Shh! We spill the beans on Dallas’ best kept secrets

With nearly 700 people moving into the Dallas area every day, it’s no wonder innovation is making itself at home in South Dallas. In-demand amenities like DART rail service, urban trails and opportunities for higher education are already in place or well into development. And a quick tour of the education corridor with Paul Quinn College to the east and the University of North Texas Dallas campus to the west reveals a bright future for an area that has been largely overlooked until relatively recently. To help you get to know the area better, today we’re sharing some of South Dallas’ best kept secrets.

Secret Number One: There’s a lot to do in South Dallas. Even though you’re only minutes away from downtown, you’ll find a great escape at the Texas Horse Park in the heart of the Great Trinity Forest and spectacular family adventures at the nearby Trinity Audubon Center. And the amazing part is that there is still so much more room for development here. UNTD will be opening its first residence hall next fall, and their Student Learning and Success Center will add an amphitheater, event and recreation space, a library, student lounge and fitness center to the rapidly expanding school. Luckily, the brand new UNTD DART stop is just a short walk away. Plus, the Trinity Forest Golf Club will soon be adding a premiere golf facility to the area’s already burgeoning list of attractions. From theaters to trails to nature centers, there’s always something going on down here.

Secret Number Two: You can invest in the success of South Dallas. The success of the Bishop Arts District and Trinity Groves speak volumes for what can be accomplished south of the Trinity River, and local leaders are working hard to encourage the everyone in Dallas to work together to expand the bounty of the Dallas economy to the entire community. Area officials are working hard to bring in a variety of mixed use developments and single family housing opportunities. There are already a lot of projects in the works, and the City of Dallas is actively seeking more investment. To make it all happen, there are investment funds created just to give the public a chance to invest in the development themselves. Impact Dallas Capital is a not-for-profit organization that creates investment funds specifically designed to bring capital to South Dallas while creating potential for significant returns. If you’re interested, visit http://impactdallascapital.com/ to find out more.

Here’s the biggest secret of them all: the rolling hills of South Dallas hold a lot of human potential, too. If you’re a small business owner, entrepreneur, or just looking for a great employee, the public and private colleges that dot the landscape are a great place to start your search. The students here are attracted by innovative programs designed with their success in mind. UNTD has a special focus on programming for veterans and non-traditional students. Paul Quinn College, already garnering national attention for its rebirth as a premier small college and its innovative urban farm program, actively seeks businesses and entrepreneurs to invest in their students through their Work Program. You can find a talented intern for your business by contacting the Office of Personal and Career Development at OPCD@pqc.edu or invest in the success of students at UNTD by joining the UNT Dallas Foundation at http://www.untdallas.edu/ua/giving.

As your local professional association, we want all of our participants to know what’s going on in the community. We believe that by knowing the issues and successes of all of the parts in our city, you will be better able to serve your clients. We also believe when you choose to take that knowledge a step further and become active in the community yourself, you can harness the power of that community for your own development. A recent tour of the Education Corridor, presented by the MetroTex Southern Regional Advisory Council and sponsored by NAR, provided our members a first-hand look at South Dallas. Participants were able to meet the presidents of UNTD and Paul Quinn College as well as Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Erik Wilson, and other city officials working to bring South Dallas to its full potential. We hope that by spreading the good news about South Dallas, you’ll be able to benefit from what we learned. And if you missed the tour, we strongly encourage you to go have a look for yourself.

Come to South Dallas for its beauty and opportunity. Stay in South Dallas for its community.

 

Old school marketing ideas that still work

We’re continuing our series about building your business for next year. Recent blogs have covered email marketing strategies, lead generation, networking, and rebranding. The good news is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to have an effective marketing campaign. There are some favorite marketing techniques that can still be effective today, and some are pretty low cost or free. Incorporate your favorites into a comprehensive campaign for maximum impact.

Become a Columnist. Showcase your local knowledge by writing a regular column for a local paper, social media group, online news site or blog, or local magazine. There are a lot of outlets that are looking for content. Make sure the one you pick is local to your market area. Keep in mind that your column shouldn’t be a sales piece. Instead, write about what’s trending in the market and sprinkle in articles about what’s going on in your town. Industry articles could be about new design trends, tips for sellers, or general market conditions. When thinking about local happenings, write a review of a new restaurant or a column about a local citizen who is doing something interesting (think about local artists, a local team that won a competition, or a community service project that a local elementary school is conducting). Always include information about how the reader can participate.

