|The Pond Report -- February 2012
Dear Valued Subscriber,
While Facebook and Twitter are important tools, they are not the only social media that real estate professionals can use for business success.
Rainmaker Beverly Shanahan tells how she uses a wide range of online tools to generate leads and sales. The Corcoran Group' director Matthew Shadbolt uses social media to strengthen search results. And learn about a fun, new virtual pinboard that may be an effective social media tool!
Other tools such as cloud computing and VoIP can help your office reduce expenses, and new tech tools can increase your efficiency as well as impress your clients.
Additionally, we help busy real estate pros keep their sanity and their marriages with information on combating burnout and on learning how to mix work and play.
All this and more, in a jam-packed Pond Report! We send you our love ...
Susie Hale, President/CEO, eFrogPond Inc.
| Valentines Roses
| 2012 Tech Trends to Impress Clients and Increase Efficiency
TruliaPro Blog has highlighted four
tech trends from the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show that real estate
professionals will love.
favorite? The Wi-Fi-enabled cameras/camcorders from Kodak and Sony. The new
Kodak Easy Share M750 will be available in April, and allows you to send photos
and videos instantly to your computer, blog/Facebook or e-mail. The Sony
Bloggie Live, a high-def pocket camcorder, has built-in Wi-Fi capability and is
read the entire post and learn about on-the-go charging, thin ultrabooks and
smartphones, as well as more versatile gadgets, click to “4
Tech Trends to Watch in 2012.”
| 8 Tips for Reducing Office Operation Costs
real estate brokerages look to cut costs, the promises of technology are
finally beginning to make a real difference. We’ve heard for years about the
death of the “bricks-and-mortar” real estate office, where all home-selling
would be virtual. (Inman News’ Real Estate Connect conference in New York City
featured a session on “Operating
a Virtual Office.”)
reality has been somewhat different. Yes, agents work out of their homes as
they have for years – and they often meet clients at Starbucks rather than in a
brokerage conference room. However, offices are still being built and leased –
even if top producers may not get as much square footage as in the past.
with cloud-based applications, other technology tools, and some ideas you’ve
never thought of, brokers and their agents are finding new ways to cut costs
both large and small. Here are eight tips:
Remote desktop applications
Most of us have a PC or laptop at home. But you have to be mobile when you’re
meeting buyers and sellers. YourOfficeAnywhere.com
taps the power of cloud computing to solve your information and communication
needs wherever you are. It is a comprehensive technology solution for meetings,
scheduling, data storage and more, all in one central and mobile location, says
the article, “4
tech solutions to help your business realize its New Year’s resolutions.”
Your entire workspace can be pulled up from any digital device with a simple
online login – and there’s nothing to download.
article also suggests a look at Wunderlist, which can be
created directly from your e-mail inbox and used on any computer or mobile
device. It has an “elegant simplicity” that simplifies your scheduling and
organizes your life.
real estate technology tip #3 touts another solution, RememberTheMilk.com, for task
management. It’s a free service that ties into Gmail as well as Google Calendar
and sends alarms via text or e-mail for task deadlines.
Dump the landline at the office
Most 20-somethings wouldn’t take a home landline as a gift. So consider
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) as an online phone service instead of an
office landline. Get the scoop on benefits and drawbacks in “Cheaper Phone
Calls for Small Business,” another About.com article. Vonage, AT&T and
other companies provide VoIP solutions.
Maybe buying more filing cabinets isn’t the solution. Maybe a scanner and hard-drive
storage is. Filing all important paperwork on your computer makes it easier to
find – and saves money and trees versus printing. At the same time, it’s crucial
to back up online via a service such as Mozy or Carbonite to ensure your data’s safety.
Bookkeeping in the cloud
A free online service, Xpenser, does
simple accounting for your real estate business. Writer James
Kimmons loves what the service does to keep track of commission income,
real estate fees and dues, education expenses, office expenses, marketing and
Voice-to-text conversion via phone
Ever called your assistant to write down something important? Or had to
pull off the road to compose an e-mail? There are several voice-to-text
services available for iPhone (Dragon Dictation),
for E-Mail), Android (FlexT9) and other
AT&T mobile phones (AT&T
Voicemail to Text).
