A Must See For The New Year

Help-U-Sell Brokers, you know we talk about list to sale price ratio and days on market all the time.  We use those metrics to show that our production is far superior to that of the average broker/agent in the MLS.  And, honestly:  I have never seen a Help-U-Sell office that did not beat the MLS on those two metrics!

Well . . . you need to see this 10 minute video.  It documents how a Coldwell Banker mega-team in Miami manipulated that important data to skew the ‘truth’ in their own favor.  What they did is truly devious and has big implications for decision makers in lots of industries.

So, grab a cup of coffee and settle back, maybe toggle to full-screen view, and close out the year learning how NOT to do it.

The Bullseye in Your Backyard

I’ve grumbled about this before but apparently, not loud enough. I am afraid, in the interest of being ‘techno-current,’ we’ve strayed from the core marketing strategy that made us great.

Help-U-Sell was founded on one powerful marketing principal:  geographic targeting.  As a broker, your job is to study your overall marketplace – I mean, really study (massage the numbers until they throb, to quote Dr. Dick McKenna) – to determine which specific neighborhoods are most likely to produce listings, the fuel that feeds our lead-generating fire.

There’s a lot in that statement.  Unlike our ordinary competitors who believe the answer to any marketing challenge is to add another agent, we look at hard data about the market and solve our marketing issues by going where the action is.  And we market for LISTINGS.  That’s it.  Just listings.  What about the other side of the business, what about buyers?  We love buyers.  As Don Taylor once said, “People forget, but Help-U-Sell has always been about the buyer!”  But we’ve learned that the best way to find a buyer is to get a listing and another and another.

I talk with brokers every day.  Often I hear the complaint, ‘My website isn’t working, I don’t get any buyer leads!’  My answer is always a question:  ‘how many listings do you have.’  I usually hear something less than 5.  Well Duh!! You don’t have any buyer leads because you don’t have any listings!  Real estate, whether the enlightened Help-U-Sell model or the tired old agent model, has always been an inventory business.  He who controls the inventory, controls the business.

Back to the idea I presented at the start of this post, the notion that we’ve lost our focus in favor of being technologically relevant.  With the entire Universe – especially NAR, Trulia, Zillow, et. al. – screaming that almost every single buyer starts their home search online, we have been lured into believing that we have to market online.  We spend money on AdWords and Facebook pay-per-click, and Google Display Ads; we obsess over our websites and constantly re-work them to become more attractive to search engines.

The results are almost always disappointing.  Even when leads are produced, the quality is iffy at best.  And what kind of leads are we getting from all of this online mania?  Buyer leads.  Again, we love buyer leads, but we also know how to produce them and it has nothing to do with point and click.

Meanwhile, as good Help-U-Sell brokers pour countless dollars and lots of energy into their online programs, I see them ranging all across God’s Green Earth to take a listing here and another way over there and heck – you’re an hour away from my office and in another area code, but shucks, I’ll take your listing!

Stop It!

Use your market data to pick the two or three specific neighborhoods in your Target Market that have the highest turnover rates, and then focus all of your energy in developing listing inventory there!   When a FSBO sign goes up, you know it and are in contact with them that first day.  When one of your competitors gets a listing, you immediately do 50 ‘Arounds’ so the neighbor who is also thinking of selling knows there’s an alternative to 6%.  When you get a listing in your Target Market, you regard it as a gift from the Marketing Gods and you exploit it to the max with signs, and brag cards and open houses and half a dozen other strategies.

Now, once you’ve done that, once it has begun to produce, once you’re getting at least 15% of the listings in your Target Market . . . then, you can consider online marketing.

And the  online marketing you do should be aimed at further establishing your brand.  It’s things like putting your latest Sold & Saved or Testimonial on Facebook and then paying to promote it within your target market.  It’s things like creating a well-focused landing page for a Google pay-per-click campaign aimed at FSBOs in your target market.