Host Free Seminars. It doesn’t have to cost much to offer useful information to a lot of people. If you hold a series of seminars on a regular basis, you can establish yourself as a local expert. You might be able to secure a municipal community room (check your town’s website) or ask a lender or title company to borrow a meeting room. In your seminar, have one or two basic branded handouts that outline your main points. Topics might include things like the how to manage credit, the steps to buying or selling a home, staging tips, top design trends, or home maintenance. Ask your friends in related industries to present from time to time as well. Lenders, inspectors, appraisers can have added insight and can take the pressure off if you’re running low on ideas. If you’ve got a visual presentation or a friend with a good camera, you can double up on the utility of your seminar by turning it into a webinar or shareable video. Remember to use this opportunity to collect email addresses for your database.

Advertise IRL. Online ads can be easy to slip into a small marketing budget, but if you’re willing to invest a little more into your business you’ll find that traditional advertising still works and can be affordable. Local papers and magazines are a good place to start, but you can also consider more creative options like asking at local businesses if you can sponsor them. For instance, print your logo and slogan on coffee cups or paper placemats for a local coffee shop, or advertise on golf carts at a local course. Make sure to measure the effectiveness of each effort by creating a unique website or landing page for each campaign and measure the traffic. 

Use newsletters. There are two ways to use newsletters: advertise in someone else’s or send out your own. Advertise in local newsletters for civic groups, neighborhoods, schools and other groups that reflect your brand strategy. You can often advertise in both print and online versions. If you have your own newsletter, advertise listings with striking photos, and local content. Remember that this isn’t just a copy of the online listing. Here you have much more leeway to use as much copy as you like, so add details. Make sure to include hyperlinks to your landing page.

Keep watching this column for more tips on building your business in 2017. We’ll look at leveraging social media and online content, and great ways to stay connected with your leads. 

How personal marketing now will bring you success in 2017

We’ve been talking a lot lately about building your business up in 2017. Recent blogs have covered email marketing strategies, lead generation, and rebranding. Today we’re going to look at networking and personalized marketing strategies. These are the most time-intensive activities you are likely to do, but they also are most likely to create greater dividends for your business. All of these tips are touches; they demonstrate that you care about your community and your client base beyond your paycheck.

Invest in your community. When you are active in your community, you’ll get more top-of-mind referrals. You can do this by sponsoring local events. Remember that you don’t have to create or run the event to help. For instance, if your town has a medical waste drop off day, offer to promote the event by printing and distributing door hangers in neighborhoods or posters in local businesses. If your local chamber of commerce or Rotary Club is holding a luncheon or banquet, sponsor the centerpieces and then donate them after the event to a local retirement home or hospice (and be sure to announce this at the event so people don’t walk away with them). Look for ways to give back first.

Volunteer. Get involved with a local charity or community group. Volunteer frequently and whole-heartedly. You’ll feel great knowing that you are helping a worthy cause and you will engage with people on a deeper level than if you were only marketing to them. You are your brand, and doing good in the community will encourage people to recommend you to others. Take it one step further and offer to host, sponsor or help advertise or promote a fundraiser with your charity.

Attend Professional Events. Don’t be intimidated by other agents or view them as competition. Remember, chances are that you will be conducting deals with them at some point in the future, or if they’re not in your market area, you might be able to create referral sources. Transactions with agents you already know can be a whole lot easier to manage when the lines of communication are already open. Plus, you can pre-market your listings to a receptive audience. If there aren’t enough professional groups in your market area, create your own and invite other real estate professionals and members of affiliated industries to join.

Stay in touch with your base. Regularly host an event for your friends, current and past clients and their families. It’s a fun and casual way to organically grow your network and show your gratitude to the people in your life. Events can be simple. Think happy hour. They can be seasonal. Create a mini pumpkin patch at a park and let the kids pick out their own tiny pumpkin. They can be potluck. Start a dinner club and have everyone bring something to pass. They can be unique and locally focused. Find an artisan shop near you – a chocolatier, bakery, or coffee roaster for example, and host a tasting event. They can be trendy. Hire a food truck. They don’t have to be expensive events, but they should be scheduled on a predictable and regular basis. Have a friend from an affiliated industry help you plan events if you don’t want to do it alone.

