Posts by Jess Maria (page 3)

Do You REALLY Know Your Customer?

The most successful real estate professionals are “people” people. Even in the modern world, where more and more of the real estate transaction takes place online, the business itself is conducted by real people, in often intense and stressful situations … Really get to know your customer, and you’ll likely get to know them again, as well as some of their friends, family or colleagues.

I had lunch with a friend last week. She and her husband are in the process of selling their home and buying another. They’re using the same real estate agent they’ve used for two other transactions in the past, and have been loyal to her. She’s done a great job and looked out for their best interests. But things have seemingly changed and they are displeased. The home they’re selling has received an offer of nearly $1.5 million. They’ve placed an offer of $2.25 million on the home they’re hoping to purchase. There is significant commission involved, and their agent doesn’t realize how close she is to losing these clients, not to mention their referral network. This got me thinking about how important it is (in any business, really) to know your customer. As a real estate professional, when relationships are critical to success, it’s even more important.

While the vast majority of homebuyers today use the internet for their search, NAR tells us that 90% of those who used the internet for their search still went on to purchase a home through an agent. “In fact, buyers who used the internet were more likely than those who did not use the internet to purchase their home through an agent,” says NAR’s most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report.

The most successful real estate professionals are “people” people. Even in the modern world, where more and more of the real estate transaction takes place online, the business itself is conducted by real people, in often intense and stressful situations. And when it involves money, personal finances and the dream of homeownership, the intensity increases. A home is often a family’s biggest life purchase. Agents and brokers who can temper than intensity and really read their clients will build strong and lasting, lucrative relationships. In my friends’ case, they’ve been left feeling like their longtime agent is neglecting their best interests because she is too focused on closing the sale at all costs. In other words, she sees the carrot of commission dangling just within reach and has lost the ability to see further beyond that. It will cost her in the long run. After all, even in this online world, 54% of homebuyers find their real estate agent through a referral or as a repeat client, according to NAR.

Most real estate professionals will tout their trust worthiness. But can you back yours up? Do you know what keeps your home buyer clients up at night? Do you understand their motivations, hesitations and fears? If you do, you are steps ahead already. It takes sitting back and understanding that the experience is not about you, even though you make be doing all the hard work. It isn’t glamorous, but the results are worth it.

How can you do this? Start by paying attention – not just to what your customers are saying, but to their tone, inflection, body language and facial expressions. Pay attention to the little details. Ask questions, probe gently; get on the same page. Keep it personal and prompt, as much as possible. Remember things can come off harsher in text, so keep any potentially upsetting news to a phone call or face-to-face. Be responsive and professional, but keep an air of friendliness. You clients want and need to know that you “have their back”, so to speak. Lastly, follow up. Don’t keep your nose so close to the fence that you miss what’s happening around you and lose the chain of referral and repeat business.

Really get to know your customer, and you’ll likely get to know them again, as well as some of their friends, family or colleagues.

.REALTOR Domain Coming Soon

NAR secures new top level domain with .REALTOR.

There are approximately 22 URL suffixes [ICANN generic top-level domains (gTLDs)], and you’re no doubt familiar with several, from the most popular .com to .gov, .edu, .net, and more. In early 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers—which oversees policies dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable, and interoperable—approved an expansion of the number of top-level domains. What’s more, they decided to allow companies and organizations to create domains for their brands. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has done just that, and will be making the new .REALTOR domain available to NAR and CREA members from October 23rd, 2014.

“This is truly an exciting time for NAR members to be on the cutting edge of Internet technology. When consumers visit a .REALTOR website they will know that they have reached a source of comprehensive and accurate real estate information, NAR President Steve Brown told media.

ICANN is currently in the process of reviewing hundreds, if not thousands, of potential new gTLDs. As part of this process, NAR applied for and secured the .REALTOR domain to showcase its real estate professionals in a “crowded online space”.

The first 500,000 NAR members and 10,000 CREA members to sign up will receive their .REALTOR domain address free for the first year.

Free Twitter Tools Not to Miss

Twitter can be tough to get into, and it can be confusing. But it’s amazing tool for fostering relationships, building your foundation as an expert in the field of real estate (or wherever you happen to be an expert), and listening to what others are saying.

Buffer blogger Kevan Lee is one of my favorite social media bloggers, and he impressed me again a couple of weeks ago with his post about 59 Free Twitter Tools to meet every need. Twitter can be tough to get into, and it can be confusing. But it’s amazing tool for fostering relationships, building your foundation as an expert in the field of real estate (or wherever you happen to be an expert), and listening to what others are saying.

People complain on Twitter. A lot. If you use the platform as a mode to listen to those complaints, you’ll be well placed to become a reliable solution, and a sought-after expert. Twitter can be a total time suck, and an easy place to get lost. But that’s where Lee’s list comes in handy. He’s compiled an awesome list of tools to help you navigate the world of Twitter, making just about anything you need to do—research, efficiency, productivity, analytics, discovery, timing, etc.—easier and more achievable.

I highly recommend checking out Lee’s article for the complete list, but here are some of my favorites from his collection:

SocialBro: A nearly all-in-one platform for all things Twitter. The free plan comes with analytics, best time to tweet, follow/unfollow tools, and community segmentation.

Twitonomy: A dashboard of analytics for whichever Twitter user you choose (even yours). Analyzes profiles, tweets, engagement, and more.

