Winning Agent http://www.winningagent.com Sales That Work Thu, 30 Oct 2014 01:16:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Stress of Self-Improvement and How to Stop It http://www.winningagent.com/stress-self-improvement-stop/ http://www.winningagent.com/stress-self-improvement-stop/#respond Thu, 30 Oct 2014 01:16:31 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=2244 10 Tips for Reducing Stress NOW! If all this self-improving and stress relieving is getting on your nerves, here are seven ways you can avoid it altogether.

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How to stop the stress of self-improvement!

“Be all you can be!” the Army shouts. “You can have it all,” the latest self-help guru promises.

“10 Tips for Reducing Stress NOW!” Oh sure, if you have 30 minutes a day to meditate, an hour a day for yoga, five minutes every hour for deep breathing, time for a walk before dinner, and oh yes, be sure to go outside and play with your dog—pets are great stress relievers.

Right. If all this self-improving and stress relieving is getting on your nerves, here are seven ways you can avoid it altogether.

  1. Accept what is. If it’s pouring down rain and you have a major open house scheduled, you have two choices: either reschedule or make the house warm and welcoming with a hot beverage, fresh baked cookies, and a fire in the fireplace. Crying through the rain will only make you feel worse and won’t help your attitude with potential buyers. There are some things in life you just can’t change, including the weather. There’s a reason why “Go with the flow” sounds so peaceful.
  2. Accept what is, Part 2. Sure, if you were five years younger, five inches taller or five pounds thinner, if you made a little more money, improved your health, your marriage or your wardrobe, then all would be well. Here’s an idea: accept yourself exactly as you are right now. Give thanks for what you have. By accepting what is, you’re giving yourself the space and permission to enjoy the now without forever focusing on that elusive illusion that “someday” you’ll get all your ducks in a row and your life will be perfect. Ducks are disobedient creatures and they hardly ever line up in a row the way you want.
  3. Define self-improvement. We’re not suggesting that you sit around in your jammies, eat pretzels and bon bons, and give up on your life. But neither do you need to jump on the bandwagon of every new book, TV show, seminar or retreat that comes along just because everyone else is doing it. Instead, define what self-improvement means to you. When you identify that, you can start using your energy for doing what you want. Notice if your ideas about self-improvement make you feel happy and energized, or leave you with a sense of frustration and emptiness. Not feeling free to be yourself is the most stressful experience you can have, so drop the “shoulds” and all the stress they imply. I’ve made it a rule in my house that we are not to use the word should – try it and you will be surprised at how often you say it to yourself.
  4. Do one thing at a time. We all need goals in order to stay motivated and keep our lives on course. But multiple, competing, or enormously challenging goals can leave you exhausted and going nowhere fast. You’re probably not going to get married, have a child, finish your college degree, and increase your sales by 20%, all in the next year. Maybe not in this lifetime. If you want to finish your college degree, create a plan and start taking small, manageable steps in that direction.
  5. Stop reading. One very successful therapist who was turning 80 said she had found a great use for all the self-improvement books in her library. She put them into two large bags and used them for weight lifting practice. Her muscle tone improved and so did her stress level. Here’s the thing: no one has the answer. The latest #1 title on Amazon will not fix your life. Even if you buy into the latest, trendiest new life management plan, you’ll eventually give up on it and end up feeling like a failure because you tried yet one more thing that didn’t work.
  6. Start procrastinating. Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether! Don’t make snap decisions about what to do about your job, your children, your bank account, or your life. If you’re tempted to grab onto the next new thing, hit the pause button. If somebody calls with something you absolutely must do or some event you absolutely must attend, tell them you want to think about it. Wait a day. Better still, wait a week, or a month. Then let your spirit, your internal voice guide you to a decision. When it feels right, go for it. By then you’ll be doing what you want to do for all the right reasons.
  7. Please yourself. Self-improvement and self-care are not synonymous with self-ish. Taking on clients you don’t feel comfortable with, going places you don’t want to go, volunteering for causes you don’t support out of guilt or obligation—just say no. Trying so hard to please everyone that you sometimes you forget why you are even trying is a sure way to sentence yourself to self-imprisonment, not self-improvement.

Becoming a better person is a worthy goal and something we all strive to do in one way or another. Becoming a better person at the expense of your own mental and spiritual well-being is a price too high. Don’t pay it.

