Boost Your Business By Tapping Into Your Creative Side

There’s so much more to success than having a strong sense for business. When you’re running a business, either large or small, creativity is a crucial skill. By honing your creative skills, you’re allowing yourself the freedom to find inspiration more easily, adapt to new environments, and think outside the norm to find good solutions to common problems.

But listen – if the idea of getting more creative in your business scares you off, you’re not alone. Not everyone feels naturally inclined toward artistic pursuits. The good news is, you don’t have to be. There are plenty of ways to use that right side of your brain that aren’t as scary as you think.

Start With A “Brain Dump”

A brain dump is a great way to get started, especially if you don’t describe yourself as a creative person. Think of a problem you need to solve in your business. Grab some paper and pens (or your laptop) and just write out every single thing that comes to your mind in association with the problem at hand. Write, draw, or type your flow of thought for as long as you can handle it. A good brain dump will get out all your ideas – good and bad – and help clear your mind for finding a solution. Along the way, you might find some inspiration for other areas of your business and life.

Take A Walk And Pay Attention

Creative thinking doesn’t have to involve paintbrushes and crayons. Take a 20 minute walk around your office or home and pay attention to spaces, patterns, and textures. Consider why certain things capture your eye. Do you tend to appreciate symmetry or things that or off balance? Do you like vibrant colors or muted tones? If there’s something on your walk that you find visually off-putting, what would you change?  Another great benefit of a walk is that it gives your mind a chance to wander. On idle, your brain may be able to find solutions or ideas that phones and computers and other distractions can prevent.

Take A Class

If you’re feeling a little gutsier about creativity, consider signing up for a class in something you’ve always wanted to do. Cooking, painting, dancing – there are so many opportunities to try something new. Think of it as exercising a new muscle and see where your new activity can take your mind.

Just Go For It

Creativity isn’t about being perfect. It’s about trying something new, opening up your mind in a different way, and personal growth. If you’re looking for some more creative inspiration, take a look at this great list.

 

More Reading:

Creativity in Business: 4 Tips to Tap Into Inspiration and Innovation

 

These 5 Phrases Are Hurting Your Credibility

Anytime you meet a new client, or even a colleague, you want to make a great first impression. Here are a few commonly used words and phrases you probably want to avoid. These phrases make you sound like you have less experience than you do.

“I Don’t Know”

None of us have all of the answers all of the time. But by replying to a question with “I don’t know” make you look uninformed and less than capable. Instead, let your clients know what you do know. Try “I can tell you that…” or “Let me confirm some things before I answer that question.” Even “I want to have more information before I give you an answer on that” is a completely honest answer that lets your clients know you’re on their side.

“Is That OK?”

This question sounds like you’re not sure if you’ve given the right recommendation. Instead of looking for reassurance, try “Let me know what you think of that.” It puts the ball in their court without sacrificing your knowledge and confidence.

“Very ________”, “Extremely ________”, Etc.

Remove unnecessary words from your language. Remember the scene in Dead Poets’ Society where Robin Williams’ character says “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted.” Remember this rule and find a better word for what you’re trying to say. OR eliminate the excess words altogether and simplify your statements.

“My schedule is wide open.” or “Let me know what time is convenient for you.”

Admitting that your schedule is empty is a sure sign that you might not have all the business you need or want. Instead, offer windows of time, like “I could meet you on Tuesday or Thursday morning” and see what they reply with. If the time doesn’t work, they’ll let you know and you can open up another time slot in your schedule to meet.

“I’m sorry.”

It’s time to stop apologizing for every little thing. If you find yourself apologizing frequently, it could point to a lack of judgment of your own capabilities. If you’re often late on deadlines, try giving yourself a larger window when you’re able. And if you’re just trying to get “sorry” out of your vocabulary, try substituting it with “Thank you.” As in, “Thank you for your patience,” instead of, “Sorry I’m so late.” This simple switch puts the opportunity to be gracious in your hands and makes sure you aren’t constantly appearing to seek validation.

Add Value To Your Brand With These Three Things

 

Setting yourself apart from the crowd in the real estate industry is no easy task. The industry changes daily and staying on top of the competition can be a frustrating and never-ending pursuit. However, there are a few things you can do, and keep up with easily, that will help your clients, both current and prospective) feel good about working with you.

