I had the pleasure of personally attending a great Family reunion panel facilitated by David Hill. It featured 3 top real estate agents who each offered a different value proposition. One focused on community, the next on marketing services, and the other on being the real estate economist of choice. I’m sure you’ll find many A-HA’s listening to this panel as I did live at the convention.
Laurie: I’m so excited and hope I can share something so you can take it home and blow up your business.
Veronica: Hi everyone, I’m Veronica Sniscak, and I’m with the Bob Lucido Team in Ellicott City, Maryland. Last year was my 19th year in real estate, and I joined the team about three years ago. Last year finished number one for the team in transactions and volume, so excited. Our value cap is very unique in our area, so I’m excited to talk about it along with some of the things I’m doing myself, so welcome.
David: Awesome, thank you.
Steven: I’m Steven Cohen, from Boston Massachusetts. I head up a team of nine people. We conducted 110 transactions last year for 160 million in volume, and I’m passionate about this topic because whether we intend it or not, we are perceived in the marketplace in a certain way or possibly not at all. Our value proposition in turn, once we articulate one, it’s supported or not by everything we do. So it’s really good to define both, and to have one support the other.
David: Awesome, thank you. Are these guys worth listening to? All right, awesome, so we’ll start with you Steve, with your value prop. What is your value proposition, and how did you know when it was time? How did you get it right? Talk to us about that, we’ll have all of you answer this question.
Steven: Yes, the answer to that question flowed from the question, which Gary actually in Mastermind with a number of us encouraged us to ask ourselves, which in turn had to do with the one thing.
What is the one thing I could do such that by doing so everything else would either be easier or unnecessary. That question can be asked with respect to any particular facet of your business or personal life.
So we asked the question in terms of what is the one thing we could do to define who we are and to support it with our marketing activities. That required us to take a look at our market and to ask ourselves where do we wanna position, who do we wanna be. What we determined is what we wanted for our market, which is a pretty high end market with sophisticated sellers and buyers, that we decided to position ourselves as the economists of choice for our market.
David: So what would you say Steve, and again I’ll ask everybody the same question, what would you say to the people here, you saw when I asked who has value prop, maybe 10% of the hands went up. What would you say to them about creating that value prop?
Steven: I would say to
think about our skillsets and what we have to offer, and we want to align those with a need or a niche within our marketplace.
There’s a reason we’re succeeding in our businesses, or there’s a way that we’ll be able to and it flows from that. So it causes us to think about the market and ask ourselves what’s that consumer like. Really you don’t wanna put any limitations on the answer, and you don’t wanna ask the question alone either. If you don’t have a team then find non-paid resources who know your market, who know you and brainstorm it. You’ll come up, there’re some very interesting answers to the questions that you could arrive at.
David: Awesome, thank you. Veronica, same question, like what’s the value prop for the team, and how does it show up in everything you guys do?
Veronica: So our big value prop really is the massive amount of marketing that we do. We’re into the Baltimore Sound on a weekly basis and a lot of print advertisements in our local areas, and we do very nice brochures and just listed cards and a lot of things that other agents are saying don’t need to be done, we’re spending the money to do it.
So as a single agent joining the team, I can provide top-notch marketing and services to my clients far more than I could as an individual agent. So my value prop is that you can have my nearly 20 years of experience in the area along with the best marketing in the business, and why wouldn’t you hire us.
So that was a decision for me to join the team to partner with the best so that I could offer the best to my clients. What I’ve done personally now is starting to do some self-branding and grow my business that way in conjunction with everything we do. So very exciting.
David: And what would be your advice Veronica to again all the people in here that may not have created theirs yet?
Veronica: Just know what sets you apart, you know what David said, somebody comes in here and thinks they’re gonna get the exact same thing from all of us and it’s just not true.
Know your value, know why you’re valuable, and make sure you can communicate that to your clients.
David: Awesome, thank you. Laurie, same question. Value prop, how’d you know you had it right?
Laurie: Not sure if we do yet. So really interesting when you asked how many knew your value proposition, really interesting not too many of you. I just wanna share with you guys from a little different perspective. I’ve been with Keller Williams for seven years, and it was just a short five, six years ago that we realized that we had to be completely committed to a value proposition. So we decided to become part of the community.
Marketing from a perspective, yes, we do all kinds of fancy things, billboards, bus benches, all of that kind of stuff. Radio, TV, we decided through open house that we would let the community know that every single weekend without fail, you would see our branding and marketing on the streets. Hundreds of open house sites, we decided to become part of the community that was much more affordable. We believe in leading with revenue. Many of you are starting out, you’re not gonna be able to jump in and spend the kind of money that a successful team like any of ours is spending.
