If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve been hearing about various mobile trends in integrated marketing. And maybe you’ve entertained the idea of how a mobile app could help your business. If you haven’t figured out whether you can afford to build one, or how to go about it, this brief overview will give you a few places to start.
First determine how an app would benefit your customers. For example, the hair-cutting franchise Great Clips launched an app that allows customers to see estimated wait times in their area, and easily make an appointment without calling. Consequently, stylists also save time by not having to interrupt haircuts to answer the phone so often.
Below are a few sites that can easily and cost-effectively help you build your own mobile app. Most of these, plus others, can be found in the book “Go Mobile: Location-Based Marketing, Apps, Mobile Optimized Ad Campaigns, 2D Codes and Other Mobile Strategies to Grow Your Business” by Jeanne Hopkins and Jamie Turner.
This free service focuses on the tech novice who wants an app for a specific event, like a conference or wedding. It includes directions, news, updates, and photo-sharing features. Yapp is limited in its functionality, but requires little-to-no technical know-how.
Authors are turning books into apps. Bands are turning albums into apps. If you’ve got the content, the MyAppBuilder team will create an app for you for $29/month. No tech experience necessary. They’ll also upload it to the app store for you.
This web-based editor is designed to let you quickly create your own iPhone app. The basic tool is free. Advanced features are available for a $79/month fee. AppMakr works on the iOS, Android and Windows operating systems.
The Mippin platform lets you create apps for Android, iOS and Windows, and offers app designs for individuals, small businesses, media owners and products. Native apps can cost as much as $999/year.
A cloud-based mobile Content Management System (mCMS) that helps you create live-content apps with no programming and “zero total cost of ownership.” Apps can include monetization options, such as ads, coupons, and subscriptions. A three-month trial is free. Pricing then depends on app features.
When Facebook claimed the title as the biggest IPO in Internet history, social media officially segued from a consumer fad to a business fact. Although the abundance of Internet cat memes could make anyone wonder if social media has business validity, the emergence of the concept of social business has tangible value for any integrated marketing program.
Research firm Altimeter Group defines social business as the deep integration of social media and social methodologies into an organization to drive business impact. In a recent study, Altimeter pinpointed the two most important criteria for a successful social business strategy. First, you have to align it with the strategic goals of your organization. Second, you have to put the resources in place to execute the strategy.
What Social Business Can Do
Knowing what you want to accomplish with social business can help you make it a viable part of your integrated marketing strategy. Consider these benefits; by using social business effectively, you can:
The Art of Conversation: How to Build a Social Business Strategy
Most experts recommend you think of your social business strategy in seven stages. This process stresses brand alignment and continual feedback.
First: Align Your Efforts.
Before beginning any social business activities, your first step will be to review your company’s integrated marketing activities and assess how these other methods are working. If you haven’t done so yet, define your company’s brand personality, sales channels and target audiences. Also, document how your target audience typically engages with your organization.
Second: Refine Your Listening Skills.
Companies engaged in social business marketing should listen to their online communities more than 50 percent of the time. That means asking questions, responding to their answers and prompting conversation.
Third: Define Community Expectations.
During this stage, try to outline your program by asking your target demographics what they want to experience in a social business program.
Fourth: Determine Assets.
A common misconception is that social media tools are free. Although many do not charge for service, they really aren’t free because they cost a lot of time to maintain as a part of your integrated marketing efforts.
Fifth: Measure Your Methods.
The goals of a social business program should evolve over time. During your initial program, track goals and metrics against your overall integrated marketing and business plans.
Sixth: Select Your Channels.
It’s tempting to try out every social network available, but that isn’t strategic. Go where your customers spend time. A pin on Pinterest might buy you more than a tweet on Twitter, depending on your target audience’s activities.
Seventh: Engage in Conversations.
Online conversations must mirror real-life conversations to be effective for company branding, sales, customer satisfaction and even employee recruitment. Be transparent and authentic. Focus on your industry and always observe any industry standards or regulations. When appropriate, tie your efforts to pop culture or “news of the day.” Thank your community profusely and, most importantly, have fun with it.
What are the best real estate lead generation options today?
Where and how can real estate agents, investors and other related industry professionals generate more leads for buying, selling and renting properties? What are some of the little known benefits, and pitfalls of common real estate lead generation channels today?
Here are 12 ways for real estate investors and Realtors to bring in more leads:
Some popular real estate gurus have said that direct mail is the fastest and easiest way to generate new leads. It can still be very effective. In fact, as others have turned to online marketing, direct mail may have become even more effective and profitable. However, direct mail success does rely on volume and testing to hone messaging and delivery.
Cold calling on a large scale, such as using call centers, might face many challenges with regulations today, but it has still been proven to generate an effective hourly income of hundreds of dollars for Realtors. Simply picking up the phone can be one of the fastest ways to generate real estate business. It is also one of the lowest cost ways to generate leads, and can help professionals stay on top of their sales game.
