“You only call me when you want something.” 

Maintaining client relationships is obviously important to repeat business, but why do many of us do so poorly with keeping in touch?

I was pulling a report to view the analytics of an email campaign and I noticed our bounced email list was fairly large. This is bad for us because we lost out on being able to email them, and it shows that we have not kept in contact with them to know that they have a new email address. Fortunately, this now creates an opportunity for us to reach out and call our past clients and prospects, and gain their new contact information. It also opens the window for a conversation on what they have been up to, and if they have noticed the rise in the Real Estate Market.

Now… For the contact information that is correct in our CRM… How often are we reaching out to them? Also, when we do contact them, are we just trying to sell them something? This reminds me of someone I knew in college. Every now and then I’d send a txt to that “special person”, and they would always txt back “You only txt me when you want something!” <INSERT winking face with deviant smile> I learned a great lesson from this experience: Continuous meaningful contact.

What this means: When you see an article, or photo, or idea, or just think of someone… Let them know. Send a txt, email,  a card, or give them a call. What I have found is I have built better relationships, gained more referrals, and sold more. I didn’t ask for any sales or referrals, but keeping in touch and reminding people of myself kept me on their mind for when they needed Real Estate help.

What this does not mean: Blasting constant emails with the same content to everyone in your database. The key aspect to making this tactic work is personalization. Think about how many unrelevant calls, emails, postcards, and such that you receive. Don’t be one of them. Simple.

If your client feels like a cheap booty call, they’ll respond accordingly. Believe it or not, you’re replaceable. Don’t give people a reason to replace you, give them a reason to want to marry you.


When Is It Time To Fire Your Client?

There are many articles that have been written about the Customer Lifetime Value, and how to calculate the estimated value. Ultimately, the hope is to maximize the amount of money derived from each customer, while also minimizing the acquisition and retention costs. But what happens when the opposite starts to happen? For Sprint, this happened in 2007.

Sprint Breaks Up With High Maintenance Customers

I’m sure we have all had a prospect or client that needed more than their share of hand-holding. They call, text, and email multiple times a day. At some point it needs to be realized that the client may represent a large value, but the amount of time and effort that has to be spent on that client exceeds their lifetime value.

There are two options to alleviate the issue. First, establish limitations and expectations upfront. It is not always best to give the customer everything they want. They usually know what they are getting away with, and will continue to do so. The second option is, “It’s not me, it’s you.” Yep, it’s time to fire the client. It’s never fun, and I have had to do it in the past. Not all business relationships are not a perfect match. Maybe it’s time to start spending 80% of your time with the top 20% of your client book.

The Most Expensive Marketing Is “Free” Marketing

There is an idea of “Free” marketing, but it simply does not exist. I can think back to Econ 1101: There is no such thing as a free lunch. This is always true, but let me explain it in terms of free marketing.
Many real estate companies are focusing on Social Media Marketing, and Search Engine Optimization in their marketing plans and strategies as avenues of “Free” marketing. However, how much is this free marketing is actually free?
Many real estate brokerages do not have, or can not afford a dedicated Marketing Manager. Therefore, end up running their own social media and SEO, or delegating it to an Office Manager. The overhead of the Office Manager, office supplies/space, and time taken away from other income producing activities represent the overall cost of the free marketing. Then, we need to look at the return derived from the free marketing. If it seems like the efforts put into social media and SEO are not producing any leads, then there is no return on investment. Even worse, there may actually be a negative return on investment! We have all heard the expression that “all press is good press.” However, that is not always the case. In fact, meaningless chatter and content may actually be driving clients and prospects away.
So what is the solution?
First, the cost of time needs to be calculated, and realized. Then, the cost needs to be compared to the cost of hiring a Marketing Manager or Marketing company. After that, determine the average lifetime value of a client. Once all of the data is collected, calculate the number of clients that would need to be generated each year to offset or justify the costs. For a quick example: Suppose a Marketing Manager will work for $85,000 annually. In that year, 5 new clients are gained. Each client representing an average lifetime value of $150,000.
150,000(5)-85,000= $665,000
To sum up… Just because there are free marketing channels, does not mean there is not a cost associated. It is always best to do what Real Estate Agents recommend their clients to do, i.e. hire a professional.

Make It FAB!

Barbie showing property

OMG Ms. Buyer, this property is so for you!. You should buy now!

Many agents may think they are doing a fabulous job at showing properties, and touting all the specifications of a property. However, are the clients really buying it? Probably not.

On your next showing, try making it FAB!

Customers buy benefits, not features. They want to know how much reasonable satisfaction could they gain from the property. Many agents know all the features of a specific property, but never translate the feature into a benefit to the client.