Hit what works for you within your budget and do it day in and day out.
Whether that is door knocking, cold calling, open housing, showing up at every single community event with your t-shirts on that have your branding on them. There are many different ways to skin the cat.
So this is such an important topic, why we really need to be crystal clear. So Laurie, that said in your value prop, what’s the one thing that you really want your clients to know about you, like when it comes to your team, how do you simplify it, like the essence of your value prop?
Laurie: We do what we say we’re going to do. We tell you from day one, and this is something everyone in this room can start right here right now, first conversation. If at any point in time during our relationship you cannot give me a five star wow experience, please tell me so I can correct it. Because I wanna make you a forever client. We do what we say we’re going to do, we’re super consistent and we’re committed to the process.
David: Awesome, Veronica, same question with regards to the team. What’s the one thing with the Lucido team. What’s you guys’ value prop.
Veronica: Again, it’s the massive amount of marketing in our area. We have one local competitor that we go head to head with, but other than that we’re doing something that nobody else is doing. So, I tell all my clients, I said, you can get everything that I can offer you for arguably less than what you would pay someone who can’t do half as much as what I can do.
Just following through, being available, setting expectations and making sure that they know they’re getting the ultimate real estate experience.
David: Awesome, so a lot of exposure as well on your team right?
David: All right awesome, Steve, same question with regards to your value prop, what’s the essence, what’s the one thing? You said one thing earlier.
Steven: Well, we determined that the metrics of the marketplace are important to our consumers. So when we say economist of choice,
we understand that our value proposition as agents is no longer that we have MLS, that’s long since.
Quite frankly, even the metrics of the marketplace knowing valuation really, that also is something consumers are deriving from other places also. However, to be the one who can synthesize it, who can understand it, and can convey that message. The high end consumer is very admired in this world, it preoccupies them. It’s the secret to Zillow’s success in my opinion. People wanna be able to go somewhere and ask the question, what is my most important asset worth.
So we position ourselves through our marketing as the economist of choice in our marketplace. I will give a caveat to that though, we understand that, that’s a very left brain experience. Knowing valuation and getting in to questions of statistics and snapshots of markets. That’s gonna make them think we do understand that it’s motion that makes them act.
So you need to address both sides of the brain, and in fact in our marketing we do do that as well. I think good agents do that, hearing you guys speak is like I wanna list with you. I actually wanna have that level of … in fact I love that script. If there’s anything that I do that is not a five star … anyway so that’s essentially it. It’s just more discussion of that niche that we’ve chosen to occupy. We did consider other niches, that’s the one that we came up with.
David: When I looked at your marketing, I recognize that you really position yourself as the expert. Like you’re the local expert, how important is that?
David: So how does your value prop, how does that determine what you do as far as marketing. Where does it show up in your marketing, like the decision making.
Steven: We ask ourselves questions about our marketing. We’ve made the determination that what we do needs to be at extremely high quality, number one. Number two, it needs to support our position within the marketplace. Number three, it needs to add value to the consumer, and number four, it needs, by way of some metric, it must be measured as something that prompts people to contact us and do business.
So we apply that litmus to what we do. But this is like a snapshot. It’s like saying, well I use this, or I use ADA or I like Myers Brigg, oh, well have you tried Smithy and Stringfinders. None of them are invalid, we have a whole lot of things that go on in our business that don’t necessarily relate to this one question all the time.
We are thinking about gosh, let’s go get our reviews, boy do we need reviews, and I happen to think reviews are one of the most important things. So we’re all about that, but right now, we’re distilling it to a fundamental question, what is our identity, what is it that we’re communicating if there could be one thing that mosts support your fundamental position, and as distinguished from the multitude of things we do.
Your database is your business, oh my gosh that’s so true, so now we’re all into that. So there’s a whole lot of things we need to do on a regular basis. But as far as the value proposition, it is that we’ve come up with the phrase economist of choice for the marketplace, and we do support it with our marketing.
David: So obviously this question for you Laurie, so you’re absolutely clear on what your value proposition is. So how does that play into your decisions on what you do for marketing?
Laurie: So really interesting for Steven, they’re the economist of choice. So we want to be seen as the real estate team that gives the wow experience of choice. So for us that starts with the language, actually before marketing the language that your team is speaking completely, how you will serve the client. We have specialists, instead of everybody on the team on the team doing everything, each person has their lane that they live in.
Gary Keller challenged us about five years ago, and he said what are you doing for your value proposition that others won’t? Pardon me, not necessarily that others can’t, but they won’t.