Build Community

Clients want to see that you are both invested in your community and an expert in your field. Taking measure to build and strengthen local groups helps achieve both of these results. We’ve written before on how creating a Facebook Group like a neighborhood forum can help your business grow. Using social media to connect a neighborhood, a group of like-minded people (like pet lovers, local hiking and running enthusiasts, etc.) is a fantastic way to network and to help others see how invested you are. But it’s not the only way. Here are other ways you can build community in your area:

  • Host a neighborhood happy hour in your area
  • Put together a block party in your subdivision
  • Sponsor an area trash clean up
  • Take a leadership position on your Homeowner’s Association board
  • Join or start your own MeetUp

Offer Free Resources

Show your potential clients that you’re not only in this for the commission. By offering free resources, you’re showing goodwill, but you’re also increasing the likelihood for reciprocal engagement and turning leads into clients. There are plenty of things you can offer without spending money. EBooks are a popular offering – easy to create in your free time or during a business lull, and offered as a free download via your website. You can pick from a variety of topics, but stick with something that interests you. Consider some of the following topics:

  • Staging Tips For Selling Quickly
  • 10 Things To Do Before Your Home Goes On The Market
  • Neighborhood Guide for your city’s most popular areas
  • School Information
  • Best Outdoor Activities in your city
  • Free Family Fun Activities

Partner With A Charity

By partnering yourself with a non-profit organization you care about, you’ll be doing good for the community. It’s also a great differentiator and a way for people to learn more about you and what sets you apart. Some ideas for partnering with charities include:

  • Hosting a food, clothing or toy drive at your next open house
  • Sponsor a family in need
  • Have your office participate in Habitat for Humanity

7 Brand Archetypes – Which One Are You?

Do you know your Brand Personality?

Brand Personality describes human characteristics that can be associated with your brand. These traits are things your customers can relate to. Just as our friends are a reflection on each one of us, so are the businesses and services we choose to patronize. A successful brand personality is one with which others are proud to be associated. Each brand has a personality, regardless of whether or not you’ve given it serious thought. As long as you have one, you may as well give it a deliberate look.

Brand Archetpyes

One way to find your brand personality is to consider traditional character archetypes. There are 12 archetypes, or models of behavior, throughout storytelling, and these same archetypes can be applied to brands. The question here is, “What role does your brand play in the lives of your customers?”

The 12 archetypes of branding are:

  • The Traditionalist: Sometimes known as “The Innocent”, Traditionalist brands offer their customers a pure and simple way of life. Marketing campaigns are just as simple as the brand promise. Companies offer transparency and moderate pricing.
    • The Promise: To make life happier, simpler, and better.
    • Traits: Optimism, goodwill, and loyalty
    • Examples: Folger’s, Dove Soap, Real Simple Magazine, Coca Cola
  • The Hero: Hero brands promise to save the day, improve the world, and inspire others to follow their example.
    • The Promise: To make a positive mark on the world and solve problems, or help others to do so.
    • Traits: Courageous, bold, confident, inspirational
    • Examples: Duracell, Tom’s, PETA
  • The Everyman: These brands find common ground with the consumer, tapping into our need for belonging and cultivate real relationships.
    • The Promise: To help others find a place to belong.
    • Connections, functionality,
    • Traits: Supportive, down-to-earth,
    • Examples: Home Depot, Papa John’s, IKEA
  • The Nurturer: Nurturing brands focus on helping people take care of each other and themselves. They offer protection, safety, and support.
    • The Promise: To care for and protect others
    • Traits: Maternal, selfless, generous
    • Examples: Campbell’s Soup, Johnson and Johnson, Hallmark Cards
  • The Creator: These brands want to create something meaningful and lasting. Their ads are experimental, pushing boundaries and shunning mediocrity.
    • The Promise: To unlock your creativity and promote self-expression
    • Traits: Imaginative, inventive, entrepreneurial
    • Examples: Lego, Canon, Crayola
  • The Explorer: Rugged and ambitious, Explorer brands want to help you make new discoveries and experience your best life. Products are new, exciting, and often non-conformist.
    • The Promise: To bring freedom and adventure into your life
    • Traits: Authentic, exciting, adventurous, and independent
    • Examples: Indiana Jones, Go Pro, REI
  • The Lover: We all want a little romance in our lives. Lover brands promise intimacy and affection by improving the customer in some way.
    • The Promise: You will be more physically or emotionally attractive or desirable through use of their products
    • Traits: Passionate, sensual, romantic, and idealistic
    • Examples: Victoria’s Secret, Godiva Chocolates, Cosmopolitan Magazine
  • The Visionary: Visionary brands seek to change lives (and the world) with their unique, cutting-edge, and proprietary products or services.
    • The Promise: To make dreams come true.
    • Traits: Imaginative, charismatic, and idealistic
    • Examples: Disney, Apple
  • The King: These brands are usually in the luxury market – companies usually appeal to dominant and authoritative customers who want only “the best.”
    • The Promise: Power and control
    • Traits: Authority, organization, focus, integrity
    • Examples: Mercedes-Benz, Rolex
  • The Entertainer: The name says it all. You only live once and these companies want to help you enjoy every minute.
    • The Promise: To bring joy, to help people have a good time
    • Traits: Irreverence, humor, adventure
    • Examples: The Muppets, Ben & Jerry’s, Skittles, Old Spice
  • The Sage: The Sage, or Expert, appreciates truth and wisdom. Knowledge and growth go hand in hand and these brands love to pass their information on to others.
    • The Promise: To keep you informed
    • Traits: Knowledgeable, analytical, measured
    • Examples: CNN, NPR, Google

