it hasn’t hurt Merrily Hackett’s business success. If your lead funnel is too weak, this might be the best thing ever for your career.  Now you can justify pursuing a strong Internet marketing program.

Let’s get started right now!


Related posts: Housing Market | Car Insurance |  SEO Consultant Vancouver | SEO Consultant Los AngelesRental Housing Market Outlook |  Los Angeles Housing Market | Toronto Housing Market | San Diego Housing Market | Real Estate Agents | Future of Real Estate | Toronto Real Estate SEO | Vancouver Real Estate SEO | Vancouver Condos | Toronto Condos | Vancouver Housing ForecastDigital Marketing for Realtors | Realtor Branding | Toronto MLS | Merrily HackettReal Estate SEO Specialist | Top Real Estate Lead Generation Sources | How to Choose a Real Estate Agent | Housing Market in San Francisco

Gord Collins — Real Estate SEO Expert serving businesses in Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, St Louis, Minneapolis, Green Bay, Charlotte, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Ottawa, Oshawa, Hamilton, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Oakville, Calgary, Kelowna, Mississauga, Anaheim, Beverly Hills, Malibu, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Fresno, Santa Clara, Sacramento, Mountainview, Palo Alto, Portland, Washington, Atlanta, Irvine, Nashville, Sunnyvale, Salt Lake City, Riverside, Rancho Cucamonga, Costa Mesa, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Raleigh, Albuquerque, Glendale, Oceanside, Long Beach, Huntington Beach, Carlsbad, Santa Clarita,  Henderson, Mesa, Temecula, Kirkland, Redmond, Kansas City, St Louis, Stockton, Scottsdale, Palm Springs, Indianapolis, Columbus, Colorado Springs, Fort Worth, Chula Vista, Escondido, Santa Monica, Miami Beach, and Honolulu.

Social Media Listening for Real Estate Agents

You Social Media Listening Strategy – Techniques and Tools

A good number of realtors pride themselves on their ability to listen and empathize with their clients wants and needs. That’s all good, but if you can’t even find your prospects or reach your inner circle of key clients, how will you hear their voice? Answer: social media media listening!

Perhaps I can help you connect with your inner circle of clients, and even forecast who will be a prospect better than we can forecast the real estate market?

Listening for Clues

Social Listening has to be the biggest trend in digital marketing right now, and that includes generating leads for real estate agents.  It’s a technique that you can get the jump on your competitors and help you prospect better. Listening into conversations helps you find out what the trending topics are, monitor for activities and interests, and allow you to enter conversations with prospects. My role with you goes far beyond being an SEO specialist to helping you build your realtor image and unique value proposition to leverage high quality content and social media engagement. You will need to become proficient at social media listening.

What is Social Listening? A process predicting future clients and engaging current clients by monitoring words, comments, topics from a defined group of people and then engaging with them using relevant content, feedback and responses

I’m going to introduce you to social listening and some key software tools to help you with social listening for real estate. This way, you can develop your own prospect predictive intelligence tool to power up your ability to zero on the best prospects. Definitely an evolution in realtor prospecting technique.

Social Media Listening Questions

You might have a lot of questions on  and what to use and how to use it: [bctt tweet=”How to Start a Social Listening Strategy #Realtors #SMB #SocialMedia” username=””]

  • whose comments and accounts do I monitor?
  • who is a social influencer in my target neighbourhoods?
  • what do people in my neighbourhoods chat about on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter
  • should I get involved in people’s broadcast emails where they send out material to all the people they know?
  • which words and topics should I be monitoring for?
  • what are the things these people do and are interested in?

Hopefully, we’ll have all of your questions answered by the end of this EPIC post!

A New Focus on Social Media

Why social media and social media listening? Social media allows everyone to let loose and express themselves. They tweet and instagram and snapchat their faces off. And were you were complaining? Well no more, because when they express themselves, you get cues as to whether they’re interested in moving, buying or selling. And that’s music to your ears! Whatever social channel they prefer, you can have a good listen, and then you’re able to respond and engage that person slowly.


Learn to love social media. There’s a reason people spend so much time on it so don’t judge and don’t turn your back to it. It’s very fortunate that right now, that you can collect all this chatter via various platforms using data feeds and look for clues to real estate prospect’s behavior and intentions.

The beauty of social media is that more info is available to about the individual, where they live, where they go during the day, and their conversations with others. In, fact you can stimulate some of that conversation yourself and purposefully get people talking about topics that lets them divulge their intentions.  You could launch the conversations that leads to key insights. For instance, lets say you create an article about neighborhoods in your city, schools, restaurants, businesses, about types of homes, and you get your connections to respond to them. That’s a fantastic content strategy to get the information you need.

You can’t get this information from Google, because Google won’t let you have it and because they want to leverage it for themselves (and make politicians look like the villains. And you thought the Google guys were dummies:))

Turns out that social media hasn’t been oppressed as yet, so there’s time to utilize social engagement and posting for marketing. This data comes from normal internet connectivity and from involvement in social channels and from the cloud and Big data. Very technical sources of user information yet handy because over time users reveal quite a bit about themselves and their daily thoughts, values, activities and intentions.

Social Media Listening Tools

From Hootsuite to Talkwalker to SmartZip, there’s apps you can use and which you may have to experiment with to get the results you’re hoping for. Some have developed data filters and database processing algorithms that discover patterns of behaviour. A few companies such as SmartZip have programmers who comb through all that data and discover paths to purchase. So from early conversations, they can tell where that chatter is actually leading. Your chatter is directly related to your goals. You think they’re hidden and personal but they’re not.

Your chatter reveals what you value and where you’re headed. If you keep talking about Vancouver Canada, it doesn’t take a genius to know you’re going to move there. A realtor can pick up on that via social media listening and other sources and offer a way to make your dream a reality. Because realtors are just people who make dreams comes true.

You’re a realtor. Does Sothebys, Remax, Century21, ColdwellBanker, Homelife, Royal Lepage, Keller Williams and other brokerages give you this precog awareness of people’s desires and intentions? From what I hear, absolutely not. You have to take the initative and get this done.

Fortunately, you have an ally in this quest (me). So let’s find out how you can use social media to listen for these cues that help you sniff out a seller like a hound dog. When Elvis said “you ain’t nothin but a hound dog“, well you know he meant now:)

Your Social Media Listening Strategy

A strategy is plan that uses tools and a systematic method to carry out tasks that will generate the insight and connections with prospective clients.