The difference is, is that when you commit to giving that client experience and becoming connected to the community, regardless of all the beautiful sparkly marketing you have, it all falls back on the experience that you give to the consumer.
So we believe that every consumer we have a conversation with will lead to five opportunities. That’s the language of our value proposition on our team.
David: Awesome, and Veronica you’re part of a large team, so being on the team, how do you guys all communicate so that everybody on the team is on the same exact page. Everybody’s really clear on what the value prop is for the team. I’ve seen that as a disconnect with a lot of teams.
Veronica: As Bob and Tracy in the marketing department on our team were very clear about wanting to be the best of the best, and the marketing is the best, and everything that we do is going to give the client that ultimate experience. They stay connected into the community by donating. We had an awful flood in Ellicott City a few years ago, and we collected money to donate, they’re just really connected in the community, and they make it clear with the team that this is what we’re gonna do, we’re gonna come from a place of giving. How can we give back to our community and give back to our clients?
All the agents on our team have access to again top of the line marketing, and it’s kind of a plug and play, which is fantastic, so that all of our clients and everybody on the team is having the same experience. I am doing some things on my own individually, which I’m having good success with. In addition to everything that we’re offering, I’m trying to add extra value.
Things like houseaversary cards, I made that up. So every year, two years, whatever send them a card, stay in contact with your clients and following up and doing pop-bys and just making them feel special is what I’m trying to make all the clients, so that everybody is loving when I stop by.
David: Awesome, sounds like you guys are really about staying in front of your clients and creating that connection with your clients. I remember when I was out in Maryland, Bob has a softball field, does he have a softball field?
Veronica: Yeah, there’s a field that he sponsors in the community. He’s big into sports with his kids, we also have trucks. I don’t have a lot to say obviously, or anything to say about the marketing that the team does, but I am certainly proud to be providing it to all my clients in the community.
David: Yeah, well you’re part of the team, so that’s awesome. So just an extension down right, that’s super, super important. So is there anything else that we should be talking about when it comes to marketing? Anything else that is important when it comes to making those decisions? Yeah, Laurie.
Laurie: The only thing I would add is that for many of you who are starting out, is really always be thinking about leading with revenue and doing things in order. Don’t go spending tons and tons of money before you’re making tons of money. Pick one thing that fits into your budget, master it, mostly stay committed and consistent with it. When that starts to work for you, then move on to the next step.
Sometimes, even this morning I was talking with some agents, very successful, and they start running at the shiny objects, and that is just a distraction. So pick something, stay consistent with it, make sure it’s in alignment with your personal team or personal value proposition.
David: Hold on, let me stop you there, can you say that again, the last part of that? That was good.
Laurie: Which part.
David: Pick something … the whole thing.
Laurie: Okay, in all honesty, it’s very, very serious because as a new agent, it can be very distracting, all these flashy things that you can buy that you think are going to get you to the next sale, and they’re not. Pick something that fits within your value proposition, master it, become successful at it, see how many legs you can give it. When it becomes profitable add the next thing, don’t jump ahead, those are just distractions.
David: All right awesome. So, something I’m gonna share with you guys is, the panelists. We got together and we decided to share some of the marketing, you guys wanna see some of their marketing? Absolutely, and the cool thing is that was not originally included. So I, as any other presenters in here, oh cool, a couple. So it could definitely create a logistical nightmare doing a slideshow with three awesome presenters.
Laurie: Sure, and again, just so you guys know, this is 19 years in the making. I don’t know if it’s on your right or your left, but those are placards that are on our bus benches. So 19 years ago I started out with one cute little bus bench. Until I was profitable and had a clue what I was doing with it and learned how to market it, I did not add another.
So 19 years later, this is a campaign that we have out on the street. We’re very big into reviews. We’re the number one reviewed agent in the state of FLaurieda, and we work really hard. If your standard and your value proposition is a wow experience and your team is focused on five stars from everyone in your world, you will become the number one reviewed agent in your state.
So on the left, those are our bunch bus benches, and these are on the street so the line up going one after the other. Our newest campaign is that we are hiring … and by the way, we are hiring. The other is something we started about two years ago, so that would have been about 18 years into my career, and that is our billboard. It kind of looks like a Las Vegas billboard because my lead buyer agent Syria Finklestein, decided it had to be glittered. When people drive by its sparkling and amazing, and what lurks about these marketing pieces are the consistency.
They are year, over year, over year, they do not come down whether things are great or not great. We are known for it, when someone wants to list their home or buy a home or rent a property. They know that we are the go to because we are there. We’re consistent, we’re like Walmart, Nordstrom’s, Starbucks, we do not take the signs down.
