If you’re a REALTOR® or an entrepreneur in general, there are times when you tend to sacrifice ‘personal’ for ‘business’. This makes sticking to new years resolutions tough! You might skip a workout for an important meeting, or strain yourself in front of the laptop until the wee hours of the morning. Sound familiar?
You’re not alone.
Every year, entrepreneurs set big, hairy, audacious new years resolutions for themselves which they hardly achieve because of reasons X, Y and Z that all pertain to their hectic business schedule! I’m not saying entrepreneurs are full of hot air or that they aren’t effective goal setters – they just have their priorities ordered differently than non-trepreneurs (yep, just made that word up). Their business is their baby, and sometimes when you’re raising a baby you don’t get around to your own personal growth and care. It’s a hustle that the Ninjas totally understand.
Knowing this about yourself, why not set your resolutions on the path of least resistance? If you’re a REALTOR® who is tired of setting personal new years resolutions that fizzle by March, I challenge you to add some professional resolutions to your year-plan. Below this paragraph is a list of 10 REALTOR® Resolutions that you can focus on this year. You might just select one, or you might want to pick a few that apply to you – or just use these as inspiration for your own custom resolutions. Either way, I hope they get you thinking.
Resolution 1: Take Better Listing Photos
The Japanese have a term called “Shokunin”, which loosely translates into “The Mastery of Ones Profession“. When I see some of the awesome real estate listing photos online, it reminds me of the term Shokunin. Some of you are really mastering the art of great listing photos! Excellent lighting, HD Camera, professional photographer, properly staged and composed shots… they all come together to produce a set of beautiful photos that accurately depicts the awesomeness of the property you’re listing. Not only will this garner more attention for your listing, it will also make your client super happy.
In comparison to agents who are taking a few smartphone photos and posting them to MLS, you will naturally see a greater degree of success with lead capture through better listing photos. You also stand the chance to have your photos shared around if they are eye-catching enough (see point 7 for more on social media). Check out these two ACTUAL listing photos that I just pulled from MLS. Which one of these listings do you think is going to get more attention?
(note: the nice photo was the first in a series of great photos – the blurry photo was the ONLY photo associated with that listing)
Ninja Tip [-_-]~~ Use a drone to get some breathtaking exterior photos.
Resolution 2: Target a Niche in Your Market
I’m sure you’ve heard the famous Bill Cosby quote, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” – we totally agree, Bill. If up until now you’ve been trying to focus your marketing efforts on ‘anybody-who-will-hire-me’, we recommend taking a step back and making it your resolution to pick a niche this year. A niche is a distinct segment of the market – there are many of them in the real estate business. Think about who the majority of your customers have been so far, and see if you can find a pattern. Maybe you’ve been selling mostly to new families with young babies… maybe that’s where your strength lies or maybe it was just coincidental. But dig deep and see where YOU can get the most return on your time investment… where your expertise and know-how can shine the brightest.
When you become a REALTOR®, you’re immediately thrown into the big tank and are swimming with the sharks. There is no amateur league and pro league – you’re up against 30-year real estate veterans right away. In order to remain competitive when swimming with these realty sharks, you must to pick a niche and focus all of your marketing efforts towards that market segment. This will immediately shrink your tank and reduce the number of sharks you’re directly in competition with. There are suddenly so many more fish in the sea, so to speak!
Below, I’ve listed a number of example real estate niches wherein you can focus your marketing efforts in 2016. This list is just a thought-starter, and doesn’t represent nearly every potential niche.
- Luxury Condos
- Urban High Rises
- First Time Home Buyers
- Luxury Homes
- Small Family Homes
- Downtown Lofts
- Baby Boomers
- Millennials (see point 10 for more on millennials)
- Suburban Townhouses
Resolution 3: Create a Traffic Generation Strategy
At RealtyNinja we commonly analogize powerful websites with high-performance race cars. They are optimized, fast, have all the bells and whistles that you need to win a race, are designed with quality and style in mind, but there is one essential component that doesn’t come with a race car or a website: a driver.
