Mathias Bergendahl's Marketing Blog


Tips on How to Effectively Communicate Your Value Proposition

The value we’ll receive when we’re in the market for a product is relatively apparent before we make our final purchase decision. By seeing the product, and from reading specifications, we get a sense of what features are offered and, most importantly, if and how they will meet our needs.

How we as consumers make a decision on which service provider to hire is a different process. Whether the desired outcome of the hiring of a professional such as an attorney, CPA or Realtor® will be met isn’t always evident upfront. Rather than judging on what we visually can see, we generally make our decision based on how we perceive service providers, the marketing messages they provide and testimonials provided by others.

As marketers of intangible services we need to communicate with our audience differently than if we offered a product. Here are a few tips on what you can do to effectively communicate your value proposition.

Fine Tune a Compelling Message

“What’s in it for me?” Every visitor to your website, reader of your newsletter, and recipient of your postcard will ask themselves that very question. Unless they find a message that specifically addresses a particular need they have, there’s a good chance they’ll continue their online search or throw away your marketing materials. And, given our impatience when we seek out information online, that message needs to be visible to the visitor within the first three seconds.

A value proposition is a statement you give of what a consumer can expect from a relationship with you. Such a message should give the reader a concrete example of what you’ll do for them, and why you should be trusted to assist them.

While the message “Pinellas County Realtor® for 15 years” is rather weak, a description that will outline the process by which you’ll assist them is more likely to get their attention and especially generate interest to find out more. Your first introduction to prospective customers should consist of a compelling message conveying the value you bring, using words that will resonate with the audience you’re targeting.

Give a Preview

Since the vast majority of prospective homebuyers begin their search online it’s not unlikely that their first introduction to your business will be through your website, blog, or maybe even your Facebook or LinkedIn profiles.

Consider adding a segment on your website or blog that describes how you work. You could create a web page with a description “My Service Model” or “My Home Buying and Selling Process” where you specify, step by step, how you assist your clients. How will you market a home? Will you suggest any changes to the home itself to make it more marketable? How do you generally go about pricing a home and more specifically, what’s the impact of pricing given the increasing rate of foreclosures in the area you serve? Do you typically employ new technologies as part of your marketing plan? Discuss your commitment to being available and speak to the response time your customers can expect when working with you. Make sure to point out the various ways consumers can contact you, especially using new technologies such as text message, and even instant message.

Talk about the responsibilities of sellers and buyers through the process as well. Most consumers may not be aware that you’ll be there to assist them with any home they’re looking at, not just those you have listed. In fact, I often hear of consumers who independently from their Realtor® find a home and automatically call the listing agent rather than the agent who’s been assisting them. Knowing that consumers may not have any prior experience buying a home, tell them how it works upfront.

Provide resources where customers can follow the marketplace such as your blog, Facebook profile, website, etc. Populate all online platforms with pictures, community descriptions, maps, and marketplace statistics in order to show that you truly possess the knowledge required to adequately assist them. Describe how they will be able to engage with you through a free Listingbook account you’ll set up for them. Tell them about a daily morning report with details on new properties coming on the market they’ll receive and mention that they’ll be able to read any feedback from visitors to their home.

Here are some actionable ideas:

A while back I wrote the article The Realtor Yard Sign: An Often-Forgotten Marketing Tool, which describes how to make the most of the Realtor yard sign by allowing prospective clients to send a text message, and in return receive photos and a video tour, while standing outside a home. If you’re using such a service, tell those looking to sell their homes. Better yet, give them the code of a property you currently have listed and invite them to view it. Will you use a virtual tour? Tell them. Will you post videos from around the home? Tell them. Will you create a photo album on Facebook, Flickr.com, and Photobucket.com? Tell them that too. And, show them examples of your marketing campaigns, including photos, virtual tours and videos.

Without necessarily giving away the details, describe how you go about working with sellers and buyers respectively. Furthermore, outline what consumers can expect from you, and also what you expect from them. Consumers, both buyers and sellers, will want to know what you’ll do to help them achieve their goals before they even contact you.

