digital marketing

A Promise Made is a Promise Kept

I'm going to tell you an uncomfortable truth...we're all liars. 

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I know, it stings. Even when we pride ourselves on our honesty, we lie constantly. Maybe not to others, but certainly to ourselves. How many times have you promised yourself you would start on that project or that diet or that workout today, which turns into tomorrow, and eventually next week. It's not long before tomorrow turns into never either. And, that is scary if not downright terrifying. But this begs the question - why are we so comfortable breaking promises to ourselves when we couldn't imagine doing it to others. 

My a-ha moment was when I started keeping promises to myself. When I made my items in the day as non-negotiable as the deadlines set for my projects and clients, I began to see - when you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. But as for excuses? They're the byproduct of not wanting something bad enough. 

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You will continue to produce at the standard that you set for yourself. You just have to ask yourself, am I aiming low or raising the bar? I get it, these small every day promises that you break to yourself may not seem like a big deal. In fact, you probably think I'm blowing things way out of proportion, but the truth is, I'm not. Your actions will dictate your success and if you continue to break promises to yourself, it won't be long before you're breaking them to others. 

What I love about a relentless commitment to your promises is that it forces you to be intentional about the promises you make, the goals you set, and the commitments you agree to. You're forced to slow down long enough to not only think about the commitment but the ripple effects it may have. This process of slowing down and being intentional about your time and your commitments will have drastic impacts on your effectiveness and efficiency. Just watch. 

Top Tips to Crush Your Content in 2019

We are big believers that content marketing is hands-down the best low-cost, high-leverage strategy for providing value to prospects and generating business. Not to mention, it is so versatile - offering a strategy for agents from a variety of scenarios. Still, the key to great content isn’t only the ideas, it is the execution, which must be thoughtful and relevant to your audience.

As with any marketing strategy, the success is in the consistency and our favorite way to stay consistent is to utilize a content calendar to help pre-plan your content while still leaving space for timely content pieces that can supplement your plan.

When the secret is in the consistent daily actions - we want to make it easier for you to implement. So, we’re sharing our content calendar template (the same one we use here), here are a few helpful tips to executing your plan well.

1. Identify the topics your audience cares about

Different audiences want to hear about different topics and in order to execute a content marketing strategy effectively, you have to consider this when crafting your content. Who are you speaking to? What are the things they care about? What mediums do they utilize? Remember, your content can strike out if you’re just posting it blindly.

2. What frequency can you sustain?

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Sure, posting multiple times per day sounds great and yes, the effectiveness is proven. But if you can’t consistently keep to your content calendar, you might as well not take the time to complete one. Instead, focus on what you can sustain (even when you’re busy). What resources and systems can you implement to leverage when your schedule is more packed?

3. Engagement is essential.

Okay, so you have the best topics, you’ve implemented a schedule and system so that you can regularly post - but oh no! You’re not there to engage with your audience when you post! Tisk, tisk! The point of posting is to engage your audience and utilize low-cost marketing tactics to gain a larger reach and more effective conversations. If you are scheduling posts and not able to respond to comments or interact with your audience, you’re missing the point.

4. Be flexible to time-sensitive content.

While we love the convenience and increased opportunity for consistency that prior planning offers, there are also bound to be timely posts that can really generate a lot of traffic and engagement. Don’t miss those opportunities. Consider supplementing your content calendar or even rearranging it to allow for timely content. We believe that sustainable content calendars are split roughly 50/50 or maybe even a 60/40 pre-planned content/timely content ratio.

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5. Research but give credit!

Many people fail with effective content strategies because they think it all has to be their content. That just simply is not the case. There are so many resources in our local communities that it makes perfect sense to cross-post content to your audience. That said, be sure you are crediting your sources. Taking credit for something you didn’t create just plain isn’t cool.

We know that creating content is tough, but an effective content marketing strategy can make a huge difference in your business. Let 2019 be the year that you build your content strategy and become a true community resource.

Moving Forward

Great brands are more than just fancy (or simple) logos, more than just vision statements, or cutting-edge marketing. The core of a great brand rests in their actions and the actions of those associated with the brand. It requires that you take the words off the page and live your creed. But to build a great brand, you have to have more than branding - you have to have character. 

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Take, for example, Uber. This is a brand that despite their one-time lofty valuation of $69 billion dollars, has had their fair share of struggles. In fact, many of my friends have fully abandoned Uber as a result and moved to other rideshare providers such as Lyft. But Uber as a brand is making an effort to come back from their setbacks through their new Moving Forward campaign. Now, taken at face value there is nothing particularly remarkable about Uber's moving forward campaign and many probably see it as a mere effort to regain the sought after appeal that they once had. Frankly, I thought that. But then I experienced what my hope is the campaign in action. 