Yes, there is a place for the Zillow/Trulia/Realtor.com ‘buy a Zip Code’ programs.  I know of a few offices that have thrived with those additional marketing pieces.  But you know what all of them had in common?  Tons of listings.  Really.  Go onto Zillow and search for homes in Chino Hills, CA.  Patrick Wood will turn up in Spades.  Why?  Because he has a huge share of the listings in that town.  Zillow works for him – just as it works for Ken Kopcho – because he has a nice chunk of the listing business in his target market.

So, Help-U-Sell Brokers:  use the Internet.  Use it to gather as much data as possible about the individual neighborhoods in your overall marketplace.  Pick a few that have the highest turnover rates.  And then pursue the listing business in those neighborhoods with an unwavering focus.  Do it on foot, in the streets and the mailboxes.  Do it on billboards and bus benches, community sponsorships and involvement, Do it with signs. Get a listing and another and another.  And then, start thinking about how you an further establish your brand in those neighborhoods with online marketing.



Special! YouTube Channel SetUp and Training

Next Tuesday, June 2, at 9am Pacific Time (Noon Eastern), Alejandro Naranjo and I will be conducting a one hour session on how to setup and effectively use a YouTube Channel to boost website traffic and increase leads.

This is so important today. It is clear that video is search engine preferred content, and that YouTube – owned by Google – is the best place to house it.  More important than the SEO implications, though, consumers – when given a choice – will usually watch a short video before reading print content on a webpage;  so having a place to store and stage video is essential.  Even if you never post anything to your YouTube Channel but your own virtual tours and an occasional video from Help-U-Sell Corporate, you will be improving your visibility on the Internet and increasing the likelihood that potential buyers and sellers will find their way into your pipeline.

In the session we’ll discuss:

  • How to setup a YouTube Channel
  • How to Upload, Download, Share and Embed Video
  • How to maximize the search engine benefit of your virtual tours by hosting them on your Channel (rather than an outside vendor)
  • How to connect your YouTube Channel to social media, your website, even your drip email marketing
  • How to use the simple video editing tools available at YouTube.com
  • And, of course, MORE!

I’m sure it will be a worthwhile hour!  Please use the following link to register for the session:


DON’T Accept that Friend Request!

Be careful when you get a friend request on Facebook.  Scammers and spammers will try to get you to accept such a request in order to lure you into their various schemes.

I’m writing this today because I got a friend request from a good Help-U-Sell Broker, which I accepted.  Almost immediately, he started a Facebook Messenger conversation with me that was . . . just odd.  This broker would have said different things about different topics.  Soon he was talking about the International Monetary Fund, and my crap-meter went off.

I quickly went to his Facebook News Feed and saw that he had posted nothing except his profile picture.  I also saw that half a dozen other Help-U-Sell Brokers had accepted his friend request.  Then I did what I should have done when I got the request:  I searched Facebook for users with his name and, bingo, two profiles using the same name and photo showed up.

I went back to the Messenger conversation and told the person I doubted he was who he said he was and he assured me that was not so.  So I asked him a question I KNEW the real person would know . . and the faker couldn’t answer.  I unfriended him and messaged every other person I could see who had accepted his friend request.   I also alerted the real person that someone was impersonating him.

Rule one with Facebook Friend requests:  if this is someone you know, check first to see if you aren’t already friends on Facebook.  A scammer will copy your real friend’s picture and name, set up a fake Facebook account then send friend requests to all of the real person’s friends.  Then they will engage you in a text conversation that usually involves you clicking on some kind of link.  Once you’ve done that, they’ve got you.  The link usually facilitates the downloading of some kind of virus or malware onto your computer.

Rule two with Facebook Friend requests:  if you don’t know the person, don’t accept!  I know: Duh!  But if there is no basis for this person interacting with you, their motives for ‘Friending’ you have to be suspect!

