BuzzRE: Internet Marketing Education for Realtors

About two months ago, the HomeQuest team put on a real estate educational event in Portland that I thought rock’d…  With four great speakers (Gahlord Dewald, Garron SellikenDavid Gibbons and myself) and some help from some local title reps, we brought together a few hundred agents to teach them about how they could improve their online marketing.

It was so much fun that I started pushing the team to create a similar event in Southern California…  and the team not only supported the idea, but everyone seems genuinely excited.  Assuming you’re a SoCal agent, then the only details you need to know are that we’re going to have the event on April 29th (9am to noon), it will cost only $20 and you can reserve your spot here: http://buzzreoc.eventbrite.com/

But for those that need more, here’s the catch… I want to improve upon the Portland event! And here’s my four ideas for how we can do that:

  1. Make sure we have even more great speakers!
    • We’re gonna have 8 formal presentations instead of 4… and a panel of 3 local agents who have successfully incorporated internet marketing in their business
  2. Make sure the presentation part of the day is extremely focused
    • We’re going to follow an overall structure that generally follows an Agent’s Work Cycle
    • We’re going to do it all in 2 hours, meaning each speaker will be giving approximately 15 minutes forcing them to focus on the stuff they find most important
    • We’re going to create one “overall” presentation so that we don’t spend time flipping between laptops/presentations and someone (in this case: me) is in charge of making sure the presentations will have a logical flow
  3. Make sure to include local agents who are actively generating substantial business from their internet marketing activities
    • So far, one local agent who has been rocking Facebook has agreed to be on the panel and I hope to announce the other two panelists in the next few days!
  4. Make sure the event is memorable!
    • For this, we’re giving it a fun name: BuzzRE OC  and…
    • We’re going to make sure it’s the most cost-effective educational event for every agent who attends.

So who’s involved?

Here’s the list of speakers as well as the tentative name of their presentations:

I’m convinced we can cover all of these super interesting topics in only 2 hours!   This means that we can plan for a solid 45 minute panel conversation with local agnets are doing interesting internet marketing and be able to wrap the whole event up in less than 3 hours!  As of right now, I have one panelist confirmed, one who has tentatively agreed and on the hunt for one more. The panelist situation:

  • Robin Milonakis:  who’s been rocking the Facebook world.
  • “Blogging” agent: I have a tentative agreement from an awesome blogger agent, but I don’t want to give her name until she’s confirmed
  • “AdSense” agent: I want one local agent who’s generates serious business from online ad buying to round the group out… If you have a recommendation for an appropriate agent, I’m all ears!

And please, please, please… If you have ideas for what we should cover in each section (or you have a better name for any of the presentations!), let us know!   In an ideal world, we’d be able to take the general presentation (from sphere marketing to lead generation to client management and back to sphere marketing) and bring it to many other parts of the country!   (Bringing in local experts where appropriate!)

I’m really hoping to create a can’t miss educational event for real estate agents and would love any and all help you can give in spreading the word. One more time, here’s the details:

Can’t wait to see you in the OC!

You’re probably paying too much for Google Ads!

Realtors: Have you ever had a call from a random sales guy that goes something like this?

Sales guy: “Hello, you already know how important it is to be at the top of google search results for “[your city] real estate”. Unlike some services that are auction based, I can get you there with for a flat fee of $XYZ [usually $50, $75, or $100].”

I’m pretty sure I already know the answer because when I asked this same question to a group of REALTORS yesterday during a presentation at a WCR event, more than half the hands in the audience of around 200 agents went up.

So here’s the deal… The only way to buy Google Ads (i.e. the ads that show up above the google search results), is through a “pay per click” (or CPC) process where Google charges for each time someone clicks on an ad. At least for ads that show up in search results there is NO way to pay Google a “flat” fee.

In every case I’ve seen of a company charging real estate professionals a flat fee for google ads, it’s ONLY because they know that the ads they are buying are MUCH cheaper than the flat fee they are charging you.   For example, if they know that “[Your City] real estate” is likely to cost them $15/month because they are likely to get 15 clicks that cost them a $1/each, then they might charge a real estate professional a  $50 “flat fee” to buy the ads for you.