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Winning the Search Results Battle http://www.winningagent.com/winning-search-results-battle/ http://www.winningagent.com/winning-search-results-battle/#respond Tue, 28 Oct 2014 01:10:22 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3773 With Zillow.com and Trulia.com merging, and Realtor.com being acquired by News Corp, you might be thinking… how will anyone find me in this gigantic sea of web search results? Well one way is to pay for ad space on those portals. You may also be sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. That’s […]

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Winning the Search Results Battle

With Zillow.com and Trulia.com merging, and Realtor.com being acquired by News Corp, you might be thinking… how will anyone find me in this gigantic sea of web search results? Well one way is to pay for ad space on those portals. You may also be sharing on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets. That’s all well and good, but there is one thing to keep in mind. These sites are not owned by you or controlled by you. I believe that depending on them solely for your online presence is a huge mistake.

I recently read a post from Brian Clark of Copyblogger media on digital sharecropping. It’s a great analogy on what not to do when creating content.

What’s digital sharecropping, anyway?

Digital sharecropping is a term coined by Nicholas Carr to describe a peculiar phenomenon of Web 2.0.

One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few.

In essence digital sharecropping happens when you don’t own the place where your content lives – you’re just renting. Someone else is in control of the land you’ve built your digital house on. They reap the rewards. They can change pricing, policies or even remove your content at will. You’re just renting.

How can you protect your valuable content and build a web presence that is owned by you?
Be the landlord.

I recommend using WordPress to create your website. Own your domain name and make sure your website is self-hosted. Choose a managed host or shared host where you can freely move your site and your domain name at any time. This protects your inbound links, search rankings and all that SEO goodness you’ve built.

Leverage Your Strengths

What do you have that the portals don’t? While the big players have huge digital footprints, they do not have the one thing you do. Local knowledge and expertise. So leverage that to your advantage. You can do that in two ways.

1. Write regular local content on your website.

The first rule in real estate – All Real Estate is Local. If you are not writing regularly on your website you are missing a huge opportunity to promote your brand in local search results.

Here are some suggestions on what to focus on:

  • Local neighborhoods
  • Restaurants
  • Clubs and organizations
  • Community activities
  • Local market trends
  • Homeowner maintenance tips
  • School information
  • Property Tax Information
  • Current Events

Once you’ve written a post, use the social media outlets to drive traffic to your website content. Write a few sentences with a link to your post and share that on Facebook and Twitter. Share photos from your articles on Pinterest that link back to your website.

2. Add your local MLS IDX feed to your website and showcase listings in the area.

Be sure to select an IDX provider that uses an SEO friendly method to integrate the data into your website. I found that IDXBroker offers a flexible solution that is easy to customize and style. Get creative and insert listings into the posts you write. IDXBroker makes that easy to do. Create separate pages for each neighborhood you focus on and embed the listings into those pages. The listings will automatically be updated based on the criteria you’ve selected. Now your static pages are dynamic, and search engines visit pages where content changes frequently.

Remember that building a presence online takes time. Write local content regularly. Be consistent. Use social networks when appropriate to drive traffic to your website.

Over time, your efforts will help you win the battle for search results.

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Finish Strong: How to Make 2014 Your Best Year Yet http://www.winningagent.com/finish-the-year-strong/ http://www.winningagent.com/finish-the-year-strong/#respond Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:02:10 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3774 OK, so the stock market is jumping around like a flea on a hot griddle. And depending on where you are, the real estate market is either up, down, or flat. But the circumstances don’t need to dictate your outcome. If you finish 2014 strong, you’ll set the stage for even greater success in 2015. […]

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How to finish 2014 strong

OK, so the stock market is jumping around like a flea on a hot griddle. And depending on where you are, the real estate market is either up, down, or flat. But the circumstances don’t need to dictate your outcome. If you finish 2014 strong, you’ll set the stage for even greater success in 2015. How can you do that?

First of all, don’t let the upcoming holiday season turn into your excuse for slacking off. The myth that “nothing sells during the holidays” is just that—a myth. Even if things are slow, use the time to your advantage. You’re in control, so take charge and implement our four-point plan for finishing this year in style.

  • Re-evaluate
  • Reform
  • Relate
  • Resolve

1. Re-evaluate. When you saw November coming on the calendar, did you start to panic because you haven’t come close to accomplishing most of your 2014 goals? Or, (shame shame) did you neglect to set any goals at all? Beating yourself up about it now won’t accomplish anything, other than making you feel even more stuck and discouraged. Instead, pick one important thing that you could realistically accomplish before year’s end, and DO IT! It could be that continuing education course you need to take, or the paperwork backlog you need to clean up. Do whatever it takes and then congratulate yourself for your accomplishment. Nothing creates momentum like acknowledging yourself for even a small success.

