Goals Blog – December

From December 2017 to December 2018, I will be taking a REAL DEEP DIVE into a different topic each month. As a marketing consultant for real estate agents and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, a title company in the DC metro area, I am acutely aware of the many areas in which realtors struggle and desire change. I have chosen 13 topics to take a deep dive into that I am confident will help agents both personally and professionally. It is my hope that over the next 13 months, you will join me in this adventure and be incredibly inspired!

December 2017’s topic is GOALS.

December is my favorite time of year. There is just something in the air. Holiday hustle, Christmas cheer and the dawn of a new year right around the corner; it literally makes me giddy. To me, a new year is a chance for a fresh slate, new beginnings and endless opportunity. It is only natural to think of what goals I hope to achieve in the coming year.

That said, a couple of weeks into January and my enthusiasm seems to fade. I am and always have been pretty hard on myself. I constantly think I could have done more or should have planned better. I want to achieve so much and help so many people but the days seem to get away from me. I always seem to be striving to do better “tomorrow” or “next week” or “next year”. If I am honest with myself (and a little more gentle), I absolutely have made progress. Looking back to one year ago, five years ago and ten years ago …. WOAH! I have come SO far. And I am super proud of ME! But this year feels different. I turned 40 in July. Time to change something up. So what’s going to be different this time? Well, instead of keeping all of those hopes and dreams up in that crazy head of mine, I am going to WRITE THEM DOWN.

Why is this so hard for me? Who knows? I have difficulty focusing. Don’t we all feel like we have a touch of ADD, ADHD, Shiny Object Syndrome, SQUIRREL!!! Perhaps there is some subconscious doubt or fear happening like I won’t achieve it anyway or that’s going to be a lot of work. It’s hard to admit that but it’s true. Luckily, difficult tasks (or fear that I won’t know HOW to do something) is exactly what drives me to try it.

You will be tempted to want to write down several goals. But you must be realistic. If you try to tackle multiple goals at once, you will probably fail. So the first step is to do some soul searching. What one thing have you thought about for a long time? Do you want to lose weight? Take more vacations? Save more money? Increase your income? Spend more time with family? Volunteer more? Make that ONE THING your goal.

Next step: WRITE IT DOWN. The research is conclusive. Goals work if you write them down. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal setting with 267 particpants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. This is fascinating to me so I dug a little deeper . . . . Neuroscience has proven that when you write something out that takes deep thought like your goals, you build over 10,000 new neural pathways in your brain in one sitting. And the more you write your goals down (even if they are the same goals), the more likely you are to achieve them. Your brain will start to think of these goals automatically by default and become a part of your subconscious. Actions we take will subconsciously be towards the goals. You can literally wire your own brain for success. WOW!

So I challenge you . . . pick one main goal and no more than one secondary goal for 2018 and write them down. I will share mine in the next blog. I hope you will share yours with me too!

If you need some additional inspiration, one of the books I listened to this month came with a free  downloadable worksheet (I love a good worksheet).

I am on a mission to learn, educate and inspire realtors all over the world. We are in a very unique time right now. I hope you will join me on this adventure. It’s an amazing ride!

 

GET YOUR REAL ESTATE BUSINESS ON GOOGLE FOR FREE

The definition of GOOGLE MY BUSINESS, according to Google Support, is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

Google loves local businesses so this is their way of helping local businesses get seen more by consumers. Google My Business combines Google+, Maps, and Google Search  into one convenient all-in-one business solution which in turn helps you get more easily found! Can I get an AMEN?

Benefits include a Google+ Page for your business which others can engage with, tracking insights and enagagement, manage and review metricsw from your YouTube Channel and Google Analytics Account and seamlessly start and manage a Google AdWords campaign.

So how does it work?

  1. The first thing you should do is visit https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in with your Google account.
  2. Next, add a single location and type of business (choose Real Estate Agency for the brand category).
  3. Google might ask you to place a marker on the map correctly.
  4. On the next page, Google will prompt you with a few suggested addresses. Choose “none of these match” at the very bottom.
  5. The last and most important step is to verify your business listing. Assuming you did everything correctly, you will be brought to a screen that says “how would you like to get your verification code” with just the mail option. Once you receive the code (Usually it takes 14 days for the postcard to arrive), login to Google My Business and click on the Verify Now button on top. Enhance your profile page by adding photos, writing a detailed business description, offer coupons or specials, upload videos and asking for reviews.

More good news …

Recently, Google added a new feature called Google Posts, formerly called Candidate Cards. It can show up on Google Search and Google Maps along with your business details when someone searches you. Posts can be up to 300 words long, giving you ample opportunity to convey valuable information that resonates with your audience. If your title and image are catchy and people click on it, you could send them to a landing page.

