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2011 real estate marketing plan- inspiration

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You’re all hungry and desperate for something that will bring in the buyers and sellers in 2011- so much so, that you’ll engage just about anything you believe might be ‘the magic.’

Originally published on November 08, 2010.

Magic isn’t something you buy, and it’s not something you develop or join, magic begins simply with a great communications and business marketing plan.

I wanted to sit down and discuss with you a few things to try to help you focus through the trees at what your goals are as we head into the new year. Skipping all of the buzz and hyperbole, here are just a few simple tips that should guide you on your way.

  1. What is your target market? Try avoiding being all things to all people. If you sell starter homes, then focus on starter home buyers and sellers. Look at your particular market trends, are they mobile? Is your city high in walkability? OR are you in a rural suburb? Be smart about this step.
  2. Set in stone a communications plan. Once you’ve discovered your target, learn their obstacles to buying and selling. Answer to those needs via your blog as often as you can. Try not to sell yourself, rather, simply provide the answers they’re looking for. Taglines, headlines, slogans, print or online, keep true to your target with solution based messaging.
  3. Migrate. If you are utilizing social media, then seek out your local targets and migrate with them. Attend events they plan, support where possible, volunteer where necessary, but spend time within your target audience and get to know them personally. Support them online, but touch them offline.
  4. Touch your target in ways they choose to be touched. If Craigslist is hot in your market, then be a good steward of Craigslist. If your market is soft in the technology arena, and less on texting or smartphone use, then remain true to the traditions your market is accustomed. Sometimes, being too early to market is just as bad as too early to adoption. Be present, but focus on where your consumer is looking.
  5. Discover where to spend. Spending money is the biggest hurdle to the independent agent, as well as the brokerage, but it doesn’t have to be. Are your signs looking rugged? Could you use a soft or all out rebrand? What are others in your market doing to stand out? Colors, fonts, and simply the way in which you market make all of the difference in a 2.0 society. Start small if necessary, but bring uniformity to your brand to bring uniformity to your message. Conform to modern web standards if possible with your website, make small investments if you’re just getting started, but make sure the platform you chose is expandable and that you won’t need to completely overhaul what you’ve started with. I suggest that your website have a blog as well as a front page. This is critical when you have multi-levels of consumers. Some may not even know what a blog is, so a supporting website is important. Also, invest in your IDX where available. It does not matter if your competitior has the same solution, what can make the difference is the supporting content- thus the power of a strong communications plan. Most importantly, when working with a designer, it’s perfectly fine to break your website into phases. Discover your most important basic needs, and grow from there. This will save you costly spends in the fourth quarter.
  6. Discover how you will communicate your messaging. For some, this is simple, for other areas of the country it can be complicated. Bandit signs for new construction (where legal) or door to door flyers in rental pocket neighborhoods still work. Cold calling or warm calling also still work- but remember your messaging and your focus.
  7. Make spends when they make sense. If you begin looking at your brand identity, take into account your messaging. This is crucial. A million dollar home on the cover of a post card doesn’t really make a lot of sense or connect with a first home buyer. The dream of homeownership isn’t the dream of retiring, unless retirees are your target.
  8. Make your social media expense make sense by following the rules of your communications plan. In other words, unless that is where your target demo is residing, then you may be wasting your time. Be present, but not a fixture when you know your target consumer isn’t there- you’re not missing anything, and it’s better to let your competitor waste their time unfocused.

This is not a complete list, rather I wanted to inspire you to plan. These tips are not easy to articulate, namely because every single one of you resides in a very unique area of the country. You’re hearing the crashing waves of buzz and change around social media, and what you should be doing, but I often wonder what your gut is telling you, and are you following it? If you’re in rural Indiana selling in the historical district, I’m wondering who are your buyers and sellers? And what’s the best way to engage them? I would think that living in rural Indiana, you might know a thing or two about that compared to social Joe living in Seattle, right? Weigh everything you hear against your own grasp on reality.

By having your communication plan solidified, your blog will have an endless supply of inspiration- you know who you’re talking to and what they specifically need to know. Your communications plan that outlines who you’re targeting, what your message is and which methods you’ll deliver the message is the starting point for all marketing. This is how the big boys do it and you can too.

The bottom line isn’t getting down to basics, it’s getting down to who you want to reach and how you reach them. Becoming all things to all targets in a market this slow will be the death of you. Do your homework, move for moving markets like short sales (if in fact they’re moving) and make sure your messaging follows what your consumer is desperately searching for- answers.

Benn Rosales is the Founder and CEO of The American Genius (AG), national news network for tech and entrepreneurs, proudly celebrating 10 years in publishing, recently ranked as the #5 startup in Austin. Before founding AG, he founded one of the first digital media strategy firms in the nation and also acquired several other firms. His resume prior includes roles at Apple and Kroger Foods, specializing in marketing, communications, and technology integration. He is a recipient of the Statesman Texas Social Media Award and is an Inman Innovator Award winner. He has consulted for numerous startups (both early- and late-stage), has built partnerships and bridges between tech recruiters and the best tech talent in the industry, and is well known for organizing the digital community through popular monthly networking events. Benn does not venture into the spotlight often, rather believes his biggest accomplishments are the talent he recruits, develops, and gives all credit to those he's empowered.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Anna Altic

    November 8, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Good good article Benn. Am working on my 2011 marketing and business plan this week and all of this is timely and critical. It seems rudimentary but I certainly have spent very little time over the last years thinking about who I want to talk to, where to find them, and how best to interact with them and I’m paying dearly for it. Some things I have learned about this recession are that clients won’t always grow on trees and that fact can either be an excuse to fail or a catalyst to growth. I’m always so grateful when someone can articulate incites to growth that I am feeling but not yet applying. Thanks again!

  2. hermanchan.com

    November 8, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    print this article out and put it above your work desk!

  3. Joe Loomer

    November 8, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    Outstanding tips! Lead with revenue! And my personal #1 – Never stop doing something that is making you money in favor of something that MIGHT make you money.

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  4. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 8, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    A simple “great post” is in order.

  5. Jerry Reed

    November 8, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Ben, Thank you for writing this. I learned from it.

    Lani, Thank you for threatening to kick my kittys to get me to read it.

    I got a lot out of it guys. So thank you again.

  6. Paula Henry

    November 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Great timing with an on target message! I am in the process of about all of this; rebranding, new website, revised, updated blog, targeted social media and a meeting every week for the rest of the year with my team to make sure they know our purpose and plan.

    You can not stand out when you try to blend in doing everything or being all things to all people.

  7. Ken Brand

    November 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Thanks Benn, I’m sharing this at this mornings Team Meeting. 2011 is on 51 days away – time to rise up.

  8. LesleyLambert

    November 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Sound, logical and easy to implement advice. I likes it.

  9. Seth Jacobs

    November 9, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    Perfectly timed post. I will share this will my real estate agents.

  10. bnix

    January 1, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Timely and effective message Benn, well said. I have recently been thinking a lot about Communication Architecture myself. I welcome your thoughts and critique of the latest evolution: bradnix.com/communication-architecture-evolved/

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Coaching

Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!

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magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Coaching

Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:

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short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Coaching

Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.

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Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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