Let Others Speak on Your Behalf

The power of testimonials cannot be overstated. Consumers expect to hear positive statements from you, and will likely ignore most marketing messages that seem to promotional. What to do? Ask those you’ve served in the past to write a brief testimonial. In fact, bring a camcorder to closings and ask if you can tape a testimonial once the home purchase is completed. Make sure to publish testimonials online at every social networking platform and profile you have and include them in your printed marketing materials. To really make the process of taping vide easy, and inexpensive, consider buying a flip video with which you can both shoot and edit video clips.

Ask Before You Tell

Before you start crafting your value proposition, ask those who know you the best: past clients. Reach out to those you’ve served and ask them what they valued the most when working with you. That way you’ll be able to increase the likelihood that your marketing message will better resonate among those you want to reach. And, don’t just do it once and expect the message you’ve created will remain effective forever. Reach out frequently to make sure your messages remain timely and always relevant to the ever-evolving needs of consumers.

Effectively, your value proposition should help illuminate what you’ll do for consumers in need to either buy or sell a home. Hopefully these few tips will help.

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Often when I teach social media marketing members ask how to best increase the number of visits to the blogs they’ve built in class. There are certainly various tactics available, most of them depending on which target group you hope to reach. In my case, my goal is to share articles that I write for our local members with professionals around the country in hopes they’ll find them useful. That’s why I typically provide links to my articles on the NAR LinkedIn Group. This article was no exception as I posted it to the group the other day. I always value feedback and certainly additional resources that will enhance the message I wanted to convey with my article. Last night I was pleased to find a response from Marilyn Wilson, owner of the WAV Group, through the NAR Group. She shared with me two resources that I wanted to pass along to readers of this article. Click here to learn about what Marilyn’s company refers to as Edutizing.  If you want to read tips on reputation marketing, another article by the WAV Group, please click here.

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Ten Ideas for Creating an Effective Social Media Marketing Time Management Routine
August 5, 2009, 1:27 pm
Filed under: General Marketing Topics, Realtor Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Do you go into your local grocery store with a detailed shopping list, or do you typically fill your cart as you steer it around the store? Unless you have a specific plan of what you need to buy, and aim for it as soon as you enter the door, you’ll probably spend more time and money than you initially had planned. And, you’ll probably walk away with bags full of groceries you really didn’t need but were tempted to buy.

Logging on to a social network is a bit like entering your local grocery store. Without a specific plan on what you want to accomplish, you’ll likely spend more time than you initially had in mind, and, don’t forget, time is money. As soon as you enter any of the online networks, you’re bombarded with messages from your contacts and invitations to take whatever the “quiz du jour” may be.

Just as for any other business activity, I suggest you develop a plan for how you’ll manage your social media network. Here’s a list of ten ideas you can use to create an effective social media marketing time management routine.

1. Shakespeare in Cyberspace: To Be or Not to Be On Social Networks

The most basic premise of whether you should take time out of your day to engage in social media marketing in the first place is whether those you want to work with are there. If more than 80% of your target group isn’t likely to use social networks you should consider whether there’s much value for you to spend time there. Unless you actively correspond with your sphere of influence, and make new connections that could lead to business relationships, you’re likely to just spend time on non-essential things.

2. Avoid Mixing Business and Pleasure

Don’t comingle personal and business contacts as each group will have a completely different dialogue. The content you provide your professional sphere of influence should convey your knowledge and experience, not pictures from your most recent pool party or trip to the annual carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Consider setting up separate accounts on the platforms you use to make sure your contributions are suitable and attributable to each respective group.

3. Set Goals, and Enter to Execute

Not long ago I asked a member who attended one of the social media marketing classes I teach what he wanted to accomplish that day. “Today I will post one article at my blog, add pictures for an open house at FaceBook, and post an article at my NAR LinkedIn group.” He described how he has a goal each time he logs on to each network. Asked how he manages his time, he replied “I only spend the time I need to accomplish what I have to do in order to meet my business goals.” He further shared that each morning he checks newspaper websites for articles that will be of interest and value to those he’s connected with. Before he enters any of the platforms he’s on, he creates a Today’s To Do list. “It keeps me focused on the tasks at hand, and that way I don’t fall into temptation to participate in unnecessary conversations or activities,” he said. Within 20 minutes, he completed his lists of tasks. “I typically spend between 30 and 45 minutes each day on my social network, which is sufficient in order to keep an active online presence.”

4. Define the Purpose of Your Networks

What do you hope to accomplish by being on FaceBook? What do you use LinkedIn for? What’s your purpose of blogging?

