Define Your Vision by Focusing on One Area of Your Business at a Time
This guest post was written by Jake from Rocket Lease.
As I was reading Debra Trappen’s recent post on ‘Foundation, Focus, and Fun’ on ‘the movement’ blog, a few things really stuck out for me and hit home. I wanted to further explore these ideas and explain what they mean to me in a post of my own.
The first thing that really caught my eye that Debra discussed in her blog post was ‘focusing on what flourishes.’ To me this means taking things as they come, exploring new products, apps, and business ideas, but only really focusing on and running with the most important ones.
I’m the kind of guy that can get overwhelmed easily (I think a lot of people are like this). If I have too many new ideas on my plate all at once, it’s like a switch is flipped and I suddenly go from being amazingly productive to not being able to get a dang thing done. By only focusing on a few core things, especially when I am starting a new campaign of some sort, I can keep the switch turned on and keep my productivity up.
Debra goes on to talk about how the abundance of new ‘things’ and new technologies has sometimes resulted in the consumer experience being lost. I agree. The more things I add onto my ‘to do’ list, the less I think about the customers, who are the ones really supporting any operation and keep it functioning. Because of this, I choose one area of my business I want to improve each month, something that is related to the consumer experience, and focus on improving this over the course of that month. A few examples, which Debra also listed in her post, include strengthening current relationships, taking a hard look at the consumer experience and adding it to the overall business process, and organizing contacts.
Focusing on one area of my business at a time allows me to define my overall vision, no matter what sort of project I’m working on. I’ve even found that using this same thinking in my personal life or for personal projects has given both of them a whole new flair. Simply put, defining your vision is all about focus and focus is all about defining your vision. Luckily, the two are interchangeable and doing either is very easy to do.
What do you think about defining your vision by doing things one at a time? Do you have trouble focusing and organizing when you have too much on your plate or do you thrive in this environment? I’d love to hear your thoughts on ‘focusing on what flourishes’ in the comments below.
Rocket Lease provides online rental applications and credit checks for landlords and property managers. Check them out at RocketLease.com.
Contactually - “Staying in touch just got easier”
Jeff Mills and I had a moment to catch up with Zvi Band, CEO of Contactually, while at the Keller Williams Family Reunion event in Dallas, TX.
I’ve had my eyes on them for a couple of months since meeting Tony Cappaert at NAR Orlando and have watched their product develop into something very compelling. The idea behind Contactually is not only to make following up with your contacts easy and to help you nurture relationships, but they tell you WHO you should be following up with and where your efforts should be focused.
By connecting your social media platforms like facebook, twitter, etc and integrating your email service their platform tracks each time that you “touch” a particular contact, and then builds out a list of those individuals that you should be following up with.
I personally had an opportunity to check out their application and it’s pretty awesome… When you first sign up you’re asked to separate your contacts into buckets… and it’s actually FUN to do. Yes, fun.
Their UI and daily “who you should be following up with” emails were very helpful and I felt like I wasn’t missing a single opportunity with my database. That’s HUGE.
Anyways- who better to tell you what’s going on at Contactually than the CEO himself, Zvi Band.
Until Next time,
4 Ideas Real Estate Marketers Should Capitalize On in 2013
The last 12 months have seen plenty of changes in online marketing. From multi-screen devices and responsive web design to the proliferation of image-rich social networks and the shift away from single-platform marketing, technology and consumer consumption have given rise to a host of new tactics. Each year offers up different challenges in providing value for the consumer. Here are four ideas that real estate marketers should keep in mind as they dive into 2013.
1. The best response is a quick response.
Real estate marketers aren’t known for their ability to respond quickly to new marketing opportunities. While the urge to get everything perfect before interacting online may feel sensible, in reality, news cycles and consumer interest move too rapidly. It’s no longer reasonable to plan a marketing campaign several months out and assume your idea will still be relevant. These days, done is better than perfect.
The success stories of 2013 will not come from the traditional marketers who move like oceanliners. Instead, they’ll come from be nimble organizations that understand marketing, PR, advertising, events and customer service are all serving the same goal: engaging and delighting consumers.
2. The consumer is more powerful than you are.
Consumers are more connected than ever and more able to verify, quantify and vote through their devices, non-stop and in real time. When Mad Men ruled the world of advertising, it was a common notion that consumers didn’t know what was good for them. Now, your consumers are your best sales force due to the power customer reviews, un-curated rating sites and online group discussions that expose the public perception of your brand.
Today, everyone is a marketer: you, your team and your customers. Make sure you align your technology and content creation to allow everyone to participate in your brand conversation.
3. Integration is the way of the future.
Customers in 2013 expect and demand marketers to be everywhere, which requires you to have technology that plays well across the digital landscape. The age of the closed proprietary system is over: APIs, plugins and data integrations are necessary for brands that want to engage consumers wherever they are and on whatever device they happen to use.