Many fantastic real estate deals and listings can be uncovered by simply driving neighborhoods and knocking on doors. There are obvious obstacles in doing this, but when it comes to getting the jump on competitors, it can be hard to beat.
Google may have made reaching consumers via their inboxes more challenging, but email can still be one of the best ways to reach both the masses, and highly targeted contacts. Email lists may be rented from data companies versus buying them. Subsequently, real estate investors and agents can take control of their own email real estate and build their own lists.
Buying Internet Leads
Buying internet leads has been popular for a variety of real estate and mortgage companies since before the last housing boom. These individuals experienced somewhat of a bubble, but have now been improved with enhanced data and targeting tools. There are various types of these leads ranging from ‘aged’ leads, to live exclusive leads, and non-exclusive leads. Make sure you do your homework and understand exactly what you are getting, as well as the difference in these types of consumers, in order to maximize ROI.
Buying Lead Lists
Lead lists have been a staple of the real estate industry for many years. An almost endless array of filters can be used to laser target the best prospects with these lists. However, newer individuals and real estate companies need to recognize that they may not legally be allowed to have, or market to some of these lists depending on how the data was generated. Watch for junk, and be sure lists aren’t being fluffed out with bogus names.
Real Estate Blogging
Real estate blogging remains one of the most powerful and profitable forms of lead generation, but also one of the most underestimated. A regular blog can ensure real estate pros and companies are not held ransom by other platforms, and can go on helping to generate leads for years after posts are written. A blog can be used to draw regular internet leads, feed email list building, and fuel social media efforts.
While this medium changes constantly, social media platforms can still be a fantastic way to generate leads in real estate. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and even Pinterest are all great options. There are many debates over calls to action, the amount of engagement which is right, and how much should be invested off-site, versus on a real estate company’s own websites, but with the right funnel strategy, it can be fast, affordable and enjoyable.
Signage & Outdoor Real Estate Advertising
Even the simplest yard and ‘bandit’ signs can be incredibly affordable ways to generate real estate leads. With the right message, these and other outdoor advertising solutions can be used to generate a steady stream of local leads. New technology can make this even better. Call capture, QR codes, interactive augmented reality signs, text messaging options, and even links to virtual tours can be used to boost outdoor advertising performance.
Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be one of the best methods of predictably and consistently driving in real estate leads on demand. PPC solutions, like Google Adwords, offer the ability to drive in leads on command. This can be tweaked to be hyper local, or reach global buyers, investors and homeowners right where they are now. With a little strategy and education, real estate marketers can significantly drive down PPC costs. With a large enough budget, they can even dominate, and starve out the competition by buying every lead for a given keyword. Aside from the big platforms, more affordable online leads may be gleaned from purchasing image, text and banner ads on other websites directly.
Don’t forget print. Beyond the traditional line up of real estate mags, consider other industry magazines that will reach the same prime prospects, and even leveraging online magazines.
Referrals and Affiliate Marketing
Personal referrals can be both a compliment, and the most valuable form of lead generation. Savvy real estate CEOs are taking this to a whole new level by using technology to scale and organize referrals on a national and global scale.
What are the best real estate blog strategies for those investing? More importantly, do real estate professionals even need blogs or websites anymore? If they do, is the best blog theme still real estate, or something entirely different?
Blogging continues to be a hot topic. In fact, blog industry experts and some of those with the most popular blogging platforms on the planet have already predicted that this median is only just getting started. We haven’t even begun to realize its hidden potential. At the same time, there are many new real estate agents, investors and related business owners contemplating the best strategy for setting up a blog. However, more than a few are wondering why they aren’t seeing the magnificent results that they hoped for.
There is no question that many are suffering the consequences of their own mediocrity. As the U.S. real estate market heats up, there will be a lot more real estate agents getting licensed, more brokerages being launched, real estate teams being formed and investors setting up businesses. Subsequently, each of these new entities will require a means of standing out from the crowd that they were so eager to become a part of. With hundreds, if not thousands, of choices of online destinations for consumers to get their real estate education and tap into resources, there is a need to give them a reason to choose yours.
Some sensationalists have recently posed that real estate agents should be focusing more on apps and social, as to not get lost in the sea of choices made available to consumers. There may be some wisdom in this, but few will want to take the risk of going without a real estate website and especially a blog. Even before most consumers or other parties will even consider doing business with a Realtor or real estate investment firm, they are going to try and look up their website online.
Neglecting to even provide a website is a huge red flag. A simple website, whether it is one or five pages, is far better than nothing. Short and sweet, but attractive, might be better than expansive and ugly. In other words, it is important to provide consumers with some form of online presence.
A blog is far more valuable than a website. It is a living real estate lead generation machine, with a potential ROI from each blog post that could far exceed what most real estate players can fathom. Of course, this doesn’t mean that sticking to stale blogging practices is what is best for your business. You might need a core focused real estate blog that deviates from tradition. For those looking for an outside the box alternative, consider taking an alternate approach or launching a unique blog on a new angle.