Alternative business location
If your brokerage office can’t go totally virtual, then explore an alternative
place or mode of business. Ditch the walls and even the cubes for counters
where agents can set up a laptop for a quick check-in.
Consider looking for a non-traditional
office location such as an old gas station, vacant retail space or an old house
(zoned appropriately of course). This strategy might be very cost-effective in
markets where there are numerous commercial vacancies.
Or follow the lead of Austin brokerage, the GoodLife Team, which located in East
Street View). An Inman Innovator Award winner, broker Krisstina Wise planted her office far away from the high-end West
Austin market – and helped boost the east-of-I35-market for young Austin buyers
who are comfortable with being “urban pioneers.”
Buy used/refurbished furniture and
If you’re not a high-end broker with a fat wallet, you might consider going
with used furniture for your office. This About.com
article also notes eBay can be a source for furniture – but use caution. We
would add that Craigslist is a resource to consider, but be careful with it as
| Using Video to Boost Your Business’ Success
as a form of content for your social media and content-marketing efforts has
reached must-have status,” said
B2Bbloggers.com editor-in-chief Jeremy Victor in a recent article.
was analyzing a SmartBrief on Social
Media question about businesses
incorporating video elements in their social media. He noted the Pew
Research Center found 71 percent of online Americans use video-sharing sites
such as a YouTube and Vimeo, up from 66 percent a year earlier.
also noted 75 percent of busy executives
watch work-related videos at least weekly.
But nobody will watch it … it’s expensive
In a post about the top 5 video-marketing
Brick Marketing says creating and posting videos provides your business with
more opportunities to target specific keywords – improving search engine
But thinking no one will watch your video or
that it has to be up to Hollywood standards are myths that need to be busted. “A
marketing video needs to be professional looking, have proper sound and image
quality, and provide value,” said Brick Marketing, noting there are numerous
free or inexpensive editing programs available that can get the job done.
One brokerage using videos effectively to
get its marketing points across is The GoodLife Team in Austin, Texas.
The 2010 Inman Innovator award winner, the team’s approach can be exemplified
by its Dec. 10 blogpost, “What I Hear About
Downpayments While at the Grocery Store Is Just Plain Wrong!”
The article rebuts the consumer idea that
homebuyers now need a 20 percent downpayment to get into a house. Following on
that juicy headline and a hard-hitting story about buying a home with as little
as 3 percent down, The Goodlife Team also includes a 2-minute video about its
buyer stimulus program. Nothing fancy – just two guys talking in the
brokerage’s office, with a simple music background and a clean opening and
An earlier Pond Report
gave examples of Houlihan Lawrence and Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty,
two New York brokerages who use videos for community profiles and testimonials,
How to get started in video
So how do you get started? One resource is
the article, “The B2B Marketers
Guide To A Brilliant Video Strategy.” Now get out there and shoot a video!
| Corcoran Group’s Shadbolt Using Social in a Whole New Way
Corcoran Group, a high-end real estate brokerage headquartered in New York
City, recently won Inman News’ 2011
Innovator Award for the Most Innovative Real Estate Social Service.
was innovative? Matthew Shadbolt,
Corcoran’s director of interactive product and marketing, used Foursquare to place
2,000+ insider comments (“tips”) about New York restaurants and attractions for
users all across the city.
why would a luxury real estate firm do that? Shadbolt says it’s all part of the
firm’s philosophy that what a client looks for in a property is more than just
what’s inside. It’s “going beyond the four walls.”
says it’s a way for Corcoran’s agents to translate what’s inside their heads
about the city’s neighborhoods to a social tool that surprises a potential
client – likening it to having a concierge service. Shadbolt explains how the
firm uses Foursquare in this entertaining
Using social media to make search results
Over the short run, one might not see a
connection between a Foursquare tip on the Shake Shack and selling luxury real
estate. But for food-obsessed, time-crunched New York City residents, finding
the best and fastest deals on great cuisine is a daily task.