2. Reform. Now’s the time for a little honest self-evaluation. Are you frustrating your colleagues because you’re late to work most days and missing important deadlines? If you need to get up half an hour earlier or write out a daily to-do list, start today. Even if you’re on top of your game at work, you might have some other habits you can change. Are you munching on cookies and potato chips when an apple is the better choice? Do you have a gym membership that’s getting rusty from lack of use? According to behavioral experts, it takes just 21 days (that’s three short weeks) to create a new habit. You don’t have to revamp your entire life. Just create one new (good) habit between now and December 31. You’ll feel stronger and more self-confident when you do.

3. Relate. How are you doing in the people skills department? Are there any bad feelings or miscommunications you need to clean up? That’s a good starting point. Then look for ways to create new, better, and stronger relationships. For example, you could choose to get more active in local civic organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce or the Rotary Club. Volunteer with the food bank or the local homeless shelter. Your first reaction may be, “This has nothing to do with my real estate business.” Maybe not directly, but you never know whom you’ll meet when you reach out to others. Today’s committee member may become tomorrow’s client.

If there’s someone you would like to get to know better, now is the time to make the effort. Whether it’s a work colleague, a neighbor, or an important local official, reach out. Invite him or her to join you for coffee or lunch, or attend a business networking event together. Building relationships today is the key to your professional success tomorrow.

4. Resolve. Start now to lay the groundwork for 2015. Do you need to learn a new skill? Enroll in a class or online training program that begins in January. Should you improve your social media presence? Make sure your Facebook and Twitter accounts are up to date and active. Develop a posting schedule and stick to it. Do you have a blog (or should you?) Work ahead on some articles you can post as soon as the holidays are over. No time for writing? Perhaps we can help. Do you need better equipment to improve your efficiency? If you’re craving the latest smart phone or tablet, now would be a good time to work on a budget and keep your eyes open for after-Christmas sales. Or write a letter to Santa. Who knows? It could work.

Your future and your present are in your hands. The situation in the world around you is of less importance than your attitude toward it. Finish 2014 strong, and 2015 will be your best year yet.

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Let’s Get Personal: Know What Your Clients Really Want From You http://www.winningagent.com/know-what-your-clients-really-want/ http://www.winningagent.com/know-what-your-clients-really-want/#respond Thu, 16 Oct 2014 03:03:02 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3751 In this environment where Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media seem to have taken center stage, it’s too easy to forget the personal touch. Clients aren’t going to ask for it, and you’ve probably been too busy to focus on it. So perhaps now is the time. Let’s consider six of the key touch […]

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Let’s Get Personal: Knowing What Clients Really Want From You

In this environment where Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and other social media seem to have taken center stage, it’s too easy to forget the personal touch. Clients aren’t going to ask for it, and you’ve probably been too busy to focus on it. So perhaps now is the time. Let’s consider six of the key touch points that routinely occur during a client transaction.

  • In the beginning
  • Face-to-face
  • As an advisor
  • As an advocate
  • Put it in writing
  • Never say goodbye

1. In the beginning. It doesn’t matter whether the client walks through your office door, comes to you via the Internet, or is referred by a mutual friend. The first touch point is the very first contact. Here’s where you set the tone for the entire relationship. Begin by getting on a first-name basis, if the client is comfortable with that. “Hi, I’m Wanda. What do you like to be called?” Once you’ve established that bond, ask a few open-ended questions that let the client know you’re interested in them as a person. Take notes while you’re talking. Here are some examples:

  • Why have you decided to move right now?
  • What is the most important thing to you in buying (or selling) your home?
  • Tell me about your last experience working with a Realtor.
  • What family members or others are going to be involved in your decision?

2. Face-to-face. Chances are you may not always be face-to-face with the client at the very first contact. You should make an effort to get that way as soon as possible. If the client is semi-local, schedule coffee or lunch. If the client is out of the area, use Skype or Facetime for phone calls when you can. Be sure your picture is on your web site, blog, email, and business card. If it’s going to be a long time before you’re physically in the same place, ask for a family picture via email, or “friend” them on Facebook.

3. As an advisor. The clients need to know you know your business. They will happily pay your commission if they feel they are getting the benefit of your knowledge and expertise on a regular basis. You need to prepare and interpret for your clients current market information such as recent sales trends, mortgage rates and future projections. You need to make them feel comfortable sharing income and other financial information with you so you can help them get pre-approved in a buying situation.

4. As an advocate. Being an advocate means you are passionate about getting the best possible deal for your clients in every transaction. The clients need to know you are going to bat for them with buyers, sellers, other Realtors, bankers, appraisers, and anyone else involved in the transaction. Of course this doesn’t mean steamrolling over everyone in your path. Use the Margaret Thatcher approach. She was called “the iron lady.” It is often said of people like Lady Thatcher that they use an iron fist in a velvet glove.

