Archive for August, 2008

Why do Brokers SPAM Their Agents?

August 30, 2008

The cheapest form of communication for brokers to release information to their agents is email.  Sure, you can call every agent.  Sure, you can leave voice messages.  Sure you can post it on the office bulletin board.  Faster, cheaper, and reliable is why brokers will rely on email as the single most effective source to communicate with their agents.

But how reliable?

I mean what is the conversion rate of the emails that are sent to your agents?

How many agents open their emails?

How many agents click on the links in the emails?

How many times are the attachments opened?

The answer to this question is most don’t know because they don’t know how.  Tracking online behavior of agents in the office is just as important as the tracking the customers that you are trying to serve.

Here is my solution to this dilemma.

RSS

Really Simple Syndication (RSS)will allow agents to choose what types of information they want to subscribe to that is important for the success of the office.  A blog or enhanced email marketing software will allow brokers to add content about important notices, status changes, and market updates will help keep their agents in the loop without flooding their agents’ inbox with unsolicited mail.

Types of RSS feeds Brokers Can Use

Open houses for offices

New listings

Broker tour of properties

Policy changes

Advertising samples

Schedules, events, or meetings

The listserv and distribution lists are not working.  How will brokers face the dilemma of remaining relevant in email inboxes?

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My Trip to South Dakota

August 29, 2008

Wow!  What an amazing trip.  I have never had so much fun teaching before.  I don’t know if it was because the venues were perfect, the hotels were just right, or it was the rain but everything turned out awesome.  My trip day teaching trip first started out in Pierre, South Dakota.  I flew into Sioux Falls where I picked up my rental car and met my client Michelle, who gave me a tour of the Falls.  The day was so beautiful with clear skies and no rain.  It was just great being outside and enjoying the weather for once.

Afterward, I drove 3.5 hours to Pierre where I was to prepare a two day Instructor Development Workshop for the South Dakota Real Estate Commission.  The group was great, asked a lot of good questions and was inspired to take action from some of the technical and not so technical concepts of how to use PowerPoint effectively in their presentations.

On Tuesday I covered the “Creative Communication Beyond the Classroom” 4 hour course which included online social networking, blogging, Google Docs, RSS, and YouTube.  You could see the wheels turning in everyones’ heads during the demonstrations and the discussion prompted during the breaks.

After that session I headed back to Sioux Falls to give my last presentation.  The Education Director – Michelle – had given her members a survey a few months back to see what they wanted to learn about technology.  The results came back website and email marketing.  I customized the presentation from existing courses I had to give them something they had never seen before with an extra  punch.  WOW!

It was like magic.  Everyone laughed at my jokes, people were writing notes furiously, and not afraid of asking questions – an instructor’s dream!  I thought to myself… is this just the nicest group ever or have I finally reached a point where I was able to truly connect with an audience.

Thank you to Karen Callahan of the South Dakota Real Estate Commission and Michelle Ahrens of the REALTOR Association of the Sioux Empire for making this trip possible.  I was very thankful for the opportunity to share my knowledge with you and your members.

Read the letter of recommendation from the trip

Should Brokers Have Control Over Online Social Networking

August 28, 2008
This is a tough one

This is a tough one

An online social profile is a very, intimate piece of marketing, advertising, and communication.  It allows the person to express who they really are so that they can associate with other like-minded people.  The agent has the ability to control who sees what part of their profile, who they associate with, and the comments that are made back and forth with each person.  Since the supervising broker is responsible for the actions of their agents should brokers have control over the profiles of online social networks?

Here are my questions:

1.      Does a broker have the ability to control what happens on an agent’s profile?

2.      Can a broker be liable for the actions that take place on their agents’ profile?

3.      Does the broker reserve the right to terminate an agent solely based on their personal profile?

4.      Should brokers require their agents to join their network, be friends, or participate in the same group?

5.      Can a broker reprimand an agent who recommends another agent or broker (competitor) in the same market?

6.      Should agents keep their online social profiles separate from personal and business?

There are no rules that have been established yet in this game.  Brokers will need to re-examine their policies and procedures to ensure that their agents are abiding by Fair Housing, Code of Ethics and state license laws on a regular basis.