And when you see those Foursquare comments
showing on page #1 of Google search results, you can see the long-term effects
of this social media strategy – to make Corcoran’s search results stronger.
Because you see, there is no MLS in New York
City. When buyers want to look at apartments or other homes, they usually start
on the New York Times Website to
begin their search – ending up on a brokerage Website soon thereafter.
“We’ve never had the assumption we’re going
to sell property or generate leads inside of social media [Facebook, Twitter],”
says Shadbolt in a video interview at the January Real Estate Connect (at 7:30 mark).
(The interview was made about an hour before
Shadbolt’s presentation about trends in social innovation. Ignore the few
comments in Dutch at the beginning and view an excellent 18-minute interview of
an industry visionary.)
“Where social media becomes important is
what happens inside of search results … Trulia, Zillow, New York Times,” says Shadbolt. “As people experience our social
media presence across seven or eight different platforms, we have fun with
them, and we help them, and we share insights and information over a long
period of time.”
The company credits the innovative social
approach to direct, positive results across search engines in those listing
syndication portals. “This strategy ultimately drives more people to use
Corcoran’s products online,” says Shadbolt.
So how can YOUR company or YOUR team use
social media to amp-up your marketing profile?
| Staubach Featured at May REAL Trends Gathering of Eagles
Roger Staubach was not just a
Heisman Trophy winner and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
11 years with the Dallas Cowboys, Staubach entered the commercial real estate
industry, forming The Staubach Co. Over the years, he grew the company to 1,600
employees serving more than 3,000 clients from 70 North American offices.
July 2008, The Staubach Co. merged with fellow powerhouse Jones Lang LaSalle,
where he currently serves as executive chairman of Jones Land LaSalle Americas.
a legend both on the football field and in commercial real estate, Staubach is
in demand as a speaker, and will headline the May 2-4 REAL Trends Gathering of Eagles. This prestigious annual event, to be
held at the Dallas Four Seasons Hotel, is for senior managers of top real
estate firms, REALTOR® associations, national franchises, relocation firms and
will follow soon! For more information, contact email@example.com
| Rainmaker Interview
Beverly Shanahan is an agent with an
incredible lineup of online tools: Website, blog, Facebook, Breaking News
Network site and the Housing Trends
eNewsletter. Learn how those tools work for her success and how she uses image to set her apart.
Shanahan’s Rainmaker Interview.
| Creating a Winning Online Strategy
University’s School of Professional Development and Continuing Education brings
five of the top minds in real estate education for its Webinar Summit on
Webinar features Stacey Harmon, Bill Lublin, Kim Wood, Todd Carpenter and Amy
this powerful summit, you will learn the most effective systems and strategies
used to sharpen your Facebook marketing strategy,
as well as how to become the online expert and trusted advisor in your sphere
also will discover the power of Google+, how to build a powerful referral
network, and how to leverage the power of social media to generate online
The complete package for all five
sessions is only $19.95! Click to register today for
the Jan 31 Webinar Summit
and use the coupon code “RUWSF12” to save $5.
| Essential E-News
10 apps of 2011
Technology expert Kim Komando did
a year-end roundup of the 10 best smartphone
and tablet applications. And it’s really MORE than 10, since she has listed the
20 best iPad apps, 10 Verizon iPhone apps, apps for traffic navigation, apps to
slash your cellphone bill and more. P.S. There are more “Top 10” list links on
the bottom of the page!
iPad apps for your presentation
Nick Morgan from Forbes loves the
iPad for presenting because it’s light, fast, easy to use and relatively
crash-free. So what’s working for him right now: Keynote, Print Central, Office
HD, Noteshelf, Promptster Pro and more. Click for his full list of best
iPad presentation apps.
gains and your home sale
Would you be surprised to know just how many people STILL think they have
to buy “up” on every house to get a tax break? The law changed in May 1997, but
real estate professionals still have to explain about the current per-sale
exclusion rules. Click for an excellent article from
Bankrate.com about capital gains from home sales.