Google definitely favors websites that are fast and mobile-responsive over ones that aren’t because most of Google’s users are mobile. Google Posts have a card-based design making it very easy on the eyes. Users will easily see it when they search for your business or topics related to your business. Thoughtful design will attract more mobile customers in your area.  Creating a Google Post is very easy. Simply log into the dashboard, then head to the left side of the screen to access the “Posts” area. From there, you can select “Add A New Post”. The jury is still out as to how much benefit you could get from Google Posts. But it takes almost zero effort and it’s free. So if you have a new listing, a new team member or an event to promote, I think it’s worth the time. I mean, it is GOOGLE so it can’t hurt your rankings, right?

Kara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

How Often Should You Post On Social Media?

How Often Should I Post On Social-There is no right or wrong answer to this question. Plenty of studies have been done. Lots of experts have weighed in. I am no expert but I do have an opinion based on hundreds of meetings with real estate agents and studying social media for real estate for the last four years. Ultimately it depends on who you are trying to reach and how often YOU are willing to engage. I should also mention that real estate agents should not try to manage more than two accounts. If they are very good “at social”, four accounts at the most. However, I know from experience that real estate agents have a hard time being consistent on social media. So I advise that you start with two and if you’re able to keep up with that, increase accordingly.

Facebook Business Page: 1 post per day

Twitter: 15 tweets per day

Pinterest: 10 pins per day

LinkedIn: 1 post per day

Instagram: 2 posts per day and lots of hashtags!!

The good news is there are plenty of tools out there to help you manage this. A few of my favorite are HootSuite, CoScheduler and Buffer. Choose one and spend some time learning how to use it. Before long, you will be up and running and getting exposure for your brand!

The next questions is always, “but Kara, WHAT do I post”? Stay tuned for next week’s blog post where I will go over several types of content for all the above mentioned platforms.

About The Author

Kara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

12 Steps To A Successful Open House

A goal without a plan is just a wish, right? Every agent hopes their open house will lead to generating new buyer leads but without a plan, it’s just a wish. And if you’re going to be spending your precious Sundays doing open houses, you should have a clear plan and follow every single step, every single time.

Step One: Prepare clients

If it is your listing, your clients should be aware as soon as you take the listing, not only that you will be doing open house(s), but which days they will be on.  Before you go to the listing appointment, check your calendar. Obviously, it will depend on what date they will be listing so it might be “every Sunday for three weeks after we list”. But the key is to be prepared to tell them which days you are available to do open house(s) and get them on the calendar.

Step Two: Enter it in the MLS

Enter the Open House into the MLS no later than midnight on the Thursday prior to the open house. This will ensure that the open house is “picked up” by all the major websites that buyers use when looking for opens (Zillow, Redfin, etc.).

Step Three: Create an awesome flyer

Your flyer must be awesome. If you have a knack for graphic design, great! But if you don’t, hire someone to create a template for you (estimated cost $100) and then you can drop in photos and update the copy as and when you have an open. Remember, everything you put out to the world is a reflection of you and your business. You can also use sites such as https://www.canva.com/ to create a flyer. They have templates and the most you’ll spend is $1.00 per image that is not free.

Step Four: Promote Promote Promote

Post that flyer EVERYWHERE: LinkedIn, Facebook, Facebook Groups, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, EVERYWHERE. And not just once … In the week leading up to the open, the flyer should be on each of the sites mentioned at least twice. Hashtags should only be used on Instagram and Twitter. They don’t belong on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.; they look “salesy”. Having trouble coming up with hashtags, use my 5/5/5 method: five location hashtags, five activity hashtags and five fun hashtags. Here’s an example (feel free to borrow it): #arlington #arlingtoncounty #arlingtonva #northernva #nova #openhouse #vaopenhouse #realestate #home #realtor #dontmissthis #thiswontlast #springmarketisstillhere #icansellyourhousetoo #realtorlife

Step Five: Invite Neighbors

Remember that awesome flyer? Print fifty copies and invite the neighbors the day before or the morning of. You could even have a “neighbors only preview” for one hour prior to the public open house. People love to feel like they are special and they also nosy. Utilize this to your advantage by inviting them beforehand and chatting them up. Be sure to give them your card or have something to give them about yourself that they can take with them (a nice postcard with info about you and what you’ve sold in the neighborhood).

Step Six: Be sure the house is in PRISTINE condition.