5. Put it in writing. The handwritten note has become the Tyrannosaurus Rex of the social media age. How long has it been since you got a written thank you note from anyone, including your kids? Especially including your kids! I’ve sent wedding and baby gifts to people, who are supposedly grownups (after all, they are marrying and reproducing) that were never even acknowledged. That’s just bad manners, so don’t you fall into the trap. Get some attractive postcards designed and hand-write a “nice to meet you” note after your first conversation or meeting. And of course a “welcome to your new home” note is always a nice touch.

6. Never say goodbye. It’s never over, not even when it’s over. Continue to keep in contact, however briefly, with your clients. You might do this once a year with a birthday card list, an “anniversary of your move” card, or any life event that might trigger congratulations, concern, or sympathy. Your client may stay in the same house for 25 years. But they know other people who don’t, and your name will be top of mind whenever a potential referral pops up.

Occasionally you may encounter a client who wishes to maintain an arms-length relationship. There are a few people who don’t welcome the personal touch, but they are definitely in the minority. You need to honor those feelings when they occur, and develop your intuition so you can sense exactly how much of your personal involvement is appropriate for each client and situation.

You know the old saying (attributed to Teddy Roosevelt): “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Words to live by.

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How to Create Visibility with Your Clients and Colleagues http://www.winningagent.com/create-visibility-clients-colleagues/ http://www.winningagent.com/create-visibility-clients-colleagues/#respond Thu, 09 Oct 2014 01:28:10 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3740 Are you getting noticed? Are you getting the clients crave and the credit you deserve? Do you feel like a mole in a hole some days? You’re working hard and doing all the right things but you’re going nowhere fast. Perhaps it’s time for a new game plan. We talk a lot in this blog […]

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How to create visibility with your clients and collegues

Are you getting noticed? Are you getting the clients crave and the credit you deserve? Do you feel like a mole in a hole some days? You’re working hard and doing all the right things but you’re going nowhere fast. Perhaps it’s time for a new game plan.

We talk a lot in this blog about the importance of creating a great web site, writing an upbeat blog, having a high profile on social media. And all of those things are important. However, all the media in the world won’t be nearly as effective without YOU. How to you become a high visibility person? Here are four key components you can work on, starting now.

  • Show up
  • Stand up
  • Speak up
  • Join up
  1. Show up. No, we’re not just talking about getting to staff meetings on time or meeting clients when you say you will. Showing up means being highly visible. The easiest way to do this is to learn some new skills that will expand your knowledge and set you apart from your peers. Ideas: (1) become your firm’s social media authority. (2) Become a subject matter expert in foreclosures, new state laws that affect your business, or topic that’s hot around the water cooler in your firm. (3) Take an online course designed to enhance your skills in an area where you feel inadequate. Challenge: which one of these could you begin to implement this week?
  1. Stand up. This means to stand up for yourself in situations where you might be ignored or overlooked. You can do this with clients as well as with colleagues. Talk to your team leader or principle broker several times a week, even if he or she doesn’t appear to be responsive. Go to them with new ideas, however small, and eventually they will notice that you are often the center of attention when things are getting done. In addition, find yourself an advocate. This individual could be inside or outside your firm. It’s probably someone you already know. Ask that individual to speak on your behalf whenever it’s appropriate. This means calling your boss to tell him you gave a great speech at the Rotary club last week or you finally got a listing from the relatives of an estate who have been dragging their feet for months. Challenge: can you find an advocate this week?
  1. Speak up. This is one of the hardest things for most people to do. And what happens as a result is that your colleagues and competitors are walking away with the kudos and the goodies while you’re still sitting at the table. You have to be willing to speak on your own behalf. You have to let people know when you’ve done good work or contributed to the success of the team in some way. A lot of people speak up and take credit for things they didn’t do totally on their own. Let’s say, for example, that Barb just landed a hot new client and she’s sharing her success in the weekly staff meeting. Without diminishing Barb in any way you say, “Barb’s presentation to the Jones family was outstanding. I think the Power Point I put together really helped them see how the market is trending in the neighborhoods they are considering.” Challenge: when is the next opportunity you might have to show off your contribution to a team project?
  1. Join up. The most successful Realtors we know are the ones who are active in the community. First, consider what are the happening organizations in your market area? Is it the Chamber of Commerce? Rotary Club? Kiwanis? Caveat: don’t run out and join all of them or you’ll spread yourself too thin and you won’t make much of a contribution anywhere. Find the organization that’s fun, active, and where you feel most comfortable. And don’t just join up—get active. Get on a committee, volunteer to greet guests at weekly meetings or find a speaker for an upcoming program. Make it a point to see and be seen regularly. Challenge: How many local civic organizations can you research during the next month?

