Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog


The Realtor® Yard Sign: An Often-Forgotten Marketing Tool
June 22, 2009, 3:00 pm
Filed under: General Marketing Topics, Integrated Marketing

You continually update your website. You’ve reprinted your business card to include the address to your new blog. You’ve taken a new photograph of yourself that you’ll use in your marketing materials. You keep refining your marketing mix to make sure your efforts are effective, giving you widespread exposure in the community you serve. But, when was the last time you updated your sign? As I travel along busy streets lined with properties for sale it often occurs to me that the Realtor® sign seems to be an often-forgotten marketing tool, or at least not used to its full potential.

The idea for today’s blog post came to mind as I walked down the street outside my home the other night. I noticed for sale signs at two neighboring homes, each represented by a different agent. Curious to see how two local agents market themselves, I went closer. One of the signs was of the more traditional style, featuring the name and picture of the agent, and of course a phone number, relying on me to either save the number in my phone or have a pen and paper so that I could contact the agent later.

The other sign, however, caught my attention a lot more. Standing outside the house, I was able to text message a code in order to receive more information about the property. Within a few seconds I received three messages back. The first was a general greeting from the agent, thanking me for my interest in the property. Further down in the message was an address to the agent’s website, and email address and a phone number. The second text message included a link to a photo gallery. The third message included a link to a video tour of the home, allowing me to take a virtual tour of the home as I’m still standing outside on the sidewalk.

Back home, I went online for more information about the home. Accessing the information was easy – I still had the text messages in my phone. The link I had been provided led me to a customized page for that specific home. What impressed me the most was that the web page included additional resources. The videos I had viewed outside the home were there. The pictures I had seen as well. There was information about the neighborhood, a map and directions on how to get there, and pictures of parks and other areas certain to be of interest to someone who would consider living in that area. Additionally, there was an invitation to sign up for a daily email of properties matching the specific criteria I would provide. Finally, there was information about an open house that was scheduled for that particular home a week later, and of course a way to register.

The vast majority of consumers are certain to use the Internet in their home search – 87% according to the 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers provided by the National Association of Realtors®. An interesting number, however, is the number of buyers who use yard signs as their source of information. According to the same NAR report, 62% of home buyers fall into that category.

In my opinion, the second sign, or the information provided on the sign rather, was a perfect example of a consumer-centric approach. In an ever-competitive marketplace it’s absolutely crucial to stand out. The second sign certainly did just that.

Is your sign the best marketing tool it can be?

 

Late last year I invited several text message vendors to provide a brief description of the capability of their services. Click here to read Gateway to Texting Technologies.



Want to Get Started with Social Media Marketing? Register for the Social Media Marketing Program Series in July.
June 19, 2009, 3:37 pm
Filed under: General Marketing Topics, Social Media Marketing

Want to get started with social media marketing? Join us! Please see below the schedule for the month of July:

Getting Started with Social Media Marketing
Has anyone suggested using social media marketing to build your business? Unsure how it may benefit your business? Don’t know where to start? This class will give a basic outline of social media marketing and walk you through the steps to get started.
Date: July 7, 2009
Time: 10 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.

My First Blog 101
Having a blog gives you an excellent tool to build an online presence and communicate with your sphere of influence. Knowing how to build a blog can be a bit intimidating, though. This interactive program will walk you through step by step until you’ve built your own blog.
Date: July 17, 2009
Time: 10 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.

Integrated Social Marketing Strategies
You may have FaceBook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, but are you using these social media platforms effectively? This class will outline how you can take a strategic approach to build your business by integrating online social media marketing activities.
Date: July 23, 2009
Time: 10 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.

My First Blog 102
Following My First Blog 101, where you learned how to create a new blog, this class will show you how to customize your blog, including how to change your blog title, change the language of your blog, add polls and additional features, and view visitor statistics. You will also find out how to add blog posts, upload and link to videos, photos, and sound files. Prerequisite: My First Blog 101.
Date: July 30, 2009 Time: 10 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.

Social Media Marketing Clinic 
Whether you want to learn how to upload a picture to your blog, add a link in FaceBook, or integrate your blog into your LinkedIn account, the social media marketing clinic is available to those who would like one-on-one assistance.
Date: July 8, 2009 Time: 10:30 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.
Date: July 17, 2009 Time: 12 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. Click here to register.
Date: July 22, 2009 Time: 10:30 a.m. until Noon. Click here to register.
Date: July 30, 2009 Time: 12 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Click here to download a flyer.


Are You Having Blog-Writer’s Block?
June 15, 2009, 11:33 am
Filed under: General Marketing Topics, Social Media Marketing

By now you have established your blog. You’ve added graphics to illuminate your brand. You’ve added all the links you set out to have in the navigation bar. The pictures you’ve taken around the communities you serve are uploaded and ready to be inserted into your blog posts. You’ve selected the topics you are likely to cover, and you’ve created categories for them.