Obviously the house should be very clean but a few extra things that some people don’t think of are mow the lawn, put away all evidence of a pet, put away jewelry, be sure all lightbulbs are working, put away toiletries, clear all hallways, make all beds, make sure the light switches and walls are free from handprints and clean and adjust temperature if they keep the house unusually cold or warm. Prepare an email template to send out to your clients a couple of days ahead of the open house(s) so they have plenty of time to comply with your requests.

Step Seven: Use an electronic sign in

The whole reason we do opens: to capture buyer leads … you’re unlikely to do that with a sign in sheet. People expect you to be “with the times” so be prepared to exceed their expectations by being prepared to have them electronically register. My two favorite apps are https://spac.io/ and https://www.openhomepro.com/ … be sure to create an account well before the open house so you have time to learn how to use it properly. The last thing you want to do is be messing with setting up the app ten minutes before your open house starts. Both of these are very customizable but they do take some thirty minutes or so to familiarize yourself.

Step Eight: Bake cookies

I do this at every open house I help agents with and everyone that attends is always so impressed. The smell of the cookies when people walk in plus the taste of warm cookies creates an ambiance that will be remembered. I also offer water bottles and napkins. All you need to bring with you is a baking sheet, premade cookie dough, a spatula, an oven mit and a plate to put the cookies on. Don’t worry about baking the entire time. I usually put a new batch in every thirty minutes so I have time to talk to the guests without worrying about the cookies burning.

Step Nine: Play music

Bring a Bluetooth speaker and play music from your phone (Pandora or Spotify). I like classical music played softly. Again, it’s just an extra touch to set your open house apart from the three or four other ones they are most likely going to visit that day.

Step Ten: Take Notes & Follow Up

As soon as the guests leave, jot down any personal info they may have mentioned (children’s names, looking to move right away, works at the pentagon). After the open, do some digging, find their address and mail them a hand written note mentioning some of the personal things. For example “It was great to meet you and your wife, Lucy, and your daughter, Jane.” Nothing too pushy (since it’s already going to be a little strange that you found their address) …. Just something lighthearted with your business card. If you can’t find their home address, email them or text them if you have good info. And don’t give up unless you’re flat out told to go away. Just continue to touch them every month or so and be super kind, offer to help without being pushy. If it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. If it’s not, it won’t, and that’s okay. It’s more time for you to find your next potential client.

Step Eleven: Have fun

People will respond to the kind of vibe you put off. Treat the open as a fun event. Have fun and offer to help but don’t say too much, especially if you’re getting the feeling that they do not want your help. No one likes a pushy agent and a lot of agents are pushy. We need to stop that. Be kind, helpful and genuine and it will be a wonderful, successful event!

Step Twelve: Give a full report to your sellers

Always close the loop by reporting back to your sellers as soon as the open house is finished. Give them detailed information on guests, how many seemed like serious buyers, how many seemed interested in THEIR house and any feedback you got as to why their house was not appealing. All of this will lend to a wonderful experience with you as their agent which will lead to them recommending you in the future.

How To Make Instagram Work For Your Real Estate Business

There is no doubt that Instagram is hot. It has proven its ability to stay relevant with its release of Instagram stories last August. It is definitely where millennials are with 59% of those between the ages of 18 and 24 active on the social platform and 54% of those aged 25-34 using the photo sharing platform on a regular basis. It is the only platform that’s acceptable to post personal and business content. In this post, I share a few tips to optimize your profile and some of my favorite ways to use Instagram as a real estate agent.

YOUR PROFILE

This is your opportunity to showcase yourself. When people click on your name, they want to learn more about you. Do not underestimate this chance to shine! As a real estate agent, you should have your phone number, email, website and service area(s) listed. Get creative with emojis and hashtags, list what you’re passionate about. Stand out! Why do you sell real estate? What makes you tick? How are you different? TRULY DIFFERENT. People should FEEL something when they read your bio. Are there any causes near and dear to your heart that you are able to support because you have a flexible schedule or supplemental income as a realtor? Take a look at my profile below for some inspiration.

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HASHTAGS

If you’re new to Instagram or want to grow your audience, hashtags are crucial. Hashtags are clickable links which become searchable. For example, by using the hashtag #tamparealestate, people that search for that hashtag will likely find you. The more popular the hashtag, the less likely you will be found, so you want to be as creative as possible. The maximum number of hashtags you can use in one post is 30. I know, that’s a lot. I like to stick to 15. So how do you come up with 15? I came up with the 5/5/5 formula to help trigger some ideas. Here’s how it works: Use 5 location based hashtags based on where you are when you post (i.e. #newyorkcity, #vegas #houston #houstontx #grandcanyon), then use 5 activity based hashtags to describe what you are doing when you post (i.e. #familytrip #realestateconference #teammeeting #businesstrip #settlement) and lastly, 5 fun/expressive hashtags to further describe what you are doing and reinforce your branding: (i.e. #bestclientsever #realtorintraining, #hustlehard #springmarket #workinghardforyou #lovemyjob). This last one is where your tagline or a custom hashtag would go. I use #CloseWithPruitt on almost every post related to a settlement.