Where does it end?

It won’t.  Free applications, widgets, websites, blogs and profiles will continue to flood the internet making it virtually possible for brokers to keep track of every single agent and their actions on the web.  The best way I can think of is to create Google Alerts for every one of their agents.  There may be others so please make a comment based on what trends you may see.

Potential PowerPoint Problems

August 25, 2008

Never make the same mistake twice

Never make the same mistake twice

If you rely on technology as the solution to your entire PowerPoint presentation then you will eventually have problems.  When it works right you look like a star.  In a perfect world all the slides transition correctly, video and music plays perfectly, and there are no interruptions from the flow of the presentation.

When it doesn’t work then what?  There is nothing more frustrating than trying to teach a class and your PowerPoint does not work or the other technology fails miserably.  Your credibility just went down the toilet no matter what the subject may be.  I had so many problems one time that the people in my audience felt sorry for me, fell asleep, or gave poor evaluations not because of the content but the technology failure disturbed the learning process.

Here are some of the problems you may experience while delivering or setting up to give a PowerPoint presentation.

  1. Computer freezes and must restart computer to continue
  2. Little warning pops up that says system error during presentation
  3. Anti-virus program starts running during presentation
  4. Windows asks to download latest updates during presentation
  5. The clicker won’t advance the slides
  6. The laser in the clicker will not work
  7. The batteries in the clicker are not charged
  8. No projector
  9. No projector screen
  10. The projector screen is not big enough
  11. The wireless card for your internet will not work
  12. Missing VGA cord to connect laptop to projector
  13. Missing power cord for the projector
  14. There is no extension cord for the power strip
  15. The lighting is poor to display the PowerPoint
  16. Forgot laptop charger at home and out of power
  17. Forgot your clicker
  18. Forgot the cord that hooks up your speakers from your laptop
  19. Forgot external speakers

Here are my recommendations to eliminate the above issues, make yourself look like a champ and win over your audience:

1.      Be prepared to give presentation without PowerPoint.

2.      Have paper copies of slides with you when you teach.

3.      Carry your presentation checklist with you wherever you go to make sure you have everything you need?

4.      Give sponsor a presentation checklist for items they are responsible for and bring this signed copy to the venue.

5.      Download movie files to hard drive instead of relying on internet

6.      Take screen shots of important websites students will visit

7.      Turn your anti-virus update to 3 a.m. instead of 10 a.m.  Chances are you will still be asleep at 3 a.m.

8.      Do a dry run prior to the day of without any interruptions from pop ups or warnings

9.      Charge everything the night before.

10.  Bring extra batteries

The Ultimate Email Signature

August 21, 2008
Every email is a marketing piece

Every email is a marketing piece

Every email is a marketing piece. Thank you Saul Klein for that invaluable piece of information. Every time you send the initial email starting a conversation it is crucial to insert your contact information. Check your email signature to see what you are using right now. I said RIGHT NOW!

No matter what your email software you are using you can still create multiple email signatures and use each one when appropriate for the recipient, group representing, or the purpose of the message.

Here are some examples of different email signatures to use:

  1. Professional email signature long. This puppy should have the most information about you and the company you represent. There should be a series of hyperlinks that direct traffic to your website, other pages in your website, blog, podcast, email to text messaging, and social media sites.
  2. Professional email signature short. This signature should include your basic contact information including name, company, address, fax, email and website. No more.
  3. Professional email signature bio. Sometimes people will ask you for information about the type of services that you offer. Add this information as a email signature and use when appropriate.
  4. Signature representing organization. Some of us may be involved with organizations outside our main business. If you serve as a committee chair, board of directors, or just another member of a non for profit, create a separate email signature along with your relationship for this group. It will help market that organization and let people know that you represent more than just your own wallet.
  5. Personal email signature. Friends and family may need your home phone number, address, personal blog, or photo sharing websites. Include an extra for your own personal life. People will appreciate you not thinking business all the time.

