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. 

5 Ways to Make the Most of Your Current & Past Clients Relationships

While online lead generation is all the rage, we all know that there is plenty of revenue to be earned from our relationships. We are, after all, a relationship business and our ability to leverage and grow our existing relationships. Here are 5 ways to make the most of these relationships:

Understand their holistic needs

This is all about offering a value-based strategy with your clients. When you understand the holistic needs of your clients, you go beyond just the symptoms of their problems and get to the root issue at hand. This allows you to demonstrate huge value in that you understand their needs better than any other agent and are best suited to deliver for them in an impactful way.

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Check in along the way.

Many agents make the mistake of simply plugging clients into a tried and true method of doing business. While this isn’t completely off-base, consumers change and so does the nature of our business. You have to establish yourself as constantly evolving and constantly responsive to your client’s needs by checking in with them as they navigate the process with you. Aim to please, but more importantly - aim to evolve by asking “how could I be better tomorrow?”

Retarget them on social media.

This is one of the most underutilized methods for staying in touch because retargeting is often misunderstood or not understood at all! By retargeting your consumers on Facebook or Instagram, you’re able to continue to grab their attention with information that is directly relevant to them. This is an extremely cost-effective way to mass market highly relevant content. If retargeting is not something you fully grasp, partner with someone who does so you can utilize it in your business.

Keep in touch.

Talk about missed opportunities! Keeping in touch is one of the lowest cost solutions to growing your business. Too often we think “I don’t know what to say” or “they don’t want to hear from me” and if all your talking about is real estate, you’re probably right. But think about how you feel when an old friend calls or sends and unexpected gift or note. It gives a sense of surprise and delight and that’s exactly what you want to deliver to your past clients.

Fully understand their journey with you.

You can’t expect to solve someone’s problems when you don’t understand their experience. Taking the time to fully understand what your prospects and clients are going through is essential to building out a truly memorable user experience. Focus on asking questions that will help reveal how you can enhance your processes and better connect with your clients then implementing solutions designed to address those problems.


Looking for new podcasts? Check out these designed to help your business thrive!

Podcasts have been one of the fastest growing mediums for people to take in cutting edge content. Their ease of production and accessibility have made them a favorite among many including us! While we love jamming out to music as much as the next person, we also know that when time is valuable, utilizing time in the car or on a flight to educate ourselves can give us a huge competitive advantage. Check out this list compiled by Inc.com of 10 of the Best Podcasts to Help Your Company Thrive.

1. StartUp

StartUp focuses on the experience of starting a business and entrepreneurial life. The podcast launched in 2014 and is powered by a team of women, including Senior Producer Molly Messick, Co-Host Lisa Chow, and Reporter Amy Standen. Past episodes have tackled issues such as balancing entrepreneurship with parenthood, pitching a business to investors, and past mistakes entrepreneurs have made. 

StartUp is available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. 

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2. Mixergy

Created by Andrew Warner, Mixergy features interviews with business founders. During each podcast, a founder tells their story and shares solutions to some of the challenging issues that founders face. Past guests have included Gabe Schillinger of Legion Beats, Max Makeev of Owl Labs, and Maria Paz Gillet of Jooycar. 

Listen to Mixergy on Google Podcasts and Apple Podcasts. 

3. The Tim Ferriss Show 

Tim Ferris, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, hosts the widely popular Tim Ferris Show. The show has amassed over 300 million downloads and has been included in Apple Podcasts' "Best of" ranking for three years. Ferris interviews guests such as LeBron James, Maria Sharapova, Jamie Foxx, and more, examining the routines, tactics, and tools that contribute to their success so that you can put those strategies to work in your life. 

Catch The Tim Ferriss Show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or Overcast. 

4. Business Wars

Business Wars pits competing businesses against each other, examining what drives a company's success or failure. Hosted by David Brown, this podcast focuses on massive companies such as Netflix, Blockbuster, Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and more. 

Business Wars is available on the App Store or on Google Play. 

5. Rise and Grind with Daymond John

Daymond John, founder and CEO of FUBU, interviews successful entrepreneurs, musicians, and athletes such as Barbara Corcoran, Ian Siegel, and more. Each interview subject shares their secrets to how they achieved success, and you can benefit from them, too. 

Listen to Rise and Grind with Daymond John on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. 

6. The Brand Builder Podcast

Looking to understand the current trends in branding? The Brand Builder Podcast examines what's working for some of the most successful brands and gives you actionable advice that you can use for your own business. 

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher. 

7. This Week in Startups

Longtime Silicon Valley investor Jason Calacanis hosts this series of conversations, usually with talented startup founders. If you want insight into the nuts and bolts of scaling a small business in competitive environments, this is a helpful podcast.

Listen to this podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Youtube and more.

8. The Hirsch Marketing Underground Podcast

This podcast digs into marketing strategy with detailed, precise advice for any business. The short episodes are easy to catch while on the go, giving you new concise marketing strategies in just 15 minutes. 

Enjoy the Hirsch Marketing Underground Podcast on Stitcher. 

9. The Brainy Business

Conversion expert Melina Palmer shares insight and tips about behavioral economics to help you better understand why people make purchases. Use the tips to increase your business' sales and customers. 

Listen to The Brainy Business on Stitcher. 

10. The School of Greatness

Hosted by New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes, The School of Greatness examines just what it is that makes people great. Guests include business owners and entrepreneurs, celebrities, athletes, and more. 

You can catch The School of Greatness on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, Stitcher, YouTube, Google Play, or Spotify. 

Many of these podcasts give you the opportunity to learn from hugely successful entrepreneurs and business owners. They all give you concrete tips and advice that you can apply to your company. And, whether you're looking to develop productivity habits or refine your marketing strategy, you're sure to find valuable information (and some entertainment, too) from these podcasts. 


Are Your Beliefs Messing With Your Mindset?

Your mind is a powerful thing, you know. The stories we tell ourselves and the things we believe about ourselves can be our biggest hurdle to the success we dream of. Often we do everything in our power to try to control the things outside our control that we completely ignore the things we can control. We simply make up our mind that those things are out of our control too.

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You see, I know this because I had made up my mind that these things were out of my control at one point too. And when I shifted that mindset to being able to harness the power of my thoughts for good - everything changed. Doors opened, relationships improved, I was a happier, healthier, better version of me. In fact, so much of what I’d been chasing was right there in front of me.

Deep-seeded beliefs are what compromise a “fixed mindset” and a fixed mindset is often what impedes our growth and skill development. For instance, if you believe “I’m just not that good with numbers” chances are that you will never improve because you’re accepting your place as you are. You’re fixing your circumstances rather than committing to growth. Now if you instead said “I wish I was better with numbers” your brain will automatically go into growth mode and crave expansion of your skill set. Really, think about what deep-seeded beliefs you have that might be holding you back. What are they?

  • “I’m not a natural athlete…”

  • “My body just isn’t built that way…”

  • “I haven’t been in the business for that long…”

  • “It’s hard for me to find the time…”

  • “I’ve got a sweet tooth.”

It doesn’t really matter what the belief is, what matters is how your mind reacts to these beliefs. If you’re able to prompt action with your beliefs - a lot can change. As the saying goes - “the first step is always the hardest…” Now, you just need to take it.

The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up...Your Mind

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Like most of us, I recently got hooked on the new Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo with grand ambitions of sifting through what I soon realized was an embarrassing collection of meaningless items that I kept just for the sake of keeping. I wouldn’t have qualified as a hoarder, but I certainly found myself questioning why in the world did I hold onto this?

As I sifted through my closet determined to understand the KonMari method, I began to feel actual weight lifted off my shoulders. Not only was the clearing out of unnecessary belongings freeing up space around my house, but it was freeing up space in my heart, soul, and even mind. This has far less to do with a ratty t-shirt you’ve been holding onto since college that barely has enough fabric to qualify as a t-shirt and far more to do with the mental and emotional impact things can have on us when our surroundings are in disarray.

This got me thinking, if this is how much tangible stuff that I hold onto - what things am I holding onto that can’t be seen. In a different context, some may refer to this as emotional baggage, which it undoubtedly is - but this baggage extends into our professional lives as well. We hold onto professional accomplishments, failures, and events and assign weight to them as though they were objects vs. experiences. This isn’t always a negative thing, much like Kondo acknowledges that things are not inherently negative. Rather, we should hold onto only those items that spark joy and let go of the ones that no longer do, thanking them for the service in the process. Think about the impact it would have on your mindset if you did this. Can you imagine?

What if you made the conscious effort to only hold onto the thoughts that brought you joy and tossed away negative experiences, first thanking them for what you learned? What if you let go of the rejection, the hurt, the comparison? What if you embraced the positivity, the accomplishments, and the growth? What if instead of looking at how far you have left to go, you took a moment to acknowledge just how far you have come?Don’t you feel lighter just thinking about the impact that could have on your mental state?

Joy. Pure joy.

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.  

Take Back Control

As we kick off June, it is hard to believe the year is already half over. For many, this is a time to celebrate the great success they have had during the first half of the year, while for others, it is time to readjust their focus and get serious about accomplishing some audacious goals. I like to approach June much like many people approach January - with a fresh set of eyes. I try to leave the setbacks of the previous few months in the past and focus on what I can do moving forward to set myself apart and achieve my goals. This is a great strategy to utilize if you're already on pace to crush your goals or if you need a little jolt. 

So, here are a few tips to make this your best summer ever:

  1. Control your schedule. One of the biggest reasons people don't achieve their goals is because they don't manage their time effectively. When we all have the same amount of hours in a day, the question becomes - how is it that some people are so much more successful than others? Despite what you may think, this isn't because they have been given some distinct advantage. What high performing individuals in almost any field have in common is a firm grasp on how to effectively manage their time. Moreover, this has become a true passion of mine. If you feel frazzled or like your time is not being managed effectively, I suggest tracking your time using our Time Tracker. (Here are directions for how to use this tool.) From there, make small adjustments to be more effective. Of course, if you'd like to discuss how to utilize this tool or the results with us, simply give us a shout!

  2. Double-down on your lead generation. Many agents assume that summer is a bad time to drum up your leads because people are taking trips, enjoying time with their families, etc., but this is actually a great time to reconnect with cold leads or to strike with hot leads. The downtime that many people take over the summer gives them the time to consider big life decisions such as buying or selling a home. While you're sitting on the sidelines, another agent may be reaching out and converting that client.

  3. Love on your people. In the same way that summer can be a fantastic time to drum up new leads, it is also a great time to love on your database. As we mentioned, summer is commonly downtime for many so your email isn't getting overlooked or ignored and your call is much appreciated. Summer also offers some great opportunities for a pop-by item such as sparklers/glow sticks for the 4th of July or pool toys for a mid-summer trip to the pool.

  4. Set up your fall/winter. If you've had a banner year so far, or even if you haven't - it is easy to be distracted by the warm summer air, the waves crashing, the lake trip, or even just having kids out of school. Summer is a time when we want to all take a break, and while I certainly encourage soaking up the sun with your loved ones, one of the most common mistakes people who don't hit their goals share is that they took their foot off the gas mid-year. Make sure that you not only focus on your business now but setting yourself up for the fall and winter when people fall back into the hustle and bustle of their day-to-day.

  5. Don't let your past define you. June offers a perfect time to reflect on your wins and your setbacks from the year. I often describe it as a built in reset button. But there is nothing worse than looking back in December and thinking "I wish I would've continued to push ahead" or "I can't believe I didn't get it together." You have the ability to reset, readjust, and recalibrate. Do what needs to be done. Don't wait and rely on time to fix the problem. It isn't going to.

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If you're crushing 2018, good for you. Really. But now is not the time to pull back. Not if you want to crush 2019 and beyond. You are constantly building for the future and pulling back threatens that. If you've fallen off track, it is time to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back to work. As Winston Churchill put it, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Keep in mind, 2019 is only another six months away. You have an opportunity to do great things. Don't waste it. 

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. 

 

 

Deliver With Care

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Last night, I came home to a package on my front porch. The box was beaten up and half opened. My immediate thought was - "I wonder what happened to that thing!" My second thought, however, was, "I can't believe this was how they handled someone's package." Sure, it was a box of paper towels and nothing inside was damaged, but the nature of the delivery changed my entire feelings about what I was receiving. I went from feeling excitement and curiosity of seeing what might be inside a box to questioning everything about the box and the person that delivered it. 

Okay, I'm probably overthinking the situation, I mean, it was paper towels. But, this got me wondering - the way we deliver our thoughts and feelings matters just as much. And in real estate, we have no shortage of things we deliver - messages of excitement, tough news, hopes, dreams, and just about everything in between. What happens if we ignore our delivery and don't handle these things with the care they deserve? Someone might miss the intended message all together if delivery isn't handled properly.  This makes you think twice about how you say things, doesn't it? It did for me. I know, it is still just a box of paper towels, but follow me for a second. 

In his popular TED Talk, Julian Treasure suggests that when you approach someone with honesty, authenticity, integrity, and love - they are absolutely more likely to listen to your input. Interestingly, none of these work alone, but rather, they must work together to effectively deliver our thoughts, opinions, or even expertise. For instance, honesty alone can be rather brutal. "Mr. & Mrs. Jones, that price just doesn't make sense. Your home isn't all that nice" might very well be true, but it certainly isn't a sentiment being delivered with love or care. A simple adjustment to say "Mr. & Mrs. Jones, I would love to sell your home for that price! But, based on the comparable properties we simply cannot justify that. The upgrades you have done are beautiful and have certainly added value, but I also know that it is important to be moved in your new home before Joey starts school in August. If we price your home competitively now and market it effectively; we don't have to worry about adjusting the price later, how that may look to buyers, and we can focus on your next chapter. So, what do you say?" 

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Do you see how the tone and delivery of the second version far outweigh the first? The difference was love and care. When we take the time to deliver things with love and care, the entire message can be received differently. Take for example the company Zappos, who's entire branding is "Delivering Happiness." They are so committed to delighting their customer that they want everything about the experience of dealing with Zappos to bring happiness. And frankly, as a frequent Zappos shopper...it does. You see, delivery makes a big difference in how someone feels about whatever they are receiving whether it is words or an Amazon Prime order of paper towels. So, as you kick off this new month, think about how you will deliver happiness. How will you delight your customers?

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! 

Swag That Sticks

don't know about you, but I love good swag. Not the junk that someone tosses in a gift bag, but something I like to call "sticky swag." Swag is really just a vehicle to tell your brand story or start a conversation. Isn't that the goal? To get your consumers/clients to tell their story that you were a part of? I think so. To me, there is nothing more frustrating than combing through the meaningless trinkets that are brought home that don't resonate with me. Why? Because they don't make sense. They seem wasteful and thoughtless. In a world where every dollar matters - why are you wasting money on swag that doesn't tell a story or that you need a manual to figure out? Like this pen that BMW sent me a few years ago that took me 15 minutes to figure out was a pen!

So who are some companies with great swag? A few of my favorite companies with "sticky swag" are Contactually, BoomTown, and Giveback Homes. Why? Because their swag is second to none and their story always resonates. They have "sticky swag" in that none of their swag feels like they just dug through a closet in the marketing department and gave you the random junk they found. Their swag has thought, has story, and most of all - has purpose. As a real estate agent, you should have the same intent when you give away swag. You should want your swag to be useful, interesting, and meaningful. 

Take for example, Contactually. As a Contactually Ambassador, they take the time to send me swag from time to time. What is fun about Contactually is that they find a way to give away swag that you will use on a regular basis. More than that, they have swag that can save you in a pinch, like when you need to give your phone a little juice or your 5-year old forgot sunglasses on your Bahamian vacation. But, more than the physical swag, Contactually has a way of showing you that they care. Like when they sent me this kaleidoscope after I shared a very personal story of the meaning of kaleidoscopes to me on stage at Inman Connect San Francisco last year. 

Contactually understands that the impact of swag isn't always in the item, it is in the story. When I share how they took the time to not just send me an item, but seek out and have a hand-crafted item created to show me how much they value me as a customer...I think, "wow, that has impact." Are you conveying how much you value your customer's business? 

Personal connection drives growth. Just as the meaning of swag is more than the item, the reach should be too. "Sticky swag" is swag that your client's want to share and show off. These don't always have to be high-dollar items, but showing to clients that you value when they share your story and your brand is a great way to maximize your reach. 

On a recent vacation, my fiance was wearing some swag sunglasses given to us by BoomTown. The sunglasses met the basic criteria of "sticky swag" in that they were slick looking, comfortable, and something that we wanted to use. This is something that BoomTown does extremely well! Their swag is always high-quality, which is so worth it, because it has a much longer shelf-life. They also have the BEST t-shirts of any company that I have come across. 

I digress...well, as we ventured out on our first day of vacation, we had arranged to swim with the dolphins. When the trainer asked my fiance to borrow her sunglasses so Astro could take them for a spin, we were excited to watch. Luckily for us (and for BoomTown) there was a professional photographer on-site. The remarkable part of this story, besides the dolphin's ability to balance the sunglasses as he swam, was that the first thought we all had was "make sure the photographer gets a shot so that we can share this with the BoomTown team!" How amazing is that? Not only were we utilizing the swag, we had the desire to share it because the company made us feel valued. The company made us feel like that would matter to them. 

So, if you think about your swag - what makes it "sticky?" Do consumers find it useful, engaging, and important? Swag is just like content in that what you put out is a true reflection of your brand. It has to make sense. Let your swag tell your brand's story, have a little fun with it, show your consumers that your value them, and you never know - maybe they'll send you a picture of your swag on a dolphin someday. Imagine the possibilities! 

*Disclaimer: I am a Contactually client and a past BoomTown client

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