Say thank you. Send a handwritten note to anyone who gives you a referral or closes a deal with you. In fact, send handwritten notes to everyone in your sphere on a regular basis. Thank them for being active in the community, or compliment them on a job well done. When your referral client sends you a referral, go back two steps and thank the person that sent you the original client in the first place. Don’t ask for anything in return, simply show gratitude.

Ask for referrals. When clients are referred to you, they come to you with a certain level of implicit trust in the relationship before you ever show them a house. Referrals also come with responsibility. If someone refers a friend to you, they want that friend to be treated well. Be responsive and communicate with them regularly. Treat them well and demonstrate to both the new client and the old that you are honored to have earned that business. Be sure to thank the people that refer you business and make it clear to new clients that referrals are the life-blood of your business. Don’t be afraid to ask, “How am I doing?” and “Can you think of a friend, family member or co-worker who could use my help?”

Remember your business relies on people. When you’re good to the people around you, others will return the favor. It’s not always easy to stay in touch with others when we get busy, but doing so really is a fundamental key to success in real estate. We all get busy, so even if you have to block time off in your calendar and force yourself away from your desk, do it. Your efforts will be appreciated by others. And the potential upside is infinite.

Rebrand today for a successful 2017

Marketing your business well takes effort. Make the most of your time and market dollars. You can put a new spin on old school techniques and get creative with new technologies to get the word out. The rest is all about networking and following up on your efforts. Keep your pipeline flowing through the winter doldrums and get ready for an active spring by building these efforts into your business today.

Find Your Niche. Your niche doesn’t need to be based solely on geographical areas. Think about the people you’ve worked with in the past. Is there a common thread among your favorite clients that really allowed you to connect with them? Target the demographic where you’re most likely to find success and gain referrals. It could be that you work best with pet owners, or have a great relationship with a particular immigrant community. Maybe you work really well with young families. Your marketing and networking efforts should focus on connecting with that target.

Create a Slogan. When done well, a great slogan sums up your business in a short, memorable phrase. Avoid smarmy puns and aim instead for a sincere, reassuring tone. Great slogans will create an emotional connection. Keep your slogan short for maximum impact. Think about your niche and how your slogan can reflect that. Some examples we’ve seen online include luxury brand Kerwin & Associates’ Exceptional Properties. Exceptional Clients and Podley Properties’ Your Next Chapter Starts Here. Both are simple and direct and convey a certain message about the client. Kerwin & Associates slogan gives them an air of exclusivity. Podley Properties convey that they are able guides through the transition that a move brings. What feeling do you want to convey about your brand?

Update your value proposition. Write a short statement about yourself and your company that highlights your unique strengths and qualifications. Underscore how they benefit your clients and your community. Be prepared to use your value proposition when you meet someone new and in your marketing materials.

Write your Bio. With your target audience, slogan and value proposition in mind, write a short bio that emphasizes your professional qualifications and your values. Clients should get a sense of your personality, experiences, and interests. Use this in your presentations and on the “About Me” page of your website.

Get a professional headshot. Unless you’ve had a headshot taken in the past couple of years, it’s time to update your photo. No selfies, please! You are your brand and you want people to respect you as a professional. Hire a photographer who can give your photo proper lighting, positioning, and in several formats and sizes for reproduction. A good photographer can show you how to optimize your headshot for social media, websites and print materials.

Create a marketing plan. Now that you’ve defined your target market and your brand identity, it’s time to develop a strategy to make it all come together. What strategies can you incorporate to underscore your brand this year? Dream up a big, audacious goal and take small steps every day toward achieving that dream. For instance, break up your marketing strategies into time-specific increments: what can you accomplish annually, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily? Taking the time to plan out the year will help you prioritize.

Now you’ve got a good foundation for creating a successful marketing campaign. Watch for our upcoming blogs where we’ll discuss how to implement your new brand through altruism, networking, social media campaigns, and advertising.

