Autumn is the time to reflect and make the marketing and sales changes you need to finish the year on a positive note! Especially in this tough housing market that demands excellence and innovation to succeed.
This issue of The Pond Report provides invaluable tools for your success: in communications, social networking, advertising, technology ... and even taking good property photos. We also answer questions that give a little help to both your strategic and creative thinking skills.
Remember to contact us with information about your Webinars, seminars and other events.
Also remember, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Make sure you or your loved ones are protected -- schedule a mammogram this month! Go to "Web Sites to Share" for a link to the FDA Mammography Facility Database, which is searchable by ZIP code.
Building customer loyalty is just as hard as building a customer base. As your company moves into the online realm, there are several keys to knowing whether your customers are engaged and loyal. Click here to learn five essential tips from a customer-experience management expert.
1.e-Mail is efficient. It’s quick, easy to use and conserves time.
2.e-Mail gets through. You can reach busy, powerful people who won’t ordinarily take or return your phone calls via e-mail.
3.e-Mail has become the publicists’ most powerful tool. Sending short, gentle reminders helps publicists balance the need to continually follow-up and the danger that in doing so they might alienate important media contacts.
4.e-Mail gets right to the point. e-Mail etiquette encourages brevity and precision.
5.e-Mail allows for Quick, Clear Messages.
6.e-Mail can contain links to your Web site or other sites.
7.e-Mail lets you transmit bulky files instantly.
8.e-Mail delivers even when unread. When recipients don’t read their e-mail, they usually check to see what came in and who sent it. The subject line on e-mail inboxes provides a small space in which you can convey the gist of your message. It keeps you on the recipients’ radar, even if they don't open your mail.
10.e-Mail is a versatile marketing tool. It’s ideal for sending newsletters, fliers and other promotional materials without incurring the costs of printing and mailing.
11.e-Mail domain names can promote your business. Invest in a domain name that includes the name of your business.
12.e-Mail signature files are the equivalent of letterheads on stationary. Make sure to include your contact information in your signature file.
13.e-Mail demonstrates you’re firmly in the 21st century.
14.e-Mail shifts the cost and burden from senders to recipient.
15.e-Mail has revived the lost art of letter-writing.
The ultimate e-mail wish
The only thing worse than saying something you regret is writing something you regret. How many times have you wished you could retrieve or edit sent e-mails? Even e-mails that have already been opened?
Well, there is a new program out there that can change the face of digital communication, called Bigstring. The service converts e-mails to HTML documents and stores them on a secure server. Recipients receive a message with an embedded link that connects to that secret Web page.
Since mail stays on the server, senders can access their messages to edit or erase them. http://www.bigstring.com/ lists the full capabilities of the program as well as offering a free 10-day trial.
Reprinted from "Rick Frishman's Author 101 Newsletter.” Go to http://www.author101.com and subscribe for his “Million Dollar Rolodex.”
A common question. Just log in to Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. You can report what you’re doing to the whole world.
Many leaders, owners and managers thrive on “getting things done.” Their satisfaction comes from “doing.” But the best leaders take the time to reflect and ask, “What am I really accomplishing?”
They understand there's a difference between doing and accomplishing.
If you’re like many leaders with whom I work, you may be so busy “doing” that your vision gets blurry. You lose sight of the road. If so, return to some of the basics of goal-setting.
Take a couple of minutes to reflect on the following:
1. WHAT you want to accomplish.
Set the timeframe that works for you. You might start by determining what you want to accomplish this week, or this month.
Describe the outcomes or results you want to see … the impact you want to make. Do you want to identify a new market? Open a new business relationship? Secure a new project? Express your desire in the form of a goal.
For example, if you manage a team, it’s tempting to think one of your goals is to lead a team meeting this month. But perhaps the real goal is to engage your team, to build stronger accountability or to improve team communication to better serve your clients. The meeting is one possible means.
2. WHY you want to accomplish your goal
Test the priority of the goal. How important is that goal in the context of other goals or priorities? If it’s not toward the top of your priority list (assuming you have one), why are you spending time on it?
While you can’t always work on top priorities, be aware when you’re not focused on them. Avoid seemingly small distractions that can turn into major disruptions and take you off track for too long.
In some businesses, deciding what kind of coffee to order for the office overshadows more important priorities.
3. HOW you’ll achieve your goal
Slow down. Think through your options. You do have them. It’s easy to make quick assumptions about what you think you should do.