So whatever you’re doing if you’re sending a postcard, if you’re knocking on a door, if you’re in a newspaper whatever it is you do, do it every day.
David: I’m curious, how long did it take for these to start producing the results?
The bus benches took a solid 24 months before we saw anything, and I never added an additional bus bench until I could track revenue from what was on the street.
David: Now the consistency, it obviously paid off.
Laurie: They are golden, it’s a 20 year old.
David: All right, love it. Now, let’s jump to the next slide, this is your digital marketing.
Laurie: Well in all honesty, I don’t know anything about this. This is my amazing marketing department, so I’m sure for many of you know that if you aren’t online and you’re not digital at this point, well you’re probably going to be left behind, especially if you heard Gary this morning. So again, we’re just super consistent, and we don’t spend a lot of money on this stuff. Just so you know, it’s just consistent, it’s constant posting things of value and posting them in the right place.
So again this slide with the digital marketing, again we’re back to consistency. You’ll see on there we do have some celebrity endorsements, endorsement of [inaudible 00:23:05] and a couple other endorsements. But again, that was 18, 19 years in the making, and I hope when you guys leave this room today, you’ll know that this is something to work towards, and only do when it falls into the budget.
David: Great point. So, when did you get started into the social media. Is that more recent or how long ago did you start on that?
Laurie: I’m sure we’ve been doing it for years, but now the focus is really … So David, we will never leave the value proposition of being hand to hand combat for the consumer. Open house, community events, being out in our neighborhood, showing up at school events, whatever it is it may be.
But in the digital world at this point, we are a very big player because we have to be.
David: And you said someone else is doing it for you, obviously you’re not up posting Facebook ads and stuff like that.
Laurie: If I was doing it, you would have a lot of problems. I am not good at any of this, I can post like something fun on Facebook, and that’s probably the limit.
David: I’m sure, and you tell me if this correct, everything you’re doing on social media, it’s tying into all the fundamentals you talked about, the open houses, the being in touch with your databases. This is all working together.
Laurie: So that’s a great point, wanna share something with you guys, talk about value proposition. I’m sure most of you are serving your clients at a high level and you’d doing all kinds of things for them in the background that they don’t actually see. Or you’re running teams and you’re serving your agents at a higher level, and maybe they don’t see what you’re doing.
It’s really useless if you don’t talk about it. If you’re spending a hundred dollars, or 50,000 dollars a month to market your clients’ properties and you don’t talk about it or tell them about it, what’s the point.
Part 2 Transcript
Laurie: Business, and I want the consumer to know this is what I’m doing to sell your home. That’s where the digital piece, especially what you’re seeing a little bit here, super important.
David Hill: I love that, so your story is showing up in everything you do.
Laurie: It has to.
David Hill: All right, I’m going to jump into your open houses now. Talk to us about your open houses.
Laurie: So, open house. Well, I love open houses because twenty years ago when I started, I had a dollar 99 to my name, and I figured out really quickly sitting in a real estate office was getting me zero dollars, but sitting in a vacant house was getting me lots of dollars. So, I really built my career with sitting in opens five, six days a week, and just being out in the community to meet people. We still to this day do.
We do around nine to twelve open houses a weekend. It’s a very big focus for us.
I wish more people would do open houses. If you’re going to do open houses, just be intentional and very purposeful with them. Make your calls the day before, door knock the day of. Be prepared. When you get into that open house and the neighbor comes in, and you know what’s for sale in their neighborhood, and you can talk from a place of knowledge, you just gained a client.
All right, so now we’re going to jump into Steven. So, Steven, talk to us about this slide.
Steven: So, these are covers of a publication that we put out, a couple of them actually, called the Stakeholder Report, and the neighborhood that we’ve specialized in is the South End in Boston. We’re now working as well in Back Bay, which is Boston’s probably most prolific neighborhood.
The Stakeholder Report contains a lot of market statistics, but also lifestyle pieces. So, the top row and the bottom row are stakeholder reports. The middle row is something that we call our market metrics report. The market metrics report, which I’m not going to discuss a lot is sent intermittently. We send 35,000 of them out roughly four times a year, and we split it between two neighborhoods, and we have found it is scalable because you can vary about 25% of the content. The rest is a zoom in, zoom out on very local matters, but also topics that are national and international for real estate.
So, the Stakeholder Report is more lifestyle. It also has stats in it that underscore our position as economists of choice and then the market metrics is specifically and exclusively market stats. So, these are covers and we’re working with an artist to create original cover art and some of this is kind of New Yorker takeoff, where you get the view of the world from your neighborhood. The middle one on the top there is a couple of groups of people getting ready to go into an open house. On one side are empty nesters, on the other side the stroller set and you see captions of what they might be thinking because they’re basically competing with each other for housing in our neighborhood.