If you are really struggling with coming up with hashtags on your own, there are plenty of free apps that will generate hashtags based on other hashtags. My favorite is HASHME.

BORROW AN AUDIENCE

This is probably my favorite thing to do on social media. It can be done on Twitter and Facebook, too, but it works best on Instagram. The trick is to tie in your real estate activities to a local business and/or local people by mentions (Instagram’s word for “tagging”). Whenever you mention another account, Instagram sends that account a notification. I don’t know about you but when someone tags or mentions me, I usually go to that post and like it or comment on it (unless it’s a spammer). Likes and comments equal engagement and engagement equals brand visibility. If you are strategic and consistent with this method, you will see a spike in your local followers which means more local visibility in the are(s) you sell real estate. DING DING DING!!!

Here is one scenario:

After a long morning of showings, you take your clients, Joe and Rachel, to Duck Donuts in Arlington for some coffee and a snack.

Picture: If Joe & Rachel are cool with it, snap a selfie of the three of you enjoying your sweet treats and upload it to Instagram.

What To Type: Joe & Rachel found “THE HOUSE” this morning. Celebrating at Duck Donuts in Arlington then off to write their offer. Wish us luck!!

What Hashtags To Use: #ArlingtonVA #ArlingtonCounty #DuckDonuts #NorthArlington #NorthernVA #HouseHunting #ArlingtonRealEstate #CelebrationTime #ForeverHome #SaturdayShowings #BuyWithKara #ABCRealEstate #KaraCanHelp #IloveMyClients #FingersCrossed←← #SweetTreats

How To Properly MENTION or TAG Duck Donuts. Type the “@” symbol and begin typing a name or a business name and Instagram will provide you with a list of possible matches. Choose the right one (remember not everyone/every business is on Instagram so you may not see what you are looking for) and you’re done. See two pictures below. In the first one, I typed “@Duck “ and Duck Donuts appeared. In the second picture, you can see the finished post. Notice @duckdonutsnova is in light blue. That means I tagged them properly.

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SHOW YOU CARE!

Be sure you are checking your notifications regularly and responding when someone mentions YOU. I recommend checking your notifications twice a day (minimum) and ALWAYS responding in some way even if it’s just a “LIKE”. It shows you care about your audience.

Scroll through your feed a couple of times a day and comment on other people’s posts. Offer advice if someone asks, give recommendations when appropriate and comment often. The more peopleyou’re your name in the comments, the better.
Send a personal message to your new followers, ESPECIALLY local ones. No one does this on Instagram and I think it is a huge opportunity missed. Whenever you have a chance to be different, you have a chance of being remembered when your services are needed.

About The Author

Kara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

6 Ways Realtors Can Implement Video In Their Marketing

March 14, 2017

By: Kara Macdonald

About Video Marketing

 

Video is the most untapped method of content marketing by real estate agents. It’s the most effective way to connect with consumers and create brand awareness. So stop worrying about what you look like or whether or not you have recorded the perfect video. You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment. A smartphone and a simple tripod will do just fine. Below are five ways you can start using video right away.

An Introduction Video

Create a video introducing yourself as a real estate agent and a human being to the world.  The video should be no more than four minutes in length. Let your audience know who you are, why you became a Realtor and what your mission is. Remember to be specific. The more vague you are, the less people you will appeal to. Include a few personal facts about your family and what you enjoy doing in your spare time. Imbed the video on the first page of your website, add it as the featured video on your YouTube channel and to your Facebook Business Page.

Testimonials

When you first start working with new clients, let them know you hope to earn a testimonial at the end of the process. Preparing them ahead of time will make the next step very easy . . . After your closings, ask your clients if they will record a quick video testimonial for you. Offer to leave the room so they feel more comfortable. I would ask them to use your phone so you don’t have to worry about getting the video from them later. Ask their permission to post the testimonial on your website.

Highlight Local Businesses

In my last video blog, I talked about doing videos highlighting local businesses. Watch that video here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf98FHvDCFI) . Teaching people about the community in which you sell is SO IMPORTANT and hardly any agents are doing it. This means you have a very unique opportunity to STAND OUT NOW before everyone starts listening to me.  Shoot a video in front of a new restaurant and tell your audience where it is and what kind of food they serve, a little about the ambiance and price range. Are there new construction homes being built near you? Shoot a video in front of the homes being built or in front of the sales office and tell your audience where you are, what is being built and what the homes will be in close proximity to in terms of amenities and shopping. Take a trip to the movie theatre on a Friday morning and tell your audience what movies are opening that day. The possibilities are endless. And remember to ALWAYS mention your name, company name and tagline.

