There is no denying it – the pace of change in our modern world is dizzying. Just close your eyes and think about life just ten years ago and consider how different things were then. A decade ago nobody had high speed Internet or HTML interfaces. There were no iPods, iPhones or BlackBerrys. Google was just coming out of Stanford and had yet to revolutionize the way the world shares access to information.
Back then nobody was tweeting or had a Facebook profile. And although cell phones were available, they were not everywhere the way they are now, and had only a fraction of their current capabilities.
Ten years ago these tools were literally not available and certainly were not an integral part of the real estate marketing landscape. They are most certainly available now – and the challenge is that most developers are still not even using them.
The painful truth is that what sold your property a decade ago is terribly outdated now. Today, smart, skilled builders and developers are trying to market everything from multi-million dollar developments to single-family residences using antiquated methods from the dinosaur age. My goal is simply to change all that and dramatically increase your real estate profits in the process.
Find out what is working
One of the first things my company does is to begin tracking and measuring our client’s sales and marketing efforts. It is almost life altering when we present our results – our clients cannot believe that the things they thought were working best were not working at all, and the things they thought worked the least were actually generating 80% of their current business.
Beware of registration cards
Let me give you an example. One off the most common tools that builders and developers in residential and commercial real estate use are the standard, old school registration cards. Unfortunately, 70% of the data on registration cards is actually pure baloney. People will check the first box in the list nine times out of ten.
Now people do not mean to lie – but most of them cannot remember what they had for breakfast let alone how they came to hear about your project. So if registration cards are not telling you where your leads are coming from, is there a more accurate way to track the information? The answer is yes, there is.
However before I explain how to track leads, let me stress again why it’s important to track your sales leads. When most developers do a marketing plan they say “Okay, we are going to spend this much on the Chicago Tribune. We are going to do something on Google. We are going to do something on billboards. And we’re going to do a print piece.” So they write out a number of different initiatives as part of their marketing plan, and put a dollar figure beside each one. Done.
The problem is that this is old world thinking – there is nothing trackable about any of these initiatives, and none of them include projections. So how will you know if the things on your marketing plan are actually working?
Make a plan to track your progress
What I am challenging you to do is to add a layer of information to your marketing plan by writing down what you expect your cost-per-lead to be and how many leads you are planning to generate from each separate initiative. Then track that information every week and every single month. Are you hitting your numbers with the Tribune? If not, try changing the creative direction or try something different.
If your Google ads are not hitting your cost-per-lead projections or if you are not getting enough leads, then it’s time to make a change. Information like this is powerful because with it, you can strategically focus your budget on things that are producing real results.
Another thing to remember – not only should any lead-generating tool be trackable, it should also give you results in real time.
The days of waiting weeks and even months to find out what is working and what is not are long over. And if you do not feel that trend already, rest assured that your clients most certainly do.
So let’s discuss your prospects for a moment – they are impatient and have every right to be. These days information is immediate and accessible. With computers, people can search for any piece of information in a matter of seconds. Downloading pictures takes no time at all.
If someone missed their favourite television show they can probably go to the network’s site and watch it then and there. Customer service lines are open at all hours now – and even mainstream shops have extended their hours to accommodate their shoppers’ schedules.
It doesn’t matter if you’re selling commercial real estate or ice cream, the point is that you had better be ready when your customers are. And that means changing the real estate feedback cycle from days to hours.
You have to follow up on leads fast!
Let me give you an example. Someone registers on your website on a Friday night at 5:30 pm and expects to hear back immediately.
The problem is that you haven’t assigned a Lead Manager to follow up over the weekend, which means the weekend passes and the lead is only contacted on Monday or Tuesday. I guarantee you they won’t be pleased with this and in all likelihood, will not do business with you. This is the reality of real time customer service.
If you don’t have a process for this situation, you will not be in business in five years. People’s expectations have been transformed forever because of the Internet, and it is unlikely that they will ever go back. Now I do not suggest that you keep your business open and running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But I would suggest hiring an Internet Lead Manager who can get back to people in the evenings until 9:00 pm. This is a critical necessity.
Tips for making your strategies trackable in real time:
One excellent, measurable way to track where your leads are coming from is to use different toll free numbers on every marketing piece you have. Use a unique number in your email marketing, direct mail marketing and outdoor advertising campaigns so you know which marketing efforts are generating the most calls. This will allow you to calculate your cost per lead right down to the penny.
Investigate companies like Who’s Calling. They have a lot of competitors however they are the biggest. One of their services is to provide you with unique 1-800 numbers. Start with five to ten. When someone calls this phone number, Who’s Calling will pull that person’s caller ID details, giving you a record of their name, address and phone number – powerful information.
Services like Who’s Calling also records your calls. Why is this important? Anyone who manages a sales team can tell you that listening to the inbound and outbound calls for the first time can be horrifying. When salespeople are not using scripts, conversations can stray off track and suddenly the quality of the leads you are paying for might never convert into sales. Think about recording your calls.
Just like using different toll free numbers, register unique website addresses and use these on your different marketing efforts. This is how you can do it: take your project name and put a word in front of it. If your project is called ‘Veranda’, register ‘www.ownVeranda.com’, ‘www.Dream.Veranda.com’ and so on. If you advertise ‘Live Veranda’ in a magazine and that website is recording hits, visitors and registrations, then you know that magazine ad is working.
The old way of paying for leads on a cost per thousand or cost per million is a thing of the past. Google changed all that. Rather than allowing the New York Times or the Toronto Star for example, to sell you on the number of subscriber they have – in other words, the number of eyeballs that might scan your ad – you can use Google and pay only when a lead actually clicks through to your website. That way you are paying for actual leads rather than a shot at leads. For more information on this check out Strategy #2: Get to know Google.
Even your outgoing email can be tracked. Most email programs allow you to change your options to see who opens the email you sent, who has forwarded it and who you are forwarding to. This is valuable too. Unlike an old fashioned letter – one that does not also drive people to your web site – a trackable email can tell you who cares about the information you sent and who puts it straight into their trash.
Check out companies like HeliumReport.com, which can generate a lead and do a real time report to verify the lead’s net worth, credit score and personal assets. They may also call the lead and verify their interests. Are they interested in a single family home or a condo hotel? Is their address and phone number current? They will then sell you this lead for $100 or so – well worth the investment.
Remember in this day and age consumers expect 24 hour, 7 days a week service so you must automate your marketing follow up and track it in real time. Simply put, in order to be successful you need to revolve around your customer’s schedules and not the outdated Industrial Revolution office hours of 9am to 5am. Implement these changes – and you will reap the rewards.