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New Kids on the Tech – where to start? [Dear Ginny WTH?]

Hi Ginny WTH,

I am a top producer in my market of about 500 Realtors. I am overwhelmed by all the electronic media so I don’t participate, except for email all the time and an occasional look at Facebook. Being a 50s (age) sole practitioner with a younger family at home I just work a lot and try to keep up, but lately I feel I am losing ground because I am not a techie. I don’t really understand the basics all that well of tech and don’t know where to start. I get stressed just thinking about all the info I see every day about what we should be doing with tech and my company promotes a lot of tech which I just turn off to due to the stress of the learning curve. Is there any hope for me at all? What direction should I be going in tech-wize?

My manager says to use Linked In for work contacts and Face Book for personal contacts but I see Realtors putting their new listings on Face Book now. Help! Where do I find time to learn and do all this new technology and does any of it really matter, anyway? Things change so fast in tech that I don’t see how anyone keeps up except the new kids raised on tech.

Sincerely,
Kirk Allen, Coldwell Banker Select, REALTORS, Northwestern Pennsylvania

Dear Kirk,

Hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier. Not to sound like Robert Tilton, although I think my lip is quivering, I’m going to say that it starts with you. You’ve got to want to put time and effort into learning. It is like I said in my column last week, time and effort into marketing yourself online is no different than time and effort into marketing yourself offline. In your case it’s a new way to market that all sounds like gibberish. No matter what age you are, if you are in the real estate business it is necessary to have some online strategy.

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So to answer your questions, no it’s not too late and you should start your march down technology boulevard with the most essential items.

Web site – you need a basic web site that you can point your clients to and that you can promote in both offline and online marketing; it should have information about you, access to MLS listed properties for sale, neighborhood and area detail, and how to contact you. That’s the minimum that you would need for a web site. I see by the contact details you left me with this question that you have a web page, but your email address uses a different URL extension. You need to change that. It’s confusing to consumers to have a web site at www.ginnycain.com and an email address of ginny@homesbyginny.com. The two need to be the same. There are a host of other items I could tell you that you needed (like lead capture mechanisms and optimization), but that’s when your headache starts right? Little chunks.

Email marketing system – I assume you have a database of past clients, potential future clients, friends, family other real estate agents that you maintain. If you don’t already have them, get the email addresses for everyone in your database. Send a postcard that says you are trying to save paper and if the recipient will send you their email address, via some registration on your web page or by sharing your email address with the recipient, you can attempt to gather at one time. Offer a $10 coffee card to the first 20 or 30, etc. Once you have the email addresses you should obtain access to some email marketing contact system, like Constant Contact or iContact or maybe your broker has a system that can aggregate the email addresses from your database and help you manage marketing through emails to each of these groups. This gives you a cheap and easy way to contact people in an online manner. You can schedule messages, monitor open and click through rates, they’ve got templates you can use for various occasions in fairly easy formats to understand. I could tell you more about segmenting your groups and refining and scheduling messaging, but you should probably start with a monthly e-news alert something you wouldn’t stress over writing – so it would ensure that you did it!

Social networking – you should go back to last week’s Dear Ginny WTH for a more detailed answer on how I think you should approach social networking, but at minimum you should set up a LinkedIn page which provides you with a detailed business profile searchable by millions. It’s business Yellow Pages meets classifieds online. Think about it. A free profile with unlimited ability to add information (like listings…if done tastefully), that is known and searchable by millions of people throughout the planet. Add to that the ability for you to actually connect and form links to people you know personally and then be exposed to people they know that you don’t. It’s like the old shampoo commercial, you tell two people then they tell two people. You get it. As for blogs and twitter and yelp, oh my? Start with LinkedIn.

Post open houses on Craig’s List – this is one that could seem overwhelming from the long view, but in fact putting an open house on Craig’s List is as easy as typing. Depending on how many listings or open houses you hold, you will need to post the open house a few days before it occurs and again the day of. You should have copy that you can cut and paste directly into Craig’s List then it’s a matter of uploading photos from files on your computer. It doesn’t have to be fancy.

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Multi-media property flyers – the last thing that I’ll tell you that you need is some sort of multi-media property flyer that lives online that you can either email or point people to for complete details on the listed property which could include multiple photos, a virtual tour, your photo if you want it, your contact details, an ability to map, print or contact you from. Companies like Tour Factory, Just Snooping and Visual Tour. All you would have to do is provide information that you have already: copy and photos. Not really daunting and super impressive at the kitchen table.

