Build your marketing efforts around this one inexpensive strategy
- The marketing strategy that will have the biggest long-term payoff for your business is easy and inexpensive — personalized note cards.
- Share stories about your family, and ask about theirs — take the opportunity to build relationships.
- People will use and refer the agent with whom they have the deepest relationship.
What’s the number one strategy you can adopt today that’s going to have the biggest long-term payoff for your business? You might be surprised, because it’s so damn easy and inexpensive.
We’re told we need to do these different things to improve our business — build a new website or get the new customer tracking software. We’re told we are not making enough prospecting calls or doing enough for-sale-by-owner campaigns.
I have tried what seems like a million different strategies, but going back to basics really works best for most agents. What I am talking about is … note cards.
An agent in my office writes ten note cards a week. That’s his entire business model, essentially all of his marketing. It costs him maybe five bucks a week.
Every Monday it’s on his to-do list to identify ten people to contact that week. He had some doubts about the strategy when he started doing it, because it took some time for it to work. But now he’s one of the top-selling agents in our office, and that’s almost all the marketing he does to generate a healthy living from referrals.
What should I write?
Please don’t say, “I am never too busy for your referrals.” Not only are five other agents sending your contact that exact same slogan, but it comes across like you’re begging. You don’t have to beg for referrals.
Share a story about something that’s happened in your life, with your family, or whatever. You can reminisce about an experience you shared together. Ask them how their kids are doing in whatever sport they play.
Make notes after you have a conversation with someone, including their kids’ or spouse’s names and what they are up to, what you have in common, or what they find interesting or fun. Once you have a few notes about someone, you’ll find it easier to figure out what to write.
Your goal is to create a reason for them to go out of their way to refer you. If you send a personal note to them and remember their kids’ names and ask how they’re doing, you may blow them away. Their own family may not even do that. So you come across as someone who listened, cared, and took time from your busy day to reach out to them. That is rare in the world.
Why this works
What I have discovered is that even if I’m the best real estate agent in my marketplace and I can prove it, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to get more business. It’s frustrating, but the fact is that people consistently use — or get a recommendation from — someone they know and trust.
When I get new business from the marketing I send out, it’s from people who didn’t have a relationship with somebody from whom they could ask for a real estate referral (which is rare). That’s why this is important. Almost everybody knows a real estate agent. Make sure you are the one with whom they have the deepest relationship.
And 6 simple solutions to do it effectively
- Don’t be tempted to do photography and staging on the cheap — invest in quality help.
- Constantly evaluate how your presentation measures up against competing listings, and strive to improve yours.
- Stand firm with opinionated clients and explain the value of investing in professional presentation.
Every day I see agents screwing up the critical step of “presentation” — how a home comes across to buyers when they browse online or walk through for the first time. In some cases, it’s because the agent is battling with an uncooperative seller. The vast majority of times, however, it’s because the agent fails to recognize the importance of presentation.
Here are six reasons why listing agents fail at presentation:
1. They’re broke or afraid to spend money. Agents work long periods of time without a paycheck. When they get a new listing, they need to get good photography and possibly help with staging — and it all costs money. Agents can try to do it on the cheap, taking pictures with their phone or camera and staging the home themselves.
If you’re going to list homes, invest in doing it right.
2. Arrogance or ignorance. Agents might assume that the efforts they’re making are good enough. Agents should constantly evaluate how they’re performing compared to the listings they’re competing against. If they’re being outmatched on presentation by other agents, it ultimately could be costing their sellers money and affecting the agent’s reputation.
3. Lack of ideas or lack of research. A lot of times, agents may not have any idea how to improve their presentation. If agents want to improve, they should study the competition. When they see a listing that catches their attention, they should find out if that agent is using a particular photographer.
What else are they doing that makes their listings look amazing? Sometimes it’s a unique way that agent is delivering the message about that property. Agents can also look outside their market and see what techniques are working elsewhere and then be the first to bring those to their market. Innovation grabs attention.
4. They’re afraid to speak up to a client. A client might be tough and opinionated. They might dismiss their agent’s suggestions. They refuse to make adjustments to minimize the impact of their home’s shortcomings. An agent might be too afraid of losing the listing by standing firm on what needs to be done to improve the presentation of a property.
Sellers can be tough and intimidating, but if you can stress that your only goal is to maximize what they net when they sell, and you can articulate the problems with not following your recommendations, then you’ll find that most sellers will get behind your strategy.
5. Agents believe that a passing grade is good enough. Too many agents do the minimum work with their listings. They put them on the MLS and feel like they did their part. Now they just wait idly for a buyer. An agent needs to constantly reevaluate a listing.
If the home looked great the first time you saw it, have you been back over there recently? Maybe since the sellers moved out, the yard looks horrible and the house has a funky smell. Or the home might be clean and well maintained, but the furniture and décor are old and worn out.
Agents too often say it’s good enough, but in reality they may need to hire a professional stager or a contractor to help resolve an issue.
