Do You Have a Niche?

Even if you’ve been in business for a while, from time to time you might find yourself struggling to feel “at home” in your career. We’ve all been there – going through the motions, making all the “right” choices, but you haven’t hit a comfort zone yet. If this sounds like something you’ve experienced, it may be time to identify your niche. In real estate, there are so many to choose from. And, while you may want to keep yourself available to a large audience, tightening your focus could unlock much bigger success.

From first-time buyers to seniors to luxury buyers and sellers, there are benefits to finding and developing your particular market. But where do you start?

Entrepreneur.com advises to ask yourself the following 4 questions for starters. Now, this is no quick quiz. They suggest taking a full hour to process each question, 15 minutes for each one.

1. What do you do best?

Make a list. What are your best talents and skills? Determine both what you do best – and what you don’t. It takes maturity and confidence to take an honest look at yourself and your business.  If there is something you don’t do well but would like to, is it worth whatever time and money it may take to develop the skill? It may be more beneficial for you to focus solely on what you already have.

2. What about your job do you enjoy the most?

With this question, your goal is to make sure that your heart and head are in the same place. You may be great at something that you don’t particularly enjoy. You may really enjoy something you aren’t particularly suited for. Your aim is to find that “sweet spot” where you heart and brain agree. Take a look at your list from Question 1 and rank your skills in order of most to least enjoyable.

3. What do people need?

Back to your list of skills – now take another look at determine which skills are most needed in your industry. If you’ve got a great skill that isn’t needed, it won’t do you or your clients any favors. Think about the questions your clients ask and the needs you see in your current audience – which needs can you match with your skills?

4. Where can you find the most financial benefit?

Consider the different niches in which you can see yourself. First time buyers make up a whopping 37% of the market while luxury homeowners are in at just 8%. Seniors make up 50% of the home buyers and sellers market. You’ll need to match your skills with the market and financial set up that brings you the most benefit.

With these 4 questions answered honestly, your niche should become clear to you, giving you the information you need to market yourself properly and reach an audience that needs you the most.

4 Great Ideas for Winter Blogs

We know December is usually a busy time for people, whether or not they’re in the real estate industry. Still, it’s no time to be getting lazy about business. To keep you on track, here are 4 great blogs you can write during the winter months to keep in touch with your clientele.

Holiday Activities

Depending on where your own interests lie, a post telling people where to find the most holiday cheer is a great way to connect. You can post anything from the best places in town to visit Santa Claus, best lighting displays, church service times, or places for ringing in the new year. A blog post like this does a couple of things for your business. It keeps your current clientele in the know, but will also rank pretty well in search results.

Winterizing

Here in Texas, winterizing your home takes on a whole new meaning. While people might not need to snow-proof their homes, there are good home maintenance tips you can offer during our colder months. Aside from that, there are plenty of things your favorite homeowners can be doing around their gardens.

Home Safety for Vacationers

We all worry about safety when we leave for vacation, so this is a perfect time to share some tips on how to keep things secure at home. You can do a little online research to find some great advice to pass on. This kind of post shows that you are truly invested in the well-being of your followers, friends, and clients.

Holiday Recipes or Decorations

Got a list of favorite recipes for celebrating? Or advice on throwing a great party?  Pass those tips on to family and friends via your website blogs. The more unique and “closer to home” the better. Let this be a great blog for telling a personal story about your grandmother’s famous cookie recipe, or your own family holiday traditions.

 

The Resource: December Social Media Plan

We often hear our real estate friends say they’re short on time and can’t handle regular posting to social media. So, each month, we collect a full month’s worth of posts for you to pass along to clients, friends and family.

