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The Online Real Estate Marketing Chat: These Are the Questions Agents Are Asking Hobbs/Herder

There’s a little known free Hobbs/Herder program that provides free consultation and idea sharing on real estate marketing and real estate lead generation. It’s the Online Real Estate Marketing Chat held every third Thursday with President John Surge. Here’s an edited version to see the types of questions that get asked and answered. Our next chat is September 24, 2009 at 1oam PST.

Click here to learn more about our Online Real Estate Marketing Chat.



John Surge says:

The format for today’s chat is free-form questions and answers about any marketing related topic. Feel free to ask questions, interact with each other and pose follows. The goal is to provide insight and understanding in a format that you can print out once it is archived on HobbsHerder.com next week.

Blancaocrealtor says:
How often do you suggest sending mail my geographic farm and what material do you suggest to be more effective?

John Surge says:
Blanca, tell me more about what you are doing now.

Blancaocrealtor says:
Well, I am farming 2 times a month with neighborhood sales updates and client information from HUD and how not to lose their home. I am trying to focus on getting listings.

John Surge says:
In general, that’s a pretty solid plan. Your pieces should be strongly branded with your personal brand for name recognition and to build credibility. Neighborhood sales updates are good, but you need to think beyond that and add to your marketing mix with just listeds, just solds, testimonials from your clients, special report offers, etc. in addition to your market updates. Also, we recommend a minimum of two pieces per month as you are doing—is optimal or send 3-2-3, alternating months and send a mixture of PowerKards, personal letters, and AdKards. Your personal brochure should go out to your farm twice per year.

Blancaocrealtor says:
I just finished my photos for my personal brochure, so I plan on door knocking with that as well. Since money is tight I am trying to budget my marketing. What suggestions do you have for distributing the personal brochure? I plan on also using it on expireds, which I am trying to really work on.

John Surge says:
Blanca, I think you have to do what you have to do. The key with the Personal Brochure, and so many miss this, is to get it out there. Get it distributed. Get 30 to 50 in the hands of new contacts each week. Many agents shy away from this integral step. Door knocking is not something we se sustained, but if you can do it and stay committed, using your brochure is an outstanding tool and conversation starter. It’s also a way for you to own a piece of the homeowner’s mind. The brochure gives them a way to remember you. Door knocking is tough work so you need to make the most of it if you’re going to do it. The brochure is great for expireds and FSBOs (which will start to reappear as the market picks up). Use the brochure as lead follow-up, at open houses, in your networking, and don’t forget your sphere and, even though I don’t like the term, your “past” clients. The brochure is an outstanding referral tool.

Wright says:
John, do you feel that the social media we hear so much about in all the media is that successful for realtors?

John Surge says:
Wright, I think it will all shake out over the coming years. Some of it will prove not to have staying power and other sites will become as familiar as a cell phone. I would say to absolutely get involved. It’s critical that you engage but engage properly and with a strategy. Additionally, your social media content can also drive your website search position. The key overall with your marketing is to push out relevant content and connect with people personally and social media is an important tool to accomplish this. Like all tools, it’s one part of a marketing mix. That’s VIP. But go about it cautiously at first. Get some education. There’s an art to blending personal and professional and many agents don’t execute this with the necessary subtlety. Social Media should be a conversation, not a sales pitch.

Donna.Reid says:
What if your budget doesn’t allow farming a group of 1,000 homes? Does it make any sense to do a farm of 300?

John Surge says:
Donna, it really depends. You have to do the numbers and see how much business is coming from that group, how much market share you think you can obtain and whether those numbers support your goals. I would first make sure that you are doing sufficient work with your sphere and past clients. A farm of 300 as a building block, if you can make the ongoing commitment to building relationships, could be fine as a launching point. I like that better than starting with a larger number and stopping before the results kick in. Then look for other ways to network within that target market (farm area).

Chyrel Madden says:
We don’t feel our website is getting enough traffic. We have it on everything…all our advertising, letters, e-mails, etc. I know there’s a webinar coming up about SEO. Can you give some general hints?

John Surge says:
Chyrel, in general real estate agent websites are seeing less and less traffic so you have to keep upping the ante and your game. What will people get there when they visit? What will encourage them to come back? Content is key once you have a great branded website that leaves a positive reinforcement of you as a person and agent. That said, press releases, new content, search terms woven throughout your content, becoming familiar with Twitter and how it works with the search engines are all keys to having the search engines deem your site as worthy for a higher ranking. Additionally, an IDX feed is important as well as community information that is search term woven. A mistake is thinking that you can “set up and forget it” when it comes to a website. You need to be active and work with your web provider and allocate budget annually to your web strategy.

Romie Says:
John, what are your thoughts on using Simple Truths movies on a personal website?