  1. use tools to find prospects in your designated towns, zip codes, and neighbourhoods and start or seed your strategy with them first (start with your own client list)
  2. discover or compile a list of words and topics that people commonly use such as neighborhood, broker name, mortgage, moving, commute, garage sale, landscaping, windows, renovation, roofing, school, and the questions that your prospects would be using if they were going to move to a neighborhood
  3. audit your website content to compile a list of pages/videos etc that you use to generate conversations or take part in conversations
  4. create a list of all the content you need to develop to be more informative, compelling and responsive
  5. find a social media tool that will allow you to listen to people in a specific geographic region
  6. discover those who are talking about you or praising you and compile their social accounts
  7. compile a lost of local business owners, politicians, clubs, and other influential people’s social accounts to follow/listen
  8. be active and tweet or message about people, events, places and topics – seed the conversation with interesting, fun comments

Social Media Listening Tools

Here’s a few of the best tools available to help do social media listening for real estate:

Talkwalker Real Estate Agent example, using app for Hootsuite

Yelps Strong Local Coverage Makes it a Worthy Component for social listening

If you’d like to do social media listening on your own, you can set up a Hootsuite account and begin listening on all your social media accounts.

Mention is yet another app you can use to begin listening on your accounts.

This social listening infographic talks about sentiment, share of voice, trust, responsiveness and more that you need to be more familiar with.

Infographic courtesy of PWC.com

Real Estate from 2107 to 2020

There are so many new technology, technique, influencers, and trends impacting on the markets.  To help you become more informed have a good look at some of the latest posts:

Toronto Housing Market Forecast | Los Angeles Housing Market | Lead GenerationTREB Market Report | Importance of a Real Estate Agent | Housing Market | Future of Real Estate Marketing | Vancouver Condos | Toronto Condos | Lead Generation | UVP of Lead Generation Companies | Lead Pospecting Tips | Blogging Tips |  Luxury Realtors |  Toronto MLS | Realty SEO Specialist | Real Estate Lead Generation | How to Choose the Best Real Estate Agent | Real Estate Lead Generation | Zillow Lead Service

Predictive Analytics for Real Estate and Mortgage Agents

Forecasting Buyer / Seller Behavior?

I can predict you’ll be meeting more buyers and sellers in 2018 if you get smart about your marketing. And your strategy might include some new technology that’s giving realtors predictive powers. Who wouldn’t want their own crystal ball?

For instance, let’s say you discovered 300 young people, graduated and employed (linkedin), mentioning moving, houses, lack of space, frustration, or weddings (facebook), and displaying intent on instagram, blogs, twitter and other social media. Those behaviors tell you which of the 300 have the highest purchase intent.

Sellers too, express things long before they actually decide to sell such as retirement locations, health issues, kids moving, travel, and vehicle expenses etc. These are the events that lead to the sale of a house.

I Wish I Knew More about My Target Prospects

Your biggest challenges as a real estate agent or mortgage agent is a lack of information about potential clients and what they’re up to – especially for seller leads. Think of the potential value of you knowing who might be buying or selling way ahead of everyone else?

See the videos below and you’ll learn something fascinating.

Forecasting or predictive analytics is a dominant technology innovation happening right now and obviously has big implications for marketing and sales. Companies such as SmartZip have hopped on it and are providing techniques to mine social media activity to predict buying behavior.

There are other companies too, such Adgorithms who use artificial intelligence software to assess click behavior which leads to buying and selling.

What if you could watch your social media followers and draw a good picture of when they might be ready to sell?

Predicting Buyer and Seller Behavior

Google itself is into predictive modeling/analytics extensively with their RankBrain technology. They use it to serve up ads to searchers because they know what consumers will be searching for next in their buying journey. It’s sort of a precognition unit of Google. It works and has grown their ad revenue significantly.

Tom Cruise in Minority Report image courtesy of tvtropes.com

Major national real estate forecasters have had access to excellent market data to map out predictions on housing markets resulting in a few good predictions (well, okay very few:)  So forecasting and prediction can work if there is enough high quality data, and an algorithm which can filter through it.

Amazon has their AI software helping them predict what their customers are going to buy next based on past searching and buying behavior. Then they suggest behaviors and products to their visitors.

It’s easy to lead someone if you know where they’re going.

You may have watched the Steven Spielberg movie Minority Report starring Tom Cruise. If not, check it out on Netflix.  The movie presented an interesting corollary to predictive modeling and predictive analytics. In it, 3 human brains are used as “precognitive” oracles and are fed all the data known (big data) in order to predict every person’s future behavior.

This is the beginning of what may become the precog world of the future. I’ll introduce you to one of the most intriguing lead generation services going — SmartZip which is unique approach to real estate sales forecasting.

How to Read Homesellers and Home Hunters Minds

What if you had some sort of crystal ball or oracle that could tell you where people wanted to live and when they were going to buy a home or condo? What if you could narrow down the most likely home seller leads?

With Predictive Analytics, real estate agents may be able set up and use their own predictive modeling of their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Linkedin, and other feeds to find buyer and seller leads, and other realty trends. This could help with your word of mouth networking since it at the very minimum gets you to focus on the daily activities and psychology of your connections.

The Amount of Data Available keeps Growing

Work that Data!  Predictive analytics or predictive modeling.  That’s why programmers are making so much money and why some startups are hot properties themselves. Investors and businesses want to know what and when their customers will purchase in the coming days to years.

As a realtor, this information can also help you find buyers in your city or those interested in your city, who may want to sell their home and buy another.

How do they do it? Analytics experts are extracting data from social listening and other data held or data transferred in the cloud. Whatever activity is viewable and therefore downloadable, is extracted into a database and analyzed.

Big Data, and There’s Small Data Too

Big Data as it’s called is often collected from the cloud and other private databases and pooled to create an informative source of real estate information for realtors, investors, developers, politicians and civic planners. And the other part, small data, is the stuff you can collect from your own circle of connnections (social media).

The process might also be called data mining, however the semantics of it all is confusing. The key point of predictive analytics is that this huge amount of data makes it possible to extract patterns of behaviour online and foresee possible future behaviours and intentions.

The experts including those at NAR are using it to predict housing prices and investment risk. Understandably, a lot of people are pumped up about predictive analytics.

“Linking information can give you an incredibly detailed picture,” he said. “NAR’s strategy going forward is to determine the strategy and initial objective, identify models worth emulating, assess existing Realtor® resources, acquire and develop missing capabilities, run a pilot project, and then scale up.” – NAR 2013.

Core Logic is one such company utilizing data from the MLS databases.

Key CoreLogic ListingTrends metrics include leading indicators of house prices, listing inventories, days on market, and absorption rates by listing type—new, active, pending, closed, and sold. With deep and broad coverage of U.S. Multiple-Listing Services (MLS) data, CoreLogic ListingTrends provides monthly snapshots of time-series housing data—at the ZIP Code-level.



Enter SmartZip Predictive Analytics for Realtors

In a previous post on , I mentioned Smartzip, who offers services for real estate agents and mortgage lenders. You’d be wise to check out their service packages and give them a try. They offer insight on ZIP code level which is a little more practical and relevant or the average agent. This can work in concert with my work as your real estate SEO specialist.

What you’ll want to focus on with SmartZip is their data backed selling predictions service to identify seller leads. If you’re selling income generating condos, luxury homes, rental properties, commercial real estate or purpose built student housing investment units, SmartZip could be a big asset.