inventory way down at year’s end
According to the Wall Street Journal,
fewer homes were listed for sale at the end of 2011 than in any of the previous
four years. Get the scoop on the *hopefully* good news: “Housing Inventory
Ends Year Down 22%.”
burned out? There’s help
I’ve seen it and it ain’t pretty. Agent burnout. Someone who’s a great
agent and top producer, but who hasn’t taken care of herself. There’s a way out
for your co-worker or yourself: click to “6 Secrets to
from TV’s use of Twitter
The TV experience is becoming more social as viewers tweet and respond to
talk shows, news and reality TV from their sofa. Twitter is part of the
changing landscape of communication and marketing – transforming commerce,
mobilizing political movements and spreading news in real time, says Jeff
Bullas in “4 Ways Twitter is
smallest frog discovered in New Guinea
A team of U.S. researchers has found a ¼-inch frog that may be the
world’s tiniest vertebrate, says the BBC.
| Pinterest Is Perfect Social Tool for Real Estate Pros
Another social media tool, Pinterest, is hitting the
news, and this one is beginning to be carefully used by
Pinterest is an online bulletin- or
pin-board where you post or “pin” and share pictures of things you like (Mashable’s
guide to Pinterest). It’s perfect for fashion, food and cute pets – as well
as home décor. Most of its users are female (70 percent) and most are under 45
years of age.
What makes Pinterest “social” is that you
follow others who have similar interests to yours, such as: architecture,
wedding & events, kids, food & drink, hair & beauty, and gardening.
For real estate? The article, “7 Creative Ways Your
Brand Can Use Pinterest,” suggests an agent could create a “board” of a
property listing with photos of the property and surrounding areas. Then you
can add photos of possible improvements that could be made to the home by
either the seller or the buyer.
“By creating a board of all these items a
viewer can quickly and easily see just how amazing the house is (or can be),”
said the Search Engine Watch article.
Check out the 49 Pinterest boards created by
Better Homes and Gardens. Scroll down to
“Welcome Home” (or click here), and get ideas for
your own Pinterest pinup!
| Make Social Media Work for You
Get retweets of your content: 11 tips
HubSpot Blog is an amazing
resource! In the article, Get others to
retweet your Twitter posts, HubSpot gives 11
tips that guarantee your tweets will be retweeted across the social media
universe. Learn how to promote your blogposts and more.
Remember “all I ever needed to know I
learned in kindergarten?”
Play by the rules – use your indoor voice – be kind to others. Childhood
rules can help you succeed today! Click for 5 social media rules
you learned in kindergarten.
Keep your Facebook page from being hacked
Here are some REAL ways to keep your Facebook account from falling into the
wrong hands. Be smart (actually, tip #6) and use these specific tips to make
your FB page as secure as it can be.
Forming a book club is like strategizing
The four activities you must do to organize a book club are the same you
must do in the social sphere. In other words, businesses must have a firm grasp
of what their audience wants to get out of following them in social channels.
Read this intriguing HubSpot
for the details.
Keep your FB business-page “likes” happy
It’s great to get another “like” on your Facebook business page. But your
readers will “unlike” you FAST if you do one or more of these four common
things. Click to “Bad for Business: 4
Poor Facebook Habits.”
Getting your page content in the FB News
Facebook has changed its algorithms and that’s been tough news for many
Facebook Business Page administrators. (Have you noticed content has disappeared
from many of the pages you “like”?) Click for 6 great tips for
creating News Feed-worthy content.
Social media beyond Facebook and Twitter
If you’ve thought you can’t generate a sale or lead from social media
because you sell a product (homes) with a high relative cost and long selling
timeline, think again. A recent article on using social media
for complex B2B sales
has some excellent ideas real estate professionals could use.
| 10 Steps to Organize Your Office
than 7,800 people have read this article.
Why? Because it has the potential not just to enhance your organizational
habits … it has the potential to enhance your business success as well as your
click to “Ten
Steps to Organize Your Office” by our friend Sue Pistone and start making 2012 a better year!
| Use Humor to Open Hearts and Minds
by Dianna Booher
In our presentation
skills workshops, a frequent question our consultants receive is this: “When is
it okay to use humor in a business or technical presentation?” Answer: Almost
question: “How do you define humor? And where do you position the humor so that
it works best?”