 

So where do you fit? When you see or hear an ad or product, see if you can figure out their archetype. Study examples of brands that fit well into archetypes. Ask yourself:

Which brands and archetypes do you identify with most?

When you think of your customers, how do you want them to think and feel about your company? Which archetype fits your expectations?

What changes can you make to further develop your brand archetype?

 

6 Tasks To Start Outsourcing

Outsource Tasks For Real Estate

Sometimes, as business grows, so does discomfort. There’s an awful in-between place for growing businesses where agents are too busy and successful to handle all of their mounting responsibilities but not quite busy enough to justify a new full-time employee. But there is a third option: Outsourcing! As you struggle to keep your head above water, consider the following tasks for outsourcing.

Marketing

There are plenty of companies and freelancers looking for new clients. If you love your work, but struggle to stay on top of important dates and opportunities to market your services, finding a firm or a contract professional to help you on your way is a huge weight off of your shoulders. Marketing professionals can run about $50/hour, but if you’re paying them for just a few hours a week, you’ll be in good shape. Outsourced marketing personnel can handle creating a marketing schedule, communication with vendors, mailings and more.

Data Entry

Whether you’re looking for someone to input your information into the MLS or clean up your email database, a data entry professional can help streamline your work. A freelance data entry contractor can charge between $12-20 per hour, depending on their skill and experience.

Graphic Designer

Even great tools and apps like Canva and Snapseed can frustrate the technologically-challenged agent. Graphic design professionals are available at a variety of rates and skills. If your needs are simple, you may want to hire an art student to whip up Open House flyers in their free time. If you’re looking for more consistency in your look, an independent graphic designer will usually charge between $45-75 per hour, but may be available for less on a retainer.

Search Engine Optimization

If you’ve read anything on getting traffic to your website, you know that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is crucial. If you don’t understand SEO, you’re not alone. It can be confusing without professional help, but implementing the right keywords and techniques can put your business at the top of search results. An SEO expert will probably charge one rate to analyze your website and set up your pages for success at the start, and then an ongoing monthly rate. These rates vary greatly depending on how experienced the professional might be, so be sure to shop around.

Content Writing

One great way to improve SEO is with consistent blogging and content creation. Search engines like to see that websites are being regularly updated and blogs are the way to get there. Most people start with big plans to blog, write consistently for a few weeks, then let it go. An outsourced blogger can help you stay consistent and top-of-mind with your clientele. Expect a good, experienced blogger to start at $75 per blog.

Social Media

Now, to be honest, the best social media is personal. If your goals are to create engagement and develop relationships, it is always best to handle your own social media. However, if you are short on time, and looking for someone to keep your page up-to-date and consistent with posts and current events, hiring someone isn’t a terrible idea. Most social media gurus will ask for a monthly retainer, varying from $25-75 an hour.