For example, one client spent hours trying to create the perfect PowerPoint® presentation to impress a prospect. He agonized over the number of slides, font size, etc. In retrospect, he realized he should have been spending more time researching the needs and goals of the prospective client, and building the relationship.
Depending on your goal, you might consider other people’s ideas and input. On the other hand, at times there may be too many cooks in the kitchen. In the end, you have to go with your gut.
What should you be doing?
1. Assess what you’re accomplishing through an objective lens.
2. Clearly visualize your ultimate destination.
3. Determine the milestones you want to achieve along the way so you can avoid veering off the road.
4. Learn and improve as you go.
And if you’re a leader, help those you lead do the same!
Reprinted from “WorkMatters Tips,” a free e-zine produced by Gayle Lantz featuring tips for leaders and executives who want to grow themselves, their team and their business. To subscribe, click here. And to order Lantz’s book, Take the Bull by the Horns: The Busy Leader's Action Guide to Growing Your Business ... and Yourself, click here.
You have permission to reprint this marketing tip in your publications. Please include the following Resource Box:
A new study may be a serious “wake-up call” to marketers, finding that two out of three Web users don’t want targeted ads.
The MediaPost blog, The Daily Online Examiner, summarized the crucial points of the new study where 66 percent of the 1,000 Web users rejected tailored ads. In addition, 57 percent said they didn’t want tailored news stories and 49 percent said they didn’t want customized discounts.
“Tellingly, respondents indicated they viewed online tracking as a threat even when done anonymously,” said blogger Wendy Davis.
Davis noted executives at ad networks often say consumers would accept behavioral targeting if they viewed it as the price of free content. However, researchers reported respondents said they don’t want to be tracked even for free content.
The authors of the report are professors at the University of Pennsylvania’s AnnenbergSchool for Communication and the University of California, Berkley, School of Law. They offer suggestions for making targeting more palatable, including letting consumers wield more power over the type of data gathered.
“Even the most enthusiastic privacy advocates aren’t looking to shut down commerce,” said Future of Privacy Forum co-chair and director Jules Polonetsky. “They’re looking to drag some of this into the sunlight.”
In a recent article, Cristina Bolling of McClatchy Newspapers cited real estate Web site Zillow as saying that online listings with at least one photo were likely to be viewed 41 percent more often than listings with no photos.
Today’s image-intensive marketplace has put a premium on listings with good photos – and they can be few and far-between. FrogPond writer/editor C.J. Yeoman, a former public relations director for a Houston real estate brokerage, knows that first-hand.
“My agents used to bring me the worst photos,” said Yeoman. “Many of our office’s listings were located in neighborhoods with a lot of trees, so homes were just hidden in the shadows. I started taking pictures on my own just so our Sunday newspaper ad would look its best.”
Bolling cited Charlotte, N.C., professional real estate photographer Jim Schmid and Lyn Briggs with the Allen Tate Co. for these tips:
Use a flash – even if you don’t need it, force it to work. It will make the room look brighter.
Take exterior shots when the sun is shining. If the picture is still dark, lighten the exposure by pushing the exposure-compensation button (the one with the +/- on it).
Keep the image level and straight. Shooting upward on a house will distort it. Get on a stepladder or shoot from across the street.
Avoid glare on the lens. Use an umbrella to avoid sunspots.
Get a tripod. Otherwise some rooms are going to look crooked. If you must shoot without one, lock your elbows to your sides.
Use a wide-angle lens. You’ll get more of the room in the picture.
Avoid things that date the images. Don't take pictures when there is snow on the ground or there are holiday decorations.
Don’t be stingy with images. Include photos of the front and back exteriors, kitchen, living room, family room, master bedroom, and any other area that might be appealing to a buyer.
For additional information, click to this excellent July 2008 article from REALTOR® magazine. Or click here for a detailed booklet written for members of The Institute For Luxury Home Market (for online viewing only, not for distribution).
Learning first-hand the result of being named one of Stefan Swanepoel’s “most influential real estate people on Twitter,” Marc Davison of 1000Watt Consulting suddenly gained new followers by the hundreds.
“This got me thinking about the various Twitter strategies offered to agents and the crowds of people they’re coached to follow, tweet to and ultimately try to exert their own influence upon,” said Davison. “I also wondered why, exactly, these agents chose to follow us.”
He talked with Swanepoel and learned the list was a takeaway during a live presentation as a starting point for agents and brokers to follow.
