About a month ago, we had a client order a first class mailing with a letter and an insert stuffed in an envelope. It was pretty straight forward, just print, stuff and apply the first class stamp. But as our fulfillment division was stuffing, one of our conscientious employees noticed that the envelopes felt heavy. She weighed it an realized it was too heavy for just one stamp but didn’t need two full stamps. It needed a stamp and a half.
A quick trip to the post office and we had the proper stamps. We applied them and the mailing went out without a hitch.
Can you imagine, though, if the client had handled that themselves? Stamped all those envelopes with just one stamp, put it in the mailbox, and then got them all returned? It would have been a huge waste of money and the mailing would have been significantly delayed.
A couple weeks later, we had another client order a bulk mailing. At the last minute, they cancelled the mailing and just ask us to print the job. Not a problem, but we did ask why as it is an unusual thing for clients to do.
Turns out, the client had purchased 10 cent bulk mail stamps from the post office and planned to simply put one on each envelope and drop it in the mailbox. We explained that it didn’t work that way. First of all, you can’t put bulk rate mail in the regular post office box, you have to submit it with proper paperwork to a specific location. Second, 10 cents is not the FULL cost to send bulk mail. That stamp was just an add on, meant to be added to an existing stamp when something like weight caused a price increase at the last minute.
At the end of it all, the client was incredibly grateful we had asked the right questions and stopped them from making a costly mistake. We ran the job through regular bulk mail and everything went smoothly.
It may be tempting to handle your own direct mail marketing. However when you increase the amount of pieces mailed, you also increase cost, rules, and opportunities for error. A professional mail house like One Step Services will create a mailing campaign for you that is cost effective and follows all the rules, ensuring a smooth campaign with a great return on investment. Call us today for a free consultation and quote!
Videos are an important part of any marketing strategy, and with today’s technology, it’s fairly easy to create a good quality video with just your phone. Of course, there are several occasions that require a professional videographer such as an event, high end real estate virtual tour, commercial campaign, etc. But if you are simply doing a a short video for your blog, social media or email marketing, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use your phone.
In most cases, however, it’s best not to just whip out your phone and shoot. A little preparation, and a few tools, can take your videos to the next level and increase your view rate and the impact on viewers.
Write out a plan
What are you going to film? What movements are you going to make? What are you going to say at what parts? Before you hit record, have a detailed plan written down so your video is polished, concise and impactful.
Invest in a handheld tripod and microphone
When shooting a video on your phone, the two most important accessories are a handheld tripod, to help keep a steady hand, and a microphone, to reduce background noise. Both are fairly inexpensive and will make a huge difference in video quality.
Make sure your area is well lit
Turn on all the lights in a house. Open up all the windows. Go outside. Do whatever you need to do to brighten up the space. Nobody will watch a dark video.
Put the video in focus
With most phones nowadays, getting a focused shot is as easy as touching the screen on the spot that you want to focus on.
Do not digitally zoom
If you want to get a close up of something, physically walk up to it. Digital zoom lessens the visual quality of the shot.
Order 200+ mailed postcards and we’ll waive the design fee!
Expires April 13, 2018.
Download Tax season postcard order form
While these postcards can be sent any time of year, they are particularly relevant to tax season. As recipients are getting their refunds, they may be thinking about doing some home improvement and the Home Improvements ROI postcards gives excellent guidance on which improvements will increase resale value.
The New Tax Law postcard gives some clarification as to how the new law effects homeowners in 2018 and beyond.
Olympic schedules are very popular mailing pieces. Recipients find the information valuable and they are likely to keep the pieces, giving you more brand exposure. The Olympics start February 9th, so order now!
On January 1, many homes became expired listings. These owners make a great target audience for direct mail marketing. Send these postcards to generate leads.
Unlike other holidays, it’s socially acceptable to wish people a Happy New Year a couple weeks past the actual holiday. If you weren’t able to send out Christmas cards, these Happy New Year postcards are a great way to reach out to your farm or social sphere.
SPECIALS: Order 200+ and we’ll waive the production fee.
Download the New Years 2018 Post Card Order Form
Amid the hustle and bustle of the holidays, don’t forget to keep the work hustle going. There are only 16 days left in 2017, and here are five things you can easily do in the next two weeks to ensure 2018 starts strong!
Create a marketing budget and strategy. Marketing should be something you do throughout the year, not just when you get a listing. Check out our detailed post on how to create a successful marketing strategy.
Clean your contact lists. Every direct mail piece, every email, every phone call, every door knock costs time and money. Stop wasting money on emails sent to bad addresses, postcards sent to people who no longer live at that address, or cold calling people who are not part of your target audience. Now is a great time to go through your lists and get rid of bad contacts, as well as add new ones you’ve made over the years.