Personal visibility doesn’t just happen. You have to create it. If you’re not consistently visible, chances are you are in-visible. Make sure your accomplishments are getting noticed by people who count, both inside and outside your firm. Let them know about successful projects you’ve worked on. Praise your colleagues and team members publicly for their accomplishments and they’ll return the favor. Develop allies and advocates, both inside and outside the company, who will speak about you to people who matter. Don’t think your work will speak for itself. It won’t. You’re the one who can make that happen.

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How to Write Smashingly Successful Copy Every Single Time! http://www.winningagent.com/how-to-write/ http://www.winningagent.com/how-to-write/#respond Thu, 25 Sep 2014 02:29:37 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3704 Make Your Blog Posts Sizzle “Oh sure,” you’re saying to yourself. “I’ll never be a writer. I nearly flunked sophomore English. Are you kidding me?” Not so fast. You too can write. Maybe not Shakespearean sonnets. Maybe not the Great American Novel. But you can, if you follow our success tips, write well and do […]

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How to Write Smashingly Successful Copy Every Single Time

Make Your Blog Posts Sizzle

“Oh sure,” you’re saying to yourself. “I’ll never be a writer. I nearly flunked sophomore English. Are you kidding me?” Not so fast. You too can write. Maybe not Shakespearean sonnets. Maybe not the Great American Novel. But you can, if you follow our success tips, write well and do it consistently. You can create your own blog. You can write fabulous property descriptions that make buyers want to click through for more information. Here’s our six-step program.

  • Read more
  • Brainstorm
  • Outline
  • Free Write
  • Write, Write, Write
  • Check grammar

OK, let’s get started.

1. Read more. You will never become a good writer unless you program your mind to recognize what good writing is. This means reading. Good writing is not found in text messages, Tweets, or Facebook posts. It’s found in best-selling fiction and non-fiction. It’s found on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal (sometimes) or USA Today (even if you don’t agree with their opinions!) It’s not usually found in US Weekly or People, and definitely not in the National Enquirer. Discipline yourself to become a good reader.

2. Brainstorm. This means jotting down (or voice recording) every idea about your topic or project that pops into your head. No censoring, no evaluating—just write it down. This phase might also include research. For example, if you want to write a blog about local restaurants in your neighborhood that are family-friendly, or upscale bistros that feature Italian food, Google and take notes. (Hint: you don’t have to visit every restaurant personally, unless you really crave Italian food!)

3. Outline. Warning: do not skip this step. Unless you are writing a simple three-sentence email to your mother, every piece of good writing needs an outline. An outline is like a road map. If you were going to drive from San Francisco to Denver, you’d use a map or GPS. You could just start out driving from west to east, but if you didn’t have some sort of guide, you might end up somewhere totally unexpected, and not at all where you planned to be. Novice writers think they can just jump in and start putting ideas on paper. You can, but that’s the brainstorming part (see above). Now you need to put those ideas into some sort of order, and possibly discard some of the material that doesn’t fit. Using the Italian restaurant example again, you might want to go with each restaurant’s specialties, compare prices, mention low calorie or vegetarian alternatives. If you know where you’re going, the journey will be much easier.

4. Free Write. This is how you get started writing. It’s also a well known technique for breaking through writer’s block. It means just grabbing your pen or your laptop and writing down anything that comes into your head. You may start out with something that seems totally irrelevant, such as “Why am I doing this? I have no idea what to write. I don’t even like Italian food. Who’s going to be interested in anything I have to say? Well, it’s not just pizza—I could start with that.” You see where this technique can lead? Pretty soon you’ve started writing your blog or article, and before long you’ve actually got something interesting on paper.

5. Write, Write, Write. Becoming a good writer means you have to write. Regularly and a lot. I understand, writing is not your main profession—you’re a Realtor and your job is to sell properties. But unless you want to pay a professional to write everything for you (and we can help, if that’s your choice), you’ll need to make writing a discipline and a habit. For example, nothing says “neglect” on your personal web site like a blog that hasn’t been updated for five weeks. Your readers will quickly become bored and stop looking. You need something fresh and interesting at least once a week. So put it on your calendar—you write for two hours every Monday, or 30 minutes a day, four days a week, or 15 minutes at 6 a.m. every day—whatever suits your style and schedule.

And if you do this, you will get better. Just the other day I read a terrific quote by the world-famous cellist, Pablo Cassals. When he was 90 years old, someone asked him why he still bothered to practice. “Because,” he said, “I think I’m improving!”