The Holiday Season

A Clean Home for the Holidays in 5 Days (Houzz)
19 DIY Evergeen Christmas Decorations to Try (Shelterness)
14 Christmas Tree Alternatives (The Spruce)
6 Unique Ways To Decorate Your Front Door for the Holidays (The Spruce)
11 Easy Decor Hacks for a Stress-Free Holiday (HouseLogic)
The Lazy Homeowner’s Guide to Holiday Decor (Realtor.com)

Texas Living

The Made In Texas Gift Guide (Texas Monthly)
For $250 Million, You Can Buy T. Boone Pickens’ Panhandle Ranch (Texas Monthly)
Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
15 Songs That Embody the Texas Spirit (Wide Open Country)
Texas Meals You Have To See (and Taste) to Believe (Texas Hill Country)

Around The House

Bring More Life To Your Garden (Texas Home and Garden)
5 Subtle Ways to Add High Tech to Your Home (Texas Home and Garden)
Organize Your Bedroom Closet (Better Homes and Gardens)
13 Things That Are Grossing Out Your Guests (Realtor.com)
The Most Genius Home Tips of 2017 (House Beautiful)

Decor Inspiration

Green Velvet Shines in these Enviable Rooms  (Houzz)
15 Coolest Industrial Chandeliers for your Home (Shelterness)
Smart and Stylish Ways to Decorate Empty Corners (The Spruce)
Trend Alert: Floral Walls Are Out. Floral Chandeliers are IN. (Better Homes and Gardens)
Watch for these Decor Trends in 2018 (House Beautiful)

Buying And Selling

How Tax Reform Will Affect Mortgage Deductions (The Mortgage Reports)
Forecasts Predict Boosts in Housing Inventory in 2018 (The Mortgage Reports)
18 Staging Tips To Help Buyers Fall In Love (HouseLogic)
This Paint Color Can Increase The Value of Your Home by the Thousands (Elle Decor)

 

Business Planning In December

As business slows down for the holidays, you may be looking forward to a little rest and relaxation. Taking the time to rejuvenate is crucial to staying energized throughout the year. However, if you’re up for it, the downtime may be the perfect time to work on your business.

Plan It Out

Take a look at the past year. What has worked for you? What hasn’t? Have there been any missed opportunities? As you look ahead to the new year, think about what you can get down on paper now to ensure success. Make sure you have holiday mailings, promotions, and events scheduled out with notifications and reminders so that you don’t miss a single thing.

Resolve

Where would you like your business to be this time next year and what can you do to set things in motion? Make New Years Resolutions for your business. What would help you the most? Attending more networking events, hitting a milestone sales number, or growing your team are all good places to start.

Holiday Greetings

We all know the importance of sending holiday greetings through the mail, but a quick, in-person stop can make a big difference for a special client. Take the opportunity to let them know you see them as more than just a business connection.

Party Time

Host a neighborhood gathering to let your neighbors get to know you a little better. We all prefer doing business with people we know and like. If you’re always talking about your business, this could be a chance to meet others on a new and personal level.

Live Giveaway

Hold an online contest for your social media followers. Who wouldn’t want a little extra money at the holidays. Give away a prepaid gift card to one of your followers for a store or restaurant via live Facebook video. Even better, promise to make the contest a monthly feature of your business. Watch your audience grow with the chance to win!

Look Ahead

What can you do this month to prepare for January? Are you sending out New Year’s postcards? Celebrating other fun holidays like National Pie Day or Strawberry Ice Cream Day? Find some fun ways to include your clients and prospects in New Year fun.

Follow These 7 Tips for Holiday Networking Success

Whether or not your work has slowed down for the holiday season, we all know the party and networking opportunities are all closing in on you! The season provides some of the best chances to meet, greet, and generate leads that you’ll see all year.

To make the most of the celebrations, here are 10 Tips For Surviving Holiday Networking Events.