Humor, whether in a
presentation or a conversation, doesn’t necessarily mean a joke or one-liner.
In fact, jokes rarely work.
If you’ve already
heard them, assume that others have as well. Having a sense of humor simply
means the ability to see life in a light-hearted way. Those who see everything
as a matter of life-and-death wear a permanent frown and make those around them
ill at ease.
humorous quotations, witty comments overheard on the street, a cartoon quip, a
visual, a prop, a facial expression or gesture added at the appropriate moment
–these are the humorous touches that work best after you’ve established rapport
with your colleagues.
Your willingness and
ability to “lighten up” can be invaluable in positioning yourself as a
confident person, comfortable in unscripted situations.
You have permission to reprint this marketing tip in your publications.
Please include the following Resource Box:
©2012, Dianna Booher. All rights reserved.
FrogPond offers you FREE 1 Minute Housing Market Report. Agents Sign Up HERE for your personalized e-Newsletter.
To request information about 1 Minute Housing Market Report,
royalty-free articles and/or publishing software, call 800-704-FROG (3784) or
e-mail Susie@frogpond.com today.
| Work on Your Honeymoon? No! Work on a Vacation? Maybe
writer Bruce Schoenfeld figured he could make some money on his Italian
honeymoon by writing about some of the restaurants he and his new bride planned
to visit. Luckily, he decided the idea was “pathetic.”
when busy real estate professionals finally take some time off to be with their
families, they often spend way too much time checking e-mail or handling deals
on the phone.
lists three rules he follows to fit work into a family vacation:
fun means you’re missed less
family a vested interest
also lists three great locations to successfully combine family and function …
but you’ll have to read the Entrepreneur
story, “When to Mix Work and
| 30 Quick e-Mail Etiquette Tips
by Marsha Egan
Hey – don’t just read these, rate
them 0-5 on how well you follow them, 0 being stinky, and 5 being fabulous.
- Be concise. ‘Nuff said.
- Get to the point. Place your main point, request, or
question in the very first sentence of your message.
- Spell check. Proofread. Make sense.
- Use proper layout.
- Use a readable font in a size that is easy to see.
- Avoid stationery that takes a large amount of megabytes
- Use the person’s name, either in the greeting, or in the
body of the message.
- Keep language gender neutral.
- Avoid text lingo (oops, I mean language.)
- Use only abbreviations that are well known.
- Avoid emoticons and smiley faces.
- Avoid long sentences.
- Use active vs. passive voice.
- Answer all questions, and anticipate future questions.
- Include the important points of the message thread.
- Clean up forwarded e-mails. Either delete unnecessary
verbiage or highlight the important points.
- Use detailed subject lines to help your recipient quickly
understand the focus of your message.
- For very short messages, use the subject line as the
message, ending in EOM (End Of Message) to let them know not to open the
- Avoid writing in ALL CAPS. It is viewed as “shouting.”
- Use the high priority option only when it is truly high priority.
- Use the words “URGENT” and “IMPORTANT” sparingly, and only
when it is true.
- Use ‘Reply all’ only when every person in the distribution
really needs to receive the message.
- Avoid sending e-mail messages when you are emotional.
Regardless of how you try to mask it, people will “feel it.”
- Never forward messages that are off color, offensive,
racist, or obscene.
- Don’t forward chain e-mails, or e-mails threatening you if
you “don’t forward in 24 hours.”
- Copy ONLY the persons who really need to receive the e-mail.
- Avoid using e-mail to provide “constructive criticism.” It
is never taken positively. Those conversations should be done in person.
- Avoid using BCC to rat out your co-workers. It turns YOU
into the rat.
- Avoid using e-mail to “discuss” issues among several people
– the threads become diffused, and the content is difficult to follow. Call a
- Avoid sending urgent e-mails. If you need a response in
under 3 hours, visit or call.