What are you doing today to fill your pipeline for tomorrow?

We get it. In this market, you get busy with the contracts you are closing today and don’t have a lot of time to work on lead generation. But you know that keeping your income steady is dependent on always adding to your pipeline. Here are some tips to make filling your pipeline a habitual part of your everyday business practices.

Get some facetime. Remember that meeting people in person generates more business. Get out into your farming area and meet people. Find ways you can help them that may have nothing to do with your real estate business. When you’re speaking with local business owners, explain that you love to give and get referrals. Then ask them about their business goals and needs. Think about who you know that can meet those needs and make an introduction. If you lead with a giving hand, you’ll be able to build a foundation for future referrals from them. Reach out to your sphere and reconnect in person with each one in a planned and routine basis (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually depending on how often they provide referrals).

Hold open houses. Yes, even in today’s market an open house can be a great way to add to your pipeline. Make sure people sign in when they enter and offer to send them up-to-date list of available homes as they become available. Set up fishbowls around the property for prize drawings. Create a guide for buyers in your area and provide a link for them to download it at their convenience. Make sure you have an email capture on the site for them to download the guide (include things like local or neighborhood amenities, packing tips, and referrals for local services).

Believe in the hype. In the week before the listing goes live, put out a coming soon sign and brochures. Hold an Open House on the first day the property becomes Active.

Get creative. Stick with me on this one. If you have a unique property that is proving difficult to market, or if you have one coming up in a particularly stellar location, get permission from the sellers to rent the space for an event. Services like EventUp allow you to list properties available for rent for a single event or a short term. Think weddings, corporate events, community groups, or trendy pop-up shops. Short term rentals are in demand and you’ll fill the property with potential buyers and people who may be able to refer someone to you. You can choose an event that will fit your target market, and generate some income for the sellers. If the property is vacant, choose an event planner that will stage the space beautifully. Your focus during the event is to make sure every person attending that event gets information and a takeaway about the property.

Follow up! The most important part of networking and lead generation is regularly following up with their leads. Use a customer relationship management (CRM) software to help you. There are dozens out there. Make sure the one you choose is designed for real estate and doesn’t break the bank. Realty Juggler, Contactually, Market Leader and Top Producer are popular products. Pick the one that feels most comfortable to you and make sure you use it every day.

What are your favorite ways to generate leads for your business? What have you tried that has bombed?

Email marketing done right

If you want to maintain a steady flow in your transaction pipeline, you need a strong email strategy. Use effective email tools to stay top of mind and gain referrals and earn repeat business. Follow our strategies to improve your drip campaign and watch your business grow.

Build your database. Of course you’ll market to your sphere, your past clients and people you know. Don’t be afraid to collect email addresses everywhere you go. Have an opt-in feature on your website and ask at open houses. Collect addresses while you network and don’t be afraid to ask in conversation. The larger your database, the more likely your audience will either be in the market or know someone who is.

Be strategic. Make sure your email content is relevant and personal. Offer useful tips or reminders in a conversational tone. Be consistent and predictable with your timing. Monday mornings are big catch up days for people, so try emailing at off times, like afternoons midweek.

Get to the point. Try to avoid sounding like clickbait in your subject line. Avoid “Top 5 AMAZING Secrets to Homeownership” in favor of “Fall Home Maintenance Tips.” Be direct in your email, too. You don’t need a lot of fluffy language to get your message across and still be useful. Try to use emotional storytelling to create a particularly compelling message. This works well to promote charitable events you are sponsoring or supporting.

Be personal. Make sure that little touches, like adding the recipient’s name or subdivision are included. Make them feel like the message is something you wanted to share with them specifically.

Have fun. A touch of humor every now and then keeps the tone conversational. For instance, use a fun animated to add some personality to your message. You can find a variety of existing GIFs or make your own at giphy.com. Or include a short video announcing a local event, new business, or even a market report.

Be Reachable. Make sure your email signature block includes your full name, all phone numbers, email and web addresses and links.

Be shareable. Just like your webpage, you should have links to your social media accounts in your signature block or at the top of the message. If you need help, there are free online templates using these features.