Some ideas might include focusing more on providing neighborhood information. Inman News and other real estate platforms have been talking incessantly about neighborhood experts. So why not incorporate some real keyword rich, SEO juiced neighborhood blogs that cover everything someone could want to know about moving and living in the area?
Other ideas might include architecture, interior design and home improvement themes. Regardless of what you right about, make it original and relevant to your particular profession as possible. Looking at innovative blog strategies may be just what your company needs to gain traction and establish a loyal base of consumers.
Are you constantly wondering what to post on your real estate company’s social media profile? With the endless supply of social media platforms your company can take advantage of, it is important to be proactive. Social media is an ever increasing presence that must be embraced and has the potential to propel your business to the next level. However, it may be easier said than done. There is a particular approach that must be taken to facilitate its progression.
Here are 60 social media ideas to help your real estate marketing:
Successfully flipping houses in today’s market requires more than a knack for remodeling – you also need to know how to advertise your business. To get your listings the exposure they need, a strong social media presence is highly valuable, but since social media is a relatively new invention, some of you who are currently rehabbing properties might not understand what the craze is all about. Well, we’re here to help you build your social status online. It all starts with a little bit of knowledge and a few simple steps.
Building a strong social following takes time, so don’t be disheartened if your inboxes aren’t stuffed with friend requests by the end of the first week. You need to be proactive about finding friends. Check out the profiles of any local realtors or home supply retailers that you find. If you keep uploading pictures and updating your status, your social media presence is sure to grow. We guarantee it.
Sure, you’ve been told numerous times how your business needs to be on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest. Instagram, and the social network du jour. Maybe you even know how targeted social media would fit in with your integrated marketing efforts. It’s just that you’ve got your hands full as it is, running a business. Not everyone has time to figure out the Tao of Twitter.
So how do you know when it’s time to outsource the social media part of your marketing? Here are three indicators that are the first signs that it’s time to get professional help:
If any one or more of those statements is true, save yourself the grief and get someone else who is good at it, likes doing it, and will make sure your social marketing gets done.
Is It Wrong To Outsource Social?
No. There’s nothing wrong with companies outsourcing their social media. Most do it for the same reason you’d hire an ad agency or a lawyer: You hire a specialist because it’s not always easy to represent yourself. Specialists do it better because they’re trained for it and do it full time.
With that said, do you really want to trust your digital brand presence to your college-age nephew who’s into blogging? Here’s why you should consider a social media marketing specialist, or even a full-service digital agency.
The Pulse of the Customer
Agencies can sometimes know more about a brand than the company knows about itself because a social media agency is actually closer to the pulse of the customer and what they’re interested in. An agency can also provide a more objective analysis of the market.
“A social community manager is on the frontlines and knows what the customers want,” explained Jason Raich, digital strategist of SocialEnvi, a social media marketing agency based in Los Angeles. “The company is trying to guess what the customers want. An agency can relay consumer suggestions to the client and listen objectively.”
Set Social Media Goals
Before expanding your integrated marketing campaign into social media, decide why (specifically) you’re doing it. What does your company want to get out of social media? What are your business goals?
Examples of realistic social media marketing goals can include awareness in the form of more Likes, Followers, subscribers, etc. Raich mentioned that his client Chipotle has grown because the fans have been vocal about it and the company has responded.
Another goal may be to build your customer email list; drive traffic to the company website; improve SEO rankings through increased social media presence and content; or the objective may be to increase sales of a particular product. Regardless of your goals, you should know before going in what you want to get out of your social media marketing.
Facebook introduced Graph Search, a new way to explore Facebook. Given Facebook’s reach and content — 1 billion users, 240 billion photos and 1 trillion connections — there’s a lot to search. Graph Search is a way for Facebook users to find photos, places, recommendations, people, interests and events that are relevant to their lives.
With Facebook Graph Search, you can use Facebook to find information qualified just for you. Think of it as the ultimate search, combining location-based review sites, such as Instagram, with photo sharing services, such as Flickr, and engines, such as Google. There is no limit to how you can combine keywords to return relevant data.
Graph Search is too new to indicate its impact on businesses, but its scope means you have to consider Graph Search as part of your integrated marketing strategy. Given that Graph Search combines personal recommendations culled from Facebook users with traditional search-engine marketing, your business will benefit from earning as many likes, check ins, ratings and recommendations as possible to push it higher in results.
Here are three ways to get ahead of the Graph Search curve by focusing on the relevancy of your Facebook Page:
Check Page Information. Start with the basics and make sure you classified your business properly and have posted up-to-date information, such as physical address, telephone number and hours of operation. You’ll want this information to appear accurately when your business appears in Graph Search results.
Promote Your Business to Target Audiences. Consider ways to cross-promote your Facebook marketing with other integrated marketing initiatives. If you run a retail shop, post signs and encourage your customers to check in. Earmark some dollars from your online advertising budget to buy Facebook ads that target customer demographics, such as people who share hobbies similar to your products or services.