Marketing Your Business In October

Autumn is here! In Texas, that means more football than falling leaves, but there’s still a distinct feeling in the air throughout the fall months, and with some of the ideas below, you can use it to your advantage when it comes to lead generation.

Get Involved

There’s always something to do in during the fall. From high school athletics to community festivals, there are wonderful opportunities for sponsorship and involvement. Go a step further than placing that ad in the football program and volunteer your time. It will give you a chance to talk to people and make some good connections instead of just hoping your ad catches someone’s eye.

Give Back

This is a great time to sponsor a food or clothing drive for the less fortunate. Partner with a local business and spend a day collecting items for those in need. Bring along some refreshments to hand out to your new friends.

Refer Your Fall and Winter Weather Vendors

Remind your mailing list about your favorite gutter cleaners or lawn clean up crew. As your clients prepare their homes for colder weather, you’ll be able to keep yourself in the top of their mind by helping them find good help quickly.

Help Your Clients Prepare

Create a Winter Weather Prep checklist or ebook that visitors to your site can download by signing up for your email list. The information will be useful, and you’ll be able to keep their attention with future emails.

Beat Them to the Punch

Every business sends Christmas greetings, and most homes are so inundated with cards that promotional mailing gets completely overlooked. Get a step ahead by sending a Thanksgiving card and recipe to your mailing list!

Big Dates Ahead

There are great dates to take advantage of during the October and November that may help you reach a new audience. Remind your constituents of these dates or plan special promotions around them.

October 14 – National Dessert Day
October 28 – Make A Difference Day
November 5 – Daylight Savings Time Ends
November 15 – America Recycles Day
November 21 – World Hello Day
November 23 – Thanksgiving

Sources and Further Reading:
Fall Real Estate Tips
20 Fresh Fall Ideas for Generating More Leads
3 Fall Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents

 

The Resource: October’s 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.

Halloween Tips

36 Stylish and Spooky Halloween Decorating Ideas
A Ghosthunter’s Guide To Buying A Real Haunted House
81 Cool Fall Table Decorating Ideas
Decorating For Fall…A Love Letter to October
Halloween Safety from The National Crime Prevention Council
“You’ve Been Boo-ed” Neighborhood Game
Easy Homemade Costumes for Kids 36

Food

Pumpkin Bread Truffles
11 Scary-Easy Halloween Cupcakes
Indulgent Caramel Apple Desserts
6 of the Best Types of Apples for Cooking

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
Voices From Hurricane Harvey (Texas Monthly)
You Can Now Buy Whataburger James Avery Charms (Wide Open Country)

Just For Fun

Laundry Secrets From 5 Star Hotels (Bright Side)
NASA Is Hiring Someone To Protect The Planet from Aliens (Good Housekeeping)
Where To Travel for the Best Fall Foliage (House Beautiful)
5 Tips For Making Guests Feel At Home (Luxe Daily)

Around The House

Oh So Organized Kitchens (HouseLogic)
Keep Your Home Clean When You’re Short On Time (HouseLogic)
The Best Houseplants for the Bathroom (The Spruce)
Cleaner Linens for Better Dreams (Better Homes and Gardens)
6 Things Your Should Never Flush (Bright Side)
DIY Firepit Ideas (Better Homes and Gardens)

Decor Inspiration

How To Find A Headboard that Suits Your Style (Good Housekeeping)
Redecorate for Better Sleep (Real Simple)
Get A Farmhouse Style Kitchen (Houzz)
6 Reasons To Consider Wall Paper (Houzz)
Paint Colors You Need For A Happy Home (Elle Decor)
19 Designs That Blossom (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

Avoid Overspending When You’re House Hunting (HouseLogic)
Would You Crowdfund Your Downpayment? (The Mortgage Reports)
Home Buying Costs That Veterans Should Keep In Mind (Realtor.com)
Credit Score Comebacks to Give Buyers Hope (Realtor.com)

Frontier Family Spotlight: Katie Ekis

We’re excited to introduce San Antonio’s Katie Ekis, Escrow Officer in this month’s Frontier Family Spotlight. Katie celebrated 3 years with Frontier Title Company in August 2017, but she’s had years of experience in the Title Industry as well as in banking.