Ask for testimonials. Ideally, you should be asking for testimonials after every closing. But if you’ve fallen behind, no worries, now is a great time to catch up. Reach out to everyone you helped sell or buy a house for in 2017. Consider a video testimonial in addition to a written one.
Consider your brand. Take at a look at your visual brand and your messaging. Does it still reflect your values and uniqueness? Is it still appealing to your target audience? Does it convey the message you strive to live out in every transaction? If not, now is a great time to tweak it, or revamp it altogether.
Schedule your January marketing pieces. Order your direct mail postcards, write your email newsletter, schedule your social media posts and get that newspaper ad submitted. When everyone else is scrambling to get their stuff out that first week of January, you’ll already be done and strategizing for the next month.
Marketing should not be something you do only for listings. You need to be marketing yourself and your business throughout the year…that’s how you get the listings! Below are some of our tried and true tips for creating an effective real estate marketing strategy.
Set a budget. I know this is hard for real estate agents, because your income varies with each listing. But a great way to start is simply by determining what percentage of each commission is going to go towards marketing. To get an idea of how much you’ll make, look at your income from last year. Create a budget based on those two factors, and then adjust as necessary throughout the year.
Example- You decide you will use 10% of each commission for marketing. Last year, you made $80,000 in commission. Therefore, you could plan for a 2018 marketing budget of $8,000. If that feels high to you, set your budget a little lower. It’s always easier to add money to the budget than to take it away.
Create tangible goals and know how to track them. How many leads do you want a month? Are you trying to increase your referrals? Are you looking to increase your listings above a certain price point? Set these tangible goals and then monitor your marketing strategies to see which ones are helping you accomplish these goals.
Example. You want 50 leads a month without having to make cold calls. So in January, you set up a regular email campaign, direct mail campaign and Facebook ads. After about 2 months monitoring clicks and asking leads how they heard about you, you determine that email is bringing in the least amount of leads. So you scale it back and use that time and money on Google Ads. After a few more months, you realize this combination is helping you go above and beyond your goals, so you commit to it for the rest of the year, while still monitoring and being open to change should one of those strategies start to dwindle.
Determine a visual brand. A consistent visual brand is crucial to real estate marketing. Some agents use their broker’s brand…the colors, the logo, etc. Others find a professional graphic designer to create a brand that is unique to them and communicates their unique value. There are advantages to both, the important thing is to stay consistent. If you already have a brand, now is a good time to review it. It is relevant to your target audience? Is it modern? Does it still communicate your unique value and they key elements of your business?
Define your audience. I know you WANT to sell everyone’s home, but realistically, you cannot. And your marketing will be a lot more effective if you define an audience and tailor your marketing to them. Many real estate agents define their audience by location. They choose a geographic farm and consistently send direct mail, door knock and participate in community events within that farm. Other agents choose to focus on retirees, while others are marketing to luxury property owners. It’s also okay to have a few different target audiences, as long as each are defined.
Create your messaging. I recently wrote an entire blog about how to create good content. While a marketing plan is not the place to create specific messages, it is a good time to determine general messaging themes and goals. For example, maybe you want your 2018 marketing to focus on why people should live in your farm specifically, or giving people reasons to list this year instead of waiting, or encouraging them to choose you over your competition. Having a general theme, or a couple themes, will help you avoid content writers block and keep your messaging consistent and powerful.
Be willing to be flexible. Real estate is an ever changing industry. It’s likely your marketing needs and ability to execute will change throughout the year. That’s okay! A marketing plan isn’t meant to be a chain, but rather a solid foundation from which to build and change an effective marketing strategy that works for your specific business!
CALL ONE STEP SERVICES! Need help creating a marketing strategy? Need to update your visual brand or create a new one? We are real estate marketing experts ready to help you grow your business. We are currently taking appointments for December and January, so please give us a call at 949-587-5301 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to request and appointment with Valerie, our Director of Client Relations.
These 2018 calendars are great for direct mail marketing or as walk and drop pieces. They provide a great return on investment because they are “sticky” meaning they stick around houses for a while and recipients refer back to them multiple times, therefore getting repeat exposure to your brand, your name and your message. Each design is available in two sizes, 4×9 and 8.5×11.
Download 2018Calendar Order Form
I frequently participate in forums on Alignable, asking and answering marketing questions. I occasionally bring bits of the forum here to the blog. Today, I’ll be expanding on a conversation I had with a bookstore owner about how to generate referrals.
Bookstore Owner : Looking for advice as to how best to market my audio bookstore to the local neighborhood and online. Here’s my issue. Our business model, that makes us unique to bookstores, is that we offer audio books for Rent. I believe we give a great value to our customers for the price we charge. But I have tried everything including radio ads, print ads, Facebook Ads and writing articles. Yet, most people find the store by accident. After 9 years in the same location, people still walk in and say to me “Wow, I didn’t know this place existed”. Thanks in advance.