Be grateful. Use autoresponders to send out thank you notes and confirmations. Thank clients for contacting you and assure them that you will respond quickly to their message. If they are responding to a specific event RSVP request, send a confirmation that they are on the guest list.

Spend a little time setting up your email drip campaign and you’ll keep your pipeline flowing at a predictable pace!

Top tips for making the most out of your website

We all know that everyone goes to websites when they are checking out a new business. Unfortunately, a lot of agents don’t really have a strong online presence, or they rely on their broker’s website. The problem with relying solely on your broker’s website is that their site is not going to help you reach your sphere or stand out from the crowd. If you really want to up your online game, you should have multiple websites. Keep your broker’s site, of course, and also have a site for your existing sphere to get your personalized message. Take it a step further and add sites for prospecting. Fortunately, you don’t have to be tech savvy these days to set up great looking websites or to keep them active. Use this guide to help you along.

Find a service to help you. There are a ton of services that offer website design and hosting at very reasonable prices. Search for website design and hosting or check out well-known services like SquareSpace, Wix, Bluehost, or Weebly. They offer simple tools to get you started.

Be mobile. No matter how many sites you have, the one critical factor must be that it looks good and works well on every device. This is called having a responsive website. That means that no matter if your client is looking online through a computer, phone, or tablet, the site is easy to use and makes sense. You want to make sure that anyone who goes to your site has a good experience and is left with a positive impression. First impressions matter. They won’t be back if the website is clunky.

Make it easy to get in touch. Put your contact info on every page of your website. Include a clear Contact Us page. Be consistent and friendly.

Be easy to find. Include content in your website that make it easy for search engines like Google and Bing to find you. This is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It sounds tricky, but it’s really not to add keywords to your site if you keep your target market in mind. Think of terms that would be attractive to them, including the name of your town, school district, popular neighborhoods or attractions near you, or popular features that are found in your listings.

Be useful. Make sure you update listing information and add new content at least once every week. Offer online calculators that help figure out monthly payments. Offer a local calendar of events and invite your clients to participate. Include maps of local features like school zones, parks, restaurants or bike trails.

Blog. Create a blog to answer common questions and offer advice. Use it to present a local monthly market report (note: if you don’t have the data, call us and we’ll be happy to send it to you.) Ask local businesses or your entrepreneur clients if they want to offer a guest blog. It helps them get the word out about their business and gives you fresh content. Not all of the content you post must be your own. You can publish other’s blogs as long as you give the author credit and include a link. Make sure to share your blog on social media and in email campaigns so you know it is being seen and read by your sphere.

Create online guides or ebooks for prospecting. Create a short ebook that offers tips for buyers, sellers, and homeowners. For instance, think about topics like “Top Fall Maintenance Tips” or “Secrets of Successful Staging.” Create a separate website that hosts these guides and make sure to require prospects to provide an email address to access the full content.

Make it visually appealing. Include pictures from around your town, including landmarks, familiar sites, festivals, or annual events. Include original art to make your brand stand out. Not the creative type? Sites like Canva and BeFunky offer user-friendly graphic design tools to create interesting icons and images with ease.

Use Video. Marketing with video can go way beyond property tours. Showcase your local knowledge, tell prospects about your company, and yes, show off listings. But you can also create short, funny videos that riff on popular culture. Some agents have been known to make parody videos out of popular songs, or offer a light-hearted look at current events or review a new local restaurant. Keep them short and shareable.

Include an e-mail opt-in. Offer to send market updates, newsletters, or monthly tips for homeowners, for example, and ask people to opt-in. This will help you build your base for your drip campaigns (we’ll get to drip campaigns in an upcoming blog).

Add sharing. Most website builders will let you add the ability to share your site or blog to Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social sites and by e-mail. Make sure to use them. Sharing content is critical for generating traffic and building online recognition.

Include reviews. You earned a great review from a client, so show it off! Solicit testimonials from happy customers and include them on your site. They matter.

Remember, a successful website will be mobile, relevant and updated. Start small by incorporating a few of these tips and build up to a full site as you get more comfortable with your online presence. Block out a little time every week to make certain your site is refreshed and visually appealing. You’ll be amazed at how much difference a great website makes.