On the end is the dog park with dogs looking just like their owners. So, there are a lot of things that sort of touch on the personal side with our consumers. I would say through all of this, I think your point Laurie is so well taken, it’s very easy to look at something like that and say, “Oh great. If I have a neutron bomb of money to drop on my market, then I … Wouldn’t that be great.” Some of this is that in all candor. In particular though, it’s about the publications that we’re actually printing and that we’re mailing. If you strip away the printing and the mailing and I’m not at all convinced that that is the most important piece of what we do, what you really end up with is what is laid bare and should apply to every one of us and that is about producing content. And these covers are produced for very little money. There’s talent all around us. You can use interns from schools. You can go freelance with people online and you can get them to produce things for you very cheaply.
David Hill: Awesome. And what’s it’s doing ultimately is what we talked about earlier, is positioning you as the expert. You are the expert.
All right, so we’re going to jump to the next slide. Reccurring features.
Steven: Okay, so these are features in every Stakeholder Report. We want regular features. A close up on one of our team members you’ll see there, notable sale closeup, introduction to a neighborhood resident. We, is it on your left or your right, on your right I believe, we profile a historic structure and we tell the story of the structure.
This could be any building of note in your community. On the lower left hand side are a series of buildings, we issue both a mid-rise and a high rise report intermittently. So, we’re becoming therefore the experts in particular buildings and then you can see the graph there and a list of sales will chronical the most expensive sales in the market, the least expensive sales, interest rates as they’ve tracked, valuations, stats. None of which by the way we make up, and all of which can be sourced pretty inexpensively.
I think it’s really important to note as well. If one does not wish to have a publication, you can certainly just author a piece and blog it. In our case, we take these and we re-blog them and then it’s been moving our search rankings up as well.
The other thing I would say about the recurring features, some of the other ones that we do, we will close up on a business category, a particular business category. We’ll do fitness studios. We’ll do spas. We’ll do outdoor cafes and we’ll list them all and then these businesses can’t wait to get your publication there in their business and once you’ve made the connection, then they want them there repeatedly for your future issues.
We’ll do a before and after and this helps us, we may not have even sold it to the people. We may just know that they did this really cool renovation and we’ll take photos, professional photos and we’ll show the before and after, kind of like an Architectural Digest thing. Then, the other thing that’s very important to supporting the position that we’ve decided to stake out is that I will write a market outlook every issue. What I just do is I’ll just start Googling it up. I’ll go on Realtor.com. I’ll go on Zillow. I’ll go on Bureau of Labor and Statistics, National Association of Realtors and just start getting into, and I mean I take an hour, I don’t take a day. You know, what are economists saying? What are the range of forecasts for our market going forward? How can I synopsize the perspective of economists to them and credit them accordingly, never just one, pick five or six because then you’re just throwing it all in and by extension, you are absolutely the expert who has synthesized this.
Of course, the final cut on that is that you want to think of it in terms of what is your gut? What actually is going on in your market? And these are special features that we also include in the report and you can just have fun with this and what I would say is, open the idea bank with your friends, with your team, with your spouse and start thinking about the kinds of things that would be interesting to your market. So, here we’ll go onto to Pinterest, which I wouldn’t even know how to get on. I’m so with you. I really don’t. But I think of these things sometimes. I’m like … So we’ll gauge how much the traffic has increased for a particular topic and it’ll allow us to determine what the design trends are.
So, we know for example, big wall art this year up 638%. It’s all about big wall art. You know, your consumer may want to know that. Herringbone, in, violet, in, mixed metallics, in. I’m digressing a little bit. Although I do have the world’s best stager, Deb Ellis with me by the way and you should connect with me for an opportunity, especially if you’re from Miami or New York or LA, because we have a great opportunity for somebody in staging in a high end unit. Digression.
The other thing that we do on these special features is we will do things like go to our 20 year plan, which we can go to for our cities and most cities or communities will have a 20 year plan. And take a look at what it is that is planned, and then start to write about it. The last I’ll say is, you know, I’m no longer writing a lot of it and I can’t do a lot of these things. Well I actually can pretty much write, but now I just edit. But you can also hire a journalism person very, pretty inexpensively as an intern. But sometimes you do have to watch how you position things for your market and I will give you one example.
