It’s Time to Start Marketing Again

I can’t say it any more clearly than that.  And I’m only echoing what Jack Bailey said in his video interview a couple of days ago.

We’re going to have a Spring Selling Season this year, but — thanks to the Tax Credit and a number of other factors — it’s going to come early.  To be in the game you’ve got to have listings and the time to get them is RIGHT NOW!

The new Tax Credit program requires buyers to be under contract to purchase by April 30 and for the transaction to close by June 30.*    If average time on market for a listing in your area is 90 days, then these properties will probably go under contract in January.  That’s just a couple of weeks away. 

Many of us have cut back on nearly everything.  It’s OK:  the tough market of ’08 and ’09 dictated some serious changes.  But since the Fall, the market has been stirring — and it’s not just first timers attracted by the $8,000 Tax Credit that came to an end in November (though they became a much bigger factor than ever before).  Now it seems everybody — even sellers with equity — are starting to dip their toes in the market again, intrigued by the possibility of moving up for less.  It’s time to give the market engine a little gas:  kick it into gear with some marketing.

Certainly, the place to start is with past customers and clients.  They need to know about the new Tax Credit program and you can probably let them know inexpensively:  through phone calls and personal notes. 

Obviously, it’s time to really put some energy into your FSBO and Expired campaigns.  Again, this does not have to be expensive.

The place to spend a little money is in targeted marketing.  Start by breaking your marketplace down to the smallest geographical areas you can — usually that’s Carrier Routes, and you can use Melissa Data to get the numbers.  Look at each small segment:  where is the turnover the greatest?  Go one step further:  which Carrier Routes include homes appropriate for first time buyers?  Listings in these areas may produce two parties motivated by the Tax Credit:  the first time buyer and the move up seller. 

Now choose an approach.  Like Jack Bailey, I’m a believer in post cards.  They are relatively inexpensive and deliver the message even when they are not carefully read.  If you choose this method, don’t shoot your entire budget on the first mailing.  Hold some funds in reserve so that you can go back to the same households with another mailing in 3 – 4 weeks and another after that. 

And remember:  you can do target marketing even without spending money on marketing pieces.  You can spend time and energy instead.  You can pick up the phone and make targeted calls — ordinary brokers call them ‘cold calls’ — into the areas where you want your listings to be.  Trust me:  the first one you make will be the hardest and by the time you complete call number 3 it will be easy. 

And, oh by the way:  if the phone is not exactly your thing, there’s nothing wrong with going door to door handing out a flyer with information about the Tax Credit on one side and information about you on the other! 

Bottom line:  this is not the December to take off and be reflective.  I know:  that’s what we real estate folk usually do.  This year, let’s leave that up to our competitors.  This year, let’s get busy like never before.  Let’s get our signs out in the marketplace so we’re ready for the big kick-off in January.  This is going to be the Super Bowl of real estate.

*Qualified members of the military, foreign service and intelligence communities receive a one year extension on the April/June deadlines.  Go HERE to learn more. 

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Jack Bailey Speaks! (We Listen)

Jack Bailey is a treasure.  A successful Help-U-Sell broker for more than 20 years, Jack has always been happy to share his considerable wisdom, advice and his infectious positive attitude.  I sat down with him the other day to talk about a couple of things:  first, his use of Listingbook, the tool that enables brokers and agents to maintain quality contact with buyers and sellers while giving them access to the best information available today, and then: marketing and what he’s planning for the next several months. 

Listingbook started in Jack’s hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina about 9 years ago and he was onboard with them from the beginning.  Over the last few years, the company has been expanding into Multiple Listing Services across the country.  A list of MLS’s currently featuring Listingbook is at the end of this post. 

Click Here to watch Jack’s interview about Listingbook

From all indications, it looks like our Spring selling season may be back next year, and it may arrive early.  Jack shares his thoughts on this and has some advice on what to do TODAY to be ready for it.

Click Here to watch Jack’s interview about Marketing

MLS’s currently featuring Listingbook:

  • Triad (Greensboro, Winston Salem, High Point)
  • MiRealSource – E. Detroit (Monroe, Down River, Jackson, Lenawee)
  • Pinellas & West Pasco (St Pete, Clearwater, Pt Rich)
  • Fort Myers FL
  • SoCal MLS (Orange Co, SF Valley, S Cal))
  • RMLS Minnesota (Minneapolis-St. P)
  • MRED (Chicago Land))
  • Cape Coral (add-on to Fort Myers)
  • MLSLI (Long Island)
  • CMLS Connecticutt
  • NE Florida MLS (Jacksonville)
  • MRMLS (Gr South Bay, Pasadena to Pomona)
  • Westchester-Putnam NY
  • CLAW   (West LA, Beverly Hills)
  • Sandicor (San Diego)
  • MLSPIN (Boston & most of Mass)
  • Bonita-Estero FL (Add-on to Ft. M)
  • RMLS Florida (Boca-West Palm)
  • Naples (Add-on to Bonita)
  • Intermountain MLS (Boise, Idaho)
  • MRIS (Wash DC, VA, MD)
  • MARIS (Metro St. Louis)
  • N. Nevada Reg MLS –  (Greater Reno)
  • MLS Listings, Inc (N Cal, San Jose)

 Listingbook is coming soon to:

  • Monmouth NJ
  • ARMLS (Metro Phoenix)
  • Miami & The Beaches (addon to RMLS FL)
  • Western Mountain Resort Alliance (13 ski asns UT,CO,NV,WY,ID,CAN)
  • GTAR (Greater Tampa)
  • i-Tech MLS (Glendale, Pasadena CA)
  • Staten Island
  • Madison, WI

Learn more about Listingbook here:  LBk

Rely on Facts . . . Not Rumors

The other day, Ron McCoy told me about a broker who had been beating herself up because she didn’t have any REO business.  She kept reading in the newspaper and hearing on the radio what a huge part of the market foreclosures had become.  Why wasn’t she getting any? 

