Shift Happens

Shift Happens. Time to get back to basics and take control of this shift.

If you’re a veteran agent, you know that the ride over the last few years is nothing new – and the current market is nothing new either. Market changes happen…sometimes it’s a smooth ride, sometimes it’s a bumpy ride, and sometimes it’s a wild ride. But if you’re a newer agent, the current market shift may be giving you some anxiety and frustration. If so, here are some tips and ideas to help get you on track.

Get back to the Basics

If you’re a newer agent, it’s quite possible you never even had time to learn the basics. Deals were flying fast and furious over the past couple years and you didn’t necessarily need to learn how to prospect or market…now you do. It’s time to hit the reset button and get to work for the long haul. It’s time to go small in order to go big.

1. Prospecting and Lead Generation
Company leads are great but if you don’t learn how to generate your own leads, you will never control your own destiny…you’ll always have to rely on someone else.

Start by making purposeful phone calls and having conversations every day. Whether it’s a great market or a tougher market, people are buying and selling homes every day. Talk to people, ask if you can help them, ask if they know anybody you can help…people from church, people from school, your hairdresser, your plumber, people in your community. Focus on your sphere.

Reach out to past clients. Consistent communication with past clients is an important part of lead generation. Phone calls, texts, emails, newsletters, holiday greetings…these are all easy to do and effective in keeping your name (and your occupation) top of mind with your past clients.

Buying leads is sometimes necessary when you are just getting started and don’t have a big referral network. A couple months ago, Jeff Casterline did a presentation comparing Lead Sources to help you start the evaluation process. You can download his presentation here: https://brgonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/Nuts-and-Bolts-Lead-Sources.pdf

2. Speed to Lead

Responding to incoming leads quickly has always been important but now, 5 minutes isn’t quick enough. To be competitive and effective, aim to respond to leads in less than 60 seconds. Yes, you read that right, 1 minute or less….which brings me to

3. Embrace the Technology

Responding to leads within a minute isn’t always possible so the quicker you get up to speed with the technology and automation that you have at your disposal within the kvCORE CRM, the bigger your advantage. Take the time to watch the videos and customize the campaigns for all your new leads.

Your CRM is a fantastic tool for keeping track of your prospects, and focusing your marketing on the leads who will need your services in the next few months, or even a year from now. This will keep your pipeline full, your business healthy, and save you time.

Think of a CRM as a sort of virtual assistant, reminding you of important dates and information about your current clients, past clients, and prospects. It will do all of the heavy lifting for you, and save you a lot of time by automating processes like lead nurturing and conversation management.

It’s time to learn how to use it effectively and kvCORE has tons of videos and documentation that show you how…along with advanced strategy videos every week.

4. Market Yourself

The last thing you want to do is go unnoticed in a market that is getting more and more competitive. For the last few years, agents haven’t needed to focus so much on the marketing aspect of their business because the opportunities were just landing in their laps. Now is the time to build brand awareness, leverage social media marketing, and (if you haven’t already) incorporate video in your marketing strategy through platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok. Be consistent and ensure your prospects learn who you are and what you can do for them.

Join local Facebook Groups. You’d be amazed at how many people use them to find information about local Real Estate Agents. I recently read an interesting article about an agent who used this strategy. “$6M in 4 months: How to use this agent’s free Facebook lead strategy.” It’s a paid subscription so I’ve copied the text from it which you can read here: https://brgonline.com/6m-in-4-months/

5. Understand and Communicate Market Data

Now, more than ever, your customers, clients, and prospects need to know that you are on top of what is happening in the real estate industry, the economy, and your local market. It’s been an incredibly uncertain few years — low inventory, rising interest rates, inflation, layoffs, relocations, and more.

“As a real estate professional in 2022, it is imperative that you understand the local and global economic, political, social and business landscape. Don’t fight reality. Start playing in the market that is coming, versus holding on to where the market was.”

Educate yourself, subscribe to industry newsletters and online publications and take advantage of the free webinars…there are hundreds of them. Dig into the resources and market information/reports within your local MLS. And most importantly, learn how to communicate this information through social media, email, mailers, blog posts, and other marketing formats.