What do you think sets Frontier Title Company apart?

We care and we’re willing to do what it takes to get the job done and done right.  After all, we don’t work 8-5, we work start to finish.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy working with people, my coworkers, the realtors and buyers and sellers

What are three traits that define you?

Organized, Detailed, Compassionate

What is your personal philosophy?

Work hard, play hard

How do you define success?

Success to me is knowing I have done right by the clients.  Seeing the happy faces at the closing table makes me feel like I have succeeded

How do you spend your time outside of work?

I spend my time outside of work with my husband, Josh and our two dachshunds, Arnold Palmer and Frankenstein.  We enjoy taking them with us to pet friendly restaurants, watching movies, making pottery on the wheel we have at home, and going to concerts (We just saw Tom Petty & the Lumineers in Seattle and Green Day here in SA)

Marketing Your Business In September

The kids are in school, vacation is a distant memory, and the holidays will be here before you know it. How are you marketing your business this month?

Upcoming Holidays

Looking ahead to October, Halloween is always an obvious choice. But there are plenty of other ways to reach out to potential and former clients.

  • National Homemade Cookie Day (October 1)
  • World Teacher’s Day (October 5)
  • Fire Prevention Day (October 9)
  • National Nut Day (October 22)
  • Make A Difference Day (October 28)
  • Get Organized Week (First Week in October)
  • Fire Prevention Week (Second Week in October)
  • Cookie Month
  • Popcorn Popping Month

See more at www.NationalDayCalendar.com

Helping Those In Need

There’s been so much tragedy in the news, starting with Hurricane Harvey in our home base of Houston. But there are earthquake victims in Mexico, Hurricane victims in Florida and Puerto Rico, and wildfire victims in Montana and the Northeast, among others. This is a great time to help serve those in need and foster community spirit. Give.org operates through the Better Business Bureau and gives information on charitable organizations. Do your research before you align yourself with a particular cause.

Fall-Themed Newsletters and Social Media

Fall is a great time to consider selling or buying a home. You can use your newsletters, social media, and emails to encourage prospects to take advantage of the extra activity in the market. Create a blog about the advantages of buying in the fall and post to social media or include it in an email blast. Don’t forget current clients – give them reminders on preparing their homes for fall, including cleaning gutters, roof maintenance, heater tips, etc.

What other ideas do you plan to employ this fall?

Ready To Stand Out?

stand out in real estate

 

In the oh-so-small world of real estate, it’s easy to feel like you’re swimming upstream. Whether you’re new to the market or you’re a seasoned pro, competition for real estate is fierce. How can you set yourself and your services apart from the rest?

 

Find Your Niche

If you’re new to the world of real estate, this one might not come as easily as it would to a more experienced agent. However, focusing on mastering a sub-section of the market is important. Just as in any other business, potential clients are looking for someone who can understand their unique needs, whether it’s a veteran, a luxury buyer, a senior citizen, or a first-time buyer. General knowledge is fine, but finding your niche allows you to shine.

Newer agents may want to focus on a particular neighborhood or zip code, a specific type of property, or a specific kind of client. Seasoned agents can look at their past clientele and transactions to find both their strength and source of joy to find a niche.

 

Embrace Your Differences

In both personal and professional circles, your personal characteristics, hobbies, and relationships are the most interesting thing about you. Take advantage of any memberships you hold in social organizations, churches, or academic environments and look to serve your fellow members. On social media and on your website, highlight your passions. You may love rescue dogs, local theater and art, or running marathons. These differentiators certainly won’t hurt you, but they will absolutely make you easier to find for a potential client who shares your interests.

 

Share Your Knowledge

One great way to separate yourself from the crowd is to offer training events or workshops that connect with the public in a meaningful way. Local libraries often offer space for free and these spots make great locations for community classes. You don’t have to stick to the classic first-time home buyer class either. If you’re an expert stager, offer a course on staging a home to sell. If you’ve found a niche working with seniors, offer a class in helping elderly parents move. There are a wealth of topics to teach that could both help the public and help your business.