Last Friday night, my wife and I took an Uber to dinner to see our friend play music at a local restaurant. After some glitches with the app, the driver, Vicki, called us to ensure that she was headed to us on the fastest route. This was my first inclination that we were about to have a great experience, but at the time, it didn't seem any more than good customer service. She was pleasant to talk to during the ride and very accommodating asking us standard questions such as "would you like the air adjusted?" or what type of music we preferred. I jokingly asked her if she had ever considered real estate. All in all, 5-stars! 

Now, when it was time to come home, my wife went to call another Uber to take us home. What are the chances, but it was Vicki again! We laughed to each other when she picked us up exclaiming how that never happens. We chatted with her our whole ride home and learned a lot about her story and even about her recent homebuying process. The fact that we asked about that, we'll just call an occupational hazard. Vicki dropped us off, wished us well, and went on her way. 

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Here is where things get interesting. On Sunday afternoon, our doorbell rings. I couldn't figure out who would be stopping by, and when I answered the door, it was Vicki! I was obviously surprised to see her, but she immediately held out her hand with a set of car keys explaining that she found these in her back seat and she thought they might be ours. They weren't. So, I asked her, "what are you going to do now?" She went on to explain that we were her sixth house and she had about fifteen more to go by to see if they had left the keys. Talk about living your creed of making the rider experience next level! Vicki is the example. She's living it. 

You see, Vicki probably doesn't even know about the Moving Forward campaign. I didn't until the other day either. And she probably doesn't have any personal connection to the company's leadership. Not to mention, she does this as a side hustle. But what Vicki does do is she lives the commitment the brand is making to move forward, to improve every ride, and to put people first. I can think of a long list of things that Vicki probably would've rather done on Sunday afternoon than drive around to all of her riders pick up points, but to her, it wasn't about what she preferred to do. It was about the commitment she had made to a brand, to the rider, and to herself. That's something to be proud of. 

5-stars, Vicki.  

How Can I Help?

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My good friend, Zach Schabot has a saying that he uses with almost everyone he speaks with on any given day... "how can I help?" No, he isn't a barista at Starbucks and he doesn't wait tables - in fact, he works for Zillow. But this is something Zach has been saying for years, long before his time at Zillow. This sort of saying is exactly why Zach has always been someone I have trusted and looked up to. 

So, maybe you're asking yourself...why is such a simple question a business revelation? Well, because far too often, we don't ask the question. We assume that the mere fact that someone is working with us means they are satisfied or even happy. But as Scott Stratten, author of UnMarketing and countless other books talks about - just because a client is current, doesn't mean they're happy. To ensure that you're delivering happy experiences - Stratten suggests a practice called the "StartStopContinue," where you ask your clients three questions:

  1. What should I start doing?

  2. What should I stop doing?

  3. What should I continue doing?

I firmly believe that sometimes we avoid asking questions when we're afraid of the answer or not committed to putting in the work to make the change the answer may call for. You see, asking isn't just about personal gain, it is about understanding the context of how you are interacting with others. Are you consistently engaging with your clients the same way that you are engaging with your prospects? Are you valuing their business the same way that you value a prospect? Do you even know if your current customers are in fact happy or are they just so far along that it is more of a pain to switch agents than to just continue their mediocre experience? If you have to wonder, you don't know, which means you need to ask. 

Let's say that your focus is referrals. When 80% of people seek a recommendation when making any kind of buying decision and over roughly 67% of people take that recommendation - referrals are a good focus as well. The key to referrals is that you have to ask your clients to refer you! Happy customers may very well be happy, but consumers don't frequently talk about their experience (both positively and negatively) unless they are prompted to. Don't be shy, tell your clients how they can help you grow your business. They often want to help, but they don't know how to best do so. People inherently want to help those that have invested in them in a meaningful way. They want to help, they just need you to tell them how to go about doing so. 

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Now, back to Zach and his helpful saying. Well, the phrase "how can I help?" isn't anything groundbreaking, but the practice is. What makes this special is Zach never leads with this statement - instead, he invests his time and energy in you to understand what it is you're doing, what you want to achieve, and how he might be able to help. Then...he asks. Anyone who knows Zach is probably smiling as they read this because they know that he is being 100% genuine with an offer to help in any way that he can with just about whatever it is that he is learning about at that moment. It is one of those charming qualities of his. But this goes beyond charm, this is just plain good business. You see, asking has gotten a bad rep. It has been perceived as pushy and self-serving, but this ask is neither of those things. Why? Because this ask is truly selfless. It is asking to invest in you even more than he already is. That, my friends...that is special. That, my friends...that's Zach. 