In practice, this would mean that you’re paying someone a $35/month “service” fee each month and all they have to do is configure a Google AdWords campaign to run on autopilot.

Even worse (at least in this situation), Google lets the people who manage Google AdWords campaigns set a daily and monthly limit as to what they’ll pay, so the people providing you the service can KNOW they will never exceed the flat fee they are charging you.  When you pay someone a flat fee for your Google Ads, the odds are completely stacked in their favor!

Now, I probably wouldn’t have written this post, except after I mentioned this situation in my presentation I was surprised at the number of agents who came up to me afterwords just to confirm their situation wasn’t the “exception”.  I found no exception, but lots of agents overpaying for their Google Ads…

So, what’s the solution?

Buy your own ads on Google’s self-service backend called Adwords.    It’s really not that hard to set-up an ad campaign and even if you simply bought the same exact ad you’re now paying a flat fee for, you’d likely save  hundreds of dollars a year.   Not only that, when you start buying the ads yourself, you’re likely to be far more selective because Google gives you the tools (and the encouragement) to test out using different campaigns and see which ones are working best for you.

I’ve found that the main factors that determine how successful your AdWords campaign will be are:

  • The price you’re willing to pay per click
  • The keywords you target
  • The text you use on your ad
  • The landing page that you send people to

As I mentioned, if you manage your own ad campaign, google gives you all the tools you need (and many more) to experiment with adjusting all of these factors so you can find the ads that are most cost effective for you.

Add a Find-a-Member Tab to Your Facebook Page

Recently Gary Krysler asked if I could help add a “find a member” tab to the WCR Facebook Page. It was quite easy to do, and after seeing requests within the comment stream (as well as tweets) for something similar, I thought I’d give step-by-step instructions on how to do it for your organization. It’s really pretty easy and even someone with no coding experience whatsoever should be able to handle it.

Step 1: Create the graphic.

Staff from the WCR created this graphic, so they made my life super easy

Step 2: Upload the graphic to an online server.

If you have a blog, then the easiest way is to use the image upload feature of your blog to store the image online.

Step 3: Note the URL of the image.

In the case of the “find a member” image I uploaded above, the URL is: http://4realz.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/FindaMember.jpeg

Step 4: Note the URL of the landing page.

For the WCRs, the “find a member” landing page is: http://www.wcr.org/FindAMember/tabid/58/Default.aspx. Note your own landing page.

Step 5: Add the Static FBML application to your Facebook Page.

The static FBML plugin makes is super easy to add a new tab with text (and images) to your page. To add the app to your page, follow the above link and follow the simple instructions to add it to your page.

Step 6: Insert the appropriate code into the Static FBML application.

There’s no need to actually write any code here… It’s all cut-and-paste.

The process is pretty straight-forward. Navigate to your Facebook Page and click the “edit page” option. Then click the edit option for the FBML page. At this point you should see a screen that looks like a blank version of the image to the right.

Now just copy and paste the following code EXCEPT replace WCR’s image URL and landing page URL with the URLs you noted in steps 3 and 4.


<table width="450" align="center">
<tbody>
<tr>
<td>
<a href="http://www.wcr.org/FindAMember/tabid/58/Default.aspx"><img src="http://4realz.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/FindaMember.jpeg" alt="find-a-member" align="center" /></a>
</td>
</tr>
</tbody>
</table>

Remember to add a title (probably “find a member”), click “save” and you should have a new tab for your Facebook fan page!

Questions?

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to hit the “reply” button in the header of this post and ask a question.

I don’t think Jay Thompson has ever gon…

I don’t think Jay Thompson has ever gone on a boring rant, so it’s always interesting to see what gets his blood boiling. And when the topic at hand touches on the current meme of real estate agent professionalism, all the better!