Davison then called Joe Fernandez, founder of Klout, a service that measures influence across the social Web. Fernandez used a metric he calls “True Reach” to represent the number of followers who care about people’s tweets.
“Care” is defined by actions followers take, such as retweeting or engaging the tweeter in conversation on his or her post.
Long story short, Davison said it’s clear that the best path toward building influence is to attend to a sound methodology and strategy regarding who you follow on Twitter, as well as what you say, how often you say it, and how much value you bring to multiple communities.
Click here to read Davison’s entire post on his “theory of influential relativity.”
Marc Davison is half of the creative genius behind 1000Watt Consulting. For the FrogPond.com “Industry Visionary” interview of Brian Boero, the other half of the company’s genius, click here.
Women, Teens and Seniors Fuel Spike in Mobile-Web Use
Web visitors using a mobile device increased 34 percent year-over-year, from 42.5 million mobile Web visitors in July 2008 to 56.9 million in July 2009, according to The Nielsen Company.
Overall, growth among the 13-17 and 65+ age groups outpaced the growth of the total mobile Web audience, with a youth increase of 45 percent and seniors surging upwards 67 percent in July.
While men continue to make up a larger portion (53 percent) of mobile Web users versus women, the growth of female visitors outpaced the growth of male visitors during the month.
Nielsen said more men were early-adopters of the mobile Web, but now the technology is more mainstream. “Women are quickly embracing the benefits as connected consumers, tapping the convenience of Web access on mobile phones to network, browse the latest shopping deals and get ideas for dinner, all while on the go,” said Nielsen’s Chris Quick.
by Ron La Vine, MBA, President, Accelerated Sales Training Inc.
In an issue of Training and Development magazine, I found an interesting article on “Distance Coaching” by Daniel A. Feldman, president of Leadership Performance Solutions. I discovered that many of his suggestions applied to coaching as well as to the sales arena.
Here are a few of the points you may find very useful in your selling situations.
The approach of a good sales rep
A good sales rep is deliberate and prepared, has clear goals and takes the time to plan out the outcome they would like to have happen at the end of a call.
A good sales rep makes the selling process mutual by allowing for a balanced give and take and by being available and accessible through a variety of channels.
When sending an e-mail or leaving a voice mail, offer different ways to reach you such as “You can reach me on my cell phone at 818-519-1408, that’s 818-519-1408 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Note, when leaving your phone number, be sure to SLOW DOWN and leave your area code and phone number twice and a good time to reach you. The same applies to when you are recording your e-mail address.
Slow down and spell it out
The first time you say something, the person may need to grab something to write with. The second time allows them to write it down and ensures they have it correct.
How many times has someone left you a voice mail and sped through it so fast you had to replay it over and over again? You don’t like it and neither do your prospects or clients.
A good sales rep strives to be an effective communicator tries to understand the buyer's situation and communicates with flexibility. For example:
·“Help me understand. So what you're saying is ___, correct?”
·“If I heard you correctly, you said ____. Is that right?”
A good sales rep is always looking for opportunities to provide additional value and service. A good sales rep builds an “easy-to-do-business-with” environment encouraging additional sales over time.
Writing an e-mail
A good sales rep states clearly the purpose of the e-mail in the subject line or in the beginning. A good sales rep includes a summary of past and present situations and a request for action steps in the future.
A good sales rep takes time and gives thought to what he or she is writing.
A good sales rep goes back and reads aloud what he or she has written to ensure there are no errors and that the tone of the e-mail comes across as non-threatening or aggressive.
Note: if your e-mail is important, follow up with a quick phone call
to be sure the e-mail was received rather than
using an e-mail return-receipt-requested.
Facilitating an effective conference call
A good sales rep asks everyone to speak their name before they speak and clarifies who is speaking, especially if the conference call includes people in multiple locations.
A good sales rep pauses regularly and asks for comments. A good sales rep asks for feedback on the topic or asks if the meeting is on topic. A good sales rep asks for everyone’s participation by asking each person by name to comment and then summarizes what was said.
A good sales rep requests input from quiet participants. The phrases “Tom, what do you think?” followed by “That makes sense” or “Good thinking” are ways to encourage quiet people to speak up and share.
A good sales rep takes notes of everything and circles key points, concepts or repeated words.
A good sales rep makes an effort to use those repeated words and concepts in the future as part of the conversation, demonstrating he is listening and understanding what is important to the participants.