  1. Accept Invitations When You Can
    With a busy holiday calendar, you may be inclined to turn down a few opportunities. While you want to maintain some balance, take advantage of the gatherings as a way to make friends and follow up with your existing connections.
  2. Play Host
    Create positive associations with your colleagues by hosting your own party. Others will see you as an influencer and point of contact in their own networking and business journey. Of course, when you take on the role of host, you have an opportunity and responsibility of connecting others. For each person you invite, consider who you can invite as a party counterpart for your guest.
  3. Don’t Forget The Greeting Cards
    There are so many online services for creating your own greeting cards. These services are so easy to navigate (Shutterfly, VistaPrint, and Pear Tree are just a few) that there’s no excuse not to recognize your clients and colleagues with a quick note. Don’t miss out on your peripheral contacts. Go through your business card file and get those cards in the mail!
  4. Be Prepared
    Holiday parties seem more relaxed than other networking events, but it’s still important to bring along business cards and a schedule, if you use something other than your phone. You want to be ready to schedule follow up meetings in the new year!
  5. Know What To Talk About
    Obviously, politics is off the table! But have open-ended questions prepared to keep the conversation flowing. “Tell me about your holiday plans…” and “What are your New Years’ Resolutions?” will carry you much farther than “Are you ready for Christmas?” And always remember that putting the focus on others is a great way to earn favor in the eyes of your colleagues.
  6. Send A Thank You Note and “Share” The Love
    Always, always, always follow up with a thank you to the host or hostess to let them know you had a wonderful time. If the event isn’t a private one, post pictures to social media and tag your host and colleagues. This is a great way to help grow their network and paint you in a positive light.
  7. Don’t Overdo It
    Relax and enjoy yourself, but know what your limits are when drinking is involved. Remember that these parties are still professional events. You can still be the life of the party without sacrificing any important relationships!

 

Are You Blogging? Make a Good Blog Better With These Tips!

We are living in a magical time. In a world full of platforms to showcase your knowledge and skill, you no longer have to wait for someone to recognize your expertise – you can declare it!

You may have heard it a million times, but writing a blog is a great way to set yourself apart from your competitors and establish yourself as an expert in your field. But when it comes right down to it, blogging takes time – our most valuable luxury. The idea of adding one more thing to your daily tasks is almost impossible to think about.  However, with a small time investment and a good roadmap to getting there, creating good content isn’t so impossible.

Get A Good Title

It would be nice if we could make people click on blog posts and read great content, but we have to draw them in with a strong headline. One of these 5 starters may help:

  1. Make A List: 10 Questions To Ask Your Real Estate Agent
  2. How to: How To Style Your Home On A Budget
  3. Question: What Does A New President Mean For The Housing Market?
  4. Controversy: You’ll Never Believe What’s Inside This House
  5. Numbers: This Step Will Increase Your Home’s Value By 5%

Focus On Your Intro

When you’ve got great content to share, it might be hard to think of a way to get started. You don’t want to jump too quickly into information. It will create a dry blog. Instead, use an opening sentence that builds curiosity. Ask a question of your audience, challenge an idea, or be a little silly to keep them reading. With blogs, like any form of social media, the tone should be light and conversational, not journalistic and stuffy.

Write Your Outline, Then Fill In Content

Once you know what you’re going to write about, jot down a simple outline to get your thoughts organized. This makes sure that you don’t leave out important information or get carried off on a tangent. Once your outline is solid, start filling in your ideas. Search engines grade posts on their readability, among other factors. Keep sentences short and break the content into small paragraphs. Your total word count should be around 400-600 words.

Link Where You Can

Your blog also grabs more attention from search engines when it links to sites with similar information. If you’re citing a source, add the link to the original material. The more connection your post seems to have with other relevant sites, the higher you’ll appear in search results.

Add Some Visuals

Pictures break up the content for your reader, but they also add weight to your search engine results, especially if the picture file names relate to the information in your blog. For example, if you’ve written a blog titled “5 Problems You Shouldn’t Overlook When House Hunting” and including a picture of a home, double check the file title and make sure you change it if necessary. A picture of a home titled “new-home.jpg” will get a lot more mileage than “image00159.jpg.”

Writing A Great Blog

Publish And Promote

Congratulations, your blog is looking good! But wait! How will anyone know it’s there? Make sure you share your content to social media to help drive visitors to your website. You can also send the link out in your next email blast, forward it to a client who may have asked about the information you’ve posted, or share it in a variety of other ways. The point is, if people don’t know it’s there, they may not go looking for it on their own.

Brand Your Business With 4 Easy Questions

Creating a solid business brand may seem like a simple task, but using your business’s logo, colors, website, print materials, policies, and style should be done with lots of consideration. Your branding includes anything that sends a message to the world about who you are, what you do, and what they can expect from you.