SmartZip uses up to 24 segments or 2000 variables of data from a number of large listings and real estate firms. As Peter Grace, SmartZip VP says, “You’ve got a 1-in-20 chance in finding a potential seller client if you randomly knock on doors… but you’ve got a 1-in-10 chance if you knock on the doors we tell you to knock on.”

According to a report on mortgagenews.com, that after identifying the best prospects, SmartZip provides a multi-channel marketing program that produces emails and direct mail pieces, including digitally hand-written letters and post cards. It also has a backend lead management CRM feature that looks good. What can it integrate with?

SmartZip’s latest development is called Sphere Targeting – offering home seller analytics and targeted marketing campaigns for an agent’s sphere of influence — or your databases. You upload your personal contact databases to Sphere Targeting’s predictive analytics engine and their software delivers rich data insights and seller predictions for each contact on an ongoing basis. Very interesting.

SmartZip Reviews and Testimonials

Avi Gupta, President of SmartZip explains how SmartZip Works

If you combine predictive analytics with SEO, social media marketing, PPC and maybe remarketing, you’ve got a powerful online arsenal.

Houses for Sale in Los Angeles | Houses for Sale in Manhattan | Houses for Sale Boston | Houses for Sale in San Diego | Houses for Sale San Francisco | Denver Houses for Sale | Homes for Sale in Phoenix | Real Estate Marketing |Housing Forecast | Best Performing Real Estate Investments

Do Lead Generation Companies Deliver the Leads?

Exploring the Value Proposition of Online Lead Generation Companies

Previously you met 18 online lead generation companies who offered to help you with your real estate lead  generation in a previous post. You’re likely pondering each of their value propositions and assessing the true merits of their lead gen programs. I spoke of their merits but I can’t really recommend any of them. You might think differently.

Online Lead GenerationThey may range from low quality unfiltered lead lists to full blown ppc lead referral systems via Google or Realtor.com or predictive modeling of a buyer market. Sounds interesting, however you may also be assessing the opportunity cost of not initiating your own lead generation or prospecting website system.

The hot lead markets in Vancouver, Toronto, Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco has put lead generation on the back burner because leads are so easy to come by. Everyone is buying selling now. The Toronto real estate forecast is particularly strong and Vancouver’s isn’t cooling much.

Online lead generation is an internet marketing process that attempts to initiate interest or an inquiry by real estate prospects and send them over to a subscribing realtor. These leads could be categorized either as a marketing lead or a sales lead.

Are They Referring the Leads Realtors Want?

Too often, these real estate lead generation websites  (such as bold leads, agent locator, agent pronto, offrs, etc, ) sell you more than you asked for, yet not quite enough high quality seller leads. It would be ideal if they fed their pipeline into your own lead conversion process. Do they scrape from the MLS listings?

Most quality realtors already use a CRM, lead management, lead scoring, and conversion interface and some may develop quite a lot of traffic and deals using it. What if you wanted to use many of these cheap lead starter programs and feed them into your platform?

And they do sell you programs, not so much live active leads. Programs first and leads second might be a warning, since these are not custom systems that you retain ownership of and they work with hundreds of other realtors. A good buyer referral is valuable and worth a hundred times more than $19.95. Why would a company give away leads for nothing? Are they leads from first time buyers who can’t make the minimum downpayment and are just kicking tires?

It’s Their Real Estate Lead Generation System

Most of these firms want to you bring your business into their system and that has the potential for conflict and issues down the line (especially since the email address is theirs). You will want to read your contract very carefully, because these companies keep a weak, impersonal, automated relationship with their subscribers. It could be a headache to have several of them going simultaneously (and why wouldn’t you use many of them if they’re that good?)

Check Your Expectations

What can you expect for $19.95 a month for a lead generation platform? #lol, probably not a lot, in fact, it could be distracting you from better lead generation strategies. These inquirers could drain your time and energy. Do millionaire real estate agents bother with these lead gen companies? Why not just do an Adwords and Facebook cost per click campaign yourself?

Using the lead generation company’s website, you’re bringing your leads through their system, and they may treat these referrals as their property. Social media is shown to shorten sales cycles, but can you integrate your own accounts successfully with their system?

The Positive Outlook

On the positive side, some of these systems such as bold leads or market leader, provide you with a ready made lead capture and conversion process with tools to capture, nurture, and convert to an actual customer. They target via high volume advertising (but they still pay Google the same rates as you would pay). So I’m skeptical of these lead generation companies, however I would caution that they’re only additions to your own online lead generation tactics.

What the Lead Generators May Offer:

⦁ website template
⦁ landing page templates
⦁ web lead forms
⦁ open rates, clicks, unsubscribes, engagement
⦁ campaign management
⦁ drip emails
⦁ automated scripts for communicating with prospects
⦁ CRM tools
⦁ mass texting and voicemail blasts
⦁ report generators
⦁ lead tracking
⦁ ppc management
⦁ geo targeting
⦁ social media integration
predictive data analytics for prospect behavior forecasting (offrs.com)
⦁ exclusive territories (offrs.com)
⦁ exclusive advertising networks
⦁ mailing lists (experian)

Screen Courtesy of Inman

I’ll leave you with a report called the Special Report: The Bottom Line on Online Leads  published by by Inman in early 2015. There have been quite a few new entrants in the online leads market since then, but this reports has boatloads of information you’ll appreciate reading.

Inman’s report was from a survey of a good number of agents yet the real estate lead generation companies I covered in my post are not mentioned in this survey.  Review carefully if you’re going to put all your funds and time into one of these platforms.  Better to find out now than be stuck with big headaches and disappointment later.

Check out and compare my affordable realtor marketing services. Check what’s ahead for the US housing market forecast for 2017 to 2020 and in the hot markets of Vancouver and Toronto.

Trust in B2B or B2C — 10 Essentials of Trustworthiness

It’s All About Their Trust in You: Will You Deliver the Promised Value?

The trust factor is an important business decision point today. We all need reliable, competent, and trustworthy partners. Let’s discover the 10 essentials of trust, including the trust-building power of success.

When you’re developing connections that you hope will become clients/customers, trust will be a big chunk of your brand image and unique value proposition.  It may be at the core of what others see in you. In fact, trust is central to likability because we generally don’t like people who will cause us a lot of misery.

Trust is important because people don’t like losing. It hurts their self-esteem and confidence when they get ripped off, feelings hurt, they lose time and money, and their own trustworthiness is affected. Mistrust is like bad Karma even if you think it’s not deserved. It’s all relative to how they see life and people.

Relevance, integrity, competence, drive, consistency, communication, transparency, commitment and more traits are all part of this picture of trust we develop.  Hopefully you’ll be able to convey this to your prospects and clients via your Website and social posts. They trust that you want to make them successful and they’re confident of your presence in their business life.

If there’s a poor fit between you and them, integrity will fail, and then trust will spiral downward. So, much of what we call trust is actually an extension of relevance and compatibility. But even with perfect compatibility, the trust traits must be present. (e.g., without communication, trust and confidence will erode).