Open Houses

Shoot a video in front of the house the day before inviting people to attend. Describe the property in detail along with community info (close to Great Falls Park or Town of Clifton, four dog parks within 5 miles, a new Wegman’s is being built less than one mile away, etc.). Post the video on your Facebook Business Page the day before and run a boosted/targeted ad for everyone within 20 miles of the home. If you do this consistently, people will start to feel like they know you which will lead to trust which leads to them reaching out. Be strategic with where you do open houses. Try to do them in the same county or city as much as possible.

Vendor Highlights

Schedule a time to sit down with your go to lender and title company to “interview” them. Be sure you choose someone who is as engaging as you are. Prepare five or six questions ahead of time for he/she to answer. If you are really bold, you could plan a Facebook Live event a few days ahead of time and then take questions from your audience after you are done with your questions. Your future clients will remember you as the go to person for all of their needs if you do this consistently.

EMAIL

We have all heard of BombBomb. I’ll admit, I do not know a ton about BombBomb but I do know that when someone sends me a video message via any method, I am impressed. And it takes a lot to impress me. According to BombBomb’s homepage, 81% of BombBomb users get more replies, 68& convert more leads and 56% get more referrals. It is definitely worth checking into. Their site offers a 14 day free trial (no credit card required).

Consistency and patience goes a long way! If you need any help “doing” any of the tips I have suggested here, I am just a text away. Thanks for reading this!

About the author:

Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC, an independent, woman owned title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia with offices in Tyson’s Corner and Rockville. She can be reached at 571-432-9382 or via email at kmacdonald@pruitt-title.com.

 

Inman Connect New York 2017 Takeaways

This was my second Inman Connect, my first in New York and WOW, WHAT A WEEK! I met so many new friends, reconnected with old ones and paved the way for new opportunities. In case you have never been to Inman Connect, I will tell you what it is like . . . It’s a four day conference held twice a year: once in New York City and once in San Francisco. Everything from how to run a successful team to what tech will be like in real estate in five years is covered. Each day, there is a general session in the morning, breakout sessions and learning labs in the afternoon and happy hours, dinners and cocktail parties in the evening. IT IS NON STOP. The name of the conference truly reflects what it’s about. The connections you make are priceless. Everyone is eager and willing to help you meet who you want to meet or if you aren’t sure, they will help you figure it out. Now that I am home and able to review my notes, I wanted to share what stuck out the most.

Video was mentioned a LOT, especially Facebook Live. Videos, live or not, have 135% greater organic reach than photo posts. And if it is LIVE, people spend three times longer watching video live versus when it’s not live. Steve Pacinelli, Chief Marketing Officer at BombBomb, did an excellent learning lab on video marketing. He spoke about sending a quick video to a lead instead of a text or an email. If you have access to who has visited your website, record a 20 second video thanking them for visiting and letting them know that you’re here if they need anything but if they don’t need anything, feel free to visit the site anytime. The more “off the cuff”, the better. It makes you relatable and approachable. Do not worry about being perfect!

Virtual Reality was another thing that was talked about. I will admit, I was totally lost during the first talk. I do not understand VR and when I do not understand something, I tend to zone out. But when it came up again, I forced myself to pay attention because I started to see how VR could be a tool that has the potential to make an agent stand out. And, when you can stand out, you WILL win more clients. That’s a fact. Picture this, if your clients are going out of town or do not live here, you could give them your VR headset and show property to them, in a much more unique way than Facetime, while they are out of town. All you need to make VR “happen” is a VR headset, which you can get for as little as $79.00, and a smartphone. Talk about standing out from the competition. My marketing wheels are turning big time with all the possibilities of advertising to and attracting overseas buyers just because you have a $79.00 VR headset. I know, I know, this is too much. But honestly, the more AHEAD of the tech game you are, the MORE clients you will attract. So WHY NOT give it a try? I think it’s a game changer.

Next up is retargeting. Retargeting is a form of online targeted advertising by which online advertising is targeted to consumers based on their previous internet actions. Do you ever wonder how the boots you looked at online show up on the right side of your Facebook feed? That is retargeting. How can YOU use this to attract clients? It starts with having killer content on your website. Whether that is videos about the DC area or a blog post about family friendly events in Alexandria or Gaithersburg, it has to be compelling content. You can push that content out to social media and then retarget the people that click on your post. Another thing you could do is do a post for homes for sale in Fairfax County within $400,000 and $500,000 and retarget an ad to the people that click on that. If someone click on a post about homes for sale in a certain area in a certain price range, chances are they are (or will be very soon) interested in making a move. By taking that data and using it to advertise YOUR SERVICES in a subtle way, you will convert more people from Facebook to clients. This is a little above my head but I am committed to figuring it out and doing it. That is how I have done everything else so I am up for the challenge! Who’s with me?