By having a clear vision of what you want each platform to do for you, you are more likely to use them effectively towards the goals you’ve set out to achieve with your online presence. Click here to read Developing an Action Plan for Social Media Marketing, an article I wrote recently which describes the main uses of each platform.

5. Limit Your Time

If you’ve spent any time on FaceBook you’ve probably noticed how easy it is to get carried away. A friend suggests you take a quiz and once you’ve found out that if you were a rock star you’d be Madonna you discover pictures your friend posted of her new grandson that clearly you just can’t resist to view. Before long, you may find yourself commenting on what others are saying or maybe posting hourly status updates to describe what you currently are doing.

Got an egg timer? Consider setting it to whatever time limit you decide, and do what you initially set out to do.

6. Manage Your Tweets

7 a.m.: “I’m having breakfast.” 1 p.m.: “I’m in a meeting.” 5 p.m.: “Time to leave work.” 7 p.m.: “I’m off to the gym.” 11 p.m.: “Good night everyone.”

You get the idea, I’m sure. If you’re familiar with Twitter you’ve probably seen the most common use of the platform: providing the most mundane information to those who follow you. Twitter is an excellent communications vehicle when used correctly, but it should be used with caution. If someone perceives your never-ending updates about day-to-day things throughout the day as non-essentional, they’ll likely tune out and avoid your tweets. By the time you want to make sure you reach them, they’ll probably not notice.

In my opinion, every tweet should include a link to additional information. A single, 140-character long message is not likely to add any value to the reader. Consider this message: “I just read a great article about the housing market in the New York Times.” The message will do nothing for me. If instead the sender included a link to the actual article, it would be valuable.

7. Be a Resource, Not a Chatterbox

Perception is belief, as they say, and that very concept must be kept in mind when we engage in social media marketing. You want to be perceived as a busy professional, not a person without much else to do.

If you’ve been on ActiveRain you’ve probably come across articles you both agreed and disagreed with, maybe even commented on. For any given article on ActiveRain there are typically an endless number of comments. Many provide insightful suggestions complementing the writer of the initial blog post, but quite often comments aren’t much more than a waste of time for the individuals who write them. ActiveRain is an excellent platform to be on as you connect with peers from whom you can learn a lot and to whom you can establish yourself as an excellent resource. Just be mindful of the time you spend reading blogs and articles written by others, and the time you spend commenting on the articles you’ve read.

8. Publish Once, Appear Everywhere

Did you know that you can have your blog posts automatically appear on FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter? If you use WordPress for your blog you can easily set up a syndication network. Once you’ve signed up for syndication, each time you publish a blog post a link will appear on your FaceBook and LinkedIn profiles and as a Tweet within your Twitter account. The way you set that up is through what’s called a FaceBook application called Notes, which you access by clicking on the application button in the lower left corner of your FaceBook page. To set up a direct feed to LinkedIn you simply add WordPress in the application box you’ll find in the center of your LinkedIn profile. Adding a feed to Twitter is a bit more complex as you’ll need to set up what’s called an RSS feed at another website. One such website is Twitterfeed.com.

To learn more about how to syndicate your messages, click here to read Developing an Action Plan for Social Media Marketing.

9. Allow Readers to Subscribe to New Blog Posts

Want to make it easy for readers to remember your blog while also avoiding the need to constantly email your sphere of influence each time you publish a new article? Consider signing up for a Feedburner account, provided for free by Google.

By connecting Feedburner to your blog account you’ll be able to invite readers to subscribe to new blog posts. Those who sign up will receive your most recent article by email the day after it was published.

10. How to Avoid Time-Consuming Research for Story Ideas

A common question I receive is how to go about finding topics to write about and share through a social media network. Online research can be quite time-consuming and without a strategy for how to find story ideas you’re likely to spend more time than you have to spare.

First of all, consider setting up a free Google news alert for any specific subject you’d like to cover. Each time the topic is mentioned online you’ll receive an email with a link to the article that includes the subject you’re looking for.

You can also subscribe to RSS feeds from your favorite blogs and websites. To learn what RSS is, and what it can do for you, click here to watch a video on YouTube called RSS in Plain English by commoncraft.com.

Once you have found a story idea you like you can either write a summary and link to the article, or use the share function you find next to a video on YouTube or most often found next to an online article.

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