Nowhere is this more evident than in social media integrations like Facebook comments and login (see an example here) that allow a tribe on one platform to more easily converse and interact on another. But the need for integration doesn’t end there. Choose your websites, CRM, analytics, email marketing and document management solutions because they are the best tools for the job, not because some company has checked the box to say they offer it.
Need an example of this shift? Look no further than Microsoft Office. While Office used to be the de facto productivity suite, we now use a wide variety of tools to accomplish the same tasks: Evernote for note taking; Gmail for email; Keynote instead of PowerPoint; and, because you still love it, MS Word for word processing. Like your customers, you are in the driver’s seat and can choose what works best for you, on your terms.
In the age of a billion channels and blogs and online videos, it’s not enough to be in the game. The spoils now go to those who are most interesting, those who can get our attention. That means that design and presentation matter more than ever. Not that the power of aesthetics is anything new; after all, great design has allowed companies with the best packaging to outsell their competition for generations.
Today, however, the majority of new customers will first experience your business online, meaning your website design is the packaging that creates a relationship with your customers. Use the opportunity to engage and delight.
2013 will bring more focus to imagery, design, video and interactive content. It will require real estate professionals to stop treating marketing as an afterthought and empower marketing teams that include talent from outside the industry who can create compelling content for Facebook, Google+, Instagram and whatever the next breakout network might be.
This doesn’t mean you have to drop everything. It just means you have to take what you already do well and find ways to derive extra value from it. At Placester, that meant examining the issues people experience when launching websites and building a team to solve them. This process has resulted in the Website Factory, where we bring together photographers, graphic designers and engineers to help real estate professionals create a web presence that’s technologically sound, visually appealing, and above all, memorable. (Want to see the factory in action? Stop by our room at Inman Connect in NYC.)
The next 12 months will be full of great change and amazing opportunity for real estate professionals. Implement these four ideas in your marketing strategy, and we promise you’ll #dominate2013.
Seth Price is Director of Sales and Marketing at Placester, a Cambridge-based technology company specializing in building online marketing tools for the real estate industry. A 14-year veteran Internet marketer, Seth has consulted for leading B2B and B2C companies including: Metlife, BMW, Sony, Nationwide Financial, and Toys “R” Us. Connect with him on Linkedin
Reveal by Chris Smith: CEO of BH&G - Sherry Chris
Sherry Chris is the CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate. She is one of the most influential women in the real estate industry. She sat down one on one with Reveal host Chris Smith to share her story.
The Niche Factor: Standing out in Real Estate
Traversing four different industries over the past 20-some-odd years gave me a lot of perspective to see what made each industry different and provided oh-so-many opportunities to see how really similar things were. There’s always someone saying, “It’s really going to be difficult for you to get a handle on this industry because it is so different from any other.” But at the heart of the matter, it really doesn’t matter what industry you are in; the keys to success – and to failure – remain the same.
Today we’re in a market of fleeting human attention. Take me for example: you’d think I’d have a leg up, considering I’ve had a smart phone in my hands since 1998. I’ve always
had the Internet at my fingertips, but the landscape has changed so dramatically, I wrestle with what I should pick up next. My tablet? My phone? My laptop? Often they are all sitting within inches of each other. Then there’s that massive 70” flat screen on the wall. It’s mind-boggling.
Now imagine the consumer you want to do business with. Already hit by a barrage of messages. Distracted by multiple devices. It’s time to get real. Your competition is not the agent down the street. We’re competing with multiple media and delivery devices for just a moment of attention.
This trend will continue and its impact on real estate will be significant for the next several years. Consider the companies who have already adopted social strategy as being a key aspect of their organization and who know how it’s performing for them. Zappos and Fab.com are two companies that understand the implications and the inherent return on investment.
The blasé photo, your image with a pooch, the “Top 1% of All Agents in the Universe” tagline means nothing to anyone but you, the agent. You’ve got to give more of you to get front line attention; make people understand who you are, what you embrace and what you do well.
It’s the Niche Factor. It identifies what is uniquely you. Without it, you cannot stand out. You simply become a blur in the sea of mediocrity and the space you take is one of the collective many. It’s no way to evolve, or grow a business.
In order to own a place in the consumer’s mind, you have to first attract them with something they value, comprehend and believe in.
This is where your niche comes in. But by standing up for what you are, you’ll inevitably prove what you are not, and it can feel terrifying to say you are something that may alienate others who don’t share that interest. What if you lose a prospect? What if you turn off a client?
Operating from fear of the “what if” doesn’t encourage evolution.
I’d like you to embrace the “what if,” to think from the place that gets you to the next level. What if you find you’re working with people who are more like you? What if those people are easier to work with because you share common ground?
