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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate [#6]

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Create Clients Not Leads

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it makes the phone ring. Personally, I am not big on talking on the phone:

  • I am easily distracted and loose focus in the middle of a conversation.
  • I often forget who I’m calling right as they answer.
  • I don’t understand why some people call, never introduce themselves and then pause as if I am supposed to know magically who they are and tell them why THEY called ME.
  • I often worry that the person on the other end is making the same goofy faces at me, as I am making at them.
  • I hate small talk -2/3 of an average phone conversation is taken up with useless words.
  • I am SO not a sales person, and the act of “converting leads” on the phone makes me … well, I would rather shave my head and travel across country on a Greyhound Bus with a pet rat in a shoebox (again).

So, I guess my first sentence doesn’t make much sense then, does it? I guess it should read:

One of my favorite things about blogging is that it makes the phone ring the right way.

When we get a phone call from a potential client that has been reading our blog, it usually goes something like this:

“Hi Mariana (or Derek). My name is … I found you online and have been reading what you write on your site. When can you come list my house?”

The act of blogging creates a person who wants to work specifically with YOU.

These folks have been interviewing me behind my back – without me even knowing. They have been reading my resume-in-the-form-of-a-blog for days/weeks/months. They have been finding out how much I know about the current market through my market reports, understanding all the little ins and outs of the business through my home buyer and seller posts and understanding how Derek and I work through our stories.

When a consumer reads your blog, they feel like they already KNOW you. Once they KNOW you, they grow to LIKE you. Once they LIKE  you, they become CONFIDENT in who you are and the services that you provide and DECIDE to WORK with you. And all this happens before they ever CONTACT you.

(Even if they do not contact you first, our experience has proven that these potential home buyer and seller clients are more than happy to talk with you when you call them.)

Your blog is like a “behind-the-scenes” look at the world of real estate.

… and that kind of “transparency” is a welcome change for consumers, and is what helps create CLIENTS, not leads.

The best way to help create CLIENTS, and not leads, is to:

  • Show your market knowledge through comprehensive market and neighborhood reports
  • Give insight to who you are as an agent by sharing the your real estate (and even some non-real estate) stories
  • Prove that you are the expert with examples of situations where you solved problems for your clients

*Note: When sharing stories about clients, do not mention names or specific details. In fact, it is probably better to share vague stories that happened awhile ago. Basically, don’t compromise agent-client confidentiality agreements. Der.*

So, blogging has really been a great opportunity to LIKE talking on the phone.

When people who have been reading my blog call, the conversations are relatively short ( I don’t lose focus), they care calling ME (I don’t have to remember who I’m calling), they tell me who they are and what they want right up front (whew), the only face being made is a smile, the conversation is short, sweet, and to the point (When can you list my house? Tomorrow? Great. Bye.)…

… and I don’t have to shave my head.

Mariana is a real estate agent and co-owner of the Wagner iTeam with her husband, Derek. She maintains the Colorado Springs Real Estate Connection Blog and is also a real estate technology trainer and coach. Mariana really enjoys helping real estate agents boost their businesses and increase their productivity through effective use of technology. Outside of real estate, blogging and training, she loves spending time with her husband and 2 sons, reading, re-watching Sci-Fi movies and ... long walks on the beach?

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Dan Connolly

    August 22, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Mariana,
    Great post! Really LOL funny, I especially like the part about the pet rat in the shoebox.

  2. Lisa Sanderson

    August 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Yes! For me. it is the difference between clients who think they are doing YOU a favor by calling you vs. ones who think you are doing THEM a favor by working with them, that makes blogging so worth it. It is really nice to be appreciated for what you have to offer, rather than having to try to prove (on the phone, bleh) that you aren’t the ordinary salesperson looking for her next ‘deal’.

  3. Vance Shutes

    August 22, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    Mariana,

    >”The act of blogging creates a person who wants to work specifically with YOU.”

    That alone is all the reason I both want and need to keep on blogging. There is no such thing as a cold-call anymore. When they call, they are already pre-disposed to be interested in my work. As long as my “real life” presentation meets or exceeds their impression of me from my blog, I’ve earned a new client. And anything I write today will continue to serve my clients long into the future. Talk about power!

  4. Charles Richey

    August 22, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    I think you build a lot of trust that way as well. Lisa makes a great point about being appreciated for what you offer.

  5. Mariana Wagner

    August 22, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Dan – After a couple decades-ish it does become funnier.

    Lisa – I SO prefer “proving my worth” BEFORE initial contact.

    Vance – What you blog about today CAN live for a very long time.

    Charles – Definitely … Blogs help build trust and confidence between the consumer and you, the RE blogger.

  6. Elaine Reese

    August 22, 2008 at 11:20 pm

    I do so agree with you! When I got into the business 10 yrs ago, the big thing was sweat hogs where people had to make 25 calls/day. I said, ‘no way – can’t do it’.

    I listed a home last month where they called me from my blog, Had another such call yesterday. The conversations were exactly as you said.

    On the funny side, I was in a NAPA store a few days ago standing in line. Another customer walked by and said, “Hey, you’re that blogging Realtor”. You just never know who is reading our blogs!

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    August 23, 2008 at 10:12 am

    I hate the phone, despise the phone, can’t stand the phone… I’ll call you sometime and tell ya about it!