Another takeaway has to do with the handy dandy database. We all have one. We all need to clean it up and we ALL should be utilizing it MUCH BETTER, right? Rivers Pearce from BoomTown gave an amazing talk at a Learning Lab sponsored by DotLoop about the rebirth of the database in an audience centric world. He said you need three basic categories: people you’ve done business with, people you are currently working with and people you want to work with. He said the way we contact people in our database is CHANGING BIG TIME. The days of direct mail and geofarming are over. Your focus should be on SMART digital marketing, creating hyper local content, having a mobile friendly website and engaging social media posts. Many people are still responding to texts and emails but that will change soon as well.

Last but not least, I was inspired. Kala Lous and Valerie Garcia both gave fantastic talks. Kala is the Founder and CEO of JK Realty in Arizona. She is a visionary and a forward thinker. Her hard work and positivity has led to a very successful brokerage. Valerie Garcia is the Director of Training for the North American operations of RE/MAX Integra. She encouraged us to choose to give up what you know (because it’s comfortable and safe), be a disrupter (you can do it!), be willing to be seen (don’t deprive the world of your awesomeness!), be willing to ask for help (no one knows everything), overcome fear with practice and make bravery an employee benefit. WOW!

I hope you will consider attending the next Inman Connect Conference. Here is a link to get your tickets. The sooner you buy them, the cheaper they are: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/inman-connect-san-francisco-2017-tickets-26669241419

About the author:

Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC, an independent, woman owned title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia with offices in Tyson’s Corner and Rockville. She can be reached at 571-432-9382 or via email at kmacdonald@pruitt-title.com.

How To Use Hashtag

WHAT IS A HASHTAG?

Hashtags can be so confusing, can’t they? I am here to clear up the confusion for real estate agents.

The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link. This allows you to organize content and track discussion topics based on those keywords. So, if you wanted to post about the Gilmore Girls finale, you would include #GilmoreGirls in your tweet to join the conversation. You can click on a hashtag to see all the posts that mention the subject in real time.

WHY SHOULD YOU USE HASHTAGS?

According to the “experts, when used correctly, hashtags increase viewership, help build your social media following, create new customers and help with branding. You want to be found on social media and if you use relevant, hyper local hashtags, you will be.

WHO IS YOUR IDEAL CLIENT (stay with me, this is VERY relevant)?

As a Realtor, you should have a customer avatar. A customer avatar is a fictional character that represents your ideal prospect. Click here for a great worksheet to help you identify your ideal customer.

Here is an example of an avatar:

32 year old woman named Gina

Born and raised in Ft. Bragg, NC where she met Mark at age 19. Three years later they were married

Soon after they were married, Mark was stationed in Germany. They lived in Germany for three years before being reassigned to the Pentagon.

They now live in a three bedroom, three bathroom townhome near George Mason University.

She and Mark have two sons, Ryan, age 7, and Matthew, age 4

Gina went back to school at GMU and just finished her bachelor’s degree in early elementary education (she was attending Methodist University in Fayetteville before she and Mark married)

She is a stay at home mom now but hopes to get a job teaching once her kids are school age

Mark is a captain in the army and works at the Pentagon

Gina enjoys cooking, running and volunteering at church and at her kids schools

They would like to have one more baby but haven’t yet for a couple of reasons.
What is stopping them? Their house is too small, they cannot afford a four bedroom in Fairfax, husband’s commute time would increase if they moved further out, children would have to change schools.

WHAT HASHTAGS TO USE:

Start small so you don’t get overwhelmed: Based on your avatar, choose fifteen hashtags. Five should be geographic, five should be psychographic and five should be demographic.