It’s time to find your niche factor.
Peel away the layers of who you are. Why are you really passionate about real estate? What makes you jump out of bed in the morning? When you have free time where do you spend it? What aspect of your work gives you great pride? Ask your friends what makes you unique and make them stay away from the “you’re so nice” type of generalities. Make them get down to brass tacks. This process requires you to really understand yourself, what makes you unique and what you are passionate about.
The essence of a winning niche is in spending less time looking for someone to buy or sell real estate, and more time looking at who you are as an individual. Engage people who appreciate and indentify with you and your interests or expertise. It will make a big difference of how your market views you and how you connect with others.
Embrace what is uniquely you. Seize the opportunity to carve out your niche and stand out from the herd.
FOUNDATION + FOCUS + FUN = an EXPERIENCE to remember.
FOUNDATION + FOCUS + FUN = an EXPERIENCE to remember.
Wow. Where does one begin answering the movement’s call of—> How do we improve the industry and consumer experience?
The more I thought about the epic-ness of this mission, these three focuses kept coming to mind and firing me UP.
#1: Build your business from a clear, solid FOUNDATION.
Let me explain with a personal story. Exactly 10 years ago I signed up for a group workshop with a life coach (gulp). “Life” was in transition (recently moved, soon to be married, starting a new career in real estate…) and a friend suggested partnering with someone (sane) to guide me through it. The coach walked us through how to dig down and define personal values and declare our mission/vision… she inspired us to clean out our “tolerations closet” and get CLARITY. By the end of the journey everyone crafted a personal statement* to share the essence of what drives them and how they desire to fulfill that passion/purpose. Looking back, attending this workshop was one of the best decisions I ever made.
This process creates a filter for when you are choosing each person you surround yourself with, every post/product you support, and the clients you partner with… and it flows naturally. Having a solid foundation and personal statement allows you to make decisions that support your vision and goals… and do it BOLDLY. You are able to focus on creating memorable EXPERIENCES in your world. Imagine knowing your purpose is to help lift people up and then living in moments filled with making people feel listened to, honored, adored, and special - all because you know where you are going and what your motivation for doing it is. I would say that is priceless.
Will you be able to live it perfectly every single day? No. However, you can almost always pinpoint the source of energy-sucking issues, relationships, and negativity in your world to living outside of this personal zone.
Remember: It’s time to give yourself a gift and get CLEAR for 2013.
When was the last time you went through a VALUES exercise?
How about the last time you defined the essence of what DRIVES YOU?
If you can’t recall - it’s time.
#2: What you FOCUS on flourishes…
Nearly every week there is a new product or app launched with the promise to make things easier, organize our lives, help us build stronger businesses, even solve world hunger. (okay, not really, just wanted to make sure you were still with me….) There is so much focus on new technologies and new apps, that the consumer experience is lost… Ironically, the consumer experience is usually what ignited and fueled the idea for seeking or creating the app/tech. Choose one area of your business that you want to improve, whether it is cultivating your relationships, infusing exceptional consumer experiences into your process, or organizing and streamlining your contracts or contacts - then FOCUS. Once you define your vision, it becomes clear what types of technology or apps you should investigate and the decision process is so much smoother. You save TIME (and retain your sanity) by having a target.
Remember: What you focus on flourishes.
Select TWO goals. (Yes, only two.) Each one comes with a plethora of tasks, so choose wisely.
3. Enjoy the experience… yes, that means have FUN!
We are all grown up and don’t always get to have “fun” every single moment of our lives. However, we have a choice every day to embrace an attitude of fun… to ENJOY the process and delight our consumers in the details of the EXPERIENCE!
Let’s use a universal activity in the industry as an example… Giving homebuyers the keys to their new home.
This was one of my favorite “parts of the process” as a full-time REALTOR®. It was an area that so many colleagues overlooked - many of whom touted “exceptional customer service” in their marketing. How many times have you overheard (or instructed) a buyer to “stop by the office” to pick up their keys at the front desk. They are usually stashed in a plain white envelope originally from the listing agent. What a missed opportunity for a WOW experience! Now, there is not an “app for that”. This is your opportunity to SHINE and present your clients with the gift of their keys in such a way that inspires them to share it with everyone they know! If your clients are not already taking a picture of their “key presentation” and posting to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram - you have an opportunity to create a better experience. I am sure you already have an idea to take this one simple step to a Level 11!
Remember: Create memorable experiences by making them personal.
Need inspiration? Think the Tiffany’s Experience meets Real Estate and attach them to a bottle of bubbly w/ stemware… or in a basket of DIY tools and a Lowe’s gift card… maybe, this time of year, you tuck them in a little fluffy stocking or festive star! Have a fun way you present the keys? Share it in the comments below!