Here is an example of my professional long email signature:

Check one please: I will get back to you [] No need [] Please follow up []

“Connecting REALTORS With Technology”

Doug Devitre e-PRO, ABR, GRI, CRS

Devitre Holdings, LLC.

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STOP These Behaviors Before You Can Begin New Ones

August 20, 2008
Time to turn things around

Time to turn things around

So many times we examine what we don’t have and come up with a list of things that we should do instead of cutting back on behaviors that have a negative behavior on our personal and professional life.

I speak from experience because I have added these to my STOP DO list and it is magically improving my life. The mastery of STOP DO is just as important if not more important than the To Do. It is like your living room closet. Before you can buy more jackets, shirts, coats, and suits you have to make room for the new ones by getting rid of the old ones.

Here are some of the behaviors that I would recommend STOP DOING before you can begin adding new ones to the list:

  1. STOP waking up late. Hitting the snooze on the alarm clock is the biggest waste of time. When you wake up you are up. That ten minutes is not going to help your entire day. If this is a problem then move the time up and don’t hit the button.
  2. STOP doing your To Do list on the same day. Plan to set your to do list the night before you go to sleep. This will allow you to think about these items and unconsciously solve problems while you are sleeping. When you wake up you are ready to act whereas if you think about your ideas on what to do that day you waste time thinking through all of the possible outcomes. Try this for a week straight and you will see immediate results.
  3. STOP checking email every 5 minutes. The most destructive behavior of them all. Remove the instant notifications on your Microsoft Outlook, remove the ringer on incoming messages, and remove the reminders on your Outlook Today. Every time you get distracted by one of these annoying items it takes an additional 10 seconds to get refocused on the project that you are working on. This could realistically eat up 10 – 20 minutes depending on the amount of email you receive. Set a time on your calendar to at the most check your email 2 per day at selected times. Do not check your email until you have completed the most important task of the day.
  4. STOP committing to everything. When you are good at something and can provide value to others, people will want to suck your resources and time to promote their own agenda. There is a time to say yes and a time to say no. If this group does not share the same purpose as you then say NO. If they cannot add a direct value to your life purpose say NO. If they ask for more than you can deliver say NO.
  5. STOP waiting for the phone to ring. Proactivity breeds sales activity. The more quality people that you can impact in the shortest period of time the faster your business will grow. Blog, send an email, hand deliver a note, or meet someone for coffee. This doesn’t mean you have to make prospecting calls. Do something that will make people want to contact you.
  6. STOP selling your services. Sell the service of the service. You can sell your services all day but if you are not offering some sort of value then people will say no. What is it about your service that has a direct impact on their personal or professional life. Ask people questions, find out what people need, find the pain, and deliver the solution to that pain and people will contact you.

Teleology – Defining Your Purpose

August 19, 2008

Teleology (Greek: telos: end, purpose) is the philosophical study of design and purpose. A teleological school of thought is one that holds all things to be designed for or directed toward a final result, that there is an inherent purpose or final cause for all that exists.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teleology

You can set the world on fire one match at a time

You can set the world on fire one match at a time

The preamble of the Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® clearly defines what our obligations are to clients, consumers, the public and our fellow REALTOR® members. But each individual has their own agenda to accomplish their own set of principles, guidelines and conduct of behavior.

The Golden Rule is the basis for the Code of Ethics which continues to evolve based on a new of criteria for the real estate game to be played. This includes the changes in Article 12 that describe what companies can and cannot do with regards to internet marketing. The purpose of the Code of Ethics is to hold real estate professionals to a higher standard of service to the people that they represent. However, the purpose of the REALTOR® is much deeper than the profession that makes the member money.

What is your purpose?