Today it is that some North Carolina REALTORS who are protesting a new rule that protects homebuyers by disclosing compensation… Where Jay comes to the stunningly simple solution: “tell people what the costs are in buying a home, which includes agent/broker compensation and incentives – before they purchase a home.”

And if you missed Kris Berg’s take on professionalism, then run, don’t walk, to:

Impact of Social Media in the Luxury Market

Earlier today I got my hands on a survey that the Institute of Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM) did of their members around how they are using social networks.

institute of luxury home marketing logoOne of the reasons I really like this survey is that the number of emails and calls I get from luxury agents and brokerages has ramped up lately, and yet, I haven’t had a great source of data to at least anchor the conversation in terms of social media presence within the luxury market.  This survey will definitely help me jump-start many of those conversations.

ILHM asked their members questions like:

  • Which social networking websites do you use?
  • If you had to choose just one social networking site for the member networking group, which would it be?
  • Have you ever given or received a referral, or generated business via a social network?

The answers to these questions and more from the 473 members who responded can be found within their survey results document (PDF), but I’m gonna summarize what I think are some of the more interesting findings:

  • LinkedIn (30%) and Facebook (28%) about equally dominate the mind-share of luxury agents
  • Over 80% of the agents said they were using social networks
  • When asked where ILHM should have a member group, people were equally divided between LinkedIn and Facebook
  • 20% of respondents said they had generated business out of social networks
  • Non-real estate social networks like Twitter and MySpace didn’t register much interest, while ActiveRain was the only real estate specific site mentioned that had any real traction
  • The social networks offered by Zillow and Trulia didn’t even hit the radar on the survey.  I’m not sure if this is because agents think of Trulia and Zillow as search sites and the idea of Trulia Voices or Zillow Advice being social networks didn’t occur to them or because the agents surveyed simply aren’t using these services.

I’m a bit surprised to see Facebook register just as high as LinkedIn only because LinkedIn seems like such a natural fit for luxury agents, but with so much buzz around Facebook in the press lately, in retrospect I shouldn’t have been surprised.

I’ve been telling agents for a long time now that they should be using LinkedIn to market themselves (that article is over 2 years old already)… and that advice rings even more true in the luxury market where it seems like agents are often extremely concerned with their image.  Especially if you have years of experience, then you really have to try to look bad on LinkedIn.

And, by the way, if you’re looking for one more person to connect with on LinkedIn (or better yet recommend!), I’m always looking to connect up with interesting real estate people!

Update: I hadn’t noticed before posting, but John C’s comment prompted me to check out ILHM’s blog: Luxury Insight, where I see that they also posted information on the survey.

NAR is upon us once again!

As I write this on a Wednesday night, I can’t help think what a long week it’s been!   And yet, the week (and the fun) is just beginning.

Tomorrow morning I leave for NAR…. and it’s not until I hit Orlando that things really heat up.

First major stop:

Friday @ 12:30 I’m moderating a panel featuring  Teresa Boardman, Jim Duncan, Ines Hegedus-Garcia, Ginger Wilcox titled Driving REAL business with blogs.

I’m really excited about this panel! There’s a great group of people assembled with very different styles of blogging and I’m really looking forward to peppering them with questions.  The one warning I’ve given to the panelists is that I expect this to be an extremely fast moving panel and I’ve prepared a ton of questions that will let us get through a ton of information out of this crew!   I’ve prepared the panelists that we’re going to move fast and I expect to get through a lot   If you’re going to NAR, this is one of two can’t miss events!  😉

By the way, you might remember way, way back in the beginning of February when I first reached out via twitter to start assembling the panel.   It may be almost a year later, but that only makes it all the better to watch this panel come so close to fruition!

2nd Major Stop:

Sunday @ 11am, I’ve teamed up with Jeff Turner and Rudy Bachraty, to put together an “event” on Using Social Media to Engage Clients.

I don’t want to set expectation too high, but this is not going to be just another presentation…   This is going to be an event. We’re going to have a lot of fun and have plans to involve people from all over the country!

