Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Real Estate Marketing - Getting Focused

The single biggest question I get from people getting started in real estate (and experienced for that matter) is "how to find deals?" They say, "I don't know what to focus on in real estate. Should I focus on rehabbing? Should I focus on finding absentee owners? Should I focus on direct mail?"

The problem with those questions is that the real estate investor is confused about the whole business of real estate and the marketing plan behind finding the deals. I understand that you go to a three-day real estate training, or you buy a home-study course, and every angle of real estate investing is attractive. You can see the potential in all these different markets.

First things first, you have to get focused! This is the only way to get good at overcoming objections and solving problems unique to different types of motivated seller markets.

Let's simplify this whole real estate marketing game and boil it down to this:
Who, What, When, Where, Why & How (And How Much)!

Who is that we are going to be talking to? Who is that we are going to be trying to purchase homes from? You may want to work in one or two of the following markets: foreclosures, absentee owners, our probates, divorces, for sale by owners, tired landlords. This is your market - the who.

What are you going to say in your marketing? This may be a real estate marketing script that you follow, a direct mail postcard system that you roll out, or specific copy in your advertisement. Understand, that you are looking for motivated sellers to take action. If you're taking the time to write a letter, place an ad, etc you want your prospect to do something like call you or email you or listen to a recorded message!

When are your prospects going to receive your marketing message? Timing and consistency is everything to your real estate marketing campaign. You need to be the single person (or company) they think of when the moment strikes at which they realize they are, in fact, a motivated seller!

Where are they going to receive your message? Obviously if you're door knocking, you'll meet them at their home. But if you are marketing to personal representatives of an estate, the attorney may receive the letter and pass it on. It's important to think about where your potential seller is going to "see" your message because this will affect the action they take.

This is where your real estate investing exit strategy comes into play. What are you going to do with the property once you've gained control? Are you going to wholesale it to another investor? Are you going to fix it up and flip it yourself? Are you going to hold on to it for rental?

As you grow into your real estate business, you'll have a number of options for each deal depending on what's most suitable for the piece of real estate. You may have properties that you can assign, rehab OR rent. But, initially, decide where you are on your real estate investing scale and work within those parameters. If you are asking: "Should I focus on rehabbing houses or should I target probate?" you're asking two different questions.

The next thing is the communication method. That is 'how are we going to talk to our potential motivated sellers?' So let's suppose your market is foreclosures or pre-foreclosures (the who). The next question is how? There are basically only four methods that we can use to communicate with our target market.

1. Driving for Dollars (or door knocking)

2. Telemarketing

3. Direct mail

4. Mass marketing

How Much:
I toss this in because this is going to affect your real estate marketing strategies. How much can you afford to spend? Understand for a few dollars a day, you can have an extremely profitable real estate investing business. It doesn't take a lot of money to bring in home run deals!

Here's a quick real estate marketing business plan that you can implement immediately using the Who, What, When, Where, Why & How approach:

Who: Pre-foreclosures within 2 weeks of sale at the courthouse (note how specific this is)

What: Yellow legal pad letters

When: Two weeks prior to the sale

Where: Prospect's Home

Why: Seller is more motivated and has run out of options

How: Hand-written, hand addressed, first class postage and return address label

How Much: Based on a budget of $100/month, I will send 59.5 letters each week (remember to figure out your marketing budget down to the penny - stamps, ink, paper, envelopes, etc.)

And there you have it! 7 Simple Steps for your real estate marketing plan.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Search Results

If you're not farming expired listings you're missing out on one of the best real estate marketing strategies going...and a major source of income. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but I've distilled it down to 4 major ones for the sake of brevity.

Perhaps they will convince you once and for all about how an expired listing script is one of the best strategies for marketing real estate.

1. Farming expired listings is easy to do. It's as simple as logging into your Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and doing a search of expired listings for any time frame you want. Go ahead - try it right now. It's simple, easy and near effortless!

2. Expired listings are some of the hottest leads you'll ever have - each one is a known and motivated seller! When a listing expires it's usually not a good thing.

Some owners have to sell because they're moving to another city and state to start a new job. Others may have to sell because they were "down sized." Still, some want to sell because they're transitioning into retirement and are trying to lower their monthly living expenses.

In many instances, no matter the reasons, they're more motivated to sell than they were before!

3. Sellers of expired listings are often more realistic about price and terms the second time around! Good agents can leverage expired listings to better prices, terms and conditions. Astute Sellers are quick to understand that they may need to give a little on their asking price, or sweeten their listing by providing other financial incentives to sell their properties.

The more the Seller is willing to "give", and they will, the more desirable their new listing with you will be, and the more likely you are to get it sold!