Everything you do closely moves you closer to your purpose whether you know it or not. I am a firm believer that everything that happens, happens for a reason. What drives me is my core values. Everything else is trivial. Teaching technology is not my purpose in life. It is my means to which I will accomplish my purpose. I urge you to take a closer look to what your values are to see if you are living your life according to your purpose by asking the following questions:

  1. What are your five top values or ways of being?

  2. Who is important in your life?

  3. If you passed away tomorrow would you be satisfied?

  4. What would the world look like if you were not around?

  5. What would your life look like when you have fulfilled your purpose?

Return On Attendance

August 18, 2008
Do you apply what you learn?

Do you apply what you learn?

If you have ever attendance a class, meeting, conference, or convention that you paid money to attend have you ever taken the time to see what the return on attendance was for you. The investment of your money, your time, your energy, and your creativity has been risked so that you can sit through a session or two to learn new ideas and concepts that you will be able to implement once you return.

Have you received a return on your return on attendance?

Here are some of the costs associated?

  1. Registration
  2. Transportation
  3. Lodging
  4. Personal
  5. Lost opportunity costs
  6. Indirect costs

Here is how you can maximize your return on attendance:

  1. Prioritize your action items. Thinking that you will probably do everything on every page of your notes is absurd. This is where most of us fail. We get so wrapped up in all of the details of everything that we fail to do nothing. Set a list of the most important ideas and figure out the action steps for each one.
  2. Implement one powerful idea. OK, so what if you did just one thing. Would that pay for all of the costs? Every session you choose should have at least one takeaway or person you meet that will help you reach your business goals. Out of all of those sessions or people there will be one that will make a difference. Organize your thoughts and choose one to act on NOW!
  3. Create an accountability partner. I wish I went to the gym more but I don’t have anyone yelling or screaming at me to do it. That is why I fail at least now with working out. If you have any social skills you should be able to make some friends with the people that you meet. Find one you like, trust, and have similar goals to keep you accountable for the things that you say you are going to do. This requires you to also return the favor. Set up weekly or monthly calls with this person to stay on track and do what you say you are going to do. Your credibility and integrity is now at stake. Do IT!
  4. Set deadlines. Mark on your calendar which day and time you will have the action item completed by along with the description. Share this with your accountability partner like you would a client who is going to pay you money. Have the commitment to completing your action items within at least 30 days or they will never get done.
  5. Send thank you cards. Each person you meet write them a thank you card. Since we are in the people business and invest in relationships everyday it is important to share a line or to with those people you meet. You never know when or where that next big client will come from.
  6. Set a budget. More action items may require you to re-examine your budget. Be penny wise but not dollar foolish. If you can make more money by doing something cheaper then go for it. In most cases you cannot make a buck without spending a buck. Share this with your accountability partner too.

What Meeting Planners Want From Professional Speakers

August 17, 2008
Getting ready for the big time

Getting ready for the big time

What would I know about what meeting planners want. After all I have only been speaking for a couple of years. I had the privilege of attending the National Speakers Association Annual Conference this year in Times Square, New York City and they had a great working on “What meeting planners are looking for in professional speakers.” It was a big hit. It was like watching American Idol for professional speaking. Some were great, some were good, and some were not so good. As I sat in the front row I studied what meeting planners enjoyed and what they did not care for. Lessons learned quickly as I saw myself in the shoes of each on the stage at the time. Here is my opportunity to share what to do and what not to do:

Don’ts

Be too academic. Nobody likes a know it all.

Be too serious. Serious people are not fun to work with.

Appeal to everyone. People like targeted messages to specific groups.

Be monotone. A snoozer in the making.

Offend audience members. Other people will be offended even if you make fun of someone you know in the audience.

Message too universal. People like targeted messages to specific groups. I said that already… It’s important!

Talk at the audience. People want to feel welcome and know that you care. Just rambling is not communication.

Rehearsed performance. If it looks rehearsed people will not see you as a person but a machine.

Focus on self. Do I really need to explain this one?