When we talk about ‘traffic‘, we’re referring to the amount of data sent and received by visitors of a website – put simply, traffic is visitors to your website. So ‘traffic generation‘ refers to the act of creating visitors to your website. Quite similarly to how you can’t leave a driver-less race car on the track and expect it to win, you can’t leave a finely tuned website online and expect it to earn you leads – much less, qualified leads. Traffic needs to be earned through your marketing efforts on a variety of different online and offline channels.
If you’re feeling like 2016 is the year that you resolve to increase your website visitors, then check out the bullets below for some thought starters on how you can start getting your website exposed to more and more people. But don’t forget, driving a race car isn’t an easy task and winning gold doesn’t (often) happen overnight – if you don’t have the time or interest, consider hiring a part-time marketing assistant.
- Add your website to your e-mail signature
- Join online real estate forums and discussions with thoughtful commentary
- Comment on popular blogs
- Launch an e-mail marketing campaign (see point 8 for more on E-Mail Marketing)
- Place your website URL on your print ads
- Write guest blog posts for relevant local sites
- Publish interesting and niche-relevant articles to your own blog regularly (see point 4 for more on Blogging)
- Use twitter regularly to engage with your local community
Resolution 4: Blog More Frequently & Regularly
I’ve said this time and time again but I have no problem repeating myself if it will help: Great content is going to drive relevant traffic to your real estate website and help you achieve your business goals. If you have already selected a niche market segment to target your business efforts towards, then all you need to do is publish content that your niche will find interesting and will want to consume. For example, if your target audience is small families your articles may want to contain information about nearby parks, or community events. Perhaps include some DIY tricks for the kids room and information about local schools. These are the types of articles that small families looking to move may be looking for online, and when they do, what better place for them to find the info than on your blog? Your blog is also a place where you can claim expertise on a topic or subject and build your reputation as a local influencer (see point 9 for more on Becoming a Local Influencer).
Check out our client, Katie Burkard’s blog by clicking the image below. Katie does an awesome job of remaining relevant to her audience and vigilant with her consistency.
On top of driving relevant traffic to your website, a consistently updated blog also works wonders for your organic SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google and other search engines will crawl your website frequently and find new content – this helps your organic search rank, and is an essential step towards the coveted “#1 spot on Google”. We know that many of you are not natural born writers, and this can make blogging a huge challenge – and I understand that. However there are ways to work around this small road bump, for instance you could hire someone on a per-article basis to write for you, or assign the task to a marketing assistant. Rather than writing your own article, you could also re-share other relevant content (videos, images, events, etc) with your own commentary on it – always citing and crediting the source, of course.
If you’re having a hard time getting started with ideas for your blog, try reading this to help get the wheels spinning: 5 Blog Ideas to Inspire the Modern Real Estate Agent
Resolution 5: Nurture Your Existing Leads
Whether they follow you on social media, you use a professional CRM solution, a rolodex or a notepad and pen, you have a the contact info of some potential clients to whom you could probably be giving some more love on a regular basis. When someone reaches out to you professionally for whatever reason, they have expressed their interest in something you have to offer without necessarily engaging you for your paid services. The ball is now in your court. I’m a fan of analogies, so humour me… I’m a single guy and I know that when I get a phone number (once in a blue moon), I don’t always want to reach out right away and scare them off or annoy them – but I do usually want to reach out pretty soon before they forget about how awesome I am! The ball is in my court and I need to nurture this relationship if it’s going to be mutually prosperous. In the case of your real estate business, your leads have given you their proverbial “digits” – the chase is on and they are going to play hard to get, so be prepared but be relentless with your resolve. You know you have what they ultimately need, now continue to remind them of that over time.