Give Your Audience Reasons to Connect. Your Facebook community will grow if you give your audience content that encourages engagement. This means setting an integrated marketing strategy that includes consistent Facebook posts, with valuable content that encourages sharing. Although you can post sales messages from time to time, rely on other creative messages, such as contests or polls.
By some estimates, more than 20% of all searches are for local businesses. If you want your brick-and-mortar enterprise to attract more nearby patrons, local SEO (search engine optimization) is a must-have marketing tactic, says the pithy “Definitive Guide to Local SEO” post over at Search Engine Journal.com.
Local Means Trusted
Six in ten users trust local search results and consider them relevant. So appearing atop the list means you’re more likely to be chosen. Summarized below are some of the article’s top local SEO tips, which perfectly complement our previous Location-Based Services post:
Tip #1: Create a Google + Local Listing—But only after first reviewing Google’s quality guidelines to understand their requirements. Giving Google precisely the information it wants, in the format it most prefers, is the best (and only) way to fully leverage this powerful marketing channel.
Tip #2: Learn how to use Reviews—Positive reviews (and lots of ‘em) tell Google and customers that your business is reputable, popular and worthy of appearing higher in the search results. Ask for reviews regularly and make it easy to submit them. Include your Google + Local profile links (and request) in emails, direct mail and in-store signage. Cautionary note: deliver on every brand promise at every customer touch point or reviews could backfire and keep customers away.
Also, take time to learn about local search citations so you’re conversant when you and your marketing team or provider decide to take the local SEO plunge. Biggest takeaway: Google gladly gives citation search-love, but only if you use their preferred format consistently across the web.
Tip #3: Get your on-site SEO in order—All the same elements apply for local SEO as national SEO, says the SEJ article, with some extra considerations like: putting your company’s name, address and phone number on every page of your site (in the same format as your Google + Local listing), preferably in the footer; also include your city and state names in Title Tags, Meta descriptions and where they fit naturally into your content.
Social media wasn’t around during the Cold War, of course. But the term “social listening” does conjure the image of marketers in ushankas, huddled around a Twitter feed, like half-frozen Siberian spies parsing transmissions for intel.
Social listening is really just a subset of a larger discipline called “brand monitoring” by big companies and their big expensive agencies. They eavesdrop on the Twittersphere and other online sources, mining traffic for comments about their companies, products and leaders.
Not Just for Big Brands
The good news is that most small businesses can implement some form of brand monitoring or social listening. But to succeed, you’ll need a purpose, a plan and some patience—and a Twitter account to serve as your company’s listening outpost.
So Why Listen?
Central to any integrated marketing initiative is being crystal clear about why you’re doing it.
A very good AdAge.com article, summarized below, cites three important but very different strategic reasons for social listening:
Be Patient and Persistent
Planning and implementing a social listening program can take many months and man-hours. Ditto for the other critical piece of the social listening puzzle: learning to mine and interpret results.
But with patience and the right approach, social listening can yield many new competitive advantages, including: deeper customer insights and connections, a more authoritative market presence, and the confidence to guide your brand’s social marketing narrative. And what red-blooded Western marketer wouldn’t say “da” to that?
Twitter can be tricky when it comes to tracking measurable sales results and return on investment. After all, what’s the return on a conversation?
While you’re debating how to measure ROI, your competitors are laying the groundwork by building relationship with prospects and partners on social networks.
Tweeting can sometimes feel like shouting in the wilderness — not knowing whether anyone’s listening. But when used as part of an integrated marketing plan, Twitter becomes a powerful promotional tool for generating awareness, developing leads, conducting market research, and driving traffic back to your website.
Speaking of lead generation, SocialTwist reports that Facebook’s shared links average only three clicks, while a link shared on Twitter generates nineteen clicks on average. Twitter users generate double the median monthly leads of non-Twitter users, regardless of company size.
With the right tools, it’s not difficult to track progress and see measurable results. While there are many third-party programs that can add metrics to your Twitter efforts, Twitter now offers its own vehicle for tracking effectiveness through Promoted Tweets and Accounts.
How Twitter Promotes Accounts
Finding the right people to follow on Twitter can be a challenge. Twitter’s Promoted Accounts advertising program analyzes your current followers, then searches for people with similar interests and recommends you to them in the “Who To Follow” section. You only pay when you get followed.
How Twitter Promotes Your Tweets
Promoted tweets and accounts aren’t like traditional ads. You don’t have to write anything new to get promoted. Twitter constantly monitors your engagement to put your best tweets in front of the right people at the right time.
Let Twitter Do The Work
You only pay when someone follows your account or engages with your promoted tweet. There’s no charge for simply showing up on someone’s page. You can set a budget and limit how much you want to spend per day, or how much per follower or per engagement. You can also decide where you want your content to be promoted geographically, which helps in finding local customers. Twitter’s Promoted Accounts and Tweets program works on both the web and mobile, to help you reach the right people at the right time.