Trust in the Online World

Found on stevesipress.com Steve Sipress

Google’s search engine ranks web pages and web sites based on a number of factors, but trustworthiness is one the top things they look for (Trustrank or Trust Factor).  They actually have a way of determining whether a page is reputable or deceptive.

What Customers Want

They want closer, more familiar and personal relationships, even in business. They want to talk with you, laugh, cry, agonize, and share their joys.

If you expose your “self” online then your initial meeting gets off to a great start.    By letting them discover common interests with you, know what you believe and value, and how you behave and express yourself, you’re making it easy for them to discover you as a reliable, competent, understood and trustworthy provider.

The Components of Trust

  1. Familiarity – are you like other people they know and have trusted?
  2. Similar values – do you value the same things?
  3. Relevance – are your relevant to their life and mission?
  4. Transparency – are your motives and behaviour visible?
  5. Integrity — will you be fair and ethical?
  6. Experience – do you have experience in their sector?
  7. Shared experiences — are there events/activities you have in common?
  8. Dependable and committed – what is your intent and do you follow through with agreements?
  9. Empathy — do you show you understand them and like them?
  10. Competence & Success — people trust success because it’s proof everything worked and they’re not about to suffer the humiliation of loss — they trust your POWER.

Transparency does differentiate. And it’s powerful. Transparency helps to deliver all the components of trust.  More business people are blogging and tweeting, and essentially, this is just a way to let strangers know who you are and to consider you as relevant.

If you’re hidden, it tells them you’re an old school guy hiding in the bushes. They can’t help thinking they’re going to get ambushed and robbed. Just as in personal relationships, openness and vulnerability are huge assets in developing trust. Let people know who you are, even with your flaws, and stand behind that message.

Natural, Organic Relations

As part of their day, in their quest for deeper insight, prospects arrive at your website. They will read a lot because they want to get to know you before they agree to a lasting relationship with you. An advertisement or a cold sales call isn’t organic and no trust has been established.

I’m a content strategist which means I’m responsible for creating content that captivates, informs, entices and builds a relationship or connection with customers. Hopefully the voice of that content resonates well with the customers I’m hoping to attract. As a business development manager, you’re using your content to mate with your targeted prospect’s needs. If you can build trust and prove fulfillment on many levels, you won’t have to sell anything.

Trust and credibility are key to customers.  Any branding and content strategy has to play up trust and credibility.

If your Realty IDX website isn’t performing well, then check the trustworthiness of your content, style and presentation. Your content strategy should be built on a foundation of trustworthiness.

Check out my articles on Rankbrain, ranking factors and essentials of SEO.

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Growth Hacking – 12 Super Growth Hacks for Realtors and Brokers

Hack Your Way to More Home Sales

Realtors, my quest is to lift you out of your doldrums and help you hack your way to success. Remember Remax’s old slogan “Above The Crowd.” That was brilliant. Sure stuck in my mind when I was young. Putting floating billboards into the sky was a great promotional hack.  And they’re still number one.

What is Realtor Growth Hacking?

drevilhackingGrowth hacking isn’t slashing your way through the digital jungle with a machete and has nothing to do with Dr. Evil. But it will be your secret weapon

Growth hacking is concept most used to describe tech innovation for improved marketing.  Actually, and more importantly, it’s a process of making incremental improvements in your realty business. It’s a strategy to grow despite the fact that your resources, assets, talents and opportunities are meager or just don’t match up. For RE/MAX corp, growth might be paved with cash and power, but for you the single Realtor, the improvement road is rocky because you lack the funds, the knowledge, the resources, and opportunities.

Growth hacking is innovating with technology, creative content ideas, connecting with prospects, and a habit of promoting yourself and improving your unique value proposition to grow those needed opportunities.

For instance, it could be creating your compelling, unique your value proposition, building your network of contacts, prospecting and improving marketing strategy bit by bit.

Here’s a cool dozen ways to hack your way to real estate marketing and sales success.

  1. Partner with a mortgage agent and a reputable reno contractor. Teaming up with an independent mortgage broker improves your value proposition. Lowest interest rates, flexible terms, and other financing benefits catch prospect’s eyes. A reno contractor supports your value proposition of maximizing the sales worthiness of their home. You can work more effectively with these two partners and share info that will create business for all of you.
  2. Write an especially attractive, high quality enewsletter. Not just an average enewsletter, but instead, a once in a blue moon masterpiece; what they call evergreen content that lasts and lasts and can be updated. It has to be visual and contain plenty of rare, exciting information. It’s worth it to hire a good graphic artist to help you with the design and layout. Make a slightly different version for each of your top ten neighborhoods. This way you’re drilling down to a level that homeowners find useful and relevant.
  3. Write an especially good blog post on how to raise the value of a home or condo and make it ready for sale. Again, this is practical good advice. In your post, mention local plumbers, electricians, renovators, landscapers, roofers, deck builders, pool installers, bathroom specialists, window and building supply companies, and other contractors and make them shine. Tell all these local contractors and companies that they are mentioned in your downloadable pdf, and that they are free to distribute it to their website visitors. Remind them how visitors are looking for good content. Now you’re putting local people’s networks to work for you.
  4. followrocketlogo
    Follow Rocket is a great new Growth Hacking App that maximizes your Twitter campaigns – check it out!

    Tweet local events on a new Twitter page. People are interested in local events within a 10 mile radius of their location. You can include sports, educational, and other events held by local business. Every local business is doing something so talk about it. Use Hootsuite to automate posts so you’re active all day long and consider using Follow Rocket to really amp up your campaign.

  5. Go out to dinner at a new restaurant once a week and write a friendly review. Give an honest account of your experience and the food, atmosphere, and how such an experience made your life and your family and friend’s lives better. Take some pics and video. Put an accent on celebration without appearing boastful or elitist. Everyone enjoys seeing quiet relaxation and celebration.
  6. Identify a well known or well networked person in your city and connect with them. Study what their online goals are and what value they’re trying to create. Retweet them, quote them, and ask them questions via Twitter or Facebook. Share some of their content with your network of contacts. Add intelligent views and insight and they may share your content or comments with others.
  7. Test your SEO and PPC campaigns. Don’t even do PPC unless you have a plan to find what works with laser accuracy. PPC doesn’t work as well today so testing all the headings and material in your landing page is smart. And testing your ad text to increase not just clicks, but clicks from good prospects. Write blogs on a range of relevant topics and use Google analytics to see how long people read and where they click on your pages.
  8. Have your assistant curate cool content to share via social.  Infographics, photos from houzz.com, youtube videos, house improvement hacks, recipes, travel destination posts, and other items from around the web. Share these on Facebook (Facebook users love Lifehacks) Twitter, and on your blog.
  9. Write blog posts on interesting topics with different headings, pics, and other content.  Use Google analytics to measure which are most effective in impressions, time on page and creating new contacts. You can blog on entertainment, music, sports, investment, and other popular topics but always spin each of them for your intended audience. Be bold and remember, interesting is good, and music and humor smooths out any rough edges!growthhackercartoon
  10. Run an online contest. Promote it on your social pages, blog and print advertising. A visa card, 4K TV, vacation to Vancouver, Seattle or Banff, drone helicopter, spa vacation or dining out evening at a posh restaurant are a few unique prizes that catch people’s eyes and get them talking.
  11. Run promotions and create content specifically for women. The truth is that today, women do most of the buying, including homes and are more active online. As a test, run different promo campaigns that focus on them and their interests and perspective. See if it gets any traction via your social pages, blogs, and email campaigns.
  12. Tell stories. There’s a big belief that storytelling with pictures is very powerful and moving. Talk about your daily adventures, because believe it or not, your best prospects want to hear them. Get over your negativity and inferiority complex and let people in on how you create value for them. Your customer’s trials and tribulations and how they got over them are excellent storylines, as are any misunderstandings of real estate rules. Talk about others stories if you have none of your own. Human experience is compelling. If it’s relevant to them, they’ll like it.