Marsha D. Egan, CPCU, PCC, CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., http://inboxdetox.com Marsha is a certified executive coach and
professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and workplace
productivity. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
| Websites to Share
Keep track of
passwords: KeePass and RoboForm
big thanks to Amy Chorew for telling
us about these online tools to remember and organize all our passwords!
KeePass is a free, open-source password manager
that helps you manage your passwords securely. RoboForm has several price points, with a license
for all your computers and multiple devices that’s only $9.95 for the first
year. You may also download a free trial.
Misplaced your cellphone? WheresMyCellphone.com
Don’t ever again go crazy trying to find
your cellphone! Instead, enter your cellphone number on this handy Website and
listen for the ring. It’s free and it’s invaluable!
Home & garden reviews: ConsumerSearch.com
January is the best month to buy items such
as appliances and bedding, but this Website is a wonderful resource for you and
your buyers and sellers – all year long! It contains home and garden product guides for items such as
grills, vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, circular saws and more.
(Flickr photo by wwwworks)
| Take Charge of Your Speaking Environment
by David Greenberg
I sat in the audience at a conference recently, at least a dozen times I heard
the same complaints whispered repeatedly: “I can’t see the speaker,” “I can’t
see the slides,” “I can’t hear her,” “I’m freezing!” After working hard
preparing and practicing your presentation, don’t leave your speaking
environment to chance. Here are a few tips to help you plan:
Tip #1: Learn from the theater
Use two side aisles rather than a center
aisle, and angle the side sections toward the stage (“Chevron” style). Angled
rows allow participants to see more easily as well as see others in their own
row. It increases comfort, networking, laughter and learning. Straight rows
bleed energy from a group.
Tip #2: Request a Stage or Riser
If there are more than approximately 50
people in the audience, people in the back rows may have trouble seeing you.
When they can’t easily see you, they will stop paying attention. You can
request a riser – a raised platform on which to stand. The extra foot or two of
elevation makes a huge difference. Make sure the riser is wide enough for you
to move around comfortably.
Tip #3: Force people to sit near the front
Bring a roll of masking tape or some rope to
block off the last rows of chairs and force people to sit toward the front. A
scattered audience brings scattered results! If anyone asks why the seats are
blocked, tell them they are reserved for the wedding party – they’ll smile and
Tip #4 - Eliminate the “moat effect”
Just because someone decided to set the
first row of tables or chairs 15 feet from the stage doesn’t mean they actually
had a good reason for doing so. It certainly wasn’t done to help you connect
with your audience. Request that the first row of seats be set close to the
stage (about 5-7 feet away) so you can connect better with listeners.
Tip #5 - Get people to move forward
Asking people to move forward once they are
seated is less likely to yield results than asking them for a kidney. The
secret to getting those front rows filled at this point is to first say, “Would
everyone please pick up all your things and stand.” Once everyone is standing,
add, “Would everyone now move two rows forward.”
This works because you’ve overcome the
bigger challenge of getting comfortably seated people to stand up and the
entire audience is involved.
Tip #6: Arrive at least one hour early and
check the “SALT”:
S = Seating arrangement
(See suggestions above)
A = Audio-visual equipment (Do you
know how to operate everything? Does it work? Did you do a sound check? Do you
have a backup plan just in case?)
L = Lighting (Where are the
switches? Can lights be dimmed? Do some light bulbs need to be unscrewed? Try
T = Temperature (Where is the
thermostat? Can you adjust it or is it locked? Who do you call if it gets too
hot or cold?)
Reprinted with permission from David Greenberg’s Simply
Speaking, Inc. 1-888-773-2512 or 404-518-7777. http://www.davidgreenberg.com
© David Greenberg’s Simply Speaking, Inc.®
You have permission to
reprint this marketing tip in your publications. Please include the following
©2012, FrogPond. All rights
reserved. FrogPond offers you FREE 1 Minute Housing Market Report. Agents Sign Up HERE
for your personalized e-Newsletter.
To request information about 1
Minute Housing Market Report, royalty-free articles and/or publishing software,
call 800-704-FROG (3784) or e-mail Susie@frogpond.com today.
Hugs, The Frog
Susie Hale, President
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