6. Check Grammar. This is the final step before you post that blog or submit that article. Proofread yourself, if you’re good at that. Ask someone else to proofread too—a second set of eyes is like extra insurance. And you may also opt to use one of the automated grammar checkers (we like Grammarly—check it out at www.grammarly.com.) Nothing turns a reader off more than subjects and verbs that don’t agree, or using a word that sounds right but is the wrong word. Do you know the difference between site, cite, and sight, for example? Lots of people use words incorrectly. And lots of readers know the difference (like my wife :-) ).

So you may not be another Hemmingway in the making, but if you follow this six-point plan, I can almost guarantee you’ll be a good writer, and who knows? You might even enjoy it!

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Yes, Zillow Is Buying Trulia – Should You Be Concerned? http://www.winningagent.com/zillow-is-buying-trulia/ http://www.winningagent.com/zillow-is-buying-trulia/#respond Mon, 08 Sep 2014 19:45:31 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3679 It’s almost a done deal, Zillow is buying Trulia. As of July 28, 2014, and for a mere $3.5 billion, Zillow, the industry’s real estate listing leader, bought Trulia, the industry’s #2. In the month before the sale, Zillow logged 53.8 million viewers and Trulia had 31.6 million. That’s a whopping 85 million viewers and […]

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Zillow eats Trulia

It’s almost a done deal, Zillow is buying Trulia. As of July 28, 2014, and for a mere $3.5 billion, Zillow, the industry’s real estate listing leader, bought Trulia, the industry’s #2. In the month before the sale, Zillow logged 53.8 million viewers and Trulia had 31.6 million. That’s a whopping 85 million viewers and now Zillow owns them all! Why is that important to you?

There are three major fears or downsides many Realtors have about this emerging giant in the industry.

  • The newly merged company will have a lot of power over listings and may raise the fees they charge you.
  • The strength of online listing business is growing, while the local MLS services are showing some weakness.
  • Although they have avoided it in the past, the size of the new company may make it attractive for them to get into the brokerage business.

Here’s the backstory on how this deal got put together. Zillow, the industry leader, has long been the best known player in the market, with its popular “Zestimates” of property values a feature that’s well-liked by homeowners everywhere. Trulia, on the other hand, has some cool tools that tend to attract both buyers and sellers. The two competitors admired each other’s complementary skills. Many homeowners used both sites, but Zillow particularly noted that about half of Trulia’s visitors never logged on to Zillow, while two-thirds of Zillow’s users never looked at Trulia. So the courtship began.

It didn’t last long. In six months, the marriage was complete, with Zillow paying, in stock, 0.444 one of its shares for one share of Trulia. The total deal is valued at $3.5 billion. The company will operate under the Zillow name and will expect to realize $100 million savings through economies of scale by 2016.

“This follows on Zillow’s aggressive path to dominate the residential real estate space and become the undisputed leader in providing consumer-convenient, one-stop home shopping information,” said Stefan Swanepoel, a consultant and author on real estate trends. “Life for all other real estate portals will become twice as hard.”

The company plans to continue maintaining both brands, since they believe their overlap is minimal. Maintaining both brands within the same corporate parent will allow “us to better serve a larger audience, while taking advantage of certain shared back-end services,” says Zillow president Steven Rascoff.

According to Bloomberg, Zillow’s deal to buy Trulia will create a Goliath of online real estate listings and home values. A survey of analysts, speaking off and on the record, showed that none had serious concerns about antitrust issues with the deal. The National Association of Realtors reportedly wants federal antitrust regulators to block Zillow’s planned acquisition of Trulia, but there are no signs that the Federal Trade Commission plans to intervene. If you have strong feelings about this issue, contact your local Board of Realtors or the appropriate Federal agency.

So apparently the competition for your client’s attention and business is heating up, along with the market itself. What is the savvy Realtor to do?

  1. Use it to your advantage. The new company claims it will offer far more options to sellers and Realtors in terms of listing and advertising their properties. Educate yourself. Get to know the sites intimately and understand what they have to offer. Be sure your name, contact information, and a good professional photograph are present under their “Agents” listing. Over time, make a point to track your clients and find out where they are coming from. If even one deal came from Zillow or Trulia, it’s worth your time and money to be present there. And if that trend grows, your presence becomes even more important.
  1. Keep your own Internet presence highly polished. This means you have a professional web site that’s fresh, contemporary, up to date and highly interactive. It means you’re easy to reach via phone and email. It means your information is as current as today’s headlines. And it means if a potential client Googles “Realtors Yourtown,” your name comes up at or near the top of the list. (Note: if your web site doesn’t meet these criteria, we can help. Check out our special web site offer and let’s talk.)
  1. Capitalize on personal service. Neither Zillow nor Trulia offers visitors the warm, personal experience that you, the individual Realtor, can provide. No one there will hold an open house, help nervous first-time buyers navigate the mortgage market, or come to closing with a bouquet of flowers and the keys to their new house. A home is probably the biggest investment many of your clients will ever make. They want and need someone to be there with them in person, not be some vague presence at the other end of a mouse.