By the way, this presentation started with a simple blog post from CRT that I picked up and was so lucky to have Jeff and Rudy join me in taking on this adventure.  This presentation is going to be fun!

There’s more!

Jeff has tons of details on connecting with others within the social media space @ NAR.  Here’s some highlights:

Some great posts about NAR events:

And on the off chance you want to meet up with me in orlando, the best way to reach out is to connect with me on twitter!   Can’t wait for the fun to begin!

4realz Roundtable: Effect of FDIC/Treasury Actions on Home Buyers and Real Estate Industry

[NOTE: we had a wonderful show and you can listen to the entire episode at the bottom of this post!]

This week were going to cover the obviously hot topic of the effect of the actions taken by the government in bailing out and/or helping secure IndyMac, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae will affect the real estate industry.

This week’s guest is Lawrence Yun and as the chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS, Lawrence is sure to bring an incredibly interesting perspective.  He’s constantly traveling around the country talking with people about their local markets… and whenever he’s stopped by real estate technology circles, like trips to Portland and Virginia, he’s impressed the locals tremendously.

As always, you can get information on how to (1) listen to the call live, (2) take part in the live chat and potentially take part in the conversation by following the (relatively simple) information on the 4realz Roundtable TalkShoe page.  My guess is that this will be one of the more popular shows yet, so I’ll likely only be taking live callers based on folks who ask interesting questions in the chat room!

Also, in order to better accommodate Lawrence’s schedule, I’m moving the call to one hour later than usual.   The show will be on Thursday, July 17, at 5pm PST (8PM EST).     I definitely hope you can join us for a conversation on this timely topic!

UPDATE #1:

What an great show.   Thanks so much to everyone who took part!

Jonathan Miller, Jillayne Schlicke and Rhonda Porter really helped provide an excellent base for a roundtable discussion with Lawrence.   In our one hour conversation we covered so much ground… and I only wish I had the bandwidth to transcribe the whole thing (or even take better notes during the conversation!).

Nonetheless, we covered looked at how the real estate market would be affected by issues such as banks bailouts, freddie/fannie mac troubles, isues with jumbo loans, REOs, consumer confidence, government actions, sustainable housing, inflation, and much more!   If you’re interested in getting an in-depth look at the real estate market and where things are headed, then you can listen to the entire show right here:

[podcast]http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-20339/TS-128183.mp3[/podcast]

UPDATE #2:

There are great conversations going on about this topic on both Rain City Guide and ActiveRain. Also thanks to Jim Duncan, Ardell DellaLoggia, Jonathan Miller, Rhonda Porter and Tom Royce for helping to spread the word!

This Week’s Roundtable: Tech Tools to Serve Sellers Better?

[UPDATE: This edition of the 4realz Roundtable is now live and you can listen to it at the bottom of this post!]

As part of my hunt for new marketing tools for agents, I’d love to take on a relevant topic similar to how we took on tracking and analytics for agents last week.

With that in mind, I’m planning for Thursday’s discussion to focus on tech tools that help agents serve sellers better…. And here’s where you come in.   What types of technologies and/or tools should we cover?

Some thoughts that come to my mind include single property websites and listing syndication services… But I know there is more? What about tools that help agents get sellers to price properties more appropriately like Altos Research Reports?

I’d love to hear from you about the technology tools available to agents that can help them serve sellers better!   In particular agents, if there is some tricks or tips you’d be willing to share, I’d love to hear from you and potentially get you on the show!

Also of interest, I’ve started summarizing the relevant websites taken from our previous Roundtables on social networking, home valutions and analytics for agents within the Tool Shed!

UPDATE:

What an awesome crew we had on the call today:

If you’re an agent looking to increase your knowledge on how to use simple technology tools to increase your business, here are just some of the tools that were mentioned in the podcast:

Some great stuff!   Thanks again to everyone who took part!  For everyone else, you can listen to this edition of the 4realz Roundtable here:

[podcast]http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-20339/TS-124626.mp3[/podcast]