Simply put, you’re ready for business.

Now what?

It can happen to anyone: writer’s block.

Earlier this week I spoke with a member who had attended my classes and now was ready to start writing. But, she said, she didn’t know what to write about.

The topic of blog content has come up quite frequently in the classes I’ve taught. It seems the perception often is that blog posts have to be lengthy and of Pulitzer Prize-level quality. No wonder many seem hesitant when it comes to blog writing. Instead, the guiding light for blog writing should be whether you’re adding value to the reader. A blog would best be used to provide tips and suggestions and certainly insight that will help guide your readers to their real estate decisions.

The best subjects for your blog will probably come from everyday discussions you have with current and prospective customers. I came up with an example that I’ve used in my classes:

Let’s say you want to educate your readers about the benefits of home staging. Often the most effective way to educate consumers is by providing statistical evidence and that idea helped shape my idea for a five-minute blog post:

First, I searched for staging at Google.com. In the search results I recognized the website StagedHomes.com, a source I trust for information about staging. While visiting the website I found a section on staging statistics – even a PDF file that highlights statistical evidence that staging helps sell homes faster. Adhering to copyright laws, of course, I didn’t download the file but instead selected a link to the PDF. Then I wrote a brief blog post:

– – – – – – – – –

Does Staging Work?

There’s no doubt that staging a vacant home will better illuminate what it’s like to live in the home. Staging is an investment to consider when you want to sell your home. But, does it really work? Click here to see statistics provided by Barb Schwarz, Creator of Staging and Founder of StagedHomes.com.

I currently work with local staging professionals. Let me know if you’d like to contact someone who can help you.

– – – – – – – – –

Click here to download a PDF outlining the five-minute blog post about staging.

There are several benefits with the blog post. First, you would provide valuable information to your readers. Second, I’m quite certain Barb Schwarz would appreciate the mentioning of her statistics and StagedHomes.com, and in this business you can’t have too many referral sources. Third, by inviting readers to contact you for local staging professionals, you have the opportunity to form local referral relationships as well.

Similarly, some clients may have raised a few concerns about entering the market. Some may wonder where the market is going and others whether financing will be available to them. If you hear a concern by one person it’s probably safe to say that others would have the same thought that the concern was based on. Want to be proactive? I suggest you write about topics you know are of concern to those you work with, and those you want to work with.

If you find yourself without topics I suggest the following resources:

As most probably know by now I consider Terasa Boardman’s blog to be an excellent example of what a blog can and should be. Here’s an article she wrote about her own commitment to blogging. Click here to read How Does Teresa Boardman Post Every Day To Her Real Estate Blog? A while back she wrote the article Food For Fodder – 101 Real Estate Blog Topics – in which she provides an extensive list of potential blog topics. Another excellent resource is the article The Easiest Way To Write 30 Real Estate Blog Articles Every 30 days.

If you want even more ideas, come to our social media marketing clinic on June 25 at 9 a.m. Click here to register.

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New from FaceBook: Get Your Vanity URL
June 12, 2009, 5:32 pm
Filed under: General Marketing Topics, Social Media Marketing

Got plans for midnight tonight? Bring your laptop.

Starting 12.01 a.m., FaceBook will allow you to register for your unique vanity URL. Considering that FaceBook has over 200,000,000 active users, you’d better be quick to register the URL you want. For example, if your name is Joe Smith, and would like the URL facebook.com/joesmith, I certainly encourage to visit FaceBook as close to 12.01 a.m. as possible.
Be cautious when you register, though. According to FaceBook, you will only be able to select once with no changes allowed.

Here’s how you currently find me at FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1151681714&ref=profile#/profile.php?id=1151681714&v=wall&viewas=656232223.  I think most would agree it’s not the most memorable web address. Unless there are several with my name on FaceBook registering before me, by Saturday you will find me at http://www.facebook.com/mbergendahl.

For information provided by FaceBook, click here.



Developing an Action Plan for Social Media Marketing

A few days ago a member told me that while she’d like to get started with social media marketing, she will have limited time to commit. She shared that presently she has not signed up for any of the tools or platforms I’ve referenced in previous blog posts, and she asked for advice on exactly which ones to register for. Based on her questions and comments, I thought I’d devote today’s blog post to providing a suggested initial platform. Additionally, I’ll share with you how you can automate the sharing of information between the various platforms so that you don’t have to spend unnecessary time logging into all of them at all time.

Before even the first social network profile is filled out, each platform you choose should have a defined purpose. With that in mind I’ve divided the suggested networks into three separate groups with different purposes.