Don’t let this deal frighten or intimidate you. Here’s why: Zillow and Trulia combined control less than a 4% share of the estimated $12 billion spent annually on real estate advertising. Most real estate advertising is still done by Realtors like you who buy space in newspapers, put up billboards, send out direct mail, and pay for good web sites. So use this as an opportunity to reevaluate your marketing strategy and improve your impact every way you can. You’re still in charge!

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Is Your Web Site an Expense or an Investment? http://www.winningagent.com/web-site-expense-investment/ http://www.winningagent.com/web-site-expense-investment/#respond Thu, 04 Sep 2014 01:27:56 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3621 Point of View: Is Your Web Site an Expense or an Investment? Whether you already have a web site, or you’re just in the “thinking about it stage,” the ultimate success of your site depends on whether you view it as an expense or an investment. Here’s why that makes a difference. If you see […]

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How to Raise Your PQ (Perception Quotient) In 5 Easy Steps

Point of View: Is Your Web Site an Expense or an Investment?

Whether you already have a web site, or you’re just in the “thinking about it stage,” the ultimate success of your site depends on whether you view it as an expense or an investment. Here’s why that makes a difference.

If you see your web site as an expense, you’ll probably cringe every time you have to pay the hosting fee, pay a designer for an upgrade, or pay a professional copywriter to create the sparkling copy that will turn your visitors into fans and clients.

However, if you see your web site as an investment, then you can take the long view, painlessly put together a budget, outline the results you want to achieve, and develop a clear plan for creating the site that will deliver your message. Here are your guiding principles for getting from here to there.

Principle #1: You are a Realtor, not a web designer. You need a web site tailored specifically for a real estate professional, which you can customize with your own unique touches. In short, you need to invest in a sleek, high profile web site that is easy to get up and running, simple to maintain, and cost effective. Sound too good to be true? Not necessarily.

Principle #2: It doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whatever amount you decide to invest, you need to focus on your ROI (Return on Investment). Accept the fact that your phone won’t start ringing with calls from prospective clients the moment your website goes live. “If you build it, they will come” does not apply. So we’ll move on to:

Principle #3: Promotion gets attention. This starts with publicizing your web site address in every piece of written communication you send out. It belongs in your signature block on every email. It is visible on every ad, on your business card, in your Tweets and Facebook posts. When you can, link to and from other sites of mutual interest, such as mortgage brokers, developers, contractors, appraisers—any service provider that can benefit your clients.

Principle #4: Freshness keeps them coming back. Your web site should be updated weekly. That means, at the very least, creating a “breaking news” space near the top of your home page where you post information about current mortgage rates, market trends, neighborhood happenings, (think hyperlocal content), price reductions, and new listings – and no you don’t have to name it that. A blog that provides how-to tips for both buyers and sellers can be a great draw. Remember, your clients don’t know what you know—that’s why they hired you. And of course, every time you do a major update, you’ll promote it. (See #3, above.)

Still doubtful? Feeling out of your depth? Check out our Winning Agent Pro Special Offer. It’s our customized web site package designed specifically for Realtors and only for Realtors. It will get you started down the right path and we’ll be there for you, every step of the way, from domain registration to final launch. We’ll even create copy, if that’s not your thing.

So look to the future. A year from now, two years from now, use this checklist to see if you’ve invested in yourself, and done it successfully:

  • Your web site is a key piece of your overall marketing strategy.
  • You’re showing up near the top in major search engines.
  • You use Google Analytics or a comparable metrics analysis to keep up with trends and track your effectiveness.
  • You’re promoting changes to your site regularly with email blasts and frequent use of social media.
  • Your clients find something of value every time they visit your site.

Here’s the bottom line. An expense represents a product you’ve bought and paid for. Now you own it.  But it provides no ongoing benefit and will probably even lose value after a time. Your copy machine or tablet are good examples.

On the other hand, an investment is resource that you spend money on which then provides you with a measurable return. Let’s say, for example, that you spend $500 to create and launch your site. If it brings you one new client, it’s pretty much paid for itself.