Note: asking permission to record the conference call up-front
and then offering to provide a copy the tape or a summary
of the conversation will ensure you don’t miss any of the details and
enable you to focus on directing the flow of the call.
Listening your way to success
In summary, take advantage of these communication tips and you’ll find yourself listening your way to more sales, better client relationships and much larger commission checks in less time than ever before.
Ron S. La Vine, MBA, President and founder of Accelerated Sales Training Inc., has been in sales and sales management for over 35 years. Accelerated Sales Training specializes in working with business-to-business salespeople – both inside and outside – who conduct cold calling over the phone into the Fortune 500 and large organizations such as local and state schools, universities, hospitals and local, state and federal government.
What is a visionary? When we hear mention of such a person, it’s often in the context of talking about great deeds, brilliant insights and inspiring notions. Most of us, if called a visionary, would accept it as a compliment.
But what if someone said that you were often overtaken by impractical ideas, or that you seemed governed by the supernatural? That you were childish or foolish?
If you look in your dictionary, these are some of the meanings you’ll find under the word “visionary.” And that’s exactly as it should be.
Children are masters of vision, imagination and inspiration precisely because they’ve not strangled those gifts with so many rules about what’s “normal,” acceptable or silly. They easily “make pretend,” create and envision.
Vision is inseparable from impracticality; it’s fueled by creativity and inspiration, and in turn fuels and inspires others.
After all, if a thing was highly practical or utterly ordinary, it wouldn’t be very visionary, would it?
Vision is inspired, as if by a source outside of our “business-as-usual” ways of thinking. Vision is the ability – or perhaps gift – to look beyond the ordinary and past the obvious, and imagine what might be possible.
Our innate genius requires that we create space for vision, inspiration, and creativity to arise and self-organize. Indeed, vision, imagination, intuition, and inspiration are what some would call “Divine Gifts” available to us all, if we but open to and allow them to move through us.
Visionaries “see with their other eyes” and “hear with their other ears,” and are connected to a source of inspiration much higher and greater than their “smallest selves and minds.” Visionaries light the way into higher and greater potential and possibilities.
IvySea celebrates the visionaries and “inspirationaries” among us, and offers tools and ideas for inspiring the visionary in you. Jamie Walters is the founder of Ivy Sea, offering programs for those who can benefit from stronger, clearer vision or more-effective communication messaging. Click hereto check out her Vision-Incubator program and for contact information.
You have permission to reprint this marketing tip in your publications. Please include the following Resource Box:
100 Interesting and Influential People in Real Estate
Sept. 21 saw the release of a new Real Estate industry watch list from Stefan Swanepoel: the “100 Most Interesting and Influential People in Real Estate.”
The first part of the list has a host of new names and faces, while thesecondpart of the list has industry leaders who are a bit more recognizable. Those included in the list should feel honored to be mingling with the likes of Sherry Chris, Brad Inman and Marc Davison.
This is simply another indicator on the importance of having an online presence.
Social Media is an evolving creature whose growth is unlimited. Five years ago a huge percentage of marketing dollars was spent on branding in what we call traditional mediums (i.e., billboards, print ads). But with creative minds like those making the list, we see how easy it is to build substantially profitable relationships.
It has long been an industry standard that real estate professionals should be spending about three hours a day working and generating leads. What would their results be if they spent that same amount of time each day working on their online presence? Would they see themselves evolve into the top 20 percent of the industry? Maybe so.
Now, social media is crucial to any business plan, but there are other places online that need consistent attention.
Having a personal Web site, being included in general directory listings and real-estate listings directories, having banner advertising and issuing press releases are other components all real estate professionals need to incorporate into their business and marketing plans.
If you do not have a written business plan, do it today. Our days are full of interruptions and we need that plan to keep us on track. In his recent “State of the Industry Address” in New York, Realogy’s Alex Perriello said failure to do a business plan is a major mistake of the typical real estate professional.
Those making the “100 list” understand the value of each of these components. They spend the time to create an online brand presence. It can be overwhelming, but take it one step at a time and eventually you will find yourself with a growing online brand.
For more information on social media and creating an online presence contact Michael D. Harris Jr. email@example.com (717) 592-0106.
Watching some of the town meeting meltdowns over the President’s proposed healthcare plan, I'm reminded of the importance of structure in persuasion.
To be more specific: When you present an idea to your boss, your staff, your colleagues, your clients, or a partner, should you present all sides of an issue or all options to solve a problem with objectivity – or only your point of view?
