Did I just write that? Scary thought though isn’t it?
You are sending postcards. You are posting on social media. You check in with clients. You are working hard.
But there are over 1,000,000 real estate agents in this country doing the same thing.
And nobody cares.
Because every real estate agent does the same thing.
I would love to show you how to fix it. But first I think you have to understand what’s broken in the first place.
Here’s what every agent is doing, why it’s broken and why consumers don’t care.
1. No USP
USP stands for unique selling proposition and most agents don’t have one. A unique selling proposition is that ‘thing’ that separates you from your competition. It is the ‘thing’ that makes you different.
Unique selling propositions are hard to define. I think that’s why most agents don’t create one. But if you take the time to develop yours, you can create your brand. A brand with a unique selling proposition will make you stand out.
2. Your Website is Bad
Do me a favor. Open another tab on your browser and Google “real estate + your city.” Then pick out the first three real estate agent websites you find. I would bet you three things are true about these sites:
1. They all say the same thing which is really nothing at all.
2. They are a template given to them by their broker
3. They haven’t been updated since 2000.
Once you have done that take a look at your website with a fresh pair of eyes. Is yours any better than your competition? If so you are a rare agent and kudos to you.
If you look at your website and don’t like what you see your prospects and clients won’t either. But this is the norm when it comes to real estate websites. Most are outdated with canned content that doesn’t say anything. Or they are the dummy website that your broker gives you when you join the company. Either way almost all real estate websites look the same and that’s not good.
Food for thought: people aren’t keeping your business cards anymore. Your website is your business card. Is it giving out the image you want?
3. You Don’t Stay In Touch
Real estate agents often get a bad rap about not staying in touch with their past clients. Agents get frustrated when a client moves and doesn’t contact them. My first question is “Have you stayed in touch with them?” The answer I get is either “no” or “well I sent them a birthday card and an email a couple of times.”
That approach to continuing the relationship with your past clients won’t work. They want to hear from you and know that they weren’t just another sale. Or another notch in your belt. If you want clients for life you have to treat them like clients for life.
4. No Marketing Budget
Did you know that most agents don’t have a marketing budget? And no I don’t mean they can spend unlimited amounts of money on marketing. (Don’t I wish!) What I mean is that agents set their goals for the year and sales they want to hit. But they don’t include a marketing budget in their forecast.
Then when it comes time to spend money on marketing they cringe. They may be between sales and not have money to do marketing. But they need to do marketing to get more sales. So they make a lame attempt to create a postcard in Word or they send out a mass email to get business. Does it work? Nope.
So agents set sales goals but they forget to set business goals too. You have to treat your real estate business like a business, not a job.
5. Old Photo
I am going to call myself out on this one first. My photo that I have plastered all over my website, social media and guest posts? Yeah that was as I like to say four years and two babies ago. These days I look older, wiser and definitely more tired.
Be honest. How old is your photo? Now if you have a cell phone in your photo with you, please stop reading this post and call a photographer ASAP.
In all seriousness I am not sure if I have ever seen an agent’s photo, met them in real life and thought “Yup their photo matches their real face.” (If yours does show me some selfies in the comments to prove it!) Technology changes at light speed and that includes the technology for photos. If your photo is old, it makes you look old and dated. Get a new photo every year and be proud to do it!
6. Social Media Faux Pas
It looks a lot like this:
“Join me for my open house on Sunday from 2-4pm. You won’t want to miss it!” (Same post on cue every.single.Friday.)
“Do you want to know your home’s value? Then visit my xyz.com site and enter your address.”
“Showing at 8am. Then taking 2 buyers out at lunch. Closing at 2 and 4. Busy day but I love my job! #realtorprobs”
Or my favorite is 10 posts in a row on Twitter of an agent’s new listings. Hmmm that’s not so engaging.
Let’s flip this around for a second. Let’s look at doctors. Do they post things like “Surgery at 8am. Then 2 consultations before noon. Finally wrapping up paperwork before I go home for a late dinner. #doctorprobs” Or “Do you want to know the cost of your surgery? Check out my website to find out.”
No they don’t. Agents want to be seen as professionals but it’s hard when these are the messages people see on social media. Don’t be like every other agent on social media. Be different.
7. The Value Landing Page
If you have followed this blog for the last month you know that I am into landing pages. I love them because they are making my business grow. Are they a useful tool to grow your business? You betcha.
You know what, agents know that too. But they are all doing the same landing page. It is the canned “Want to know your home’s value? Then visit my website and enter your email address.” There is always a big, splashy picture behind the email form to make people feel warm and fuzzy. Or to impress visitors. Either way these landing pages were once unique and now they are overdone.
Real landing pages give value. They give a solution. They help. They aren’t out looking for a quick sale. They are looking for a relationship.
8. Call When They Need Something
A friend of mine had an agent that helped her buy a home four years ago. She didn’t hear from him for over a year. No birthday card. No follow-up phone call asking how they like the new house. No newsletter trying to stay in touch. Then out of the blue he emailed her. You know what he wanted? He wanted her to give him a review on Zillow.
There are agents out there that only call their past clients when they need something. That something they “need” is a referral or better put a new lead. It has a used car salesman feeling to it doesn’t it? It makes the entire industry look bad. It also doesn’t help promote professionalism in the real estate industry.