John Surge says:
Romie, I think the bigger question for you is to decide the focus of your personal brand. If content from outside supports that, then that might work well. I wouldn’t put up content without a purpose.

donna.reid says:
Is there someone at Hobbs Herder who can help you with your website once it’s already established? Someone who could walk you through each of the buttons and tell you what you should have as information in each section?

John Surge says:
Donna, yes, we have regular small group webinars to start and can get you an orientation. Be in touch josh.hannum@hobbsherder.com and Josh can help you. We want you to use all the features we have built into your site to make it successful. Most agents use about 20% of the features.

romie says:
John, could you distinguish between coaching and consulting and provide the pricing options such as for ala carte & packages?

John Surge says:
Romie, well, there’s a fine line between the two. Our coaching program is a regularly scheduled once or twice per month call that intertwines system development, accountability, execution and best practices to help you work on your personal strengths and weaknesses and grow as an agent. It’s like having a personal trainer versus trying to exercise on your own. Or a coach in sports. Consulting is work done by our marketing experts for a particular issue you want feedback on or to solve an issue or advance your knowledge. You can contact kathleen.daugherty@hobbsherder.com, and she will be happy to walk you through options.

donna.reid says:
Speaking of coaching, does Hobbs Herder have a program that takes you from the beginning, eg. how to select a farm down to marketing and system implementation?

John Surge says:
Donna, absolutely. This is the core of our coaching program, helping you execute your plan. I think what you are describing is of immense value and provides a great foundation on which to build your business.

Chyrel Madden says:
What kind of print advertising is most effective (or not effective)?

John Surge says:
Chyrel, as far as advertising, there is no right answer to this question. It depends on your personal situation. What I can say is I love smaller, niche based and/or community publications that are deeply tied to your farm or niche or target market. These vehicles can be print (newsletters, newspapers, magazines), cable TV or websites. I am against “this versus that” because I feel the best marketing is integrated and holistic and also depends on each unique situation.

Cspringer says:
If we are new to the social networking do you have a suggestion which site is best to start with? Example: Trullia?, Facebook? etc.

John Surge says:
CS, I would get some research done. That said, Facebook and Twitter are key and LinkedIn is important. Starting with those three is your best bet. Trulia is not a social media site.

Chyrel Madden says:
What about the National Listing Services like Point 2NLS? Are these cost effective? If effective, is there a minimum # of listings to be cost effective?

John Surge says:
Chyrel, we do not work with these services. Some agents find them very effective and others not so much. Paying for leads is a slippery slope and you have to be very diligent in having a system and the dedication to slog through weak leads. You just need to do your research and be realistic. We tend to take the position that we want people to call you or email you or contact you based on your branding, reputation and credibility. They are calling YOU not getting you along with a house for sale or because they’ve shown an interest in buying. It’s not right or wrong but paid for leads will most often be of marginal quality. You’ll have to stay with them and sift through lots of poor quality. It’s like panning for gold. Hard work and the results can be spotty.

John Surge says:
OK, well we have about 10 minutes left. Please know this free resource of Hobbs/Herder takes place every Third Thursday at Ten pacific. 1 EST. The next chat is Sept. 22, 2009 [editor’s update: the chat has been moved to September 24, 2009] and today’s chat will be archived on HobbsHerder.com early next week. ALSO, VIP! Everything we have discussed here today there is an article about on HobbsHerder.com. Make sure you are receiving and reading our eNews every month to keep up on your marketing principles.

cspringer says:
Thanks, that is very helpful. I had forgotten about LinkedIn. It seems the social networking is the next big tool we should be utilizing.

John Surge says:
CS, there’s always a NEXT BIG THING in real estate, which is fine. But don’t forget the foundations of marketing and don’t flit. Think of it as building blocks. I do think it is important to get social media savvy and to have a presence on these sites.

blancaocrealtor says:
I use Twitter and Facebook. I try to post at least once a week. I find it a great networking tool.

John Surge says:
Blanca, that’s great. You have to be cautious not to be selling and you have to have strong “social” content that’s not business related. What we really suggest from a professional level is to let people into the world of real estate and help them experience the market through your eyes. Also, make sure you occasionally post that there’s new content on your website and be conscious of including search terms that are descriptive of your target market. Just saw the best value in all of north shore enclave real estate and I posted pictures at www.myname.com

blancaocrealtor says:
John, that is a great idea to post about a great home you just previewed etc.

John Surge says:
OK, let’s finish things up. You’ve been a great chat group and I appreciate your time and attention. Stay in touch with Hobbs/Herder through this chat, our seminar conference calls http://www.hhcalls.com, our website, eNews…so many great free resources to keep your real estate marketing knowledge sharpened.

donna.reid says:
Thanks for all the advice, John!

blancaocrealtor says:
This chat is a great example of instant information via technology. Thanks John.

John Surge says:
Take care. Your success is what drives and inspires everyone here at Hobbs/Herder. See you next month. I am signing off.

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