Growth hackers like to measure performance of their initiatives so take note of what you’re doing and please don’t be afraid to experiment. People who don’t experiment or take some chances and can’t take a little disappointment, can’t move ahead. Growth hacking means having an open mind to the best solutions for you. Be a true growth hacker realtor and commit to the winding, up and down path to excellence.

The 5 Steps of Growth Hacking – Perry Belcher – Interesting insights and tips to increase sales.

Here’s Jeff Bullas’ Growth Hacker Personality profile. Go ahead and develop some of these personality traits.



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 I can help grow your knowledge of SEO, Social Media, and content strategy expertise.  I offer clients knowledge equity in addition to outstanding results. Let’s talk now at 416 998 6246.


Instead of Fearing Disruption, Why not Leverage It?

Why You Should Believe in Disruption

The word disruption means entirely different things to many people. Increasingly, it’s becoming a very positive word in our vocabulary, particularly digital marketers. As you can see in the graphic above, disruptive companies are thriving. Is your business disruptive, or being disrupted? Are you looking beyond the waves of change to see what’s on the horizon?

Someone has to modify how things are understood and done. That modification is called disruption. Let’s not confuse disruption with new apps on Google play. This is about new ways of fulfilling your customers.

In fact, if you don’t disrupt your current unique value proposition and brand promise, you’ll find customers fleeing you and your advertising. The new disruptive business model makes your business relevant to what’s happening online and in customer word of mouth. Keep pace, and even Google will find your business and domain more relevant. You need to infuse the promise of disruption into your marketing.

Dr. Lalia Rach, said, in an interview before her  presentation on Navigating the Era of Disruption, about the recent M&A’s and whether that would create change in the hotel industry: “I wish I could say that it would push the industry forward, out of the past into today and tomorrow, but I am not convinced that will be the result. The need for progressive, thoughtful difference has never been more pronounced yet too often what we see is bigger companies doing the same thing.

Disruption in Real Estate, Hotels, Travel, and IT

In real estate and hotel industries, customers have more options. After they visit your site, they go to many other web sites for realtors, mortgages and insurance or for restaurants, tours, local attractions and experiences. They’re looking for a solution that resonates with them.

What they’re looking for is the best compelling, relevant unique value proposition. Helping them feel and want that new unique value proposition is the correct promotional goal. They’re leaving your site because they don’t like your unique value proposition and they found your customer experience lacking in satisfaction. It isn’t your web design, or your call to action, your flyers or drip email campaign. The bar is raised and you have to bring in real value.

If you’re still reading to this point, it means you’re smart and you have the kind of determination to persist to create the right solution. I’ve learned that cheap solutions don’t fool anyone. You need to disrupt, evolve and outcompete to win.  Traffic is good only if you can convert them to customers. You should be asking “what is the best relevant, compelling, unique value proposition and how can I make them feel this?”  Because their emotions do the buying.

In the case of Airbnb and Uber, people love the feeling they get when they save money or experience transportations and accommodation in a new way. Taxis and hotels must disrupt their brand image to provide a richer experience than a “ride and a room.”  How are the major hotels doing lately?


Uber and Airbnb are Telling us Something 

airbnbsmallThe success of the ride sharing business Uber gives us more warning that our business and personal lives are being disrupted at a faster pace. Here’s a regulated sector that’s getting deregulated quick by popular demand. airbnb too breaks the mold and lets anyone vacation cheaply.

It’s easy to see that rapid change is only being slowed by government regulation.  However, in a global economy, governments are learning they can’t stop disruption.  We’re learning we need to know more about it and how to use it ourselves.

Service businesses that don’t use social features to lower barriers and increase efficiency will likely not survive long — from a Bloomberg report.

Smart entrepreneurs aren’t just learning about disruption and reacting to it, they’re actively applying disruptive techniques to create a competitive advantage. Adopting social media is disruptive. The new digital marketing is actually forcing professionals to change how customers will experience their service. I’m suggesting that you learn it and love it, apply it creatively and not just view it as some dark threat.

This post is also about your evolution from old school to new digital omnichannel marketing. You already know traditional marketing is dying as your customers plug into more digital channels. I’m stealing back the phrase omnichannel marketing from the retail people because retail is dying too. Retail gurus have tried to disrupt by relegating digital channels as a subset of retail. Sorry retail people, no can do. Digital is too basic to the market and comes before retail. Retail is a subchannel of digital.

Helping You Get Ahead on the Adoption Curve

You’re leaving money on the table. I’d like to help you use disruptive techniques to avoid losing more sales. What is this big disruption?  It’s innovating your business to become what the market wants. It’s the disruption of old school systems and practices.  Airbnb did it. Accommodations are cheaper and more plentiful. Now everyone can vacation. And Uber did it in a noisy way.  So many taxi drivers suddenly plunged into the digital networking and sharing economy. And no one can throw them a life preserver. Is the Uber wave about to hit real estate next? (29,000 people obtained their realtor’s license last year in Florida. That alone is disruptive. And why are so many people getting into real estate?).

Why is digital omnichannel marketing so important? Because it provides better reach and impact, and it has the power to connect you with your customer’s decision journey. It can disrupt their journey and provide an alternative seamless customer experience. That’s precisely what Uber did and it’s putting the traditional taxi service out of business. Soon driverless cars will hammer in the final nail.

If you’re about to be disrupted out of business, there’s hope.

It’s far better to look at the current methods for doing things, and then ask yourself a powerful question: Is there a far better way? That simple question, coupled with an understanding of what can now be done with the latest technology, will give you amazing and powerful answers — Daniel Burrus, Futurist 

Evolve to Match Up with Disruption’s Opportunities

If you look at the real estate, mortgage and insurance segments as an example, professionals and brokers alike haven’t evolved to adopt new tech solutions. They’re barely catching up in 2016. They’re now trying new solutions range from online purchasing and account management to omnichannel digital marketing.