9. The Same Message
“Interest rates are low. It’s a great time to buy a house!”
“Interest rates are going to go up in the fall. You should buy a house now!”
“Why throw your money away on rent when you can buy?”
“If you’ve thought about selling now is the time. Inventory is low and we need your house!”
Yup all agents have the same message. And they have for the last 20 years. These messages have become so much apart of our culture that consumers don’t hear them anymore. All they see is someone trying to sell them a bill of goods. These messages do not work anymore. They are dead.
10. There’s No Growth
There has to be thousands of classes and conferences for real estate agents to go to every year. (In fact there’s one right here on this blog…) How many agents go to these conferences or take classes other than continuing ed? I would venture to guess that it is 20% of the agent population going to conferences and taking classes. That same 20% is getting 80% of the business too.
Why? Because they are learning. They are growing. They are stretching outside their comfort zone. The other 80% of agents do the same things year in and year out and wonder why their business doesn’t change. Change doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to put yourself out there and pursue new educational opportunities.
Classes and conferences cost money and take time. You have to treat your business like a business. For it to grow you have to set time and money aside to make it grow.
11. You Go At It Alone
The best athletes in the world have coaches. The most successful business people have mentors and coaches. Successful people join mastermind and networking groups.
Why do successful people do these things? Because they want to learn from the experts. They want to get better at their craft. They want to grow.
Yet most agents go at it alone. They don’t reach out when they are drowning and need help. They don’t reach out when they are in a slump and don’t know what to do. Or they don’t reach out to the agent that is three times as successful as they are asking them how they did it.
We are not creatures that are meant to be alone. We are to help each other. To work together and to live together. This includes agents! Only when we work together can we create something better than before.
12. All About You
I am thankful that this trend has died down but I still think it exists in the brokerages. Marketing that is all about the agent, their list of awards or worse their sales numbers, is not marketing. It is showing off. Consumers don’t like this and it turns them off. This doesn’t build trust. It builds irritation and resentment.
13. Convenient Marketing
We are all busy there’s no doubt about that. But only doing marketing when you have time to do it makes you no different from any other agent. Most agents work on marketing when business is slow. They then wonder why they are stuck on the real estate roller coaster.
Marketing has to be a priority. It has to be a part of your business for your business to grow.
14. Cheap Marketing
So many agents out there go with the do-it-yourself marketing pieces. They grab a couple of stock photos, make something up in Microsoft Publisher and then send it out into the world. If you want to be taken seriously you have to look professional. Clip art and poor design don’t work in today’s visual world.
15. The Field of Dreams Theory
I’m an Iowa girl by heart and if anyone likes to believe in the “If you build it they will come” theory it’s us Iowans.
But we are dead wrong.
There’s one more step you have to take once you build it. You have to tell people you are here. And you have to do it over and over. You can’t just send out a letter announcing you are selling real estate and then think your phone will ring off the hook. You can’t casually mention on social media that you are a real estate agent. You have to ask for the business over and over and over.
How to Turn it Around
Now it is not like me to write a post like this without giving you some positive feedback too. If you are looking at these 15 items thinking “I am doing everything wrong” you are in a great place. Why? Only when we realize we are making mistakes can we change them. If you see yourself in this list you are about to experience growth. Growth in your business and in yourself.
How do you begin to change and do things differently? Here are my five thoughts on this:
1. Don’t Quit
First don’t quit, give up or hang your head in shame. You are an awesome agent! I bet you have a lot of happy clients that can prove that too. We all make mistakes, but what matters is what we learn from them. Don’t quit on yourself and don’t give up on your real estate career. This industry needs good agents like you.
2. Be You
You are awesome! Yes there are over 1,000,0000 real estate agents in this country but there is only one you. Your voice is unique so be yourself in everything you do. Don’t change to fit the real estate industry. Make the real estate industry change to fit you.
3. Provide Value
The number one way you can turn things around is to keep the end-user in mind in all that you do. Think about your clients, your prospects, your friends. What is it that they really want to know about real estate. What questions do they have that no one is answering. Change the message that is out there and instead give value to your sphere.
4. Don’t Do It All
You cannot do email marketing, social media, door knocking, cold calling, education and sell houses. You cannot do all the marketing and all the education. You will burn out if you try. Instead focus on doing a few things well. If you are doing email marketing well people will show up for you. If you are doing a so-so job at it, people will delete your message without opening it. Be great at a few marketing tactics so people can get to know you and you can shine.
5. Show Up
Show up for your sphere on a regular basis. Make it a priority to make sure you are connecting with them in an authentic way. Don’t only show up when you are looking for a new sale. Instead be their friend. Be their real estate resource. Be their trusted adviser. Most importantly treat them how you want to be treated by your trusted advisers.
In closing I can’t help but think about the Rob Lowe DirectTV ads. “Don’t be like this me.” Don’t be like that agent. The one that gives our industry a bad name. Be yourself, try new things and put a different message out there. Mentor the new agents and show them a different way of doing business. The real estate industry is a great industry and it is up to all of us to raise the bar.
What do you do to raise the bar in real estate? What do you do to not be that agent? Please share with me in the comments below!