If your website brings you one new client, it’s pretty much paid for itself.
- Winning Agent

So depending on your point of view, your web site can be either an investment or an expense. You just need to answer this simple question: does your site make money for you? Savvy Realtors know that their money should work for them, not the other way around.

Get Your Website Now

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Reminder: Keys To Success http://www.winningagent.com/reminder-key-to-success/ http://www.winningagent.com/reminder-key-to-success/#respond Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:38:11 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3646 Reminder – the last person you want to work with is the one who focuses on your income and not what you are doing for them #keytosuccess Tweet This… The last person you want to work with is the one who focuses on your income & not what you do for them #keytosuccess http://t.co/Iz32vQPFtT — […]

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Reminder – the last person you want to work with is the one who focuses on your income and not what you are doing for them #keytosuccess

Tweet This…

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Leadership Essentials: How and When to Be A Good Follower http://www.winningagent.com/leadership-essentials-good-follower/ http://www.winningagent.com/leadership-essentials-good-follower/#respond Thu, 28 Aug 2014 01:30:27 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3614 More than a few thousand books have been written on leadership—how to be a better leader, how to become a leader if you’re not, what qualities constitute a good leader. Leadership seems at times to be the holy grail for which all business people should be striving. But what if there is another side to […]

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Leadership Essentials: How and When to Be A Good Follower

More than a few thousand books have been written on leadership—how to be a better leader, how to become a leader if you’re not, what qualities constitute a good leader. Leadership seems at times to be the holy grail for which all business people should be striving. But what if there is another side to this coin?

What if leadership is not always the ultimate goal?

One of my church pastors once told me (right after I had been named Chair of the Board), “In order to be a leader, you must first learn to be led.” What if the foundation of good leadership is actually good follower-ship?

Here are five key situations or scenarios where being a good follower is essential to your success.

  • When you’re the new kid on the block
  • When you’re in over your head
  • When you’re the only one in the parade
  • When you don’t have a clue
  • When the role makes you tired
  1. When you’re the new kid on the block. This happens to all of us, probably multiple times during our careers. Maybe you’ve just joined a new firm, just been promoted to team leader or principle broker, or just hung out your shingle in a new neighborhood. This is not the time to demonstrate what a great leader you are. If indeed you are, people will find out eventually. Instead, follow the 70/30 rule: listen 70% of the time and talk 30%. Resist the temptation to get attention tout your recent wins and successes. Instead, ask questions of people who’ve been around the block a few more times than you have. Ask co-workers to explain procedures. Take notes.
  2. When you’re in over your head. You’ve been struggling for months to put a deal together and now it’s about to blow up in your face. The person who knows this particular set of circumstances best is, in fact, one of your major competitors. You know you should pick up the phone and call him, but your hand is frozen. Swallow your pride, thaw out, and make the call. The old cliché, “What goes around comes around,” is actually true. One day the situation will be reversed, or your competitor will be in a position to send a referral your way and he’ll remember what a great follower you were.
  3. When you’re the only one in the parade. You’ve been championing a new idea for months. You’ve lobbied everyone in the company, from the owner to the guy who delivers bottled water, but you’re just not getting any traction. It’s time to stop the music. Possibly your idea has merit but this is just not the right time. Perhaps you need to reconsider and reorganize. Whatever the reason, put it on the shelf for now and look around for someone else’s project you can get behind and support. Don’t try to take it over and don’t take any if the credit if it succeeds. Just offer your support and quietly begin speaking to others about it. You’ll be remembered for your follower-ship skills.
  4. When you don’t have a clue. We’re all put into positions from time to time when we have to learn something new. The company just put in a new computer system. The real estate laws in your state have undergone a major change. The company has been sold and you’re under new management. Now is not the time to act like you know something when you don’t. Instead, adopt the concept taught by many Asian business leaders: beginner’s mind. This means being totally open to new ideas, feeling eager to know more. Choose to ignore what you think you already know. Beginner’s mind is actually the place where your mind does not know what to do. But you remain available to find out.
  5. When the role makes you tired. We all know the saying, “Unless you’re the lead dog, the scenery never changes.” Philosophically, that may be true, but always having to be up front can be exhausting. (Ask any sled dog.) Needing to know all the answers all the time can create a level of stress that will wear you down. If you let this go on long enough, you’ll be of little use to anyone, not even yourself. So take a leadership sabbatical. Gracefully back out of leadership roles, committee chairmanships, other high profile responsibilities. Concentrate on your core business, on building client relationships and applying your leadership skills to your own business portfolio. It doesn’t have to last forever (unless you want it to) and the results may surprise you.

Are there places in your business right now where you’d love to play the follower role? Give it a try for 30 days or even six months and see what happens.

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