Show Me The Money
In the comments of a recent post right here on Agent Genius, I inquired about another Realtor’s success in developing his real estate business through social media marketing. The measure of success I was looking for is simple: closings. Yep, show me the money.
I haven’t heard back from him, but I do have some success of my own to share with those Realtors who are interested in adding to their bottom-line like I have, by building an on-line brand that results not only in clients directly requesting my assistance, but also in earning referrals from agents across the globe.
How It All Began
My husband and I entered real estate together in 2001. We’d just moved to Metro Detroit, I hadn’t lived in the area in 20 years and I had spent the last 8 years living in Europe. Let’s just say my local real estate market knowledge was small, and my sphere of influence was even smaller. RE industry knowledge – zero. My partner, my husband, faced the same challenges yet, the odds were even heavier against him. Dmitry had almost never driven a car, had never been in any type of sales position, spoke English as a second language, knew nobody outside of my family and friends because he had just immigrated about 2 months before we got our licenses together. By the way, I got mine because I had to drive him to the pre-licensing classes. The odds were stacked against us and a couple of local real estate offices were not interested in us as new licensees. Today, those same offices that wouldn’t return Dmitry’s calls in 2001, give us regular calls seeing if we would consider a move.
If I knew then what I know now, I might have bet against us too. Thankfully, I didn’t know.
Building Through Technology
We’ve built much of our business through technology. We work in one of the wealthiest areas in the State of Michigan. Many of our peers in our Sotheby’s International Realty office have built wildly successful careers through their country club memberships and their social connections. I envy them. Who, afterall, wouldn’t want to get her clients while sitting by a pool or drinking cocktails after golf? And I don’t even like golf. These are good agents who work hard and know their market. Their clients just come to them differently than mine tend to come to me.
Next week I am giving a presentation to local Realtors about social media marketing and creating/managing a web presence. That talk is the impetus for this post, and I hope it will help anyone else who wants to see a direct correlation from a Realtor, between social media marketing and building a real estate business. The missing link, and I will admit it, is that I could not begin to estimate the amount of time I have invested in building our internet presence since we started in business. For me, its a hobby as much as it is work. I enjoy it, so I spend a LOT of time on the internet. I couldn’t begin to tell you my ROI.
So where has it gotten me since we got our first listing two days before Sept 11, 2001?
I’ve established myself as a local expert and the media regularly contacts me and provides me with free exposure. In the last year I have been in most of the local papers, large and small, USA Today, Inman news (thanks Matt Carter), and interviewed on Todd Carpenter’s Blog Fiesta (thanks Todd), Oliver Muoto on the Vflyer blog (thanks Oliver, I love my vFlyers) and more. An interview about our business and how we got started appeared in last week’s Oakland Business Review and is resulting in new calls every day. The reporter found us by Googling something like “Oakland County Real Estate Couple.” Most of the main steam media reporters who interview us find us on Google. (Thanks Google)
Fine. How Does That Draw A Paycheck???
Now for the real “show me the money” part. Here are the NEW opportunities we’ve pulled in since mid-February 2008, and the sources of those opportunities (if you click on the links you’ll see our profile on those networks):
- Trulia Voices This weekend I will be listing a condo for a seller who found me there. She will be buying when we get the place sold. She read my answers, checked out my blog and the listing presentation and interview were done before I knew she existed. (Thanks Pete, Sami, Rudy, et al.)
- LinkedIn An agent from out of state came across my profile. We don’t know each other at all, but we’d both worked for Price Waterhouse, though in different decades, I think. He asked me to work with his mom to find a condo. We are headed out for a second time Saturday morning. (You can add me as a LinkedIn connection if we haven’t already connected.)
- miOaklandCounty.com (our blog) Dmitry has spent nearly every waking hour this week showing houses to investors who flew in from Lithuania. It is kind of funny to hear him speaking Russian and talking about real estate. He’s got an earnest money check and I saw him faxing off an offer right before we left the office tonight. They want to buy more than one house and they have friends in Lithuania who are interested in investing too. I am a little behind on posting on the blog right now, but business is keeping me away. Somebody Googled “Russian Speaking Realtor Metro Detroit” and Dmitry popped up. (Thanks Google)
- miBirmingham.com, Oakland-County-Homes.com, (our sites) ActiveRain, and all the other networks we belong to. I don’t know exactly who gets the credit for the nice referral we received from a lovely agent in Rochester MN. She just said she was impressed with what she saw, and she asked us to take care of her client who had his Birmingham MI home listed for about $1.5 million. She wanted someone with a better web strategy. We’d never met, but we get along very well. Like lots of other people, she found us “on the internet.” I haven’t bothered to ask for specifics. (Thanks Google, Jonathan, Matt, et al.)
- I’m showing my listing at 420Suffield to two buyers who liked the website, photos and tour and gave me a call. I don’t know how they arrived there since P2A has their handshake listings, and distributes lots of places like Craigslist, Trulia and more. (Thanks Point2Agent)
The Grand Total
I have a feeling I am forgetting something, but the sum of these potential transactions is about $3.5 million. I don’t like to count my chickens before they are hatched, nor do I typically like to talk much about ME ME ME and MY business or MY clients, but I am breaking my own rules here to show that these things can be done by anyone, even YOU YOU YOU.
Yesterday I turned away a couple of referrals. We are too busy to service those clients well. I can’t hazard a guess at how many other agents in my market who would tell you they are turning away business because they are too busy, but I don’t think the number would be very big. That doesn’t mean I don’t want you to call me with your referral though!
OK, its late. I’ve spent more time on this post than I could afford at the moment. While I am sleeping soundly tonight I know my dear friends at Google will be out working for me and finding my next client. They’ll be assisted by my friends at LinkedIn, Facebook, ActiveRain. Trulia, vFlyer, Point2Agent, Flickr, and more. I can’t wait to see what opportunity they bring me tomorrow.