6. They’re too anxious to get the home listed. Instead of getting the details right and getting everything ready up front, either the seller or the agent is too anxious to get the listing online. They are convinced they need to get it on the market fast and make adjustments later.
Listings shouldn’t be rushed if they’re not ready. An agent may need to take time to tweak photos even after they come back from a professional photographer, or add elements to the listing to make the property appear more attractive. The extra effort will make the home sell faster and encourage the best offers from buyers. That’s what the client is paying for.
It’s all about communication
- Good lenders are flexible to adapt their communication methods to the needs of your clients — and you.
- Good lenders prep clients for each step of the lending process and follow up with clients working to improve their financial standing.
- Lenders using a frustrating application system can cost you clients.
Working with the wrong lender can raise the level of stress in every one of your transactions and have devastating impacts on what you make in a given year. It’s crucial that you identify good lending partners for your business.
So how do you know when you’re working with the right lender? Oftentimes it comes down to communication.
How does your lender communicate with you and your client?
Some lenders want to communicate strictly through email and text, while some want to do everything face-to-face. It’s important to find a lender who will match their communication to your client’s preference — and yours.
Maybe you like to be texted or blind-copied on emails, while your client prefers phone calls. Have that conversation with your lender, and pay attention to how they adapt their communication style.
How well does your lender prep your client for the lending process?
The better the lender communicates to the borrower what to expect through each step, what paperwork will be asked of them and when, and what frustrations they might encounter, the easier the process will seem.
Some lenders rush through that process, and others pay close attention. Find a lender who works to understand the client’s schedule and needs, and who asks what’s important to the client.
Does your lender coach clients so they can get approved?
Some lenders are good about coaching clients who need help improving their financial situation before they can qualify for a loan. The consumer might be waiting for a stable job or saving a down payment. They might need to improve their credit score.
Whatever the situation, it’s a lender’s job to walk consumers through the steps and get them ready to qualify. Often it’s the real estate agent who ends up doing the heavy lifting, but a good lender will take that burden and help clients get in position to purchase a home.
Some lenders have good intentions initially but don’t follow up. Other lenders stay on top of things with regular phone calls to check on a client’s progress. If you find one of those lenders, it makes a huge difference in how many deals you’re able to put together.
How easy does the lender make the application process for the client?
When you initially work with a client, they may not even know if they want to work with you. You might be showing them a house from a sign call or a website. They’re still getting to know you when you introduce them to a lender.
Suddenly the process turns into a pain for them to find out if they can get financing. It might be due to the lender’s frustrating process. You can lose clients that way.
A lender should guide clients and make the process as smooth as possible for the way that specific client likes to do business. Some buyers prefer to fill out a mortgage application in person with the lender or over the phone, while others want to do it online.
Instead of spending hours filling out a complicated application, some buyers might prefer to answer a few questions via email and let the lender fill out the majority of the application for them. It’s important for a lender to recognize which process will make each individual buyer happiest and adapt their process accordingly.
Have you ever heard the phrase “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”? It’s a quote by legendary business man Jim Rohn.
You can youtube Jim Rohn and listen to how and why this impacts you so much. If we are around people who are doing great things and living healthy, it can inspire us. Likewise, if we spend a lot of time with negative people who don’t believe hard efforts will lead to improvement, it can be uninspiring and even depressing.
Even if you already know and believe you should surround yourself with people who inspire you, it can be tough. Maybe you’re busy with family life or you live in a rural location. Whatever the problem, there is a way to solve it.
I have a few people in my life who really inspire me. I spend a lot of time with them and I can feel the benefit in my work and personal life.
What’s the secret?
I’ve never met them in person. Yet I’ve spent hundreds of hours with them in my car, at the gym, on my morning runs, and in my living room. I am of course listening to their audiobooks and podcasts. About 90% of the time I spend learning and being inspired is when I am in my car or exercising.
Find podcasts or audiobooks of people who inspire you and plug them in while in your car or exercising for one week. Sure, it may not be as exciting as the latest pop song or football game analysis or as riveting as the latest gossip on the news. But force yourself to try it for one week.
My bet is that you’ll discover something I did a few years ago. Spending time with inspiring people can help you radically improve your life, relationships, and your work. So be picky about who you spend your time with and make sure you get your daily dose of them. Even if it’s with someone you’ve never met.
Too many choices make it hard to decide
- Most homes have at least one strong feature; presented with too many choices, some buyers find it hard to decide.
- Take a break between showings and help buyers weigh strengths and weaknesses of each property against their list of needs.
- Save the best property for last, or bring them back to the one that made an early strong impression.
Sometimes a buyer will be pleasantly surprised by how much they like the first house you show them. They start talking to themselves about where Johnny’s or Suzie’s bedroom is going to be. They start planning dinner parties on the patio.
You might think, We have a slew of houses to see, but this might be easier than I thought.