The hashtags I would choose based on the above avatar are:

Demographic: #Millennial #FamilyFun #FamilyOfFour #MilitaryFamily #Expats

Psychographic: #SAHM #MRTT #momofboys #armywife #Methodist

Geographic: #FairfaxCounty #FairfaxCity #GMU #NOVA #NorthernVA

WHERE AND WHEN TO USE HASHTAGS:

You must create content or find and share content that SPEAKS TO GINA. Choose TWO platforms that your Avatar is on. I would choose Facebook and Instagram for Gina. Here are a few topics WITH some of the hashtags above (and a few extra I came up with):

5Ks in Fairfax (#FairfaxCity, #MRTT, #FamilyFun)

Activities to do with young boys / anything related to raising boys (#FamilyOfFour #Dinner, #momofboys #DinnerTimeAgain)

How Young Families Can Save More Money (#MilitaryFamily, #MoneyTips, #SaveMoreGiveMore)

Raising children with Christian values (#Methodist, #ChrsitianFamilies, FamilyOfFour, #momofboys)

What Single Family Homes Cost in Western Fairfax / Eastern Loudoun (#FairfaxCounty, #NorthernVA, #SingleFamilyVSTownHouse)

Babysitting Services in Fairfax City (#FamilyOfFour #DateNight #NOVA #armywife)

Activities at libraries in Fairfax City (#FairfaxCity, #FamilyFun, #momofboys)

How To Make Better Use of Space in a Small Home (#MilitaryFamily, #NorthernVA #SpaceSaver, #Minimalist)

Where to get military discounts (#armywife, #MilitaryFamily, #savemoregivemore)

How to connect with other expats (#expats, #NorthernVA, #NOVA, #armywife)

Expat groups or get togethers in Fairfax County (#expats #expatsinnova, #meetup, #armywife)

Healthy Family Dinners For Picky Eaters (#momofboys, #dinnertime #recipesformoms #FamilyOfFour)

BE CONSISTENT & PATIENT (you can do it!!):

I recommend posting on Instagram once per day and Facebook twice a day. The more you GIVE to Gina, the more she will notice and appreciate you. Every fifth or sixth post on each platform can be “salesy” (an open house announcement, a closing picture, a real estate update, interest rate update, etc.) But try HARD to communicate YOUR VALUE. Remember, Gina wants to have another baby and move. Address her concerns about moving via blogging and sharing content that answers her questions and eliminates her fears. As long as you are EXTREMELY consistent, you WILL see results in three to six months. And remember, all this is FREE. And when Gina comes to you to help her move, you will have created a RAVING fan because you have earned her trust. Raving fans REFER their friends and family to you. THAT is the BEST way to grow a real estate business.

About the author:

Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. She has succeeded in growing Pruitt’s brand and customer base by 300% in three years by utilizing social media. She is available for complimentary marketing and social media consultations and can be reached at 571-432-9382 or via email at kmacdonald@pruitt-title.com.

Three Ways To Determine If You Should Attend A Class

As a real estate agent, you are constantly invited to events. Whether it a happy hour, a networking event, industry gathering or a class on the latest technology guaranteed to change your business for the better, the invites are nonstop. While some events can be very good for your business, I would argue most are not. And when it comes to classes, most are a giant waste of time. Either because the content is not relevant or you don’t do anything with what you’ve learned.

Recently, I hosted a time management workshop called Zone of Genius, taught by Matt James. In the class, Matt taught a system to determine what activities have the highest ROI (return on investment) and ROE (return on energy). Matt talked about how valuable one hour of your time is worth if you are spending your time in the Zone of Genius. Ironically, as I am sitting in this class, it occurred to me that agents attend too many classes.

Next time you are considering registering for a class, consider these things first:

  1. THE TEACHER: Do you know the teacher? Have you attended classes taught by him/her before? If yes, did you get a lot out of the class? Look for reviews of the class and/or the teacher. If you can’t find any, request some. Most people teaching classes have one agenda, to get in front of agents to try and convince them to use their services. They usually have little or no training in teaching and have taught very few classes. To be fair, everyone has to start somewhere. Someone teaching for the first time may have something fantastic to teach and may be a phenomenal teacher. But that is not usually the case. So do your research. Look for tangible evidence of credibility and expertise.
  1. THE TOPIC: What is being taught? Is it something you truly need? Have you tried to learn it on your own? There are SO MANY ways to learn things nowadays: YouTube, Udemy, Lynda, the list goes on and on. If you can watch a 15 minute video in lieu of attending a 90 minute class that took you 45 minutes of travel time, why would you ever choose the latter? This even goes for the classes I invite you to! I am serious. Your time is valuable. Unless the class being offered is taught by someone famous in your industry and the topic has never been taught before or at least is not available online, why go? Exactly.
  1. THE TIME COMMITMENT: Attending a class take more time than just traveling to and from and the length of the class. Is there any preparation needed for the class? How much time will it take to implement what you learned (by the way, the prep time and implementation time should be a part of the class description so potential attendees can consider that ahead of time before committing to attend)? Are you willing to block that time out on your calendar? If you aren’t willing to implement what you’ve learned, do not go to the class. It will be a waste of time. It’s that simple.