Be a nameless speaker. What do want to be known for? Make sure everyone is aware.

Take all of the time needed. It is OK to be short as long as the message is clear and people understand what it is you do and how it can help them.

Do’s

Clarify message. Make sure people understand what is that you are really try to say. Look for both verbal and non verbal clues. The non verbal have more meaning.

Add Humor. People like people that are funny. If you can’t have fun at what you are doing look for something else. This is extremely important.

Qualified. Years experience, designations, certifications, awards, publications, books and past clients are among the criteria meeting planners look at on paper.

Dress the Part. What ever the best dressed audience member is wearing, step it up a notch. Match your dress by audience, message, or location. People will feel more comfortable and be more attentive.

Enthusiasm. If you are excited, they will be excited. The words are irrelevant.

Passion. You either have it or you don’t. If you are not passionate about your subject find something else, NOW!

Connect with the audience. The only way people will listen is if they experience the same challenges as you, at the same point in life, or have similar stories. Share yourself first and the audience will share their attention.

Give service. If someone asks for something give them more than what they asked for. Ask them to email you to answer future questions. They rarely do but the gesture is appreciated.

Differentiate your brand. Fine tune your style, presentation, marketing, and communication that is unique from everyone else. Strive for uniqueness not different.

Be authentic in the message. You must speak from the heart, truth, and from your own personal experiences. EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!

Create a tagline that sells. This is your message. In six words or less what do you do and how will it help others.

Tips for Outsourcing Your Online Social Networking

August 16, 2008
Getting plugged in

Getting plugged in

Time is best spent in front of clients or prospects that will say yes to your product or service. Anything else is optional. Online social networking can be a proactive way to convert prospects into clients but will require attention to detail and the right approach, just like meeting someone for the first time in a live environment. Prospecting online can be done by a lead manager, virtual assistant, or part time staff as long as the rules are set forth in the beginning how to handle interaction. Tim Ferriss, author of the Four Hour Work Week, told me that he was able to go on 5 dates in the same day by outsourcing his dating online. He set up his virtual assistant to describe the ideal soulmate he was looking for and how to eliminate the rest. Although this method was somewhat Misogynistic it still worked and worked well.

Building the Profile. The virtual assistant should do this. Give them the template that you have personally created and let them take the time to upload your contact information that matches the fields in each profile. Each online profile may have different fields so be clear on dictating what goes where. Create the username that is the same and a password that is similar to each one. Since each profile will require a unique password make sure the VA tells you what the password is. You may want to create a separate email address for the sake of online social networking so your main email is not filled with unsolicited SPAM. Make sure the VA emails you a link with all the profiles created in a Microsoft Word Document for future web, blog, or email marketing purposes.

Who is your perfect contact? If you are trying to build a network you should look for people that you will want to do business with and skip over everyone else. Are you looking for people of influence or just want to add anyone to your list. The more specific you are on who you want to add as a connection the easier it will be for your virtual assistant (VA) to handle and the more accurate your database will be to keep in contact. Search for people by job title, company, network, group, and key words. This alone will increase your sales by 10% for a minimum wage employee to operate.

Only respond to serious inquiries. The messages you will receive will be “Add me as a friend, join my network, connect with me on___”. Since this is a two way street people will be asking you to join their network. Be sure to have your virtual assistant (VA) examine the profiles of these people carefully. Treat adding people as if you were contacting them to join your network. If they do not match the creIf they have 2,000 connections they could be on a frenzy to just add people to their list to SPAM. Make this rule clear to your VA so that you do carefully select people you want to do business with to join your network.

Personal messages. Personal messages may or may not be outsourced. This is a judgment call. VAs will not know your personal life so it may be difficult for a VA to respond. If it looks like SPAM it is probably SPAM. If the message is not personalized, it is probably SPAM. Any messages sent out to your contacts to join networks or become friends should always include a personal message. This will increase the success rate tremendously. Create a template for invitations and messages that match the type of person, group, or purpose of communication.