You choose the locations you want to reach and set your budget. Twitter does the rest.
One big choice you have to make when estate planning is choosing your executor. Executors have a variety of responsibilities, so it’s important to select a person who has shown financial responsibility, stability, and honesty.
It’s best to pick someone that can avoid a conflict of interest, meaning they do not have any stake in the estate. We recommend a friend or trusted business acquaintance, but not a family member named in the will, or a business partner. Be sure the person you select understands the extent of the commitment.
Here’s a list of some of the tasks the executor performs:
The job of executor can be large, but the executor doesn’t have to do it alone. Often times an executor chooses to pay a professional to take care of most of the administration.
Ultimately, the most important advice we can give is to take the time to select someone (and a backup, if possible). Otherwise the government will choose someone for you.
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, social bookmarking site Pinterest has unveiled pages exclusively for business use. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their “pinboard.” According to Pinterest, the website’s goal is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”
Pinterest’s new business accounts look the same as personal pages. If your company is new to Pinterest, you can sign up for a business account:
If your business has an existing account, you can convert it from a personal account to a business:
Tips from Pinterest
Pinterest offers these tips for getting the most out of your business account:
Originality is overrated. In fact, it’s sometimes pointless and not even worth the effort. Maybe you’ve heard it said, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” And recall that the poet T.S. Eliot once wrote, “Mediocre writers borrow; great writers steal.”
Now, hold on a second. We’re not condoning plagiarism or encouraging copyright violations. It’s just that there’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time you need a pithy line for your next marketing campaign. There are a lot of perfectly round “wheels” out there that will serve your purpose if you’ll only take a moment to fit them onto your marketing “vehicle.”
At the risk of revealing insider secrets that could put some of us wordsmiths out of business, we’re going to give away some tricks of the trade that nearly every writer employs at some point.
Ready-Made Headline Formulas
Professional blogger Jon Morrow heard the same advice about stealing from a professor, but it took a few years for it to finally sink in for him. Since then, Jon has compiled a handy list of headline formulas that he calls “Headline Hacks.” His free ebook describes six different categories with 52 ready-made, fill-in-the-blank headline formulas that you can easily use for your own business writing. So we’re going to take Jon’s advice and steal a page out of his “Headline Hacks” (while giving him credit) to share with you.
Most headlines fall into the same basic categories. The reason you see so many “Top Ten” blog posts and “How To” articles is because they work. The reader knows exactly what to expect from such a headline, and knows they can skim the headings to quickly get what they need.
Six Basic Types of Headlines:
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
Remember when Oakley provided sunglasses to the Chilean miners as soon as they were rescued from their underground captivity? That wasn’t part of Oakley’s marketing plan. But by responding promptly to the situation, it paid off in tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity.
The days when you could plan long-range marketing and public relations programs on your own timetable are over. What counts today is speed and agility, i.e., the ability to act quickly, as soon as opportunities or problems arise. While your competitors scramble to adjust, you can seize the initiative, open new integrated marketing channels, and grow your brand.
Respond Rapidly To Problems
According to best-selling author David Meerman Scott, someone at your company needs to be in charge of marketing “right now.” Does your company have someone with the authority to act when circumstances dictate a rapid response?
In the book, “Real-Time Marketing,” Scott describes the value for businesses of all sizes to be able to respond to events and circumstances, even as they are happening. Applying the lesson to an audience of musicians and international music merchants at the NAMM Convention, Scott used the example of a professional touring musician whose Taylor guitar was manhandled and broken during a United Airlines flight. That musician, Dave Carroll, tried in vain for nearly a year to get United Airlines to take responsibility. Finally, out of frustration and a desire to move on, he decided to write three songs about the experience and post them to YouTube. His first song, “United Breaks Guitars,” quickly went viral (now with over 12 million views).
Yet even after the video and resulting press attention, there was still no response from United.
Capitalize On Opportunities Quickly
Taylor Guitars, however, quickly capitalized on the incident. Mere days after Carroll’s video, Taylor uploaded a response featuring helpful advice for touring musicians, letting them know that the TSA allows guitars to be brought onboard as a carry-on (that video now has over 500,000 views). Meanwhile, a guitar case manufacturer offered Carroll a free replacement and rebranded one of its products as a “Dave Carroll signature model.” Both companies benefitted from the valuable free publicity.
Real-time marketing is not about viral videos and social media. As Scott says, “Real-time is a mindset. Social media are just tools.”
While it was once common for REALTORS® and brokers to divide their time between office space and field work, times have changed. Now, agents and brokers spend more time working from their laptops or tablets, and less time occupying those pricey office suites.
As a broker, switching to a virtual office space and working from home (or at a listing, or in a coffee shop), may seem like a cheaper way to manage the business, but is it practical?
If you are currently leasing office space for your team, switching to a virtual space could save you money. But the real advantage to going virtual and working in the cloud is that you and your team can always be connected.