The big movement today is in avoiding travel time, and evading paying the fees of auto repairs, taxes, fees, phone company bills, utility bills, cable bills, insurance agents, mortgage agents, and real estate agents. The younger generation doesn’t have enough money or time and neither do older generations. Consumers see these are burdens not assets. Does your UVP need to persuade them otherwise?

Omnichannel means Total Connectivity to Customers

Some even believe that omnichannel isn’t enough, that we need to actively create disruption to make enough of an impact and provide a true seamless customer experience. Omnichannel provides better data/feedback from customers thus building better customer profiles and generating more opportunities to connect with them. And it’s hard to argue that being everywhere with great content is a bad thing.


I’m not suggesting omnichannel digital marketing is easy or that you can disrupt your market easily. Most rich, enabled marketing companies can’t do it well, but you have some advantages:

Perhaps the Key Benefit:  having a complete omnichannel digital business strategy lets you get your unique value proposition across very clearly. This will distinguish you from 30,000+ other salespeople in your market.

Too small to compete? Attack a niche market:  Small niche players can respond with more agility and relevance than the big brand dinosaurs. Big companies fear small agile companies will erode their marketshare.  If the Dow Jones falls, it’s because small biz America is gaining traction. Small biz entrepreneurs are more informed now and finding ways to outcompete big companies digitally and personally.

Consumers are becoming brand agnostic: — meaning the words Apple, REMAX, and Rogers don’t impress them. And they don’t put much faith in them. Your new niche brand can actually loom large in today’s markets. Digital channels actually put you in the driver’s seat and allow you to grow faster. As a Realtor and mortgage agent, you can start your own brokerage and do very well.

Omnichannel Marketing Makes you Omnipresent

The terms Omnichannel or integrated digital marketing describe a process of using multiple channels together – search, social media, sms texting, web to text, email, remarketing and PPC advertising. To know how to use them, we have to study our customers — what do they want and which channels do they use? And what kind of customer experience would we be capable of creating?

Multiple channels create more touchpoints and leave a more complete impression on visitors. Some visitors leave, but customers keep on reading because they feel a greater connection – a better experience. For instance, when they visit your Twitter page, they see a quick summary of issues they need to know about, and which you can solve. It takes them only a minute to get a wealth of info about you and your unique value proposition. You can respond by encouraging them to connect any way they like.

When they see your blogs, they can see how deeply you’ve reflected on solutions and success, and your services pages tells them how good your solution is. Using Facebook, you can get more personal and make them care. Just in using 3 channels you’ve made yourself relevant and shown intelligence and thought leadership. With all channels, you build transparency and trust.

So, in that sense, it’s all very simple. Your mastery of digital networking and marketing communicates your UVP clearly, and makes you relevant, likable, credible, 3 dimensional, and trustworthy, and strongly connected.

How Will You Disrupt your Market?

  1. make customers aware of their needs through multiple marketing channels
  2. segment your customers and develop disruptive, engaging content that responds to their individual beliefs
  3. tell customers they can connect with you any way they prefer
  4. remind customers that it’s all about them and how you’re inline with their lifestyle
  5. show how you’re faster, better, more rewarding, more informative and modern
  6. show them how you deliver better value point by point with video, copy, and other engaging media
  7. create conversations with them using several digital media and with a phone call
  8. show them how their values are relevant — validate how they connect with you
  9. spoon feed them bits of information via different channels that lead them to the right conclusion and choices
  10. make previous channels and marketing approaches seem obsolete and show how they waste time and energy

You’ll find my blog is full of disruptive ideas, however it’s not enough to disrupt. There has to be a clear path to your solution or anxiety will cause a visitor to shut down. Get them to see your UVP clearly using all the media available to you. Then a gentle call to action should push them to the channel they prefer. Which channel they prefer tells you a lot about your customer. Linkedin is very different from Twitter or Facebook or email and a phone call.

Contact me today whatever way you prefer. I’m sure you can teach me a lot about your preferred media. I’m ready to learn! and help you disrupt and capitalize on opportunities this year. Let’s talk right now.  What could it hurt?



Active Interviewing – Taking Control of Your Career

Well, just when I said I don’t really want to read books anymore (I’ve read 2000+, that’s enough), I discovered another great one you need to read. It’s called Active Interviewing, written by Eric P Kramer.

This could be a game changer for your career and happiness.

No one book can tame such a complex topic, yet Active Interviewing offers strategies and tactics that will differentiate you and help you win at job interviews (interviews are where all the bad stuff happens unless you do something to change that).

Immense Dollar Value over Your Lifetime Too

Over the next 3 decades, this book could represent hundreds of thousands of dollars more in income for you and a much happier career. I strongly advise buying this book.

Pinned by Robyn

It actually has more value as a client interviewing aid. You’ve likely read books on consultative selling and relationship selling. Well, this book digs deeper with techniques to discover why your prospect needs to hire you.

If you apply even 10% of the techniques and insights he offers, you’ll be very successful selling yourself and your product/service.

Can these techniques help us with our Linkedin and blog content strategy to build our personal brand online? I believe so.

Being Confident and Taking Control

The general premise of Active Interviewing is to radically improve your approach by taking control of an interview and discovering the right solution — hopefully you getting the job or a new client.  The book will help you achieve expert level preparation that leads to the confidence to achieve the right solution/agreement.

You will:

  1. identify your USP and your strengths and weaknesses
  2. learn how to eliminate the interviewer’s bias and subjectivity
  3. get your unique value proposition across clearly
  4. ask questions that lead to the right insights

Start off by establishing the right attitude.

Insisting on the Right Mindset

Successful interviews come from an initial mindset:

  • positivity
  • open-mindedness and curiosity
  • confidence
  • honesty
  • desire to find the best solution
  • willingness to grow and learn
  • respect for the other person

Once you have the right mindset, you’ll be more effective.  That leads to asking better and better questions to improve insight. It’s a discovery process that makes it more exciting and as a result, you may exceed your greatest expectations (and your new employer/client’s expectations).

Is it the end of fixed notions and the beginning of unbridled success? Isn’t unbridled success the goal of every healthy relationship?

Research and Questions

Interviews and sales are very difficult without information.  And in real life, information about the company, your interviewer, and the industry may be very limited.  It’s difficult to keep anchored in the correct mindset without insight.  And if your interviewer is uncooperative and has fixed notions, it’ll be your ultimate test of moving someone’s mind with questions.

That’s what persuasion is — moving people’s minds from sales resistant to open-mindedness toward the best solution.  And Active Interviewing just might give you the ability to break open those information doors.

Success is 90% Preparation

Any business/job interview is loaded with preconceptions, rules, bad practices, and expectations.  That’s what Kramer alludes to.  The only way to overcome that problem is intense preparation and lots of interviewing experience.

