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Why free leads are only for the bottom feeders

People who accept free leads in the real estate industry are either bottom feeders or about to learn some difficult business lessons. #tinstafl

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bottom feeder

What Is a Bottom Feeder?

When it comes to creatures of the sea, a bottom feeder is an aquatic animal that feeds on or near the bottom of the body of water. However, people often use the term “bottom feeder” to refer to those who do not want to take care of themselves—instead relying on others for sustenance.

As an Independent Real Estate Broker, I’m always looking to recruit new agents to join our brokerage. And… I’m always checking out what the competition is offering and how the competition is advertising. Additionally, I’m always curious as to what agents are looking for when selecting a place to hang out their shingle.

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What Constitutes a Free Lead?

I’ve spent a lot of time as a lurker on Craigslist lately, and see that many brokerage advertisements mention free leads. From this and from my conversations with agents, I’ve concluded that free leads are very exciting to agents who aren’t extremely busy or productive. After all, if an agent were busy and productive, he or she wouldn’t have time to check out Craigslist and might not even be looking for a change.

If a company or individual tells you or advertises that they are providing free leads, here is what you need to ask:

  • Where do these leads come from?
  • Are they already qualified? If so, how?
  • How will these leads be delivered?
  • Is there any special compensation agreement if the provided leads are converted?

The truth is that I can give you all free leads right now—each and every reader of this article. All I need to do is pick up the Yellow Pages or look up a specific street or neighborhood and provide you with a list of individuals—residents and owners. And… now you have unqualified buyer and seller leads.

Clearly, there are better ways to identify buyers and sellers and convert those individuals into closed sales. Know that you do not need anyone to provide leads to you.

The Pareto Principle and Real Estate Leads

In 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical formula to describe the unequal distribution of wealth in his country, observing that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth. In the late 1940s, Dr. Joseph M. Juran inaccurately attributed the 80/20 Rule to Pareto, calling it Pareto’s Principle. While it may be misnamed, Pareto’s Principle or Pareto’s Law (as it is sometimes called) can be a very effective tool to help you manage effectively.

The 80/20 Rule means that in anything a few (twenty percent) are vital and many (eighty percent) are trivial. In Pareto’s case it meant that twenty percent of the people owned eighty percent of the wealth.

In the real estate professional’s case, it means that eighty percent of your business will come from twenty percent of your sources. Think very carefully and make a list of all of your closings over the last three years. Identify patterns where leads and closings came from a single source—such as an attorney, accountant, past client, friend, or relative. Can you locate a series of closings that came from one family or as a result of one relationship? Can you identify one referral source that led to a significant number of closings?

Why spend your time focusing on brand new leads—people whom you don’t know and who may not be well-qualified—when the very best lead sources (the ones that already give you eighty percent of your business) are right in front of you?

Two Sources of Increased Closings

The key to increased success can be derived from two main sources: 1) individuals already providing you with leads, and 2) friends and acquaintances who would refer you until the cows come home.

For both of these sources, continue to develop top-of-mind awareness. Remind these folks that you are in the real estate business and that you appreciate all the referrals that they have provided.

Consider others that are or can be your very best billboards. Who do you know that speaks highly of you to others? How can you make this person’s life easier and better so that they will begin to refer you more business? What can you do for them?

Developing a strategic and tactical plan to increase your work with existing and new referral sources can lead to a significant increase in closings.

Teach a Man to Fish

When speaking about bottom feeders looking for free leads, I often wonder whether those seeking these leads will know how to convert an unqualified or minimally qualified lead into a ready, willing, and able homebuyer or home seller. That’s the reason knowledge is so important. As they say, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.”

If you want to increase your real estate closings, quit looking for your next meal and focus on enhancing your own fishing skills. In this way, you can generate infinite leads and see closings throughout your career—no matter the market.

Melissa Zavala is the Broker/Owner of Broadpoint Properties and Head Honcho of Short Sale Expeditor®, and Chief Executive Officer of Transaction 911. Before landing in real estate, she had careers in education and publishing. Most recently, she has been able to use her teaching and organizational skills while traveling the world over—dispelling myths about the distressed property market, engaging and motivating real estate agents, and sharing her passion for real estate. When she isn’t speaking or writing, Melissa enjoys practicing yoga, walking the dog, and vacationing at beach resorts.