6. Start Farming

It’s time to engage in marketing to the local residents in the areas you service, but more importantly, be consistent in your efforts to reach out and be able to provide something of value. Identify and reach out to tenants in rental properties. Seek out a street, block, or neighborhood where you’ve already helped a buyer or seller, and work your way out from there using a combination of direct mail and targeted social media messaging to create consistent, ongoing impact.

7. Perfect Your Presentation

When you do find yourself in front of a prospective client, make sure your ducks are in a row. Your presentation needs to be clean, professional, informational, and include client testimonials. BRG provides you with the tools and templates to put all of this together. Pre-loaded Listing Folders are available along with a Listing Presentation template for you to customize and add to the folder (we actually had a recruiting meeting with an agent who told us ‘nobody wants to come in after a BRG agent because your package looks so professional.’) Take advantage of the things we offer to make you look like the professional you are! Additionally, you can use CORE Presents to send a digital presentation prior to your appointment. Take the time to learn how to use these assets.

It’s also a good time to learn how to put together an accurate CMA. Many sellers are not yet ready to accept the fact that the market isn’t what it was a couple years ago and there is most likely not going to be a bidding war where they end up with more than they originally listed at. Part of your presentation needs to set the right expectations of the current landscape showing them how your experience and skill set will help overcome these obstacles. If you’re not sure how to accurately do this, reach out to your Broker to get some direction.

Going back to basics is always simple, but not easy. Most people don’t want to admit how simple it really is. Real estate is not complicated, yet too often we complicate it because we have this idea that success needs to be hard and complex or we make excuses for not doing the tasks we know need to be done…the daily activities that are proven to produce results.

Most importantly, know that we have to the tools, the technology, the people, and the desire to help you succeed. We’re committed to you!

Finish Strong!

Create an accountability plan for the next 90 days to get your Spring market pipeline on track.

For the past decade, real estate has been on an upward trajectory, and it has not been necessary for agents to act proactively about their business — plus, there hasn’t been time! However, recently the tables have turned, the market is slowing, and it’s the perfect time to think proactively rather than reactively.

That means that it’s time to start reaching out to your sphere of influence to provide value-added information. It’s time to be an excellent resource in this evolving marketplace.

Break up your tasks into four simple and easy-to-remember buckets, perfect for this time of year:

  • Email outreach
  • In-person contact
  • Social media connections
  • A final holiday push

All of these strategies focus on outreach to your sphere. That’s because stronger relationships with your sphere lead to more referrals, which in turn leads to more business. Creating and reinforcing existing relationships now, while the market is slower, is the perfect way to proactively prepare for a spring market pipeline.

Below is a list of the assignments within each of those buckets that will help you round out the year as strongly and proactively as possible.

Email outreach
Find reasons to reach out to your sphere, and keep it simple. Start by sorting your list into those who have either referred to you in the past, or bought or sold at least two years ago. Put those groups at the top of your list — they are the most likely to want to make a change.

Next, task yourself with reaching out to one client every day for the next month. Reach out with a comparable market analysis (CMA), an article on their neighborhood or information on mortgage rates going up or down.

In-person contact
For those who did not receive an email, ask to get together for coffee, dinner, drinks or a phone call — whatever works. Aim for two to three connections per week. These are fun, genuine social interactions, not solely sales-oriented.

Social media connections
I strongly believe in choosing one social media channel and sticking with/investing in it.

Regardless of which channel you choose, go through and make sure you have connected with every past client. Once that is done, start thinking about what your social media strategy for 2023 will look like, and begin planning ahead.

Holiday push
For your final push, select your top 20 referral partners and repeat clients. For the next month, select five each week to send a gift to: Maybe it is a pie, wreath, card — anything festive that shows that you are thinking about them and investing in the relationship.

If you stay accountable to your business for the next 90 days in practical, proactive terms, your spring market pipeline will start taking shape.

 

Adapted from Inman

Man checking his mail in nice home

Neighborhood Farming for Real Estate Agents. Old School? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

First off, I really wanted to title this article, “If you think neighborhood farming is ‘old school,’ prepare to get ‘skooled’ – but I figured that might look like I was trying too hard.