Even the buyers are thinking this might be the one — but you planned to show them ten homes. Buyers want to check off all the boxes, so you leave that house feeling good about it and head to the next one.
The next house may not be as good as the first, but it has a couple of features that beat it. The buyer might say, “We don’t like the layout, but this kitchen is gorgeous.”
The third house may not have as many bedrooms as they need, but it’s a wonderful location.
Be cautious about showing too many homes. What happens is that you keep looking, and each home could have a single feature the buyer likes better than the first house. When you finish looking, they are overwhelmed. They look back on the first one and say, “I’m not sure what it is, but I don’t think that one’s the right fit for us anymore. I think we need to keep looking.”
They look at more houses, and it all becomes muddled. They might have looked at three or four houses that could have worked for them, and if any of them had been the only house they looked at, they might have been sure enough to move forward with an offer. But they looked at so many that they all blend together, and the buyers can’t make a decision.
Part of your job as a real estate agent is to prevent them from getting too confused. Here are a few ways to help buyers stay focused on what it is that they really want to get from their purchase:
Take a break after you’ve seen a few homes that fit the buyer’s needs. Go over the notes of things they liked about the first house. Focus on the things they liked and disliked about the second house, and the third.
Based on that conversation, see if there are any homes they can take off the list. Illustrate why some of the houses should be ruled out. And then extend that to the homes you still have scheduled to look at. If you ruled out the second home because of a lack of bathrooms or patio, skip showing them the next house on your list because it has the same shortcomings.
Save the best for last. If you go through the process of showing ten homes, and they liked the first one best, there’s a chance their enthusiasm will fade by the end of the day. However, if you go back to it at the end of the day, they might fall in love with it again. Or if you get a sense throughout the day of what details they’re responding to in each home — and maybe you have a specific property in the stack that will be a good fit for them — move that house to the last showing of the day.
Some homebuyers are pretty easygoing and can picture themselves in many different houses, but if they see the best one at the end, after they’ve seen a bunch that were close but not perfect, that one will rise to the top of the list, and they’ll likely move forward with an offer.
Slow ’em down, speed ’em up, keep their attention
- Use professional-quality pictures overlaid with text to slow buyers down and focus their attention on a home’s unique details.
- Create urgency to speed buyers into taking action, and make it easy for buyers to schedule a showing.
- Don’t include pictures or details in a listing that might cause buyers to rule out the house too soon.
There’s a problem with the MLS: everyone uses it. The home you’re listing may get lost in a sea of thousands of other homes.
Sure, the MLS syndicates your listing to hundreds if not thousands of real estate websites, but is that enough to get noticed? How do you rise above what everyone else is doing so you can provide higher visibility to your client’s listing? You need a visibility strategy.
Visibility is not just how many people view your listing online or in person, but more importantly how many of the right buyers slow down enough to really consider it. The listing may look great and might be priced right, but if the targeted buyers are just skipping over it before they realize how great the home is, the right buyer just sailed past you.
Here are three strategies that can help you improve a listing’s visibility:
1. Slow buyers down – This is very important for visibility. Your listing might show up on people’s screens, but they don’t click through to read it. Even if they do, they might quickly move on to some other listing that grabs their attention.
It’s important to have high-quality pictures on your listing, but there’s so much more you can do. You can put text over your pictures, which gets buyers to read while they’re browsing pictures. For example, if your first picture is the front of the house but the best part of the home is the amazing city views out the back, mention this core feature by writing text directly onto the first photo.
Instead of using the front of the home as the first picture of the listing (especially if it’s not the home’s strength), show the most unique feature inside the house. Include pictures of community and neighborhood highlights like walking paths and playgrounds. Your goal is to immediately grab their attention with the things that are special and unique about the property.
If you can get buyers to slow down, they’ll spend time on your listing and explore the details, virtual tour, and all the rest of the pictures of the home.
2. Speed buyers up – After you slow buyers down to really notice your listing, speed them up to take action. They’re intrigued by what they’ve seen online, now get them to schedule a showing. Work with your seller and set a plan to make it as easy as possible for buyers to schedule a showing.
What else can you do in your marketing and listing strategy to create urgency and speed up the likelihood of getting more showings? You might offer agent bonuses to get agents to make showing your property a priority.
Create an environment of urgency — if your listing is getting a lot of interest, make sure you communicate that to the other agent. Let them know the home could go under contract very soon so you want to help them get in to see it as soon as possible. These tactics are all part of your visibility strategy.
3. Don’t let them rule it out too soon – When buyers search for homes, they’re initially focused on ruling out homes to narrow down their list. Your listing could be ruled out too soon if you give the buyer ammunition to do so.
Let’s say you get a listing. You take pictures, but online they don’t do the house justice. They’re too dark, and buyers viewing them online think, It’s a great location, but look how dark the house is. Skip. Or your pictures include every bathroom and bedroom. Buyers see that one of the bathrooms hasn’t been updated, or see a room that’s dark because a teenager painted it black.
Only include pictures that promote the listing in a positive way.