By Nobu Hata
Let’s face it, when it comes to sharing our expertise on forums such as the YPN Lounge, Twitter, even Facebook, we sure spend a lot of time preaching to the choir. Social Media how-to’s, blogging tips, Twitter in your marketing plan…
The fact is, the majority of us have already figured out how to implement new media tools into our real estate model. We recognize that in this overly-transparent, borderline-creepy, uber-connected world we live in, being JUST THAT is paramount in our business. Because of this, we’re arguably more in tune with a fickle consumer demographic and relate better to the first-time buyer who’s now making up the majority of transactions nationwide. We know that doing so requires us to take aim on a constantly moving, consistently changing target.
The time has come to take the insight we have gleaned and the practices we have developed and open it up to the “old guard,” for lack of a better term. You know who I’m talking about. All of us have a group of agents in their office whose eyes glaze over at the mere mention of Facebook. Who think blogging is a monumental time-suck. Who remember when “MLS came in the form of a binder full of paper!” Who all think we’ve got it pretty easy. We know this isn’t the case.
Truth of the matter is, these barriers are totally self-induced because of technological intimidation and/or perception that these “time-sucks” have no value. Sitting in multiple classes at NAR09 and watching these folks stream out by the boatload really made this hit home for me. It’s less about age, and more about mindset… and the beauty of mindset is that it can be changed.
Whether it’s at the local office, brokerage, association or national-level, every little bit of instruction helps! Volunteer your time developing and teaching CE classes. Recruit converts to local REBarCamps. Share what you’ve learned at RealtorCon, InmanConnect, et al at Sales Meetings. Turn your Twitter feed into an all access journal and show them how to use it. Reaffirm that what we’re doing is no different than what they’ve been doing for generations, it’s just that the mechanisms have changed. And most importantly, be open to their opinions and feedback! Yes us YPN-Gen REALTORS have a lot to share, but we just might learn something along the way.
We sometimes forget that it’s these very agents who have persevered through multiple economic downturns, have seen the industry change at a lightning pace recently, and who are actively shaping our industry. It’s our obligation to give them insight into our practices, to learn something from each other, and together shape the industry we will be inheriting.
Nobu Hata is a sales associate for Edina Realty in Minneapolis, and a founding member of the Minneapolis YPN group, the YoPros. Visit his Web site at www.nobuhata.com.
By Brian Copeland
With December 25 only a few days away, it’s a great time to not only think about giving to others but also to consider touching your clients and sphere of influence in an impactful way. While it may be a bit late in the season to pull some of the bigger things off on this list, who says you can’t plan for holiday season 2010?
1. Have a holiday dessert or Christmas tree pick-up event: I hosted a pie pick-up day for Thanksgiving, and it was a huge hit. You should budget $7-$15 a client and try to get them to give you a heads up on whether they are stopping by or not. *FYI, about 50 percent of my clients showed up.
2. Write personal notes using only your MLS production report: Whew! Now, this one was an amazing exercise for me. Sure I have everything in my client management system; but I thought it would be a good test to see how well I remembered all of them and their homes. While I failed miserably in several cases, I still garnered enough brain waves to get the vast majority. Seeing the homes, investigating the information and visualizing it all made me feel extra close to my clients this year.
3. Have a social media day: Find every client you have or have had, add them as a friend on Facebook then spend a few hours writing nice, non-real-estate-related greetings on their wall. A simple, “Hey Chad and Melody. Just wanted to say hey, and I hope you have a great 2010 and beyond.”
4. Make a goofy video: JibJab.com always has fun holiday video greetings where you can include other people’s faces on dancing elf bodies. Identify those two or three really fun clients and make a video for them dancing with you.
5. Introduce them to Elfster.com: We all have a ton of parties, gift exchanges and events in December. Elfster is a great way to organize and gift exchange in a social, fun way.
6. Volunteer alongside: Few things bring people together more than volunteering for a charity for a few hours. You can find great opportunities through the Hands On Network at handsonnetwork.org. If you have a local affiliate, you can find it here.
7. Organize a carol-sing-a-long: All of us have that one Broadway diva client who loves to host. Align yourself with him or her for a night of singing and laughter.
8. Upload a holiday greeting on YouTube: Film a 15- to 30-second greeting to everyone. Don’t be afraid to show your personality.
9. Showcase your clients’ holiday décor: Have your clients photograph their decorated tree, homes, mantels, light displays, etc., send them to you and create a special page on your website showcasing them!