 

 

Share The Love of Where You Live

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All month long we've been talking about love. Loving on others, loving yourself, but what about - loving where you live? I mean, doesn't the concept of "home" extend far beyond the walls and the structure? For me it always has. Home is woven into the fabric of the communities we become a part of, not just the physical place we lay our heads down at night. 

This week, I've had the good fortune of spending a decent amount of time in Downtown Raleigh where I have fallen in love with my city all over again. Maybe as real estate agents we are particularly attuned to the things around us, but this week, I simply seemed to notice things I loved about the city in a different way, from the number of bustling new restaurants to the way the bricks lay in the sidewalks - it all took on a different weight with me. Which got me thinking - are we doing enough to show off the places we love to live? 

As real estate agents, one of the best values you can offer clients is to help them get a feel for what it will be like to live in a community. After all, we spend most of our days out in the communities we live and serve rather than cooped up in a stuffy office. Almost every successful agent I speak to has an intimate knowledge of their community, too. Agents always know the best restaurants, local dive bars, boutiques, dry cleaners, even doggy daycare centers. Why? Because most of the time we love where we live and that is what motivated us to help others fall in love with where we live, too. 

Whether through blogging, video, or even cool technologies such as Relola, a website dedicated to real estate agents sharing their local expertise; agents everywhere are beginning to provide real value to consumers to help them get the one things that isn't so easy to find -  insight. Consumers have no shortage of data and listings, but what they don't have is the boots on the ground telling them what that data means, and what it will feel like to live somewhere. 

Sample Relola map of Downtown Raleigh

Sample Relola map of Downtown Raleigh

As agents, you have impeccable insight into what makes a community tick. You see, home is a feeling far more than it is a place. Home extends beyond the walls of where you live into the bricks of your sidewalks, the grass in the yards, or the shops along the street. As a good friend of mine once put it, "it is about how the house and the neighborhood come together so it is not totally clear where the living room begins and ends." Go ahead, share why you love where you live and I assure you - others will fall in love too.

Things That Matter

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I've spent the last week at Inman Connect - the bi-annual gathering of the real estate industry's best and brightest. This conference always has an electric energy to it. It goes beyond the buzzing billboards of Times Square or the headline speakers and extends to the conversations between attendees. Say what you want, but this place is pure magic. 

We all move a million miles an hour on any given day and at conferences, we speed up even more to what I affectionately call "conference speed." But what this week has reminded me of is the magic of slowing down and having those personal conversations with people. Over the last week, I have reconnected with wonderful friends from all around the country. I have learned new things and re-focused on strategies I learned long ago. While the content has been nothing short of remarkable, the biggest gains I've made have been the relationships. And when it comes to those relationships, you've got to slow down and connect.

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I have Inman to thank for a lot of things in my career, but the thing I am most grateful for are the connections and relationships that I have built over the years. Relationships that go far beyond business deals and contracts, but relationships that mean the world to me. Relationships that heal the soul. For me, Inman has been a place where building my business and feeding my soul have gone hand in hand. In a world where "fast and furious"  is often translated to better - I say, what about slower, more connected? 

Last night, Lynn and I shared dinner with some dear friends of ours, including Andrew Flachner, CEO and Co-Founder of RealScout. I bring up Andrew specifically because he is going to officiate our wedding in June and he is one of our dearest friends, despite living on opposite sides of the country and only getting to see him a few times a year. Of course, we relish any time that we have with Andrew, but last night was extra special. Earlier in the day, Andrew had interviewed one of my role models, Simon Sinek on the main stage. Andrew shared with us at dinner that Simon is someone he'd like to catch up with personally the next time he visits New York City, but would rather not prioritize it this week over spending quality time with the people who helped build him up each and every day. This isn't about and us versus Simon Sinek thing. It is about Andrew doing exactly what I am encouraging you to do: slow down and spend time with not only those who feed your intellect but your soul.

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Again, I tell you this story not to brag about my dinner company (although it was admittedly pretty stellar). I tell you this because it is a great example of how much relationships matter. I know it isn't always easy to carve out time for your people. Things get busy, transactions come up, we're moving a million miles an hour. 

What if you slowed down? What would really be impacted? My guess is that you are who would be impacted in a more positive way than you ever imagined. 