Bluenod: Type in a user or hashtag and see a detailed map or visualization about the community around the user or the people using the hashtag. Great for hashtags about communities, neighborhoods and locales!

TweetChat: Log in to follow a specific hashtag, hang out in a room that collects the hashtagged tweets for you, and reply as you like (with the hashtag added automatically to your tweet).

Nuzzel: As described by Twitter’s Joanna Geary, “find out what’s trending among the people the people you follow follow.” Make sense? Translation: Content discovery from friends and friend of friends.

Swayy: See the content that your followers recommend plus the topics they most enjoy. View it all via the dashboard or from a daily email digest.

Unfollowers: Get a complete breakdown of those you follow, and unfollow with ease.

Hashtagify.me: Enter a hashtag to discover related tags, recent conversations, usage patterns, and influencers.
Keyhole: Ask Keyhole to notify you whenever a particular keyword, hashtag, or URL is mentioned. Helpful to track mentions of your own name or your company’s blog or campaign.

Twilert: Track keywords on Twitter and receive an email notification every time they’re mentioned. Great for keeping an eye on company names, new products, and branded hashtags.

Be Present: Real-time reports on your response time, response rate, and performance based on industry benchmarks. Also, really pretty to look at. Great for real estate professionals, when response time in EVERYTHING.

So, as usual, awesome work from Kevan Lee and Buffer. Make sure you check it out!

Could You Be Stealing Stock Photos?

Lawyers and artists are on the lookout for stock photos users who don’t pay for the photos on their blogs and websites. Could you be stealing stock photos?

I’m part of a couple of different business groups, and in the last two months, a serious but surprising topic has come up among the group members three times: My professional peers were contacted by lawyers telling them that they’d used an image on their blog without paying for it or citing its source. If this is something you’ve ever done, say, scrolled through Google images to find what looks like a great pic to include with your latest blog article, you could be the next facing legal action. So, I have to ask – who took the photo in your blog post? And did you pay for it? Could you be stealing stock photos?

“Come on,” I can practically hear you saying, “I don’t want to/can’t afford to buy a new image every single time I post a new article to my blog.”

Well, I have two responses to that. 1) It’s a lot more affordable than you might think (and a LOT more affordable than legal fines), and you can rest easy knowing you’re covered, if you do purchase all your images; but, 2) There actually are many free resources for images that you can use safely.

Designmodo recently published a Carrie Cousins’ article on great places to source free stock photography. Titled 16 Places to Find the Best Free Stock Photos, it’s just that – a comprehensive and fabulous list of 16 separate sources of free stock imagery.

Cousins’ selections include:

1. Raumrot
2. Unsplash
3. Little Visuals
4. Gratisography
5. Free Refe
6. Jay Mantri
7. Magdeleine
8. Foodies Feed
9. Picography
10. Im Free
11. Death to the Stock Photo
12. New Old Stock
13. SuperFamous
14. Public Domain Archive
15. Picjumbo
16. The Pattern Library

I’ve personally used Death to the Stock Photo ever since I heard about the photo sharing site months ago. I look forward to trying some of these other options, too. Tell me, where are your favorite stock photography sources?

Buffer’s Guide to Growing Your Facebook Reach

As Facebook continues to change its rules and algorithms, many of us struggle to keep up. For real estate professionals, Facebook can be a goldmine of opportunity, but if you’re watching your interactions dwindle and your reach shrink, you may feel a little over the whole thing. And I don’t blame you. That’s why I love Buffer’s guide to growing your Facebook reach organically, which was written by Kevan Lee and posted on BufferSocial recently.

As Facebook continues to change its rules and algorithms, many of us struggle to keep up. For real estate professionals, Facebook can be a goldmine of opportunity, but if you’re watching your interactions dwindle and your reach shrink, you may feel a little over the whole thing. And I don’t blame you. That’s why I love Buffer’s guide to growing your Facebook reach organically, which was written by Kevan Lee and posted on BufferSocial recently.

Your real estate business is one of 18 million + business competing for space on Facebook. Facebook has made it harder and harder to get your posts and updates in front of your audience. Kevan explains that even the folks at Buffer have been noticing a decline in their Facebook reach. And he goes on to explain (clearly and smartly) the problem with Facebook reach; how Facebook calculates what shows up on your newsfeed; and his suggestion of a counterintuitive way to combat Facebook reach (ahem … stop caring about it).

What he means with that last point is that reach doesn’t mean success. Reach isn’t an indicator of a true connection, a deal made, or a listing sold. So before getting too hung up on the numbers, it’s a good idea to step back and focus on the end objectives. The idea here is that Facebook’s algorithm (if we can trust it work this way) is saving your content and posts for the people who want it most – the people who engage with you already. This is a positive thing, but it certainly presents a challenge when it comes to lead generation and developing NEW contacts for your Facebook Business Page.

Here’s where Kevan moves past explaining the WHY and starts to talk expertly about the HOW. How to actually combat these problems and proactively work toward growing your Facebook reach organically:

1. Try the cultivation strategies used by Fortune 500 companies, including openness and disclosure; access; positivity; assurances; networking and sharing of tasks.

2. Post at non-peak times.

3. Share original, behind-the-scenes photos of you and your team.

4. Engage your community with questions.

5. Share self-explanatory photos.

6. Look at the numbers differently.

Read the full article HERE to find out how Kevan recommends you approach each of the tips above. And good luck extending your Facebook reach!