Kramer says the job interview process is full of flaws.  His approach helps you prepare expertly, take control of the interview, overcoming their mistakes and ineptitude, so you can discover what’s needed and then get the best opportunity to present yourself ( your professional brand and your presentation).

Kramer mentions the importance of personal branding, finding your personal success factors and what he calls your significant selling proposition.  I’m impressed. That’s a good addition to your basic personalized unique value proposition.

Kramer talks about being prepared, and how it eases fears, boosts confidence, and helps you focus on the process.  The interview will then lead to where it is supposed to.  It’s a launch pad for a great relationship.  He advises keeping interviews brief, with well thought out questions, focused on the value you can provide, and discovering their need and matching your skills/assets to their needs.

One of the key assets Kramer advises is to create a presentation — a visual communication aid that makes an impact.  The presentation helps you clarify your value, differentiates you from others, and helps cut through the confusion to get your selling proposition across clearly.

There’s excellent tips on creating engaging success stories, relevant vocabulary, finding your strengths/weaknesses, understanding your value, applying a sales process, handling objections, focusing on the company, and explaining why hiring you is a good idea.

You’ll find out more on his website such as closing and the follow-through letter.


Brave New World for Real Estate and Mortgage Agents

I’m heading to a seminar/meeting tonight at the Hard Rock Cafe held by a personal branding guru. Should be fun and a great learning experience.

Personal branding is big now.  But doing it well is far from easy. How we present ourselves online and in person plays a key role in how we’re positioned for success. Our persona or self-image can be shaped. And it must be shaped for us to be the “solution” others are looking for.

This story below shows how personas and personal branding are affecting the professional services field. Many of these professionals won’t like what’s coming but the progressive will love what is an exciting new experience.  If they want to excel, they must put themselves out there in new, uncomfortable, and bold ways.  Privacy will soon be a thing of the past.

circle of friends
Your Circle of Friends just got a whole lot bigger

In a world of very complex relationships, transactions, and lifestyles, we need to think about how we’re positioned for our work and personal realms.  To pretend success happens in chance, face to face meetings in your neighbourhood is naive.  To pretend that doing what everyone else is doing online is sufficient, is also foolhardy. Real estate and mortgage agents are discovering that their persona, digital relationships and the emotional experience they give others is critical to growing their business.

Take a look at how a model exposes herself and her life and how she uses excitement as her branding tool to shape her digital brand. See this professional artist and how her brand/personality is fused into her product. They’re on Facebook big time but FB’s not enough for the power personal brander. The next big thing in social marketing is coming.

Easy Money for Realty/Mortgage Agents?

We all have an image of real estate and mortgage agents enjoying the good life.  They’ve got all those amazing rewards for “top producer.”  And houses are so expensive, how could they not be rolling in dough? Things aren’t always what they seem.

topproducerThe real stats show most agents don’t make much money at all. The top agents however do earn plenty. They’ve built their empire and they leverage the personal attraction and interpersonal networks of other agents, which magnifies their own power to sell.

However, top producers are very aware of their own unique value proposition. It seems no one works on their UVP until they feel the power begin. Millionaires think about UVPs — money gives them that power. When success happens, a compulsion to control it and focus it appears. It’s like not learning to drive until you own a car. Suddenly, the car’s power to transform your life sinks in and you want to enrich it.

A lot of professionals are kicking the tires, and sitting in the driver’s seat of this new personal branding vehicle (social media), wondering if they’re ready to head to the track and make the fans stand on their feet.

The Digital Realm Could Change You Too

What’s happening to real estate and mortgage agents now is what’s happening to us all. You can forget about privacy. The selfie, the blog, the tweet, the swarm location indicator all point to a world devoid of anonymity. You’ll be collaborating with customers more, they will know you, and you’ll enjoy it.

One day, you’ll need to leverage the power of the social web to be successful. It’s best to take a look at what these professionals are going through and apply it to your professional life too.

So let’s take a look right now at what makes some real estate and mortgage agents successful, and why others linger in anonymity far from the spotlight.  In the quest to be visible on the web and the social web, mortgage, realty, and investment agents and brokers will have to work miracles to create an online experience that grabs visitors and turns them into lasting loyal clients.  Even when they are seen and heard, the audience is jaded, rushed and barely interested.

Engagement is the holy grail online now for marketers. It wasn’t just content like blog posts and news, it was more a complete lifestyle experience that visitors wanted. Those who master this are the ones who would win the grail.

Mod Girl Marketing • Why Real Estate Agent Branding Matters In 2013

The Never Ending Challenge for Professionals

It was about 6 years ago when I saw the first real sign that things were changing in online real estate.  I was heavily into creating content for my real estate agent clients. During one stretch, we landed nearly 700 visitors per day from Google, but out of that only a few leads trickled through.

The recession hit like a tidal wave, but the changes would just keep on cascading as new technology was introduced. Agents were stressed by so many business/technology changes, they couldn’t keep up. To not convert was stressful.

Whatever it is website visitors wanted, they weren’t finding it on my client’s website. His lack of accessible listings appeared to be the issue, because buyers just wanted to see homes. Get lots of listings and things would be good. But even after we got the Remax mls home listings hooked up and visitors could see plenty of homes for sale, the leads weren’t happening.  What could it be?

There were changes in the industry.  Homeowners could list their own homes on the MLS for $99. It is tough.

Cut rate real estate brokers were running some shady deals with 1% commissions. This was presenting challenges for traditional real estate agents who wanted 6% commission on their sales transactions. Competition was creating razor-thin margins and agents couldn’t see how they’d survive in this new digital networked world.

What is it Buyers/Seller Wanted?

At this point, I wondered if our incoming Google traffic was well-qualified. The keyword phrases looked good and were very relevant. These were as good as any realtor would get.  And my other realty-related clients were having similar issues. And it wasn’t easy to dominate Google search listings in the real estate sector. It was competitive and with video, mobile, and the demise of SEO, it seemed impossible to know factors would increase leads and generate sales.

Next, I looked at the agent’s UVP (unique value proposition) but other agents didn’t have a lot going for them either. Most had the bland content of pretty pictures, good service guarantee, and satisfied customer testimonials on a templated website that did nothing for them. Nothing that really makes a buyer lean toward their laptop anyway.

The UVP was a key, but so was how it was presented. Just like it is for comedians such as Jerry Seinfeld or Jim Carrey , the delivery is everything.

What allowed some agents to dominate sales was:

  1. Huge marketing budgets
  2. Extensive advertising
  3. Strong neighbourhood presence
  4. Polished, attractive websites
  5. Huge numbers of home listings, well indexed in Google
  6. Leveraging other agents as employees of their own
  7. Strategic personal branding

Today, even these attributes aren’t enough. In the social era, real estate and mortgage agents need to present a compelling personal presence that many aren’t at ease with. The unique value proposition includes a personal presence that is highly relevant to the home seller or buyer. And remember, home sellers and buyers have completely different needs and wants.

Unfortunately, for me and my client, I didn’t possess the branding expertise he absolutely needed. But then again, for the last 6 years, most professionals have struggled  with the complexity (and costs) of personal branding.