As you consider your brand, or if you’re ready to rebrand your business, answer the following questions to get a better idea of how to move forward.

Who Am I Serving?

If you’ve been in business for a while, think about the clients you’ve had in the past year. Is there a common thread when you think about age, income level, location? What is it about your business that pulls in your current clientele?

Who Do I Want To Serve?

Are your current clients your ideal clients? If not, there is a disconnect between who you want to be and the message you’re sending your customers. It’s time to decide if your business goals or your message are off-target. If you are successful with your current market, it may be a better decision to stay put!

What’s My Brand Personality?

What role do you want to play in your clients’ experience? Are you an Expert or a Friend? A Lifesaver or a Problem Solver? Regardless of what your personal style is, the language on your website and print materials should match. If you’re interested in helping first-time home buyers, stay away from formal language and too much focus on your designations. If you’re ready for a luxury market, those same elements are necessary!

Am I Sending The Right Message?

The visual elements of your brand – imagery, font, shapes, etc. – tell your story. Soft lines are nurturing and personal while sharp corners give a more corporate feel. A clean, serif font can give a luxurious feel while a bold, modern font could be great for marketing to millennials. Color plays a big part, too. Reds are aggressive and powerful, shades of blue call to mind focus and balance, green is associated with wealth and gray and black give a serious and high-end feel. Does your current visual brand telling an accurate story?

Are You On Track? Conduct Your Own Social Media Audit!

Whether you’re just using Facebook regularly or handling your business across many social media profiles, a regular audit of your social media presence is important. An audit for your social media pages is like getting a tune-up at the garage – you can learn a lot from regular review, and know when it’s time to make a change.

Audit Checklist

Here are the steps you need to take as you audit your pages.

Make a list of all of your social media profiles.

Include the following items on your list:

  • The social media network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
  • The URL
  • Your profile name and/or description
  • Number of followers, connections, fans, etc.
  • The date of your most recent post or upload activity

Once you’ve got your list together, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I using this platform regularly? If not, do I have time to start using it regularly?
  • Who am I trying to reach on this account?
  • What are my goals for this account? More followers? More interaction? Lead generation?
  • Are my competitors on this platform?

If you aren’t using or able to use the platform regularly, or if you’re using it regularly without reaching your target market, it might be time to cancel the account. Your list will give you a good idea of what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to cancel or deactivate an account that isn’t getting you anywhere.

Do A Consistency Check

Are the logos and descriptions the same for each page, so that your followers can easily identify you? Though each social media platform has its own tone – LinkedIn, for example, is much more formal than Instagram or Twitter – you want your branding to be consistent across all pages. This gives your audience a clear idea of who you are and what they can expect when they do business with you.

Do a URL/Username check. If you’ve got a strong presence on one platform, you want it to be easy to find you on another. Change your profile names and URLs if you’re able, so that all area consistent.

Follow Up Regularly

Now that you have an idea of what your pages look like and the attention you’re giving to them and getting back from them, check in periodically. Once a month or so, update your list and compare it to the previous one. Are you posting more? Are you engaging more? Is your following growing? Make adjustments as needed and keep checking back until you see some positive movement – then you’ll know you’re on the right track.

 

Remember, social media is a great tool if you use it well. You get what you give – so give it lots of attention, keep an eye on your progress, and you’ll see results in no time!

 

3 Ways to Ask for Testimonials – and 4 You Should Pass Up

Building your credibility in the real estate world is easy – as long as you have some strong testimonials to help. Because word of mouth is such a strong influencer in the marketing world, testimonials are as good as gold. People tend to ask their friends and neighbors for advice before beginning a search for a professional to work with.  Depending on your communication style, some of your past clients may send an email or letter full of praise without even being asked, and others need reminders or a little encouragement. It doesn’t have to be awkward – here are some tips on seeking out testimonials without the discomfort!