We were doing a story on groundwater, on the rising oceans. You know, it was just the facts ma’am, kind of thing and I read the article and it started going on about how we’re basically going to be underwater in 20 years. Well ahead of, I believe the exact words were, “The rest of the planet.” It was like our community. Then, the title of the thing was Water Up To, On and Over the Bridge. And I just … So, we moved that around a little bit. You want to tell the truth, but we decided to retitle the piece Climate Ready Boston. And I’ve seen that sometimes, especially if you’re hiring students and I really do recommend that because you can do it cheaply, that you do need to make sure that what’s being delivered is being delivered with the market focus that you intend.
David Hill: Excellent, excellent. Completely different than what Laurie’s doing. Would you agree? Yet, just as effective. So it’s not one size fits all. All right, so Veronica, can you talk to us about this?
Veronica: So a lot of my marketing that I do on my own is through social media because it’s free for the most part. I take photos of every settlement and whether it’s a buyer or a seller and put it on Facebook and you know, my clients will say something nice and people start to comment on it, and I’ve gotten referrals that way.
So I do a lot with my Facebook page, both my professional and my personal. I’ll share from one to the other and just make sure that I’m staying top of mind for everyone that I’m friends with and it makes the phone ring. I get reached out to a lot. They see I’m out selling houses, having success and with a great team and when they need an expert, they call me.
One of the other things that I did this year which was really exciting is that I bought ad space on a hand sanitizing display in a local grocery store. So, I was contacted, met with them and its a big thing. You can’t see in this photo but it’s like five foot five and the whole top is a picture of me and in the bottom it says, “Proud partner of the Bob O’Cedar team.” It has photos of houses and to generate some interest around it, I did a few giveaways on Facebook.
So, when I first had my ad up, I said anybody that took a selfie with my hand sanitizer, I would send them a $25 gift card and people were all over it. I had about 10 people who went and took photos and then later to generate some more interest around it, I said that I would donate $250 to Leukemia/Lymphoma Society in November and that I would donate an extra $10 for every person that took a selfie with it in that month. And that’s the ad that you see in the middle. So, just trying to generate some interest around my photo, my branding and also the team so that people will know who I am if I land in their mailbox.
The two little guys, a girl and a gal in the bottom left … Right side, are my children. My husband stopped at that grocery store the other day and snapped a picture of them for me which was very nice, while I was out working in the rain. The middle postcard is a postcard that our team helped me, or they designed for me to send with the same messaging that’s on the hand sanitizer to send to the local community just so folks start to see my name and my face, generate some self branding.
David Hill: Awesome. So, question um, with Facebook. Now, how frequently are you posting stuff? And are you doing videos as well?
Veronica: I am not doing video. I know that I should be but that, I’m not there yet. I pay a company, I think it’s, it’s very inexpensive, it’s about $60 a month to post on social media for me, relevant articles and things of that nature. But then I am posting, I try to post at least something personal once a day just to stay in people’s faces. You know, the kids are great, real estate, whatever else to just stay relevant.
So I am on social media a lot. This year these pictures that you see are a pie party that I did. Was the first year of doing it, it was very successful. I sold about 58 homes last year and I had about 30 people come pick up their pie. I ordered from a local bakery and we had a great time and I had my assistant help me design some stickers with my information on it, my branding, put them on the pies. I’ve also done as you can see, a sponsorship for a local golf club and just was a whole sponsor and will continue to help with schools and folks that are having events at the country club.
Then, I also had some, recently some golf balls made with my logo on it. I’m going to do a Facebook giveaway when the weather warms up to hopefully target market on Facebook to some golfers. So, to try to maybe get some high end business through Facebook branding. So, I’m trying to pull it all together. It’s been a lot and long time coming, but I’m really enjoying this stuff and I think the clients do too. They like seeing my pictures on Facebook. They like knowing a little bit about me personally and it leads to referrals. The phone’s ringing.
David Hill: You mentioned that the clients are actually coming to you to pick up the pies. Why is that important?
Veronica: So, I didn’t have to deliver 30 pies.
David Hill: I share that because we did a pie event and we had people running around delivering 45 pies and it was a … It was a nightmare.
Veronica: Well, if I’m being honest I did have about 9 or 10 people that didn’t show up. I didn’t do as good a job this year or this was my first one, so I didn’t as a good job following up and making sure they knew I was buying them a pie and they needed to come get it. So, I did have to deliver about 10 pies that week, but they appreciated it showing up at their doorstep. You know, and I had a face painter and I had a chair massage therapist so I made it like a fun, sort of fall party for kids and it was great. But it’s nice to have them come to you.
David Hill: Awesome.
Veronica: And then this slide just shows some of the team marketing. So, obviously I don’t have anything to do with it, but we use it all the time and it’s just very sleek, very well done. One of the things that we, that really we bring value is the … We have staging. We have a staging department, professionals that will do in, make such a difference. We have professional photographers. We have the trucks that we could use for life. As I said, we are a community donating if there’s issues when we had the hurricanes, we were down in Houston and trying to do what we can for that.