Which leads to the question of how? It could be as simple as a call or a card sent to them over the holidays to wish them well, or it could be a pair of tickets to the big game this weekend. It could be a friendly chat over coffee or an e-mail with one of your latest blog articles that they may find interesting. One agent who’s name I always knew as a kid in North Vancouver was Shirley Clarke. Whenever a new Harry Potter movie would come out in the theatres, she would buy out a couple screens and invite the neighbourhood kids to attend for free, announcing the news to her leads first. This was one of her creative methods for nurturing her leads and potential customers in her community – everybody in North & West Vancouver heard about Shirley Clarke’s free Harry Potter viewings!
How you decide to go about this process is entirely up to you, your brand and your budget. A lot of experts will tell you that social media and content marketing is the way to nurture leads, and it totally can be. But this process is strictly not limited to the online world and that’s important to remember these days. Nothing goes farther than the personal touch.
Resolution 6: Introduce Videos to Your Marketing
According to research from Sprout Social, “73 percent of homeowners said they’re more likely to list with a REALTOR® who uses video to market his or her properties”. If this is not a big enough incentive to get on video marketing this year, then I don’t know what else I can say to convince you.
Some years ago, ‘curb appeal’ was of major importance when listing a home because prospecting buyers would drive by and check out the exterior before calling their agent to schedule a viewing. If the yard was unkept or the house looked battered, it hurt your chances of getting people to your open houses and whatnot. It was like staging for the exterior of the home. Nowadays, people can ‘drive by’ the house on Google maps street-view from the comfort of their couch – in the nude if they choose to. This is part of the shift of societal norms, thanks (or no thanks) to technology. People are no longer going to get up and go for a drive to see the house when they can see beautiful photos and a virtual tour video of the house on their bus ride home from work. All I’m trying to say is that you can take advantage of this societal shift towards instant gratification and information acquisition by having the best real estate videos on the market, or at least for your niche audience.
The standard Windows-95-screensaver-style virtual tour with dubbed narration is no longer cutting edge either. People will skip ahead through the video or stop watching it entirely if it’s too long or not engaging them. Get creative with your videos and inject your brand into each of them. Try filming drone videos, or include yourself in the videos sharing your commentary, or make each video like a professional movie trailer! Here are a few examples of awesome real estate videos that you might take some inspiration from if you resolve to get into video in 2016.
Resolution 7: Strengthen Your Social Media Strategy
Social Media is no longer a new and fuzzy term. Everybody and their grandparents are on one popular social network or the other, perusing for entertainment, reviewing their experiences, connecting with family, contributing their opinions, promoting their business and generally staying connected. As you read this, you’re probably thinking about the multiple social networks you are currently a member of personally and professionally. But do your professional social media networks actually do anything for you? Or do they only exist because your friend told you “you need to be on Facebook”?
Could 2016 be the year where you sit down and plan out the next 12 months worth of social media marketing based on a defined strategy? A great way to get started is to first identify 2-4 social networks that your niche demographic strongly identifies with, then give each of those social networks a purpose. For instance, your Facebook Page could be where you ask questions and share listings, Twitter could be where you get involved in important community discussions, Instagram could be where you showcase your best listing photos, and Periscope could be where you host digital open houses. Once you’ve defined their purposes, it’s time to start planning for some content. You need to keep these social networks alive and thriving even if you don’t have a listing for an entire month, so don’t make your social media presence entirely listing-dependant. Create a spreadsheet that has dozens of links to interesting 3rd party content around the web that you can share and discuss when there are no listings. Write and share compelling blog pieces. Produce and share your own videos. Tag local pages and public figures. Get involved in other ongoing conversations and narratives. There is so much more to be done on social media than simply sharing listings!