  8. Russell Shaw

    August 23, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Mariana, I love this post and I love the graphic. So naturally, I had to learn how to do it – which I’ve now done. Along the way, another skill break-through in the graphics department. So, thanks!

  9. Paula Henry

    August 24, 2008 at 4:36 am

    Mariana –

    This is my favorite post in this series. I, too, despise small talk and DO get distracted when on the phone; actually all those bullet points describe me. People ask why I blog – this is why! When my phone rings, they already want to work with me.

  10. Glenn fm Naples

    August 24, 2008 at 8:38 am

    Mariana – enjoyed your post and your point of being interviewed without knowing it is happening. When you can bring yourself to the forefront as you have done, you have achieved a pinnacle which other bloggers are striving for – drawing in loyal followers. Just don’t serve any kool-aid. 🙂

  11. Melissa | Talk San Francisco Real Estate

    August 25, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    That was hilarious about the rat in the shoebox. I actually started blogging because I love to write, am an education junkie, and don’t like to ask people for business. I completely agree that people get to know me by reading my blog, and they are, in essence, interviewing me before contacting me. That’s the beauty of it. I love doing real estate, the negotiating, the transactions, etc., but we all know that we cannot do all of that unless we have clients. I don’t do cold calling or any of that. I do however, love to write, so I blog, and I deal a lot with my past clients and people I know. I just love the blogging, and also think it is a great way for me to be a better Realtor, by constantly keeping up to date on all of this great information that’s out there like your blog, for instance, among others.

  12. Missy Caulk

    August 27, 2008 at 7:50 am

    Ha Ha, I hate talking on the phone too. Thank God for caller ID. Of course if it a call from my blog I love it and will gladly talk. When they say, they read my blog, I have to ask which one? Then they are really stumped, so I have to say, “do you remember the color?”

  13. Ken Tracy

    August 31, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Hi Mariana. Thanks for writing.
    I too look for clients that understand they are not doing me a favor. I have never understood that!
    Great post.
    Ken

  14. Mariana

    August 31, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    Elaine – HA! I get that “you’re that blogging Realtor” too!

    Matthew – I would actually rather do a video-call than a phone call.

    Russell – You’re welcome lol!

    Paula – I love those phone calls…

  15. Mariana

    August 31, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Glenn – lol. No kool-aid here!

    Melissa – Awesome: ” it is a great way for me to be a better Realtor, by constantly keeping up to date on all of this great information that’s out there.”

    Missy- Color coding my blogs. Brilliant!

    Ken – No favors in real estate…

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Business Marketing

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS 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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Business Marketing

Restaurant chains are using COVID to masquerade as indie food pop ups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese appear on delivery apps under aliases. Is this a shifty marketing scheme or a legitimate practice?

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chuck e cheese pizza

Restaurants have pivoted hard to stay alive during dine-in shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are selling grocery items like eggs, flour, and yeast (check out the pantry section at the Brewtorium!) while others have created meal kits so families can cook up their restaurant favorites at home.

Meanwhile, a few large chains have been busted for re-branding their kitchens to sell more meals. A reddit user in Philadelphia reported that they ordered pizza from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings thinking it was a local business they had yet to try, only to learn it shared a kitchen with Chuck E. Cheese. As it turns out, Pasqually is a member of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the terrifying mascot band led by murine bad body Chuck E. Cheese. Pasqually is the confusingly human drummer (and Italian pizza chef?), joined by lead canine guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, sweetheart chicken Helen Henny on the tambourine and vocals, and the dinosaur? Closet monster? D-list muppet? Mr. Munch on the keys.

Though this inter-species band should be disturbing enough for us all to rethink our childhood memories of Chuck E. Cheese (let’s be honest, Disney World should be the only place allowed to have adults parading around in giant mouse costumes) what’s more upsetting is the competition it creates with locally owned restaurants. In West Philadelphia, there is another restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza.

Chuck E. Cheese is not the only restaurant re-branding to save their hides. Applebee’s has launched a “brand extension” called Neighborhood Wings. Customers can order larger quantities of wings (up to 60!) from Neighborhood Wings, but not Applebee’s. You know, for all of the large parties people have been hosting lately (thanks COVID-19).

This restaurant run-around is further evidence of the noise created by third party delivery apps. GrubHub, Postmates, and others have been criticized for taking huge commissions from already low-margin restaurants, and providing little added value to profitability and industry worker wages. Using these platforms as a means to build shell restaurants for large national chains is just another example of third party apps doing a disservice to both its clients and customers.

Of course, Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese are franchises. If one wanted to go out on a limb for these brands, it could be argued that they are indeed ‘local’ businesses if their owners are local franchisees. The third party apps are simply another platform for businesses to gain a competitive edge against one another within a specific customer segment. Furthermore, consumers should hold themselves accountable for their patronage choices and doing their due diligence when investigating new pizza and wings options.

Nonetheless, it behooves all of us in this pandemic to get to know our neighbors, and build relationships with the small businesses that are the lifeblood of a community. Restaurants exist thanks to local customers. Try placing your order directly on their website, or give them a call. I am a restaurant worker, and I truly am happy to take your order.

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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grubhub site

If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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