In addition, we have been named the best, top workplace for four years running and I’ve been there three of the four years and I couldn’t agree more. So it’s a great place to work as well. Everyone’s happy, friendly and we’re hiring too.
David Hill: All right, so talk to us about the effectiveness. Like how do you guys track with your marketing, how do you track the effectiveness? And anybody can grab this one.
Laurie: So, I wish I had started this when I was new in real estate and over the last five years tracking has become one of our big one things. Whether again, if you’re spending $100 or you’re spending $50,000, you should be able to track every dollar that goes out and how many dollars are coming in so you know where to continue to spend your money.
So, what we’ve done is we’ve focused on scripts and asking the consumer how we were lucky enough for them to choose us as their real estate agents of choice. So whether you walk into an open house, whether you call us on any of our marketing, whether you come through our lead generator. It really doesn’t matter, if you’re a referral, a repeat client. We have very specific scripts to track exactly why you came to us or you came back to us. Then we use all sorts of tracking systems to know exactly, you know, did you come from repeat client. Did you see an open house sign? Did you see a yard sign?
So, we’re very cautious on tracking. Again, something I didn’t do early on in my career and it’s a big no-no. We like to say now, if you can’t track it, don’t spend it or do it.
David Hill: It’s the red light, green light.
Laurie: Red light, green light and I like sparkly things. So, tracking is important.
David Hill: Awesome. Anybody else want to jump in on that?
Veronica: I can jump in. I can’t speak for what the team does in tracking. I’m sure it’s very, very intense. I ask anyone that calls me where they found me. I don’t do that good of a job of tracking it. I know if they’re a personal referral so that I can send a gift. But, I need to be better with tracking what I’m doing. Mine is all relatively new so, I need to put some tracking around it now so that I can have some real numbers. But, I need to be better at that.
David Hill: Awesome.
Laurie: A lot of times when you’re marketing in various places, and somebody wants to do business with you and you say, “Who may I thank for the referral, or who may I thank for you calling us?” They’ll say, “Well, I don’t know. I see you everywhere.” And two years ago, we accepted that and now we are question after question until we can get down to the source. The source really matters a lot.
David Hill: With regards with the market, what Gary’s been talking about all morning with Zillows and Redfins and all this, what are we doing to combat that, to stand out. Right? To continue to keep our business, because the consumer doesn’t even know. As far as they’re concerned, they feel like Zillow is the broker. Right? So what are we doing? I know some agents are going out and they’re doing community videos. You know, videotaping a local restaurant, the local crossfit gym. What are you guys doing to take that business, to be the expert in your area?
Steven: So, specific to Zillow, we’re really looking at just Zillow. We’re speaking about an entity and they’re one of, I realize that there’s a whole category, yeah. But, just them specifically, their big thing is that they valued the consumers home and that’s why the consumer goes there. So, we have developed something that we refer to as the market movement index and we have a specific protocol around it and we snapshot the value, we identify the class of inventory that a property represents and we go back in time to the point in the time when the consumer purchased it and we look at the value range of similar properties.
Then, we will fast forward to the present and we will go back six months in time and we will perform the same analysis. Then we will find an appreciation factor and we will apply it to what they purchased. We do this before we go in of course because we want to see if it comports with what we otherwise have determined. When it does, it also seems to be nailing the Zillow algorithm. So we’re using Zillow and we’re stepping into it and we’re complimenting it with our own metrics.
But the other pieces with respect to all of these intermediaries, these third party lead aggregators and so forth, you know, we have a real love-hate with it. And you know, Gary alluded to it today. They’re not our friends and yet, Gary has said on many occasions, you know, I’m not saying don’t take a referral. I’m saying be aware you are, you’re paying for it and you’re paying in leu of actually lead generating. So, we’re careful with them. For example, our spend on Zillow is, we did at one time dump a pile of money on Zillow and now we’ve stepped back from that because it wasn’t as we tracked it, producing.
Laurie: I love this question. So, Zillow, Realtor.com, they’re not going anywhere. Right? So, we have a saying in our team and on our team, and that is, “Lead generate so you don’t have to tolerate.”
Speaker 5: Ah, that’s good.
David Hill: Can you repeat that again?
Lead generate so you do not have to tolerate.
Really what that means is, you determine what your goals are and then you determine how many people you need to speak to, how many open houses you have to go to, how many homes you have to list, how many buyer consultations you have to have, how many listing appointments you have to have to accomplish that goal.