“Being able to be very dynamic and having everything at your fingertips—always—is the biggest advantage,” said David Newcombe, designated broker for Habitat Urban in Arizona.
While most offices exist in a 9 to 5 world, having your office with you wherever you go makes it easier to work around your clients' schedules, or to set your own schedule.
If you do decide to go virtual, you will “have to work harder on broker communication,” Newcombe says. Without the water cooler around, you will need to set up times to talk with your agents and your office staff, send regular memos to keep everyone in the loop, and find more inventive ways to train new hires.
Virtual offices may also create some inconveniences on the client side. “The client needs more than just a Starbucks to meet in,” Newcombe said.
That doesn’t mean you will risk losing clients. You just need to find another way to meet and finalize deals.
“Think forward as to what affiliates might work with you to provide conference rooms for occasional special client meetings,” Newcombe said.
Finding the Right Equipment
If do decide to switch to a virtual office, having the right technology in place is key to a successful transition. Newcombe recommends starting with the right customer relationship management software.
“Don't always go for the obvious old tried and tested solutions," he said. "There are many great new products on the market that you can customize to fit your brokerage like a glove.”
Once you have a CRM system in place, a handful of productive tools will keep your business running smoothly. At the very basic level you will need an email client, online-based cloud storage, compliance and filing software, and word processing software. Newcombe recommends looking into:
Making the Transition
With the right planning, transitioning to a virtual office could be completely painless. Start by setting regular meetings with a time and place for all of your office administrators, marketing specialists, Web designers and REALTORS®. Having regular meetings will help smooth the transition.
Before you lose the office entirely, Newcombe says to “make sure your REALTORS® are as tech savvy as they can be and used to working without paper.” Also, offer training on any software you will be using and provide agents and staff with a list of equipment they will need to buy.
Many people live in smart homes, drive smart cars and use smart phones. REALTORS® should be no different, especially with all the tech tools at their disposal nowadays.
While some brokers still use paper documents, fax machines and push button lock boxes, mobile and connected agents can manage deals from their car using their iPad or other tech tools in their arsenal.
If you’re looking for an entry point into the connected world, here are the Top 10 tech tools to help you become more productive, efficient, and current.
1. Yesware. This is an email tracking add-on. It alerts you when the emails you sent have been opened. The mobile version of the software provides push notifications alerting you when an email you sent was opened. Yesware works with Gmail, but it’s also compatible with Top Producer® CRM, so you can track emails to groups.
2. Market Snapshot®. Create “Just Sold” and “New Listing” alerts for current, future, and past clients with this tool that works within Top Producer® CRM. Designed for mobile, Market Snapshot® sends agent-branded email alerts to deliver timely and accurate information, with your name and logo prominently featured.
3. HelloSign. This app targets those who want to go paperless. It lets your clients sign documents electronically. You can then send them to the co-op agent without ever printing, scanning or faxing a piece of paper. It works seamlessly with Gmail and Google docs. There’s even an option to create a form you can host on your website or send via email.
4. Vidcaboodle. Creates a video channel for your website from your phone. All videos can be displayed in one place fully integrated into your website. Video drives traffic to your site, not to YouTube.
5. EasilyDo. This is your personal assistant without the monthly expense. This free app accesses your digital life, finds the most important stuff and surfaces it for you. It gives you a daily snapshot of important reminders: flight information, order confirmations, and appointments. It even scans your social media presence to let you know when past clients have a job change, get married, or have a life event you can use to reconnect with them.
6. Ginger. Never send another email loaded with misspellings or misused auto-corrections. Ginger is an app following you online while you type and automatically spell checks everything. It makes you look smarter, because your text messages and emails will be corrected for grammar, synonyms, definitions, re-phrasings, and punctuation.
7. Mailboxapp.com. Designed for Gmail and iCloud accounts, the Mailbox app redesigns your mobile inbox to make email easier to use on the go. Swipe to hide a message from view, snooze messages you will get to later, and organize all of your confirmations to list. Mailbox learns from your swipes and organizes your inbox—leaving you with more time to prospect.
8. Sitegeist. For those pesky questions you can’t answer due to Fair Housing laws, direct your clients to Sitegeist. They can discover local demographics, school data and bevy of other interesting tidbits. Referring your client to an app shows you’re not just an authority on local real estate activity—but you’re plugged into resources they can depend on for useful information, as well.
9. MileIQ. Make tax time easy. This app knows tracks your auto mileage automatically. It separates business trips from personal trips—all you need to do is just scroll left or right to file your trip under the appropriate heading. At the end of the year, print your custom mileage expense report and hand it to your accountant—your mileage is done.
10. Rapportive. This Gmail extension allows agents to quickly identify who is emailing them. With Rapportive, every email address is linked to the sender’s social media accounts. Instantly, you see what city they’re in, their job title, employer and their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts. Rapportive allows agents to see who is emailing them and have a face to look for when a client requests a showing.