If you expect your audience to be either positive or neutral toward your idea/plan, present only your alternative. Overview the idea based on your criteria for a good solid solution, state the action you want, and provide the details to take the action.
If the group asks questions and wants more options, you can then follow up with a more thorough analysis. If they don’t want to hear other options and trust your judgment based on criteria they've agreed with earlier, then you'll not waste their time on the “also-ran” alternatives.
If you expect a hostile audience, one biased against your plan from the beginning, present all sides and options of an issue, along with the pros and cons of each alternative.
When chances are great that the group will hear other options and arguments from other sources before they make a decision, you’ll create the extra credibility of being thorough, open, and objective about all the facts and alternatives.
Structure should be a conscious choice – not a second thought.
You have permission to reprint this marketing tip in your publications. Please include the following Resource Box:
Have you ever been next to someone using the same cell network as you but getting much better reception?
Texas REALTOR® Focus says the disparity in reception could be caused by different phone types, but it could also be due to outdated firmware on your device.
Firmware runs your phone’s basic functions, and keeping it current can help with network connectivity as well as fix bugs and add features. Visit your phone manufacturer’s Web site for firmware updates or call your network provider.
It's National Cyber Security Awareness Month and you need to think about your passwords. Why?
These days, you have attackers coming at you from every angle. You need to make sure you use strong passwords because criminals aren’t just targeting banking passwords. They also want your e-mail and Facebook passwords.
Fortunately, Microsoft has a tool to help you determine password strength as you type. Just enter your password to see how strong it is and you can see how making simple changes improves password strength.
Good news: social networks aren’t going to kill off e-mail any time soon. In fact, heavy users of social networks actually spend more time e-mailing than those who don’t participate as much, said Nielsen.
Homebuyers losing bargaining power
A U.S. News & World Report article says the strong summer selling season has led to a decreasing difference between the last listing price and final sales price. The stats come from Zillow but the analysis comes from the magazine.
5 sure-fire ways to fail at social marketing
Businesses that want to engage and interact with consumers via social networking can boost their brand’s awareness. But Helen Leggatt of BizReport says there are five clear ways to meet with disaster.
iPhone and smartphone users using what apps?
Facebook is hot among iPhone users; Twitter users prefer computer access; BlackBerry® users download few apps. Curious what smartphone users do and prefer with their phones? Click here for new data.
Hedge your bets on popular social networks
Remember a couple of months ago when Twitter went down? If you’re depending on free social-networking sites for your business marketing, Adam Singer has a better idea. It’s crucial!
Looking for mortgage money to buy and renovate?
Learn why the feds are trying to get the word out about the FHA 203(K) Loan Program. Eligible buyer-occupants can get funds to both purchase and renovate a home – and there are lots of foreclosed homes out there that need work.
Podcasts target commercial real estate professionals
Hear an intro to the NAR Annual Conference presentation, “How to Generate Leads for Commercial Real Estate Transactions.” REALTOR.org features a number of invaluable podcasts for commercial specialists: click here.
Do you want to double your sales quickly? Master-level CRB instructor and author Carla Cross is presenting an Oct. 15 Webinar by the National Association of REALTORS.
Participants will grasp new tools for their sales toolboxes and receive a 7-point action plan to immediately put to use what they learn.
Click here Eastern Daylight Time (). As a bonus, Cross will provide a free coaching session to all “live” attendees after the event – a $300 value.
>St. Louis hosts The Telephone Doctor at Oct. 21 special luncheon
Learn what it takes to be great and have lunch with St. Louis’ top business owners at a Wednesday, Oct. 21 luncheon at the St. CharlesConvention Center.
Keynote speaker Nancy Friedman, The Telephone Doctor, will share “The 7 Best Characteristics of a Successful Company,” and 39 of the area’s top businesses in 13 categories will be honored. For tickets, call (314) 569-0076 or click here to purchase online.
The Pond Report is published monthly by eFrog Pond, Inc. Our corporate address is 101 Westcott, Suite 102, Houston, TX 77007. We never rent, trade or sell our e-mail list to anyone for any reason whatsoever. If you received this newsletter from a friend and you'd like to subscribe FREE to The Pond Report, click here. To unsubscribe or notify us of change of e-mail address, click here.
The information in this newsletter represents the views of the author and/or contributing authors and their interpretation of events. No responsibility is accepted for accuracy, profitability or legality.