1. Information and Knowledge Sharing Platform

Blog – Your Virtual Newspaper

First, consider starting a blog. It should become your online communications central where you can communicate directly with your audience, sharing your insight and knowledge in an educational and entertaining way. Your blog content should be a mix of articles you’ve written yourself as well as materials and resources developed by others. The primary objective for your blog should be to nurture your existing relationships and invite new contacts to read the blog in an effort to build credibility and trust. A secondary goal with my blog would be to receive leads from those who may have found the blog online. The platform I would choose would be WordPress.com as I find the free blog program easy to work with, easy to automatically feed to other platforms, rich with helpful tools and – not the least important – free.

Want tips on blogging? An excellent resource is The Real Estate Tomato where you can find articles on anything and everything about blogging. If you want to see what I consider the best blog in real estate, visit Teresa Boardman’s St. Paul Real Estate blog here.

2. Resource Platforms

Website

“Should my blog replace my website?” is a question I often receive. In my opinion, your website and blog both serve different purposes and both should therefore be part of your online presence. An essential reason to maintain a website is so that you can offer your visitors various consumer tools such as a mortgage calculator, and your website, not blog, is where your contacts can search for homes. The main difference between your website and blog is that while your website will remain largely static, your blog will be more dynamic with new information added more frequently.

YouTube

If a picture says more than 1,000 words, consider the impact of using video. With most of us having a rather short attention span when browsing the Internet, cyber-visitors are far more likely to view a video than reading text. Text-based content certainly can describe your passion for what you do, and especially your strong commitment to your clients. A video, however, where you describe your process – giving consumers a preview of what it’s like to work with you – is likely more impactful. Additionally, you can use videos in your open house promotions and home tours. The use of video will require a smaller budget for a camcorder, but these days you can actually find a basic one for as little as $79. Once you’ve taped your videos and want to edit, use Microsoft’s Moviemaker which is included with Windows for free. Once you’ve developed your video library it’s time to upload them to YouTube – for free. Once your videos have been uploaded you can easily link to them through all the online profiles and networks you have.

Want tips on using video in your blog or other platforms? Click here to read An Honest Look at the Impact of Video on Your Real Estate Blog.

Flickr

Once you really get started with social media marketing you’ll probably find yourself using a lot of images. You may want to get in the habit of taking lots of images of listings. Additionally, you will probably need images from the specific community and communities to show your knowledge in those particular areas. By signing up for a free profile at Flickr.com you have access to a very sizable online photo archive. Once uploaded, similar to videos at YouTube, you can easily link to pictures from emails, website, blog, Twitter, etc.

Need a way to edit and improve your pictures? Click here to go to picnik.com where you can edit pictures for free.

3. Networking and Traffic-Generating Resources

FaceBook

Even though you may not be on FaceBook yet, most of your contacts and acquaintances probably are. The first golden rule to FaceBook is to keep your profile strictly professional (you can have a private one separately). Use the profile to share information about your business and promote any open houses you’re going to have. You can easily link to articles you’ve found online and provide links to your other social media platforms.

For tips on how to use FaceBook, click here.

LinkedIn

Your LinkedIn profile is essentially a virtual business card in what could be described as a cyber-rolodex. It focuses on your professional background and merits, and highlights your past and current positions, your education, designations, and specialties, and possibly testimonials and recommendations by those you have in your network.

For tips on how to use LinkedIn, click here to read Using LinkedIn to Expand and Nurture Your Sphere of Influence.

Twitter

In recent months, Twitter has gained an enormous amount of publicity and exposure. It seems everyone is Tweeting (as it’s called to send messages through Twitter) and quite often for no particular reason at all.

Unfortunately, Twitter has gained notoriety for being a platform where messages are distributed without a clear recipient, and often seem rather incoherent as the 140 characters limit isn’t especially conducive to correct grammar. But, there is a business application to Twitter which we’ll cover next.

For tips on how to best use Twitter, click here to access twitter for real estate twits. You can also read my recent article Twitter for Realtors®: A Focused Approach for Effective Marketing here.

Platform Integration: Twitter, Blog, LinkedIn & FaceBook

It’s easy to understand how many perceive social media marketing as requiring a lot of time. By using the right tools, though, it doesn’t have to be. By using syndication between all your platforms you’ll be able to drastically minimize the time you spend using these tools.

Here are a few steps you can take to minimize your effort yet maximize your exposure. Click here to view how it’s done conceptually.

1. Post updates only in your blog.

2. Add an automatic feed from your blog to FaceBook using an application called Notes. Click here to see how.

3. Add another automatic feed from your blog to Twitter using Twitterfeed.com. Click here to see how.

4. Add the WordPress application to your LinkedIn account. Click here to see how.

Once you’ve established your platform I suggest you spend some time to make sure each of your online profiles has links to all other profiles. For more ideas on how to fully integrate your platforms, click here to read Treating Every Social Network Profile as Your First Handshake, an article I recently wrote.

Want help to create your social media marketing platform? Attend PRO’s free Social Media Marketing Clinic where we’ll help you get started.

June 11, 2009 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m. Please click here to register.

June 25, 2009 from 9 a.m. – 11 a..m. Please click here to register.

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