To do this, use the acronym F.A.B:

Feature, Advantage, Benefit

First start by mentioning a feature of the property: “This property features a tankless water heater.” Second, follow-up with the advantage of the feature: “The advantage of a tankless water heater is that it supplies instant, endless hot water.” Finally, the benefit to the client: “The benefit to you is you never have to worry about running out of hot water, while your entire family takes showers to get ready for church on Sundays!” There you have it: Feature, Advantage, Benefit.

Now let’s say you wanted to sell a beachfront home to a client. You list all the features: 300′ of beachfront; massive, 6 car garage; hand-scraped, Brazilian, cherrywood floors; reclaimed stained-glass windows; vintage styled Wolf appliances; and 5,000 gallon, saltwater fish tank. Sounds legit. So what are the benefits? That’s the tricky part. The benefits for each client are going to be different. One client may enjoy the benefit of living in luxury, while the next client may enjoy the benefit of being able to lease the property for a higher price.

To find out what benefits are important to each individual client, you need to listen carefully to what they want. Listen, ask questions, then listen more. Find out what benefits really motive them, then turn all the features into advantages that will benefit their specific needs.

Now go sell something.

A Listing With No Sign, Is A Sign Of No Listing

Each time I query a Lead Source Report, to determine where all of the leads are coming from, I am never surprised to see the top lead source. Property signs always produce the most results, and many times the best results. When analyzing lead data, property signs have contributed to over 60% of the monthly lead sources, year to year.

Property signs are advertising, and should be treated similarly to a billboard. What is it about each micro-billboard (property sign) that is going to gain attention, and inspire a call to action? First thing first, can people see your sign? Paco Underhill writes in his book, Why We Buy, how marketing departments need to be aware of how viewers are going to be viewing the a sign: from their car, at 60 mph. Can a viewer see your sign and read the information on the sign? Additionally, when someone would like more information about the property, does the sign offer the viewer enough information?

The next most important part about the sign is what happens at the call to action. Is there a link or QR code to send the prospect to a property specific webpage for more information? Or, even better, what happens when they call the office? The hottest lead is the lead that is standing on the property and calling you for more information.

Overall, property signs should not be overlooked on any listing. Allowable: there are some listings where signage is not permitted. However, most of the time signs are allowed, and should be installed on the property the day the property is listed.

What Came First: The Marketing or The Lead

If you ask the Marketing Department, every lead is a result of their efforts. Conversely, if you ask the Agents at the office, every lead just so happened to find their way to the Agent’s iPhone. So, to answer this question I will give two quick examples of lead generation situations.

  1. A prospective buyer sees the newest issue of <your city here> Magazine. The prospect sees the advertisement for your Real Estate Firm and calls to buy a property.
  2. A previous client calls an agent at your firm on their iPhone and buys a property.

In Example 1. The Marketing Department wins!

In Example 2. The Agent wins!

But wait… In Example 2, does the Agent win? In the book Never Lose Again: Become a Top Negotiator by Asking the Right Questions the first question is “How did you hear about us?” This question is of most importance to the Marketing Department. This question can answer what marketing dollars are being well spent. Additionally, a revision of this question can be asked of previous clients, “What made you call me?” Considering the client already knows about your real estate firm, what made them (a.) remember you out of all the other agents in the world, (b.) what was the call to action that prompted the client to call you?

Ha! In Example 2. Marketing wins again.

Marketing Departments not only create content to procure new buyers, but they also create “drip marketing” to stay in the forefront of the client’s mind. The moral of the story is, Marketing behind the enemy lines, creating an arsenal of marketing weapons to utilize on the company’s behalf to keep clients engaged and active. Next time a client or a prospect calls you, ask the right questions and determine where your marketing efforts are having the greatest return.

Proportional Real Estate Marketing Expenditures

Proportional Real Estate Marketing Expenditures

Marketing for Real Estate should not be one size fits all. Yet, many agents seem to think it is, and that the 3 P’s of Real Estate Marketing always apply to every listing:

  1. Put up a sign,
  2. Put it online, and
  3. Pray

Here is a little secret… Real Estate Marketing is not a fixed expense for every property. If the price of the house and the real estate commission are perfectly elastic (for every increase in the price of the house there is an increase in the price of the commission), then why are marketing costs not weighted the same? I constantly see agents putting forth the same amount of effort and marketing for a $100,000 property as they do for a $1,000,000 property. The reason a commission is a percentage of the sale is for the reason that it takes more effort to sell more expensive properties. Thus, if it takes more effort, it should take more marketing effort as well. Each property is different and should have a marketing strategy created for each listing as they occur. I think it is great that one website syndicates to thousands of other websites, and there is a printed out marketing package that says that exact same thing. However, it takes more than a quick pic with an iPhone and uploading the property to the local MLS.

Before listing a property, ask the potential agent what specifically they are going to do to market your property differently than every other agent available.