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Business Marketing

Unpopular opinion: Coworkers are not your ‘family’

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls. I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

UI/UX design trends in 2020 for maximum user friendliness

(BUSINESS NEWS) 2020 brings back classic UI and UX themes centered on beautiful visuals, rich written content, and authentic presentation. These are the trends to know.

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UI/UX design trends for 2020

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) protocol have shifted so much in the last few years that it can be daunting to try to keep up with what’s hip and what’s…well, not. Fortunately, Shakuro has compiled a list of trends to guide you through 2020. Here are our thoughts on design trends you can expect to see (and use) this year.

Content
When creating content this year, make sure it emphasizes the meaning behind your work rather than simply focusing on SEO. Too often, the meaning behind our words becomes more about selling a product or service and less about the product itself.

Other areas to focus on vis-à-vis content development include dynamic presentations for variable audiences, visual representations of data (charts, tables, and infographics easily check this box), and mobile-friendly UX and UI—something which should be at the forefront of your mind at all times.
Finally, Shakuro suggests taking 2020 to establish your own organic, opinionated content. Reposts and testimonials are fine in moderation, but the core of your page should belong to you.

Visuals
Desirable website visual trends are somewhat contradictory, but as long as you stick to the core premise—keeping your website organic and appropriate to your brand—you should be fine.

2020 sees the return of asymmetrical design trends; for example, you might have a logo on your landing page that takes up a third of the left side of the page. However, another trend anticipated by Shakuro is the use of negative space to emphasize an image—or, if you aren’t confused enough, an image that takes up the full screen with a focal point in the middle. A/B testing with different designs will be your friend this year.

Animation, high-definition renders of images, and a profound focus on aesthetically pleasing images (especially illustration) is something else you’ll want to incorporate into your design. One tip that holds true for all is that the integration of design and development from the bottom up; doing this will help streamline your process going forward.

Colors
Unlike in prior years, color schemes are largely unchanged; you’ll want to ensure that any changes you make evoke a subtle, soft quality, and some services (e.g., Shakuro) suggest incorporating natural colors as opposed to bright or bold ones. Aside from these two minor updates, keep doing what you’re doing—as long as your selected palette isn’t so dissonant that it causes stress, you’re probably safe. Just so you know Pantones color of the year for 2020 is classic blue.

Text
More than anything, your text should be written to be read by humans—not search engines. This is a common trend this year; you’ll notice that many of the items on this list are more geared toward making the human experience pleasant and noteworthy rather than simply “good enough.” This philosophy also carries over to your text design, which should communicate your brand via visual. In short, don’t use Comic Sans if you want to convey professionalism.

Another couple of minor text changes to make involve moving text overlays and combining text with visuals (e.g., videos or high-definition photos). These themes aren’t new to UX and UI by any means, but they were overplayed for a few years; luckily, it looks like they’re coming back into favor.

Experience
Perhaps the most difficult—and important—aspect of your website is the user experience. This is a good time to remind yourself to check on your mobile experience as well; often, a user’s mobile experience will determine whether or not they return to your page.

An easy way to stand out to your audience is by customizing your navigation options to fit your visual theme rather than using a default navigation setup. This can be tricky, however: you don’t want to create a site that’s unique to the point of being gimmicky—and, thus, difficult to navigate.

And, if you’re looking for an easy way to lower your audience’s blood pressure, designing a UX that requires fewer refreshes, page clicks, and redirects is a sure way to do so.

2020 may not be the flashiest year in terms of web development, but what these trends lack in star power they make up for in subtlety and depth of meaning. Don’t miss out on what could be the most content-rich year for your website!

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Business Marketing

Hiring Managers keep you on your toes, so you should step up

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

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hiring managers interview

In an increasingly competitive job market, how do you make sure that your application doesn’t get buried in a pile of paper? How do you stand out from the pack?

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 percent of them – that’s less than one third. 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 a over 63 percent of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2 percent 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 resume over and over until they got a response. One or two follow up emails after your initial application isn’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 brining 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 percent of applicants who said they are risked an unusual strategy, 67.7 percent 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 resume, 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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