In the marketing world, there’s a lot of buzz out there about direct mail making a major comeback. In my experience, it was never dead to begin with. Furthermore, as people become increasingly tired of a never ending stream of email hitting their inbox, a good direct mail strategy may become even more valuable.

Understandably, I have Agents come to me asking about lead generation on a regular basis. When I mention neighborhood farming, either
1. They’re really gung-ho until you explain how much work, persistence, and patience is involved, or
2. They dismiss it as old school.

I get it, modern systems and technology have taken us to some amazing places in the industry and have allowed us to reach more people than ever before. But at the heart of it, real estate is still a local game.

Admittedly, in the past it was thought that there were too many other agents trying to gain a foothold in a neighborhood…that the field was too crowded with multiple agents trying to gain exposure in every neighborhood.

Newsflash: Have you seen the internet lately? Talk about a crowded playing field!

With that in mind, I urge you to take a look at these numbers just within one area in our own organization and you’ll get a clearer picture of the long-term benefits of nurturing a small, geographical area using Direct Mail and other tools:

Jeff CasterlineThe Farm at Carolina Forest: +121 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers, Neighborhood website, President of Nextdoor in the neighborhood

The Shine’sPrince Creek: +154 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers (including annual magnetic/refrigerator calendars), started a Facebook neighborhood group

Blanche WelbornCherry Grove: +85 Transactions
Process: Years of consistent mailers, Neighborhood involvement/investments

Notice the common denominator, “years of.” These numbers didn’t happen after the first mailer. These numbers didn’t even happen during the first year. These numbers are a culmination of years of consistently showing up in their farm.

Did it involve a considerable amount of time, discipline, and investment ? Yes. But I assure you, it has paid off for them.

So, how do you do it? You make a plan, create a schedule, set your budget, and get to work.

At BRG, we provide our agents with the tools and templates to do it all themselves. If you work with a brokerage who doesn’t provide this, there are a number of outside companies/vendors to help you.

I recommend you start with a mailer every month for the first 6 – 12 months. After that, your farm will be used to seeing your name and information so you could cut it back some.

Real Estate Farming:

How do I get started?
When sending mailers, you have a couple of options, you can send either postcards or letters. The Shine’s use a combination of both.

The process itself involves either using a mailing service such as Quantum Mail, or pulling your own list from a resource like RPR. If you use your own list, you will need to print the mailing labels, affix them to the card, and then buy postage or use your brokerage’s bulk mail permit if available.

Another option is to use the USPO EDDM (Every Day Direct Mail) service. Personally, this is not my favorite option because your mailers end up with the “junk mail” delivery. However, I know agents that have certainly had success with it.

What should I send?
Interesting and informative information like Local Market Stats; Just Listed Announcements; Just Sold Announcements (Buyer and Seller side); Local Business Spotlights; Other local information and tips.

Blanche Welborn: “My farming consists of mailers only. I only mail stats of what I’ve sold and I don’t really put any fluff verbiage on the postcards. Almost all of my listings come from mailers and it’s taken me about three years to consistently produce good results. For example one card I sent last year, I listed the address of all the houses I sold in Cherry Grove that year and the closing price (14 homes). I had over seven listing appointments where the potential sellers said they took the card, drove to each address to look at the outside of the house and compared theirs.”

The schedule we provide our agents for the year looks something like this:

Jan: New Real Estate Goals
Feb: Real Estate News/Facts
Mar: Local Market Report
Apr: Home Maintenance Tips for Spring
May: How to Increase Your Home’s Value
June: Local Market Report
July: Favorite Local Summer Roadtrips
August: Local Business Spotlight
Sept: Local Market Report
Oct: Trick or Treat
Nov: Home Maintenance Tips for Winter
Dec: Holiday Greeting

Intersperse these with Just Listed and Just Sold mailers every time you have the opportunity.

Note: Every mailer should have a “Call to Action” and either a link (or preferably a QR code) where they can easily access information depending on your call to action.

Additional Ideas for Real Estate Farming:

  • Start a Facebook Group Page for your farm area. It can be a place for residents to share information, ask questions, and post events.
  • Enter your mailing list into a Facebook Custom Audience List and use it to run inexpensive, targeted information to people in your farm.
  • Get involved with any community events or local school events in your farm area.
  • Follow up!