Zillow is not going anywhere and we embrace Zillow as a team and we tell the consumer, we do everything through the consultative approach.
So if you’re going to buy with us, or sell with us, we’re going to have a meeting with you the same as if you meet with your lawyer or you’re an accountant. And we’re going to tell you straight up front, we’re sure you’re going to look on Zillow and we encourage you to go look on Zillow. Please know that we want to be that person that handles the entire real estate experience. Just let Zillow be that place that you’re searching. Let us be the person that helps you through the process. We really can’t fight the giant.
David Hill: Yeah, they don’t need us for search anymore. I mean, they can find houses on their own. They need us for the experience.
So Veronica, do you want to jump in on that one?
Veronica: I do not pay for any Zillow leads personally. I mean, we do get them occasionally through the team, so I can’t really speak to what’s being spent marketing-wise on that. So, I know that it’s harder to convert an internet lead than it is to convert a personal referral. So that’s why I spend my time on social media with people that I know and trying to do things on a more personal level versus internet leads. But I know there’s probably some value to them. I’m not personally paying for them right now.
Steven: My marketing wish list would be number one to better monetize our marketing. We have no advertising of any kind. We don’t want something that feels like advertising, so we’re looking at partners who can add content in a way that doesn’t dilute our message. Also, over time we’re going to look at expanding to other niches.
So, I think in a sense, it’s very easy for what we do to have it be really useless to a lot of people because it’s specific to our market. But, the advice I would give is think about producing the content and think about it as a one off, an article. Be an expert in that regard. As far as the niches go and what we’re expanding to, we want to expand to for example, the single family niche which in an urban center, that might be for many markets everything, but we’re in a condo world in the middle of a big downtown, so for those of you for whom that applies, we’re looking at a publication that’s specifically looks at single family home owners in cities.
So, but that’s just an example. I guess my wish would be to expand to niches and to reach consumers where they will feel like they are being marketed to and spoken to directly in a way that no other agent has.
David Hill: And how will you know when you’re ready to do that?
Steven: Well, I know when I suggest to my team that we do and they pitch a fit and then I fight a little bit, and then they relent that we can do it. And I always say, this is true about everything, I really mean this. I always say, “Has there ever been a time when you all thought something and I thought something else that I vetoed you? Because I do not. If you all agree that it’s yes or it’s no, then it’s yes or it’s no.” But I am always pushing. I’m pushing on deadline. I’m pushing, and they say, “You know, you’re pushing, we can’t do that.” And then we marinate in it a little bit and if that is still the predominant sentiment, fine. But usually when they relent, then I feel like, “Okay, I guess we can do that.” And I come out of the meeting, I’m like, “Wow, okay. Didn’t know if we could.”
David Hill: Awesome. Laurie?
Laurie: For us, on my marketing wish list now is to become really, really powerful at video and telling the stories of the consumer and just making a really big video splash in 2018. So that’s something that we’re working on and interestingly enough, it’s very, very inexpensive.
David Hill: And why video?
Laurie: Video is … It’s what we have to do. It’s what’s going on. It’s what my marketing person said I have to do now. She said, “You have to be on video.” I said, “Ew.” She said, “You’re gonna do it.” I said, “Okay.”
David Hill: Who’s doing Facebook live? Raise of hands. It’s huge guys. Facebook live is absolutely huge. By doing it you’re getting more views than anything right now on Facebook.
All right, Veronica?
Veronica: So my wish list this year is to be a better tracker. I just learned that today. I need to really track what I’m doing. But my goal is to develop some marketing around increasing my price point. So, being a little bit more purposeful with whom I’m marketing to, to try to generate the clients that I’m interested in working with, so that I can push my price point a little bit. That’s my goal and it’s got to start with some self marketing so that I’m getting my face in front of people that I want to have call me.
David Hill: Awesome. Same question I asked Steven like, how do you know you’re ready to do that? What does that look like?
Veronica: My husband has been telling me I need to do it for two years. So, to save my marriage, I should probably listen to him. In his defense, he was in real estate for years, for a long time years ago, and he said he was very, very successful with it. So, he’s going to help me develop that a little bit more and it’s just, it’s time.
David Hill: Awesome. All right, well thank you for that. And Laurie, did you have something to add?
Laurie: I was just listening to what Veronica just said. So, if you are starting out, I always like to talk about my failures, and for me, one of the ones I would say is that I used my face as the brand and now 21 years later, I’m stuck. So, really think through your branding and what story you want to tell and how you want to be seen by the consumer. I don’t know that it’s necessarily your face. I can’t go back now, I’m stuck and I’ve let them know, I’m never changing my picture so they have to deal with it.