Overcoming the Mid-January Blues

We're about 5% done with 2018, and for most people, that means beginning the process of giving up on their goals. Not you. Not this year. Instead of feeling the mid-January pressures to give yourself a break, you would be much better served to stay on track and adjust your approach to make achieving your goals a reality. 

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The problem with setting and achieving audacious goals is that we are often setting big goals while not wanting to compromise anything we currently have going on. I liken this to the mid-January situation in my kid's playroom. Over the holidays, they had their embarrassment of riches in Legos and the latest trendy toy. Prior to the holidays they already had full toyboxes of toys they loved, but as the new toys came - the old ones got pushed to the bottom and now I see them as they sit in the toybox and the new toys grab their attention. 

Adults are really just slightly more evolved versions of kids. We set ambitious goals and New Year's Resolutions and spend much of our time laser-focused on those goals, often completely abandoning other secondary goals or even strategies that got us to the point of our current success. But we must be aware of this trap. Forgetting the tried and true strategies that allowed us to succeed to this point are not things that should be abandoned for a shiny new model of marketing, branding, or prospecting. No, these are the things that should be doubled down on to continue to build our success. 

So, how do you overcome these mid-January blues and stay on track to achieving your goals? Regardless of what goals you find yourself working toward this year, I challenge you to consider this: if you were limited to five major moves to make that goal happen, what would they be? Now, consider these "major moves" more of a category of activities that move you closer to achieving your goals. Once you have the knowledge of what those activities are, break them down further into tasks (with deadlines) and get them on your calendar. When things end up on our calendars, they get back to the forefront of our awareness. It is like pulling the toy from the bottom of the toybox and placing it back in their field of view. No longer does it get treated as "that old thing," but a treasured part of their day. So, what will you treasure today?

Sure, you may not be a kid anymore and you've got things more pressing than Legos and Barbies determining your success, but who says you can't use the same tried and true strategies to tackle keeping things top of mind?

Opportunity Actually

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Ah yes...the holidays! A time for enjoying your loved ones, snuggling by the fire with your favorite holiday movies and building your business. Wait, what?!? Who can build their business during the holidays? The answer is you can. 

In one of my favorite holiday movies is Love Actually, Hugh Grant says "If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." Well, the truth is, opportunity is all around during the holidays, you just have to look for it. 

The reason many professionals struggle and stress over the holidays is that they are consciously taking time away from their businesses and not replenishing their efforts in other areas. In real estate, the holidays afford us tons of opportunities to rekindle connections, deepen connections, and make new connections - but just as Grant mentions...you have to look for it.

Here are a few ideas I have for how you can breathe some life into your business for 2018 and make the most of the holiday season...

  1. Write a handwritten thank you to everyone who gave you a review in 2017. This may seem like a no-brainer, but during the holidays, we are often so pre-occupied with sending holiday cards that we forget the value of a handwritten note. The holidays are about gratitude, so what better way to give thanks than to actually reach out to folks who have helped your business. Also, since people are receiving so much mail, they are often more engaged than normal in their mail allowing your note to really stand out.

  2. Prepare a holiday pop-by gift for some of your past clients. A lot of agents are reluctant to use pop-bys as a way to generate business because they have such large databases and think they simply can't afford it. The great part about pop-bys is that you don't have to give them to everyone. Consider segmenting your database to folks that you know stay local over the holidays and who can really benefit from what you are giving them.

  3. Shake hands with 10 strangers this month. Simple, right? For whatever reason, most people are particularly jovial during the holidays. Take advantage of the good spirits and spread cheer. Offer to help a neighbor that you see putting up lights or with a package, pay it forward at the coffee shop, or simply say hello. (Editor's Note: due to the high instance of illness during the winter month's, we also recommend using hand sanitizer or washing your hands frequently. ;-) )

  4. Thank your service partners. Lenders, home inspectors, attorneys, and so on. These folks that you work so closely with all year long deserve thanks as well. Taking the time to write them a note, give them a call, or even get them a small token of your appreciation goes a long way in getting your deals to the closing table all year long.

  5. Set appointments for AFTER the holidays. This is a big mistake that a lot of agents miss during the holidays. While you take the time to prospect, you are discouraged when prospects push you off due to their time constraints over the holidays. Instead of pushing for an appointment now, go ahead and build your pipeline by setting a future appointment where you can kick off your 2018 with a bang!

Whether it is using these five tips or doubling down on your own strategies don't forget to take time for yourself and your loved ones this holiday season. 

Like these suggestions? We have so much more in our Holiday Hustle program! 

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