In fact most of what I recommend above can be spun into something super impressive at the kitchen table. Package them up and you look like you are simply using the new media available to you strategically.

“Dear Ginny, WTH?” which is like a “Dear Abby” column for real estate objections. If you have a tough client or a marketing problem, “Dear Ginny, WTH?” is for you. Questions can be funny, they can be serious, it doesn’t matter, just ask!

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Ginny is a 360 degree marketing specialist with over a decade of experience in real estate-related fields. She’s held senior level marketing positions at Alain Pinel Realtors and Prudential California, Nevada and Texas Realty. She left the corporate world in 2007 to start her own marketing communications company, Cain Communications. She markets to segments that matter using media that matters. Follow her on Twitter @ginnycain.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    April 29, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I think you did a good job in starting one out but the key is you have to WANT it.

    That is the turning point. We all learned it step by step, here a little there a little.

    Still learning, one step at a time.

  2. Lani Rosales

    April 29, 2009 at 1:45 pm

    Ginny, this is a great starting point for anyone in real estate.

    I would say to Kirk that almost EVERYONE I’ve talked to (of all ages) feels behind, so you’re not alone. There is a learning curve, but that is equally true of becoming a real estate agent (which you successfully did, right?)! 🙂

    Dive in! You don’t have to apologize for being new because believe it or not, just *knowing* that you need to be online is miles ahead of thousands of other agents, so good on ya!

  3. Jim Rake

    April 30, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Ginny – good advice.

    Kirk – Missy’s words can’t be undersated. You do have to WANT IT.

    The good things is, you don’t have to go it alone. Blogs are an ideal educational learning platform. And best of all – their content is FREE!

    While you’re busy getting up to speed on the tech basics, there are short term solutions (fairly inexpensive) you can find in your neighborhood, or online. Folks that will assist you with some of the items Ginny mentioned. And some are so simple that “even a 6th grader can do it.” I know, cause I’ve done them.

    It takes some work – but, please take it one step at a time.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    April 30, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Kirk – I just wanted to throw my words in with what Lani was saying. I’m a nerd. I owned my first computers when kids were still playing with toys. I was online before there was an internet. I maintained a site that had over 4 million visitors a month. No doubt – NERD.

    Despite all of that, I often feel overwhelmed by so many choices and new lingo, sites, and tools to play with. There’s so much out there! The key is to pick a few, start small and grow them into bigger and better things. I was trained by many here at AgentGenius when I first started blogging and I haven’t looked back since. Lani’s point about the learning curve in real estate AND in technology has me nodding my head in absolute agreement.

    Ginny – This is an excellent primer for someone who’s got a bit of fear in them over technology. Simple steps that can lead to bigger things.

  5. Lisa Sanderson

    April 30, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Good advice, Ginny. I was just telling my manager the other day that LinkedIn might be the least intimidating place to start for some of the older agents who have zero web presence. Thanks for backing me up 🙂

  6. Twitterrific Tools

    April 30, 2009 at 12:15 pm

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  7. Mark Eibner

    April 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    we’re at it again Dear Ginny WTH: New Kids on the Tech – where to start?: Get out of your feed .. https://tinyurl.com/cdmhbs

  8. sheilabragg

    April 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm

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  9. Real Estate Feeds

    April 30, 2009 at 2:09 pm

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  10. Cindy Marchant

    April 30, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    I think you can be on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In without having to be overwhelmed. Whatever you decide to do…every three days, once a week; just be consistent. I find my 7-8:30 a.m. timeframe is great for catching up with people.
    I think Active Rain is a great place to read and learn, it is how I started.
    Good luck to you Kirk; I am nearing 50 myself and if you give it a chance, you will find it to be both profitable and fun.

  11. Joe@Augusta GA Homes

    May 1, 2009 at 5:20 am

    Ginny’s advice is spot-on. As a mid-40s top producer, I have evolved my lead generation during the market shift to focus on leading with revenue – and the web is a perfect place to do it cheaply (often for free). I now continue to lead my market center without spending a dime on print media advertising. Yet I can sit down at a listing prospects table and wow them with the number of sites their home will be on NATIONWIDE, with statistical documentation on site visits, etc….

  12. Benn Rosales

    May 2, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Reading: “Dear Ginny WTH: New Kids on the Tech – where to start?” (https://twitthis.com/6zqhys)

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