Creating a Marketing Plan for Your Real Estate Business

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately:  the very specific process we, as Help-U-Sell Brokers, undertake when preparing to market.  We used to spend more than a day on it in University, which underscored its importance.  If you’ve forgotten some of it, here’s a brief reminder:

First, we have to be clear about what we are marketing FOR.  The answer, without hesitation, is SELLERS.  Our powerful consumer offer (sell fast – save thousands) is directed at home sellers.  It is our competitive edge.  We can beat everybody on that playing field.  When we shift our focus to the other side of the business (buyers), the differentiation is lost and we are just like everyone else.  Even if we do something crazy like offer a rebate (why would you ever do that?), we’re not doing anything any other broker couldn’t do.

You might argue that we owe it to our sellers to market for buyers for their properties . . . and you would be right.  However, we’ve found out over the years that the best way to market for buyers is to control inventory.  Buyers find their way to brokers who have listings in the area in which they want to live.  So the best thing you can do for your listed seller . . . is to go out and get another listing, and another and another.

Next, we have to get clear on the budget.  How much can you commit to spend on marketing each month – without fail – for the next year?  Maybe you’re just getting started or are coming out of a down market and don’t have much free cash;  that’s ok.  Acknowledging that fact and letting it guide your decisions about marketing is the smart thing to do.  The alternative would be to create a marketing plan that will break you.  Most of you are further along than that and can budget more . . . but how much more?

Think like a Help-U-Sell Broker.  Remember what you learned in University?  Ideally you want to cover your operating expenses with 1 1/2 to 2 of your Set Fees.  In some situations we may have stretched that to 3 fees, but that would be pushing it!   If your fee is, say, $5,950,  you’d probably want your expenses to come in at or near $12,000 a month. How much of that should be devoted to marketing?

Rule of thumb #1:  about a third.  Really.  Think about that.  $4,000 a month in marketing!

I know you want to argue about that;  you think it’s way too high!  But it’s not.  That’s the formula we used to dominate local markets and terrify ordinary brokers for years.  It’s true that with the Internet, marketing has gotten a little less expensive, but there’s also a problem in that.

I keep running into brokers who grasp at online marketing as if it were the answer to all of their lead generation issues.  They see what others are doing and it’s cool; and most important, it’s cheap!  And they want to drop everything that looks tougher or more expensive and put all their eggs in that online marketing basket.  That’s a mistake.

Consumers seeing your online marketing – whether it’s Google AdWords or Facebook pay-per-click or anything else – assume they are looking at a message from a large, faceless, generic organization.  They don’t see your online ad as being from the friendly guy down the street;  they don’t see it as local or personal.  When they receive a postcard or EDDM piece in their mailbox or a CI followup piece, the KNOW it’s from someone who lives, works and thrives in their local neighborhood.  They see a sold and saved and recognize the house.  They read a testimonial and realize it’s from someone they met at a party.  That’s powerful!

Online marketing works – and works well – when it is in support of a strong local analog marketing campaign.  Remember that $4,000 marketing budget in our example?  Ideally $3,000 of it should be spent on Arounds, Brag Cards, EDDMs, CI follow up mailings, even print ads.  The balance should go to online marketing.  If that’s how you’ve structured your marketing, when a local consumer sees your Facebook ad or comes across your ad on Google, they think, ‘Oh, that’s that company down the street and around the corner.  They sold the Smith’s house last year.’  And that only happens when you’ve been in their mailboxes and in their line of sight on a regular and continuous basis for some time.

So, the final step would be to decide where to spend your budget, and to make sure you allocate heavily toward local visibility oriented marketing – what I call analog marketing.  Spend only about a quarter to a third of your total marketing budget online.  And if you are cash poor and don’t have much of a budget, don’t throw it all at the Internet thinking it will rain business down upon your head.  It won’t.  Instead, talk to me or Ron McCoy about low cost/no cost marketing and get in gear making a strong impression in your local market.

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