10. Hire some carolers: Go to your local church, school or any place where singers may be and hire a few to join you on the main corner of your prime market to spread some holiday cheer. Place a few of your signs nearby lined in garland so they’ll know you’re responsible for the love.
11. Show the pets some attention: Identify your animal-loving clients and drop some gourmet dog biscuits and catnip wrapped with a bow in the mail for Fido and Fluffy’s stockings.
12. Host an end of the year shredding event: With the new year starting, it’s time for everyone to get rid of the year’s built-up clutter. Hire a shredding service and invite your clients over to use the service for a day or so.
By Dawn Miller
If you’re a new REALTOR® or if you’ve been in business awhile and re-evaluate your budget every year, I am here to reassure you there are only five tools you need to start or maintain your real estate business.
I’ve complied a short list of the must-have’s for those REALTORS® newer to the business who are questioning advertisements’ promising leads, great return on investment, and more. Hopefully I will re-energize other REALTORS® who have been in the business awhile to “get back to basics” and understand what we really need to make the best use out of the tools we have or how to do as much as possible with just a few good programs.
1. Contact Database
Whether you use MS Outlook, Excel (gasp), Top Producer, or even the contact manager through your MLS system, you really need some place besides your notebook or bar napkin to store contacts. I recommend a database that will do many functions, like Top Producer. It is a small investment that provides so many different tools, from e-mail programs, to drip e-mail campaigns, and more.
Notice I did not say website. Many REALTORS® are using their WordPress blogs as their main Web presence and even having IDX feeds so consumers can search homes. Get a free WordPress account today, or pay a little extra each month for additional features. Consumers are asking for hyper-local content and information. Blogging allows you to be the expert in your neighborhood.
3. Virtual Tour Program
There are many programs that are free, less than $10 a month, or charge per-tour. There is one that stands out among the rest–Visualtour.com. For $30/month, you can create unlimited virtual tours, advertise your listings on dozens of websites, and use the program to self-promote. Take still pictures and turn them into panoramic shots and video through their software. If you use this program right, it serves so many functions you might just have to cancel other programs or advertising you are paying for now. Check out a virtual tour I did while on an real estate trip in Dominican Republic: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?t=2038675&prt=10003
4. Realtor.com Advertising
For $11 a month, I tell prospective sellers their homes will show up every 8-9 pages of homes as a featured listing on Realtor.com versus one time in the 350+ pages of homes for sale. That’s powerful! New REALTORS® sign up for showcase advertising while they have few listings to save money–as the monthly charge is based on the number of listings you carry in a 12-month period. Then call sellers to tell them they will have a “premium advertisement” on the number one real estate website.
There are “riches in niches.” How do you set yourself apart from the other REALTORS®? Take the time in 2010 to educate yourself through a REALTOR® designation. Analyze your market, your past business, and what makes you tick to discover how to set yourself apart. If you’re reading this, you already have a niche. Remember, NAR statistics show the average age of a first-time homebuyer is 30 years old. As a YPN member, you may be in the position to relate to and communicate with that first-time buyer.
Dawn Miller is a REALTOR® from Virginia Beach, Va., and chair of her local YPN chapter. Visit her Web site: www.DawnMillerHomes.com.
By Brooke Wolford
Social networking to many is extremely confusing and some think is a complete waste of time. But it is there to help you brand yourself. There are so many sites and you must be active on all of them for it to be effective. Here are some ways to simplify the process and to get noticed:
1. Link your Facebook and Twitter status updates. Go to Facebook, search for Twitter and install the application. You can then update your status on both sites at the same time.
2. Make yourself worth following. You need to be interesting. Do not give status updates of every single thing you do in a day. Try to say something that will gain interest of your followers. For example, instead of saying, “Another Home Listed!” say “Newly listed, a Minneapolis Sin Fam Home 4bed/2bath, 200k,” then post the link for people to view the listing.
3. Post links of articles you are reading.
4. Never assume you can just update your status and not pay attention to anybody else. Respond to your followers and friends. People will notice your comments and you will gain new friends and followers.
5. Promote yourself and your business. Many of you, like myself, have been tweeting about the tax credit. Remind people of the deadline, market your listings, and sell your services.
6. Don’t be a status update machine. That’s the one thing that bothers people the most. Keep your updates spread apart a bit. Posting a status update or link every 5 seconds loses interest in your followers.
7. Finally, remember the cardinal rule of social networking: “You have to give to receive.”
Brooke Wolford is a REALTOR® with Edina Realty, Hastings, Minn. Follow her blog at strugglingrookierealtor.blogspot.com.