If you’re resolving to build a solid social media strategy for your real estate business in 2016, start here: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating a Social Media Strategy (by Hootsuite)
Resolution 8: Implement E-mail Marketing
In December 2015, I wrote a comprehensive guest post for the RESAAS blog titled, “A Powerful Real Estate E-Mail Marketing Plan in 15 Steps“. I would highly recommend reading that if you are A) not familiar with e-mail marketing and how it can compliment your overall efforts, and B) planning on rolling up your sleeves and going Full-Ninja with your e-mail marketing efforts in 2016. An excerpt from that piece:
As the popular saying goes, “Buying or selling a home is probably the biggest transaction a person will ever make.” They don’t want to make this transaction with someone they don’t know, someone they don’t trust. Well, what if I said that you could foster this trusting relationship online, through a series of emails sent to someone’s inbox (AKA the most intimate space in their whole online world)? Well, I’m saying it. Another reason why you should be using email to reach clients is simply because it’s scaleable. Is there a better way to reach 1,000 people at one time than with an email directly to their inbox? Imagine trying to call 1,000 people every week to give them a piece of real estate advice, or to share an exclusive deal with them. If every phone call took you two minutes, you would be spending 33 hours calling people every week. But sending them an email every week will take you maybe an hour or two.
Read the full article here.
Resolution 9: Become Known as a Local Influencer
Driving through any Canadian city or town, the prevalence of real estate professionals is clear. You see the faces on bus shelters and their logos on flyers for local events. REALTORS® need to get their name and face out there – but more importantly, they need their community to know that they are honest, trustworthy, reputable individuals. But although placing your photo on outdoor advertising channels will help you earn brand exposure, it does not earn you any trust. Earning trust takes time, patience, the shaking of hands and the kissing of babies (so to speak).
An influencer is somebody with influence over topics… someone with the connections and the savvy to help others… someone who is looked to for advice and expertise on a subject or area… this someone could be a local influencer (hopefully you one day) or a global influencer (Bill Gates for example). In 2016, becoming known as a local influencer doesn’t necessarily mean you actually have to shake 1,000 hands a day and become the Mayor of your city. Instead, you can be sufficiently active online, constantly and willingly sharing your knowledge and know-how. You can absolutely build your trust, credibility and expertise through social media, content marketing on your blog and e-mail marketing. Keep in mind, your influence does not go from 0 to 100 right away, it is a process that takes time and consistency. To truly milk the online world for influencer points, you must make your social media and online engagement strategy tightly woven into the biology of your brand – it can’t be an afterthought.
Becoming a local influencer can be done solely online, but you’re going to see much better results if you pair your online efforts with your offline ones. If you attend a local event, be sure to share it on your social media channels and use that event’s hashtag – then connect with others online who are at the event and go say hello! Online meets offline for a delightfully surprising combination. Be active in your community by attending the seasonal events, talking to local artisans, giving speeches at schools, and the list goes on. Be like Shirley Clarke and the Harry Potter movies! Your niche will tell you what they are looking for in a local influencer if you pay attention… give them what they want, and add your own creative spin.
Fast forward a couple years after you have set this as a resolution. You will be the first REALTOR® that comes to mind whenever your niche is thinking about buying or selling real estate.
Resolution 10: Begin Appealing to Millennials
Many of the resolutions mentioned prior to #10 are directly related to #10. Millennials are the biggest group of social media users, they are the ones who pay the most attention to online influencers, they are the ones watching videos on the bus… Millennials are people roughly 18-30 years old. This group of individuals (myself included amongst them) are representing a major potential market for real estate agents. The youngsters are growing up and buying our own apartments, townhouses and homes with our own families. Often we are making our first down payment on a property with some financial help from our parents, who I should add have embedded the values of homeownership within us. Over the coming years, my demographic is going to become more and more important to the housing market. Especially as the 18 year olds become 28 year olds with their first property and 30 year olds become 40 year olds buying their 2nd and 3rd property or buying and selling investment properties. Click to enlarge the infographic below for an in depth profile of the Canadian Millennial.
My advice to real estate agents who will be far from retired come 2020 and beyond is to start appealing to the Millennials now. Have the foresight to infiltrate this group of potential customers early and you will have a major head start in 5-10 years.
I’d like to end this week’s article with a question. If you had to pick one of these professional REALTOR® resolutions to apply to your real estate business for the coming year, which one would you choose and why? Please answer in the comments below, then subscribe to The Dojo newsletter! Until next time, Ninjas.