 

What To Do
  1. End your client experience with a survey. You can make one on your own or use a third-party service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to facilitate your request. This puts the emphasis on the whole experience rather than solely on your skills and personality, but still achieves your goal. When users can send in a testimonials as a quick answer on a survey, it makes their job easier.
  2. Use what they’ve already said. In your time working together, chances are good for finding a line or two in your email correspondence or text messages that would be perfect to feature as a testimonial. But make sure you reach out and request your client’s permission to use their words. Text messages and emails are considered private, so you want to make sure you’re not offending past clients by using their words out of context or without their knowledge.
  3. Ask with a compliment. When reaching out for a testimonial, let the client know what led you to them. Try “I wish all my clients were as great to work with as you have been – would you consider writing a testimonial on our experience together?” or “Your opinion means the world to me. Can I send you a form to fill out for my testimonials page?” The emphasis here is on your own pleasurable experience as well as seeking out some kind client words. Also – most people love reciprocity and will respond to compliments with some of their own.

 

Of course, it’s important to respect your client’s time and schedule when you approach them with a request. At all costs, avoid:

What Not To Do
  1. Last minute requests and too many reminders. Asking for help at the last minute disregards their own needs and priorities. And it’s important to keep in mind that most people these days are busier than they care to be (especially so if they’ve recently moved and have to deal with unpacking, changing schools, etc.) Respect their time.
  2. Making them commit on the spot. Ask casually or via email to avoid discomfort in case your perception of the transaction doesn’t match your client’s. Give them time and space to consider your request.
  3. Waiting until you need a testimonial. Ask at the end of a transaction, when your client’s experience is freshest in their mind rather than waiting for the next time you freshen up your website or social media.
  4. Writing a statement for your client. If they don’t have time to write a testimonial, they simply don’t have time. Don’t put words in their mouth or add the pressure of speaking on their behalf.

 

Most importantly, don’t miss out on the benefits provided by testimonials because you’re afraid it will be awkward or uncomfortable. Use the above methods and your experience should be pain free!


SOURCES:
https://www.freshbooks.com/blog/5-non-icky-ways-to-ask-for-testimonials/ http://www.switchvideo.com/2015/03/23/5-things-not-to-do-when-asking-for-a-customer-testimonial/ https://placester.com/real-estate-marketing-academy/how-to-get-real-estate-testimonials/

The Resource: November’s Social Media Guide

We often hear our real estate friends say they’re short on time and can’t handle regular posting to social media. So, each month, we collect a full month’s worth of posts for you to pass along to clients, friends and family.

The Holiday Season

5 Decluttering Projects To Help You Get Ready for the Holidays (Houzz)
15 Simple Thanksgiving Centerpieces (Shelterness)
Bring Farmhouse Touches Into Your Home for Thanksgiving (The Spruce)
Thanksgiving Hosting Hacks (Better Homes and Gardens)

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
How the World Series Finally Vindicated Astros Fans (Texas Monthly)
15 Songs That Embody the Texas Spirit (Wide Open Country)
Texas Meals You Have To See (and Taste) to Believe (Texas Hill Country)

Just For Fun

DIY: Make a Fresh Magnolia Wreath (Houzz)
The Top Travel Destinations of 2018 (Elle Decor)
Peek Inside the Homes of 23 Classic Hollywood Stars (Veranda)
Home Decor Ideas for People Who Love Their Dogs A Little Too Much (Realtor.com)

Around The House

What To Store in the Laundry Room, And What You Shouldn’t (The Spruce)
Composting How-Tos (Better Homes and Gardens)
The Ultimate Stain Removing Guide (Better Homes and Gardens)
Garden Trends for 2018 (HGTV)
Garage Organization Ideas That Will Give You Your Parking Space Back (House Beautiful)
A Tightwad’s Guide to Getting Organized (Organized Home)

Decor Inspiration

15 Cool Shared Spaces Where Kids Can Study (Shelterness)
Stunning Ways to Redecorate the Dining Room (Good Housekeeping)
Natural Fall Decorating Ideas (Real Simple)
Unexpected Patterns that are Perfect for Fall (HGTV)
Luxurious Headboards for a Dreamy Slumber (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

The Problem with Tiny Houses That No One Talks About (Elle Decor)
10 Home Maintenance Myths Costing You Time and Money (HouseLogic)
Should I Bail After A Bad Home Inspection? (The Mortgage Reports)