When Sellers insist on overpricing their listings you can politely decline them (which will shock them like you wouldn't believe) knowing that more opportunities are just a few mailings away! Sometimes the Sellers are so stunned when you decline their offer to list with you they'll start back pedaling while trying to give you what you want to list with you. After all, how many times have you actually declined a listing?

4. Most real estate agents do not farm expired listings - they assume that someone else has already converted them to new listings. But they're wrong. Sometimes nobody is going after them!

I'm constantly amazed at the number of agents who know that expired listings are worth their weight in gold, but ever market them.

Go on and try it out for yourself. Go around you office and see if any of your coworkers are farming expireds! But do it quietly! You don't want to give them any ideas if they don't already have any!

What you'll find is that few, if any, are farming expired listings. Instead of marketing real estate in this relatively stress free way, they're hung up on complicated real estate marketing schemes that cost a bundle of money and deliver little return on their investment.

It's the most incredible thing I've ever seen. Even veteran agents, who should know how valuable expired listings can be, don't farm them. In the end their failure to act is your gain.

So, if you're not farming expired listings you ought to seriously consider it. Don't continue to be one of those agents that assumes another agent has already secured the listing. Instead, be the one that actually converts the expired listings into new ones!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Is Social Media Best For Marketing Real Estate?

There is an increasing awareness among business owners and among those who want to invest in real estate or among those who are estate agents, of the success of social media outlets as a marketing tool. As millions of people throughout the world using this form of medium for marketing, increases the number of real estate agents using the advertising properties with social media to promote their business.

Each of the more popular social media websites provides suitable options to ensure that your properties are available for viewing by the largest possible audience. Whether you choose to sign in on the sites themselves, purchase-advertising space or post back links to your professional website there is no easier way of marketing the properties you have listed on your books than by promoting them through these sites.

The success of social media as an advertising or marketing tool is its focus on networking. When a business opens an account with any of the social media options, the potential for referral of their services is endless as each customer refers the business to their own network of friends. Knowing how to use this networking potential is the key to successful marketing. It can extend beyond networking to customers and can include networking with other suitable businesses. The creative potential of advertising properties with social media is endless.

Contrary to popular belief, advertising properties with social media sites do not require large investments of valuable time. The key to a time managed, successful social marketing strategy is to have a plan and to choose the appropriate outlet for your requirements rather than just opening numerous accounts and trying to maintain a presence on them.

These websites provide opportunity to build communication with potential and actual clients and customers, create pages advertising details of the properties you have available, and creating interesting content pages and providing back links to your business website with the complete listings of your properties. Plan content that you can control within the time you have available to update information regularly.

Once you have decided which options will suit your needs best, open accounts on the selected websites only. Plan content that is both targeted to a niche audience and to developing networks to spread interest in the information you are placing on the sites. Targeted use of social media sites optimizes the potential of turning your visitors and followers into customers. As you focus on providing content that your customers want to read and in the way, they want to read it, you are more likely to maintain their interest in your properties.

This maybe as simple as providing information on various aspects of property management, housing insurance or tenant and land lord relationships for example. Useful information about property prices in different locations that combine examples of the properties you have to offer potential clients can be provided with links back to your professional website. This strategic approach to advertising properties with social media will reduce the time you need to spend on the sites and produce best sales results.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Real Estate Marketing - Attrition is Your Sworn Enemy

Attrition is the enemy of real estate marketing.

So to be successful in your marketing, you first have to understand the concept of attrition. You also have to work hard to reduce it. This article will help you understand attrition and give you tips for reducing it within your real estate marketing program. Let's begin with a basic definition.

What is Attrition?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines attrition as "a reduction in numbers usually as a result of resignation, retirement, or death." Don't worry, we're not talking about retirement or death here. But we are talking about a reduction in numbers -- and the size of that reduction has a direct impact on your real estate marketing success.

Now let's convert that definition for real estate marketing purposes.

Real Estate Marketing Attrition

In your marketing program, attrition refers to the number of people who do not take the actions you want them to take. At each step in the marketing process, you stand to lose some people. The more people you lose along the way, the less successful your real estate marketing program will be. So let's talk about minimizing attrition by using the following example.

A Real Estate Marketing Scenario

Let's consider a marketing campaign that combines direct mail postcards and web-based lead generation. It's a solid marketing strategy -- one that I've seen used successfully many times in the past. But like any real estate marketing strategy, it has attrition points:

  • Attrition Point #1 - When you mail the postcards, a certain percentage of them will not reach the intended recipient's due to bad addresses and the like.
  • Attrition Point #2 - Of those people who do receive your postcards, only a small percentage will respond and visit your website.
  • Attrition Point #3 - Of those people who visit your website, some will not find what you want them to find. Or they simply won't be interested and they'll leave.
  • Attrition Point #4 - Of those who visit your website and take the action you want them to take (perhaps signing up for market alerts), some will mistype their email address.
  • Attrition Point #5 - Finally, of those who (A) get the postcard, (B) respond to it and visit your website, (C) take the action you want them to take, and (D) have no technical issues ... only a portion of them will be qualified prospects.