All of this gnashing of teeth led this broker to do what Help-U-Sell brokers do in situations like this:  she did a Market Analysis.  Guess what?  Turns out REOS accounted for less than 10% of the business in her target market!  Suddenly all of that energy that was going into stewing and worrying about REOs that didn’t exist could be channelled into capturing as much of her market as she could.

Here at the Set Fee Blog, we did the whole Chicken Little/Foxy Loxy thing a couple of days ago and we all know not to pay attention to the negative press that’s out there.  But why not take it one step farther?  Why not replace the negativity circulating around you with solid market place facts?  Even if REOs are 40% of the activity in your MLS, what’s going on with the 10,000 – 15,000 households where you intend to do business? 

As Help-U-Sell brokers, we rely on market data for so many decisions:  where to set our fee, where to target our marketing, when to gear up and when to wind down.  Confusing times, uncertain times, times when all the birds in the barnyard are squaking — these are the times to update your Market Analysis and examine your data again.  You’ll find the full set of forms and instructions you need to do a Market Analysis in the Help-U-Sell Download Library. 

(You know:  go to www.helpusell.com, scroll down near the bottom of the page and select ‘Help-U-Sell OMS.’  Proceed to OMS Login and, if you’ve forgotten your user name and password,contact support@helpusell.com.  You’ll find the Market Analysis package in the ‘Marketing and Content’ section, under ‘Operational Tools’ and ‘Office Operational Forms.’  If that’s too many clicks, just drop me a note and I’ll send you the package and even help you fill it out!)

No More Begging!

It dawned on me 20 years ago when I was working as a Business Consultant for one of the other large national real estate franchises:  In the ordinary real estate world, we were all beggars.

Agents made listing presentations where they begged sellers to work with them.  Then they begged them to reduce the price and relist.  They begged their buyers to be loyal.

Brokers begged agents to come work in their offices.  They begged them not to leave, too.

The Franchises begged (really:  begged) people to join them.  Then they begged them to use the tools, begged them to do the thngs that would help them succeed and begged them to renew at the end of their term.

It was all very degrading, all this begging.

In a universe where everyone is on their own and everyone has the same set of tools, where all the players are just alike — making a convincing argument for your service becomes sophisticated begging.  It’s no longer a matter of educating the customer about the benefits your particular way of doing business can bring to bear on their situation.  It’s about having enough flair to make the ordinary seem special, enough personality to be convincing when you say, ‘Trust me.’

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When I came to Help-U-Sell, I noticed something different.  I saw agents and brokers who had more then their personalities to distinguish them from the pack.  They had systems that worked.  They had a specific way of marketing a listing that got it sold.  They had a unique way of starting a new agent in the business that made them productive.  They had a carefully structured method of working with buyers that not only resulted in loyalty, but also produced such customer satisfaction that testimonials were a cinch.   Everyone — brokers, agents, even the franchisor — was coming from a position of strength because they were backed by a unique business model that worked.

The Help-U-Sell Listing Consultation is not about trying to convince the seller that you’re the best.  It’s about showing the seller enough of your program that they want it, and then deciding if this is a listing you want to take, a seller you can work with.

We don’t chase buyers.  We capture them with a carefully constructed intake system (the Buyer Data Sheet), and then do a consultation that ends in a loyalty commitment.

When we recruit (and we only do this when our program has created more business than we can handle with current staff), we don’t try to convince every agent who walks through the door to join us.  We look for the few who recognize the value of being able to focus on a single, managable aspect of the business.  Then we put them through Science 2 Sales training and hold them to a reasonable production standard.

It’s all about having systems that produce results.  That’s what puts you in a position of strength so that you don’t have to beg for business.

Are the Yellow Pages Extinct?

It’s a real question — one I hope you’ll answer in a comment.  I’m asking because I found myself irritated this morning.  It happens about once a year. 

I live in a 24 unit condo.  Every year, about this time, a man with a dolly and 24 yellow-bagged copies of the Yellow Pages makes a visit to the YPbuilding.  He leaves the books in a stack by the mailboxes.  Every year I find more and more of the bagged books (mine included)  in the recycle bin in the garage.  Last year, probably 18 of 24 were never taken into the home.  That’s what irritates me:  the incredible waste of natural resources involved in printing the thing for no reason then to recycle it. 

I know I’m abnormal (in so many ways), but I haven’t used YP in years.  If I want to find something locally I usually Google the name of my city and the service I seek and then review a few websites.  Is this true for you?

So tell me:  do you use the Yellow Pages to advertise your business?  Do you have a line ad or a display ad?  Does it produce leads for you?  Just click ‘Leave a comment’ above to respond.