I am a huge proponent of personal and professional development. But I am also a huge proponent of spending your precious time and energy on activities that have the highest ROI and ROE. It’s just smart. So before RSVPing YES to the next class invitation, run through the checklist above. Be honest with yourself. Protect your time. You’re worth it.

About the author

Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. She has over nineteen years of experience in processing, closing and marketing. Pruitt Title is a woman owned, independent title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with offices in Rockville and Tyson’s Corner.

6 Ways To Stand Out From Other Agents

Response Time

A study done on agent responsiveness by WAV Group and Weichert Lead Network in 2014 revealed 48% of buyer inquiries were NEVER responded to and the average response time in general was 917 minutes (or 15.29 hours). That is staggering! And yet the top complaint I hear in the field from agents is that they struggle to get business. Whether it’s an email, text, Facebook message or a phone call, when a potential Seller or Buyer contacts you, you have to respond quickly. And by quickly, I mean QUICKLY. In today’s world, we are lucky to capture a prospect’s attention so when we have it, you must act on it QUICKLY.

If someone texts or send a Facebook message, always respond within one to five minutes, even if it’s to say you are in a meeting and will get back to them. If possible, let them know exactly when you will get back to them. And then of course, be sure to follow through. If someone emails you, try to respond within one hour but do not wait longer than two hours. I would not reply to an email to say you can’t respond now because the general impression will be that if you have time to type that, you could have just replied and fully addressed the questions or comments. You have a little more leeway with a phone call. Since very few people even call anymore and even less people leave a voicemail, these folks generally are okay if you call back within 24 hours. Do not wait longer than 48 hours because that will convey you are too busy for them.

Know Your Stuff

There is good news and bad news: The good news is there’s a LOT of information available. The bad news is there’s a LOT of information available. You cannot be everything to everybody. So pick something to be an expert in and master it. Really master it. If you want to target first time homebuyers in Loudoun County, pretend like you are a first time homebuyer in Loudoun County and think hard about what you would expect from your Real Estate Agent. It is not enough anymore to know the contract and have four designations and be top producer in your office. No one cares about that stuff. They want to know as much as possible about the area(s) they are considering buying in, what it is going to cost them, and how it will benefit them in the future. So do your homework!

Digital Presence

Your website must be good (I prefer great, but if it’s good, you are doing better than 85% of your counterparts). It should be easily navigable, visually appealing, connected to IDX and updated regularly. Additionally, you must have a social media presence. People expect brands to be on social media. Statistics show 85% of people of all ages expect you to have a Facebook presence, 80% expect you to have a Twitter presence and 55% expect you to have an Instagram presence. Why? Because consumers equate that to you being current on modern  technology which translates to their needs being better served.

Ask Questions At The Beginning

Get to know your clients. Ask them how many kids they have, how many animals, what their favorite things to do are, what activities are their kids in, what do they like best about the various areas (if they’re buying), do they go out to eat regularly, what their favorite kinds of restaurants are, how they met (or who they are hoping to meet if they are single), where do they see themselves in five years, ten years, personally and professionally, what is their favorite place they’ve lived . . . the point is, the more you know your clients on a personal level, the better you will be able to fit them into a home. Perhaps you do this in an email at the beginning or you may have a questionnaire that you show them when first meeting them. I guarantee it will impress them and may be the deciding factor that wins you their business.

Weekly Updates

There is a real chance to capitalize on how many people stink at follow up. Poor follow up seems to be more acceptable than ever, which is just sad. But you can be the difference and truly shine here by following up regularly with your clients. Each of your clients should get a weekly update, even if you think there’s nothing to update. Remember, you are in the real estate world all the time so what may seem like a small detail or not something your clients care about may be exactly what they want to know. I would suggest one day a week, you email them (a video email update would be even better) with a few details of what has happened this week with regard to their home search, property that is listed or the status of their contract. They will appreciate the “extra” info and attention to detail.

Give A Memorable Closing Gift

This is it! The last chance you have to wow them, make them remember you and most of all, REFER YOU! Spare no expense here. A good number to shoot for is $100.00. You can get fantastic, personalized gifts for that price (or less). I have agents spend go $250.00 on a gift from Tiffany’s. Yes it has a wow factor but it will fade. With a personalized gift, you are showing your clients that thought ahead and planned. That will go a long way!  Yes it takes a little planning but that also raises the emotional value of the gift. The look on their faces when you present them with their gift after they’ve signed will be remembered for a lifetime. And since it will be something they will probably display, the chances of future referrals is also high.

About the author

Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. She has over nineteen years of experience in processing, closing and marketing. Pruitt Title is a woman owned, independent title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, with offices in Rockville and Tyson’s Corner.