Brianna at One Step: Do you have any sort of referral or rewards program? Often the best marketers are those clients who already love your business. Maybe you could offer a free month’s membership or a free book rental if they share your Facebook page, bring a friend to an event, tell a friend about your business, etc.
Bookstore Owner: We have tried several types of referral plans. Giving $5.00 credit for each referral. Offering a 1 Free month to our customers if they get a customer to sign-up to a plan. We usually advertise these referral programs for three months in a row. Out of the 300 customers we sent the offer out to only less than 1% referred anybody. That’s not say that we don’t get referrals from our customers, because we do. They just happen to be given organically. I don’t think our customers which skew in a older demographic care so much about getting a free month or receiving a dollar amount for each referral. Plus our business is so unique, I don’t think most people are thinking about it when they are out with friends.
Brianna at One Step Services: Rather than trying 3 month plans, I recommend thinking of ways that you can consistently and constantly remind your clients to refer you. You may be right that they aren’t interested in rewards and that organic referrals are best for your clientele. However, there is nothing wrong with reminding them to make those organic referrals. Many studies show that the more you remind or ask people to do something…refer you, like your social media post, write a testimony, etc…the more likely they are to do it.
So to increase those organic referrals, consider including a referral card in every book you mail out. Just a little something that a client could pass on to a friend with your info. Keep those same handouts near your cash register so people can grab them on their way out. Every time you send an email, make sure there is an obvious link so they can forward it to a friend. If you’re on social media, about once a week make a post asking for referrals or asking them to share your post/page with their friends. Here at One Step, we send out handwritten welcome notes to new clients and we include referral cards. We also send handwritten notes to our most consistent and loyal clients, people we think would speak highly of us.
It may sound obnoxious, but keep in mind one single person will probably only pay attention to one of these touch points. And it’s critical that you constantly stay top of mind to get those organic referrals. This is not a three month program, but something that is part of your long term marketing strategy. And I do think that you are off base in saying that your service is so unique people don’t think about it when out with friends. Media is a very popular topic amongst friends and movies, music and books are easy conversation starters. Your clients will refer people if you tell them to.
As a real estate agent, the holidays provide quite a few unique marketing opportunities. Unlike retail businesses, this probably isn’t going to an incredibly busy time for you as far as listings go. So instead of pushing deals, sales and freebies, you’ll want to use this time to build and maintain relationships within the community and with past and current clients. If you aren’t busy with listings, focus on increasing your brand awareness and engagement so that when people decide to sell, you’ll be the one they go to.
Say “thank you.”
If you’re still in business, you have your clients to thank for it. So thank them! It’s important to touch base with all clients – whether it’s through email, direct mail, phone calls or in person – and let them know how much their business and referrals mean to you. We always release a variety of beautiful and uniquely designed postcards and holiday cards which are perfect for communicating with your farm or social list. We can also convert these designs to email headers and social media images.
For clients that have been particularly loyal, or given quite a few referrals, you may want to consider giving them a gift. We’ve found some truly unique client gifts over the years and shared them in a recent holiday giving blog post. You can also find more ideas by visiting our Pinterest page.
You can double your impact by partnering with a local nonprofit. It’s best to contact the nonprofit and ask how you can best support them this holiday season. Common partnership ideas include donating a portion of your profits, collecting donations on their behalf, or sponsoring one of their events. This increases your brand exposure, demonstrates your company values and, most importantly, helps improve the local community and benefits residents.
Engage the community.
There are so many opportunities for engagement during the holidays. Take advantage of the many community events to get to know fellow residents. This isn’t the time for a hard sell, but it never hurts to mention what you do and hand out a business card. Here are some specific engagement ideas:
- Hand out branded treats to trick or treaters
- Sponsor an HOA holiday party
- Hand out a holiday schedule of events while door knocking
- Go Christmas caroling
- If your neighborhood does Christmas lights, set up a hot cocoa station in the driveway
Don’t forget lead generation.
While fostering relationships will be your primary focus this holiday season, successful agents are still going after those listings in very specific ways. Many unique life situations could force a homeowner to put up a For Sale sign instead of Christmas tree, and you should be the one they call. Try some of these lead generation tactics specific to the holidays.
- Send a postcard or email detailing the benefits of selling during the holidays
- Make holiday open houses extra special with holiday cookies, hot cocoa, carols playing in the background, and some subtle holiday decorations.
- Call past clients to wish them happy holidays, update their contact information, and ask if they have any real estate needs.
- Follow up with leads and let them know about any special promotions or partnerships with nonprofits you have at this time.
- When you send Christmas cards to clients, tuck in a few referral cards that they can pass out to friends and family.