I don't tell you all this to discourage you. On the contrary, I want you to understand the concept of attrition so you can build a real estate marketing program that minimizes attrition as much as possible.

Attrition is a fierce enemy that cannot be defeated entirely. But you can certainly reduce it, and thereby minimize the impact it has on your real estate marketing success. For instance, let's refer back to the marketing scenario above. Here are some ways we might reduce the amount of attrition at each of the five points listed:

  • To Minimize Point #1 - You can optimize your postcard deliverability by updating your mailing list, or by purchasing a fresh list from a reliable vendor such as InfoUSA.
  • To Minimize Point #2 - You can increase your postcard response by adding value to your offer (even in a non-monetary way) and strengthening your call to action.
  • To Minimize Point #3 - You can help people find what they came for on your website by adding a graphical link to it on your home page.
  • To Minimize Point #4 - You can minimize the number of people who mistype their email address by using double-entry verification on your web forms.
  • To Minimize Point #5 - You can increase the percentage of qualified prospects who respond by using an offer that will only appeal to certain people (sellers, for example).

These are just some of the ways you could reduce the level of attrition in this particular real estate marketing scenario. You could do many other things to optimize your results as well, but they are beyond the scope of this article. My goal is simply to get you thinking about marketing attrition and the various ways you might reduce it.

Understanding marketing attrition is the first step in reducing it. So think about your own real estate marketing strategies. Map out the various steps in the process, and jot down the attrition points. They should be fairly easy to spot after reading this article. Then think of all the things you can do to minimize each point of attrition, and work hard to do exactly that. Good luck!

* You may republish this article online if you retain the author's byline and the active hyperlinks below.

Friday, January 24, 2014

7 Lies of Real Estate Marketing

Real estate marketing can be either your secret weapon or a real estate system that you wish you had never attempted. There are lies about real estate marketing that have been spread around for years by those who don't want agents to unlock the power of marketing. Many of those who have spread these lies have done this unintentionally and others intentionally.
By discovering these real estate marketing lies you will have the secrets to turn your real estate business into a machine.

  1. Marketing Is Expensive. Many agents believe that marketing is expensive so they never bother to look into how they can make it work for their business. Bad marketing is very expensive and can ruin the experience for an agent. When marketing is done correctly it is about spending little to get a large return. For example if you knew that you could spend $280 on marketing and you would get back $4,000 in return would you consider it expensive? So the only marketing that is expensive is marketing that hasn't been tested, hasn't been proven, and won't generate you leads.
  2. Marketing is About You. Have you ever seen a postcard, flyer, or a website of a real estate agent where the only thing that you see is a giant picture of them riding a horse or with a dog? These agents have been told that as long as they "get their face out there" they will be successful. I would like to ask you the following question and answer it honestly: Do people care more about themselves or people they don't know? If you answered that people care about themselves more than us that is correct. Marketing that is about you will only be one of the most expensive forms of marketing you ever do and not produce the results that you desire.
  3. Marketing Only Works Once You Are Already Successful. Often in hallways across real estate offices all around the country agents say "That agent does marketing because they are successful". Agents don't do marketing once there are successful they market to get successful.
  4. "Your" Market is Different So Marketing Won't Work For You. Every market is different however people often respond to messages that are similar. My team routinely tests 300+ messages to find 6 that work all over the country. Finding which one of the 6 that works in a particular part of a country is the work that must be undertaken in a one on one setting.
  5. Marketing Doesn't Generate Good Leads. Regardless of how you get a lead whether it be an open house, a sign call, a magazine ad, a flyer, a referral, or a website 85% percent of leads will be a total waste of time. The key with marketing is to generate a leads with hoops designed to find the top 15% of leads. For example allowing leads to contact you directly can cause waste your time.
  6. Marketing is Too Difficult To Figure Out. Marketing can require testing which is why many agents avoid it for their entire careers. Without a formula to test each marketing piece you take out against it can be nearly impossible to find a winning formula. Marketing that generates results need to demonstrate to the prospect how you can benefit them and it has to do this in 10 seconds or less. When each of your marketing pieces clearly shows the prospect how your service benefits them and has a clear call to action the marketing will become far easier to figure out.
  7. Marketing Doesn't Provide Any Way To Prove That It Works. When a marketing piece goes out with 5 different phone numbers, a website, and no clear message it had no chance to work. Providing tracking on marketing allows an easy way to find out what is working and what prospects are responding to. This can be done with free tracking tools like Google Analytics when marketing is done on the Internet or a low cost 800# such as proquest.
By unlocking the secrets behind these 7 lies you will be able to improve any marketing that you currently are using as well as and future marketing you put to use to generate new business.