Now what? Where do you go from here?
Well, if there are keywords I desire for you to take from this post they would be FOUNDATION, FOCUS and FUN. Infuse these concepts into your 2013 plan… adding in your own brand of sass and swagga… and don’t forget to enjoy the EXPERIENCE.
*My Personal Statement:
“Everyday I seek to ignite passion, infuse purpose, and inspire progress by connecting, engaging, elevating and empowering the amazing relationships and ideas in my world.”
Stop wasting time “making” things work…
We spend so much time trying to enhance the consumer experience by learning new technologies, teaching ourselves new tricks and focusing on the long term that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s happening right now.
So where is that fine line? At what point have you spent too much time trying to retrain business tools and not enough actually doing business? Many of us have absolutely no idea where that point is – and we’re caught in a cycle of learning new tools that will inevitably change, forcing us to train ourselves again and again…
What a waste.
I should pause here and admit that I am a FIRM believer in mastering tools and technologies. I am often guilty of disregarding normal sleep habits, skipping meals, and generally ignoring everything around me to be certain I knew EXACTLY how every feature in a technology worked.
That’s me… but I realized something.
I was scrolling through some new tools a friend had suggested to me, brainstorming what I could dive into next when I came across Ptch.
I like to think that I am somewhat adept in editing and producing videos, seeing as how that is a large requirement in my role at dotloop. But as I continued investigating this new product, the purpose behind what they are doing became undeniably obvious.
Ptch’s intro video starts by saying “let’s make a movie.” I immediately thought to myself, “ugh, another editing software,” but quickly came to realize the power behind what they had created. Ptch is an editing solution that allows you to easily add photos, themes, videos, captions and much more to produce a compelling and engaging video in less than a few minutes.
Mind = blown.
Because this tool is incredibly useful and easy to use, I began to think about the problem they’re solving and how that translates to the way we function in the real estate industry when it comes to using new technology, tools and processes.
So often we see the next shiny technology and are inundated with how-tos, calls to action, and the “need” to learn and implement. While enjoying novelty is fine, it makes more sense to find tools that work without too much transition time.
In the time it takes to download an app, select a few pictures and choose background music, you’ve assumed the role of a producer without any prior editing knowledge by using Ptch.
What does this mean to you?
I talk consumer experience more than anything else, but it should be crystal clear that in order to keep up with the way the industry is changing it’s VITAL that you cater to consumer demands.
So ask yourself: Am I making a conscious effort to find solutions that satisfy my clients without jumping at every new product on the market? Am I wasting so much time learning new tricks that once I’ve mastered them my clients are long gone?
It’s important within this industry to balance the need to adapt to changing technology with the need to satisfy your clients, and begin leveraging only the necessary and most useful tools.
Ptch packages compelling content into a product so simple that my pet turtle could use without a reading a manual. Ptch empowers you to provide unique content to your consumers, helping you create professionally produced videos without spending years mastering the art of video editing.
Food for thought.
What other tools help bridge this gap? What applications have you quit for an easier solution that saves you time and eases the learning curve?
If you’re grasping at new technologies instead of focusing on consumers’ needs and demands, are you doing your buyers/sellers a disservice?
Let me hear it in the comments.
Until next time,
Steve Peele II
Still don’t know what ptch is? Check them out:
Treating consumers like friends, not targets.
Jared James & Dan Stewart interview below
We had the pleasure of catching up with Dan Stewart, CEO & Co-Founder of Happy Grasshopper, while at NAR ANNUAL 2012 in Orlando, FL. Dan’s product is an “e-nurturing” platform that generates engaging and welcoming content that Real Estate professionals can use to start conversations with consumers.
PAY ATTENTION: I said “start conversations,” NOT market to, sell to, or provide your “run of the mill” real estate market information. Happy Grasshopper is a platform that is redefining how you communicate with your consumers in a way that provides a non-intrusive, relationship building conversation.
What does this mean to you?
The idea of being “non-intrusive” is becoming an industry standard. A standard that consumers are demanding and obviously responding to based on HG’s success with their product.
While all of that is great, the important part to remember is this: “How do you present yourself in a manner that emulates the ‘Happy Grasshopper’ approach to relationship building?” If you’re going to/already use Happy Grasshopper, Excellent! If you have a nurturing campaign that works for your business, BRAVO! The true question is: How do you consistently communicate and engage with your consumers in a way that inspires open dialogue and conversation?
If this is not something you’re already thinking about, it should be. The consumer experience is just that- the CONSUMERS’ experience, and if you’re not making your buyers and sellers comfortable, happy, and satisfied, you’re not doing your job.
See what Happy Grasshopper is all about by visiting www.happygrasshopper.com
Special thanks to Jared James for playing a part.
Until next time,
Steve Peele II