Maybe you’re a doubter. You don’t see the value in “tweeting” miscellaneous marketing messages out into the “Twittershpere,” never mind sharing random thoughts and what you had for lunch. Don’t worry; you’re not alone.
Scott Stratten was once like you. Today, he’s considered kind of a big deal on Twitter. But a few years ago, he was about to give up on Twitter as a networking and integrated marketing tool. He just wasn’t getting it. But before he gave up on it completely, he decided to give it one last effort. That’s when Stratten came up with his “30-Day Twitter Challenge.”
At that time, the “UnMarketing” author had about 2,000 followers. So for the next month, he ate, slept, and virtually lived on Twitter. That was enough to do the trick. By the end of it, he was “hooked.” Scott Stratten had become a true Twitter believer.
After his 30-day challenge, Stratten had built up a 10,000-strong following (now 186,042 as of this writing). As he attests, “I had made better and stronger relationships in that time span than on all the other social networking sites combined. I had built a loyal following, booked speaking engagements, and gained consulting clients, without ever pitching a thing.”
What’s So Special About Twitter?
One of the main reasons Stratten believes in the power of Twitter is the lack of any barrier to engagement. Twitter doesn’t require permission or approval for you to follow and engage with anyone you like. So if want to use it effectively, take some advice from someone who’s learned to master it.
Scott Stratten’s Twitter Ninja Tricks
Perform your own “30-Day Twitter Challenge.” See if you become a true Twitter believer like Stratten!
Every integrated marketer knows the world is going mobile. What’s surprising is just how much time people spend using mobile platforms.
eMarketer reports that this year, U.S. users will spend 23 billion minutes monthly surfing the mobile web. (If you’re wondering, a billion minutes roughly equals 1900 years, give or take a century.) By all indications, this number will only grow.
This increasingly mobile lifestyle, also fueled by meteoric mobile-app adoption, is driving demand for a more mobile-friendly experience in both B2C and B2B markets.
What Mobile Users Really Want
A recent study* of nearly 1,100 smartphone user revealed that nearly three-quarters want mobile-friendly websites when browsing and shopping. Sixty-seven percent said they were more likely to purchase on mobile-optimized sites versus non-optimized.
Lest you think B2B companies are immune to the rising demand, think again.
One Google survey finds that 28% of U.S. B2B C-level executives used a mobile phone to research business purchases, while 21% searched similarly on tablet-style devices.
Bottom line: The time for creating a mobile-friendly site is now. If you agree, first get some ideas from the Web Marketing Association’s best mobile websites. Then, work with a reliable company to implement the following best practices:
Free “Go Mobile” Website Checker
Google’s “Ready to Go Mo” website offers a “GoMoMeter” that shows how your current site looks on a smartphone—and provides best practices for creating a more mobile-friendly site.
Mobile technology and integrated marketing are officially inseparable. Check back with us often for more actionable integrated marketing tips.
*Sterling Commerce and SmithGeiger
Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
When integrated marketers think of using YouTube, they tend to think of the latest viral video sensation and how they can duplicate that success. Don’t even go there. You don’t get to decide what goes “viral”. That’s up to the viewers.
Don’t Try to Duplicate Viral Success
It’s extremely difficult to predict or duplicate viral success. For instance, in the summer of 2012 a video by Korean rapper PSY called “Gangnam Style” featured campy choreography that simulated riding a horse. Within a month of its release, the video racked up over 28 million hits on YouTube and inspired parody clips from all over the world. As of this writing, the video has over 1 billion views.
So never mind the viral part and focus instead on generating traffic back to your website. The three traffic-generating giants include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
Videos Rank Highly on Google
YouTube (which is owned by Google) is the second-largest search engine after Google. YouTube is also one of the smartest marketing tools in your integrated marketing program. While it may be hard to get your website on page one of Google, videos rank highly in search results because there aren’t as many marketers using them effectively.
4 Billion Pairs of Eyes
YouTube currently receives over 4 BILLION views—every day. Now that YouTube offers its own online video editing tools, it has never been easier to create video content, share it with the world, and drive traffic back to your website.
YouTube is successful because it empowers you, the user/viewer, to become the broadcaster. You can make videos about whatever you want, and whatever your audience wants.
YouTube marketing authority James Wedmore offers these five tips for creating videos successful videos:
5 Essential Video Ingredients:
Have you started using video to market your company? We’d love to know about other companies you see using YouTube effectively. Include links of notable examples you’d like to share in the comments.
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Visual Marketing, what is it and how do i use it?
As attention spans become shorter, so too does the amount of time people are willing to spend reading long-copy marketing messages. To effectively grab and hold the attention of consumers, photos and graphic images are becoming more important in integrated marketing efforts.
Anita Campbell, CEO and founder of the online community Small Business Trends, published a book called Visual Marketing: 99 Proven Ways for Small Businesses to Market with Images and Design. She was quoted in Forbes about the importance of this new marketing medium: “Harnessing the power of images and visuals will make your marketing more powerful and more memorable. Images—when done deftly—can turn concepts and intangible things into something concrete. That helps people envision your brand and your message in their mind’s eye—and remember you when it comes times to buy.