Deborah Shine: “Ours is continued follow up with past clients via email, phone, post cards, newsletters, calendars each year (which they point out on their fridge when we have a listing appointment), sympathy cards , birthday calls and whatever gives us an opportunity to keep our name out there. It may take years but that is how you build a long term referral business.”

Start with this plan and you’re on your way to sowing some long-term seeds and reaping some long-term rewards in your own farm area.

 

Lisa

 

Socially exhausted real estate agent

Ugh, another “expert” with another “thing” I need to be doing on social media.

Real estate agents, are you getting all the same emails I am? Ads and prompts in your social media feeds? Invitations to webinars? There are so many real estate gurus offering thoughts and ideas about what agents should be doing on social media right now. When I see them, I immediately think “ugh, another ‘expert’ with one more ‘thing’ I need to be doing on social media.” If you’ve had this feeling lately, I get it. There is such an information overload out there for real estate agents about what you need to be doing on social media that it can make you want to scrap it all.

Apparently, now in addition to being an expert on all things related to real estate…serious things with major implications for your clients if you get it wrong by the way…you also need to be a TikTok entertainer, learn the art of Reels, color code your Instagram feed, edu-tain on Facebook (and balance it between both your personal and business page), have a professional LinkedIn account where you consistently add “high quality” real estate information, make YouTube videos regularly (note: be sure you know how to make attention-grabbing thumbnails for them as well as learning how to optimize your page), have a robust Twitter account, and if you have a spare minute, a pretty Pinterest feed is a valuable tool too. And for the love of everything holy, don’t forget about Stories.

Are you exhausted yet? I’m exhausted just talking about it.

As someone who has been in real estate marketing for a minute, I wanted to tell you to take a deep breath and break down in the simplest form what I think about where we are in this moment and where you should focus your efforts.

Potential clients, like all humans, come in many different forms with many different needs and personalities.

  • Some require efficient, high-tech systems. Some don’t.
  • Some really are sourcing their real estate professional on TikTok. Many are not.
  • Some will love you because they see you doing a funny dance on Instagram. Some don’t care.

Need more? Probably not, you get the idea.

The one constant is that they all want their real estate agent to be knowledgeable, extremely competent, and to care about their needs and the outcome of the transaction. And what we’re seeing more and more is that they want some sort of connection with that person. Maybe it’s been amplified by the isolation period of Covid or maybe it’s just the natural balancing of the high tech world we find ourselves in, but people are craving connection in some form.

Many experts see social media as a way to “connect.” And it is a great tool for that. Perfect for getting name and brand recognition, for helping your sphere remember that you are a real estate professional, for reaching potential clients, and more. Do you need to be on social media in some way? In this day and age, yes, you do.

But is it also a way to “connect” without actually having to put in the work to build real “connections?”

Personally, I love seeing pictures, stories, and videos of home renovations. I can zombie scroll “before and after” pictures for hours and waste half a day being edu-tained by Chip and Joanna, The Property Brothers, Hillary and David (the snark gets me every time), and many others. But when I need to renovate my own home, I’m going to look for the local expert with the best reviews and a good track record; and if I’ve met them at a local event, while volunteering, at church, at a social meeting, at a restaurant (or bar), at my kid’s school or sporting event, if they’re active in my community or neighborhood, or if my friends or neighbors have used them, I’m going to be even more inclined to hire them. I can’t be the only one.

So, if you’re “exhausted” from all the talk and tips regarding what you should be doing on social media and are looking for a simple, clear plan to follow, here’s my advice:

  1. Choose one or two social platforms that you’re comfortable with and learn how to use them efficiently. Be mindful of who your clients are and which platforms they are most likely to be using.
  2. Spend less time trying to figure out how to “connect” on social media and more time actually “connecting and showing up” in person. Then simply post those moments and interactions on your social media.
  3. Make other people and places the “star” of your show. We’re going to learn a lot about you by seeing how you value people other than yourself.
  4. Post your “wins” but more importantly, post your motivation and your purpose.

Regardless of profession, those are the people I want to work with.

 

– Lisa

The Golden Letter

couple shaking hands with real estate agent

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