You Must Get Personally Involved – Because Everyone Else Is

Most agents and brokers don’t want to get that personally exposed and involved. That takes courage and strategy. Many just try to present themselves as physically attractive,  and happily married with kids (in other words well-adjusted, focused, and responsible).   Increasingly, that isn’t enough to build big success.

And prospects/customers will give you a couple of seconds, or minutes, depending on how good the website or facebook page is at keeping  them engaged in the material.

I’m not going to get into specific content strategy.  Suffice to say that as so much about you can be presented online, people expect to see and know lots. People care who they hire as an agent . If the agent’s persona isn’t fused and clear, it creates unease and off they go in search of another agent.

Social media exists to help people connect in a personal engaging way.  Many married agents are finding it difficult for their spouses since their agent spouse is “out there” in a space where they need to be as attractive as possible. That can create  issues particularly when the spouse is pulled into the social sphere. If they believe in what they’re they may be okay.

Personalized for Relevancy

So the challenge for many is how to present a persona (self-image) and personalized unique value proposition that impinges on their privacy and comfort.  Whatever image they present will likely impact their personal relationships too, since friends, family, and others see their online presence as completely real and sincere.

In fact, they are trying to be more sociable, visible, and expressive to specific groups of people, than they may feel comfortable with.

The road to success for personal services professionals is personal.  Yes, I just said it. They must promote their personalized unique value proposition. Most agents don’t even know what a unique value proposition is let alone how take it to the next level of more intimate personalization. They assume they have nothing to offer that’s any better than the other 400 agents in their office, or the 25,000 in their market area.

I’ve discovered one significant attribute of super successful professionals. It’s the icing on the cake yet it’s yet it’s the ingredient most desired and respected. It’s the real focus of top notch personal branding.

So, as an agent who wants to excel, you’ll likely need a personal branding guru to help you understand the image you’re projecting now, and the image you need to project in future. Don’t be afraid to do it all, but it’s a big job so going it alone might be a little risky. Your business deserves better.

Pinned by Eric Johnson

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Your Business Development Strategy – A Simple Process

Every Millionaire was Once Where you are Now

Is it real tough to get your business development process going? It is tough, especially for small business.  Richard Branson, Larry Page, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others you know were at this point long ago. What they had was a mission statement, belief, and a willingness to trudge blindly forward.

There will be lots of failure. You didn’t see their failures but it took them decades of struggle before they found their niche. You don’t have time for endless trial and error though. You need to expedite and optimize your Biz Dev process now.

“You must find the place inside yourself where nothing is impossible”

A while back, I created a new definition of new business development. We needed clarity on the term Biz Dev. Now we need a strategy to put things in action.  Once we get into the process,  you’ll get rolling.  Questions are a great way to lubricate the process and get motion and ultimately do the right things.

After you’re laser focused about what you do and the value you offer, you move onto the networking phase where you multiply your contacts and gain access to your most ideal B2B prospects. The better your groundwork in business development basics, the more unambiguous your networking will be. Cause let’s face it, networking can be a huge time-suck.

A Strategy is a Set of Answers to Key Questions

goodquestionsThis process is an iterative one, or cyclical, meaning you keep refining it until it’s perfect.  Sort of like a sculptor chipping away at a solid block of granite until suddenly, a perfect form appears.  Round and round he goes, and so will you.

You’re going to chip away at your block of granite with questions, and your answers will clarify the actions you need to take. Relax and let the process lead you to the truth.

Never stop asking questions. Ask yourself why. Why are you in business? Why here, why now? What makes you think you’re right for this? What are you not doing that needs to be done? There’s no end to questions, just as there’s hundreds of different chisels and angles a sculptor uses to create his vision.

The dirty dozen:  Roll your sleeves up and get answers to these 12 questions.

  1. What is your passion and what do you want to do or create for your niche customer? What is your product/service in detail and will they really appreciate what you do?
  2. What are you not willing to do? What would spoil your passion and ruin your day?
  3. Who is your perfect niche clientele and where are they? Draw out a profile of your bullseye customer.
  4. What is your unique value proposition? What do you offer that is better than your competitors and which your customer  can’t live without/
  5. What does the market want and what is your competition? What is the demand and why does it exist, and how are others trying to do the same things as you? Are they doing it better.
  6. What are your prospect’s doubts and dreams, and what do they believe? Do they believe big, name brand suppliers are the only ones worth considering using?
  7. Specifically, how will you help them improve? How will their product be improved and how much more revenue will they make?
  8. What actions will make you a noted market leader?  Will you write thought leader level materials, hold seminars, do videos, travel, build a better brand, advertise more, publish project results?
  9. How will communicate a perfect match with your target audience?  Web and social content strategy? excellence in copywriting, web design, and free demonstrations?
  10. How will you get them to pay attention and respond to you and give you the info you need? What will you do for them that they would spend their valuable time on you? What insight will you give them that will blow them away?
  11. How will you lead the relationship and exchange of value instead of following them? Do you offer things for free such as advice or services, or will watch their business intensely to act at the very time they need you most?
  12. How will you network and find suitable business partners if necessary? Who else is important in making this happen? How will you meet them and work with them? What will they want?

Write down all your answers and get your business coach or other advisor to poke holes in your answers. This repetitive questioning process will strip away the unnecessary and wasteful and lead you to the perfect vision of who you are and what your business is.

Once you understand your value proposition and who your ideal customer would be, you start thinking about how you can reach them and what you’ll say to them.

Let’s Get Rolling

Once you know who your perfect niche client or bullseye target customer is, and what your unique value proposition is, it’s easier to know what actions are needed. Your action plan doesn’t need to be a template.  It comes into view as you get answers to those questions above.  But you’ll be writing down your action process from 1 to 12 too.

One thing for sure, is that you’ll be networking and asking the right people about their needs, views, and priorities. You’ll get better at finding them and reaching them too, whether it’s via Twitter, Linkedin, Google search, or networking meetings. Your conversations with them will really improve your 12 questions above.  You’re in a pursuit to find the best questions.

Now you’ve got a specific product for a specific customer in a specific market. Your customer profile will help you know what medium to use to reach them whether TV, or direct sales, or inbound content marketing.

What actions can you take right now that will create the most value for you? What decisions can you make that will force you to take action? Some will advise you to begin projecting sales goals with action plans, but that’s not organic and it’s high pressure. At this point, don’t think about sales. Think about how you will create exceptional value for your client and how good you will feel.  Feed your passion and your foot will release from the brake pedal.

So go forward by speaking with the people you need to know to refine your value proposition, build your website, give you the funding you need, run your social or ad campaigns, create your branded content, advise you on how to package your services, and meet the right people. Actions mean get things done regardless of the order.

Soon, you’ll be ready for the last task: consultative selling and asking prospects tough questions!

Here’s some additional resources to help break out and get rolling:

Business Coaching Results Workshops