“For small businesses, that’s particularly important. We don’t have a lot of money, time or staff to spend on marketing. So everything we do has to pack a punch.”
Images Get Shared
The popularity of visually based social media has exploded with sites such as Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and the mobile Instagram app (acquired by Facebook) for iPhone and Android users. According to a study by ROI Research, when people interact on social media sites, pictures get the most responses and “likes.” In addition, as many as 44 percent of users are more likely to engage with brands when photos or images are posted.
Photography on the Go
Another reason for the rise of visual media is the improvement in mobile phone photography. It’s now much easier for mobile users to quickly share photos than to laboriously type out text on a tiny keypad.
As more people do their social sharing using mobile camera apps and photo-editing tools, traditional cameras have nearly become obsolete. Books on iPhone photography, such as “The Best Camera Is the One You Have With You,” tout the advantages taking and sharing pictures on the run with a high-resolution phone camera.
There are also SEO (search engine optimization) benefits for marketers who use images effectively. Social conversations and content sharing are major factors into search engine rankings. Smart marketers can use product images on social sites like Pinterest and Instagram to drive traffic back to their websites, increasing the likelihood of customer engagement and viral sharing.
Better Search Marketing
Launching a search marketing campaign without first preparing your site is like inviting guests for dinner and serving them empty plates. Follow these three easy steps before information-hungry visitors come to your site:
Brand scan. Starting with the Home page, scrutinize your site closely, paying extra attention to the details. Is it obvious what you do—and for whom? Does your value proposition sing? Are branding elements, such as logo, fonts, color palette and page layout/template consistent throughout?
Mind your meta. A search engine’s main purpose is to return the most user-relevant results possible. One way engines determine relevance is by checking web page titles and description tags.
Collaborate and cogitate. The allure of search marketing is how quickly it can produce results. PPC and SEO aren’t magic bullets but rather two of many integrated tactics that combine to support your overall sales and marketing effort.
Visit this blog regularly for bite-sized tidbits of actionable search marketing advice.
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
Are you on Facebook?
Facebook is one of the most popular websites in the world with upwards of 900 million users. To reach that valuable customer base, many companies have set up a Facebook marketing presence, with branded Facebook pages that attract thousands of what are now considered “friends” who “like” their favorite brands’ pages on the social network.
If your customers are on Facebook, obviously you need to be there, too. But don’t make the mistake of using Facebook as your default website just because it’s popular and free.
Your Facebook page is not really yours
Facebook belongs to Mark Zuckerberg and the company’s shareholders. You don’t own the site or the list of contacts you compile through it.
Facebook also has that annoying habit of changing things around all the time, and not only the look, but even the rules that dictate how you can promote your business. Don’t let another company dictate how you do business.
Own your own piece of the ‘Net
You’re better off buying a domain (a website URL) and getting your own web hosting package to establish your primary online presence. That way, you have your own email address, and all of your online digital “content” (e.g. the text, images, videos and other works published on your site) belongs to you.
Using your website as your Internet marketing “hub”, you’re able build customer and prospect lists in the form of opt-in email subscribers. A subscriber to your company blog is far more valuable than a Facebook “like”.
To borrow another metaphor, if the gold is in your list, isn’t it much better to own it?
LinkedIn is one of the most under-utilized of the major social networks. Many people have set up profiles and business pages, but few understand how powerful a prospecting tool LinkedIn can be. But before you can use LinkedIn to find new contacts and clients, you need to have your own profile complete.
What do you want to be known for? Fill out each section of your profile with as much specificity as you can, choosing your words carefully. The secret to getting found in LinkedIn search results is to use the correct “keywords” and then own them. Choose the word or phrase that best describes the occupation or skill you want to be known for, that your customers may use in search queries. “Account Executive” or “Solutions Provider” may not be descriptive enough.
Optimize your profile. Use your keyword phrase (e.g. Sports Marketing) throughout your profile, in the Headline, Tagline, Summary, Experience, and Skills & Expertise fields. This will enhance the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effect of your LinkedIn profile, increase your likelihood of being found in search results.
Join groups and participate in discussionsJoin LinkedIn groups related to your industry, or better yet, related to your customers. Ask a question of the group or post an article you think others might find useful as the basis for a discussion thread.
Ask and answer questions. Next time your on your LinkedIn profile, look under the menu heading of “More” and go the “Answers” section. Search for topics in which you have some expertise. Find someone who’s posed a question that you can answer with authority. Offer a public answer, then also consider answering the questioner privately as a direct way to start a discussion that could lead to a sale.
For more complete explanations of LinkedIn optimization and prospecting techniques, check out books by Lewis Howes and Neal Shaffer, or tune in to one of their webinars. Then start using your LinkedIn profile to find and be found by your customers.
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator