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4 Strategies To Beat Your Competition

Oftentimes when I ask a Realtor how they plan on differentiating themselves from their competition and do more business I usually get one of two answers: 1) I’ll offer better service, or 2) I’ll do it for less.

One answer is pretty vague, the other is cheating your own pocketbook. Instead, start thinking about these 4 winning strategies…

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Oftentimes when I ask a Realtor how they plan on differentiating themselves from their competition and do more business I usually get one of two answers: 1) I’ll offer better service, or 2) I’ll do it for less.

One answer is pretty vague, the other is cheating your own pocketbook. Instead, start thinking about these 4 winning strategies…

1. Have great systems

Systems are awesome. They’re what made McDonald’s a global powerhouse and are a defining factor in how valuable a business really is. See, systems allow you to efficiently execute your tasks.

Your system starts with some type of input followed by step A, step B, step C and so on. As near-automatic as you can make it, all efficient-like.

Savvy Realtors invest in creating systems. Systems for lead-gen, for nurturing leads, for staying in contact, etc. A Realtor with systems will beat their competition.

What systems do you view as essential?

2. Generate more word-of-mouth

As you know, long-term success is built upon the satisfaction of your clients and that’s why savvy Realtors focus on delighting clients. They’re driven by service because success is more than a numbers game, it’s a game of evangelists. The Realtor with the most evangelists wins.

Anyone can satisfy a client, but can you delight them?

What have you done or heard of a Realtor doing that delighted a client?

3. Do a better job of being found

Location, location, location – isn’t that the mantra? This isn’t so much about having a website or good SEO. It’s more about being everywhere that your audience is. Familiarity builds trust and trust drives business.

If your audience hangs out there, then so should you and your content.

What’s your best way of getting found by your audience?

4. Continuously optimize client experience

This is a bit different than providing great service, it’s about being metrics driven. Pay attention to the kinks and bottlenecks that most certainly exist in your business (they’re in every business). Where are folks falling out of your sales funnel? What areas do they express the most concern, confusion or frustration?

Over time and incrementally your client experience will be unparalleled because every concern and need will be managed beforehand. And this, of course, will help generate more word-of-mouth.

What areas would suggest a Realtor look at first for kinks or bottlenecks?

You want to beat your competition or own more of your market? Start focusing on these 4 strategies and you will.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Lani Rosales

    July 13, 2009 at 11:19 am

    @MarkEckenrode, I’m not a Realtor, but I’ll opine anyhow:

    1. Systems: an effective CRM system is crucial to any brokerage. Some brokerages have CRM in place but fail to be authentic with engagement which is critical online AND off. Thank you notes should be hand written no matter how crappy handwriting is (unless you’re not in the South then I think it matters less).

    2. Delight: Benn sent a box of high end chocolates from a local chocolatier as a part of a move-in gift to his clients. Why did this go over so well? Because the client was pregnant and talked over and over about how she was dying for these chocolates but wouldn’t indulge. They’ve since bought and sold 6 properties in the last 3 years through Benn.

    3. Being found: Twitter, bar none. Focusing effort on connecting with locals and then getting offline to go to Tweetups and parties can put you exactly where you need to be.

    4. Optimize: I think Realtors should look to their post-closing questionnaires are critical and can reveal much about the process, especially if it’s a third party service with responses going to the broker. Following up and adjusting according to service surveys can continually streamline the process.

  2. Ken Brand

    July 13, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Exactly and this jewel, “Familiarity builds trust and trust drives business.” is the DNA North Star for you 4 Spot ON points.

    Amen.

  3. Mark Eckenrode

    July 13, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    @laniar: swell contribution. excellent, in fact. thanks. your mention of CRM reminded me of when a corp i worked at and how folks used the CRM to print up stock form letters for client offline follow-up. where’s the CR (client relationship) in that?

    @ken brand: glad you liked that one 😉

  4. Joe Loomer

    July 14, 2009 at 7:37 am

    1. Garbage in, Garbage out. If you do not have a top-notch database (i.e. Top Producer) to manage your leads and clients, you do not have a database.

    2. Not much to add to what Lani said here – we have a pecan company in nearby Thomson – you can special order several varieties. Adds local flavor and everyone loves them.

    3. SEO + the old fashioned Sphere of Influence. Keep in touch with them in any way you can. Make RELEVANT and funny posts on FB – be the market expert and economist of choice for your area.

    4. Manage your lead generation. If one thing brings in the most leads/clients, do more of it. If you sent out 200 letters and got nothing out of it – change the letter. Treat your Core Advocates – those who refer business to you – better than you treat anyone else.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  5. Louise Scoggins

    July 14, 2009 at 12:44 pm

    Hi, Mark, good post! I enjoyed reading Lani and Joe’s responses as well. I agree with everything said! I personally use Outlook for my contact management and follow up. With a primarily web-based business, follow up is of utmost importance! It’s crucial to have a very good CRM in place — and actually use it!! Using it is the key. I can’t tell you how many agents i know who have TP or something similar and don’t use it all all.

    One of the agents in my office has an artist sketch a picture of the home they are selling or buying and scroll their names on it as well. She frames them as her closing gifts and gets tons of compliments. Like Benn did, I think closing gifts are about knowing your clients and knowing what they will REALLY like.

    Being found…for me it’s also SEO / websites and my sphere / past clients. Those are the 2 angles that bring me the most business so that’s where I focus my energies.

    Lastly, I think EVERY transaction has a lesson to be learned. Look back on your transaction and see what you could improve upon for the next time round. I think communication is one of the biggest areas for Realtors to examine. I find that if you are constantly communicating with your clients — whether it be good news or bad news — at least they know you are ALWAYS thinking abou them.

  6. Missy Caulk

    July 17, 2009 at 9:52 am

    I could not function or have a life without systems. Life happens but systems don’t change and keep us on track for what and how we do our business.

  7. Patrick Campbell

    October 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    Stimulating and prudtive content. Well Done! I just need to do it . . . . this afternoon./

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.

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According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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