Wednesday
September 2, 2015

YPN Lounge

Syndicate content
Updated: 1 hour 52 min ago

Under the Sells-scope: Canva for Work

2 hours 57 min ago

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

I’m a huge fan of Canva, the easy-to-use, affordable website that allows you to author amazing marketing materials in minutes. So I was elated to hear that they have recently released a 2.0 version for busy professionals called Canva for Work.

Canva for Work now offers options to upload your brand’s personal specs, such as a logo, colors, type font, and the like. This is a wonderful time-saver if you work with a team and you want to make sure all agents and staff members nail design pieces that speak to your image and reputation.

Canva for Work also offers the ability to let your agents and/or assistants log in with separate usernames, but you can choose which of your projects your team can access.

Canva template

Brokers: You can offer Canva for Work to your agents as a complimentary service at your real estate office. This will help your agents market their listings and create social media posts while producing quality marketing materials that fit your realty firm’s brand and level of excellence. If your agents are using outside designers and printers, they’ll potentially save hundreds of dollars a month, while you pay only a fraction of that cost. Additionally, if you have a large brokerage, it’s probably unrealistic for you to monitor all of your agents’ social media posts to make sure they align with your branding standards. But Canva for Work makes monitoring, along with brand consistency, something that’s now attainable.

You’re probably asking yourself this question: “Is Canva for Work right for my business and worth the investment, or can I simply stick with the original version of Canva?” It depends. To answer this more in-depth, I placed Canva for Work “Under the Sells-scope,” so check out my full review in the video below:

Want more tips and techniques? Then follow me on FacebookInstagramYouTube, and Google+ or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor. And if you sell real estate, get a copy of my five-star rated workbook Plan to Win to transform your real estate sales game plan. Here’s to your success!

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach.  Learn more about the training and 1-on-1 coaching programs that she offers by visiting www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.

8 Reasons to Get Your Library Card

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 17:45

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

While it may be 2015, there are still several reasons you should get your own library card. Whether you’re a business owner, inventor, designer, employee, student, or retired, your local public library has many resources at your disposal – and almost all of them are free. Benjamin Franklin founded the United States’ public library system almost 200 years ago, but here are eight reasons why the library is still relevant today.

Free Audiobooks

When you’re consumed with everything you have to do as a real estate practitioner, it can be hard to find time to read a book. This is where audiobooks come in handy. Download the free audiobook using your library card from your audiobook app (also downloaded for free with your library card) onto your phone or tablet and listen on the go. Plug-in during a car ride and listen to a chapter or two while you’re traveling between showings. Plug-in while you exercise. Instead of listening to the same 10 songs on your running playlist, try learning a thing or two.

Image courtesy of Nico Hohman.

Free Language Learning Software

Ever wanted to learn a new language? Your public library offers language learning software. And yes, it is completely free of charge. Use your library card to sign up in person or online to learn one or all 71 different languages offered (my vary by library).

Free Work Stations and Wi-Fi

Sick and tired of going to the same loud, busy coffee shop to open up your laptop and answer a few e-mails? Check out the public libraries. They have plenty of space to spread out, either on large tables or in comfy chairs, and do your work. It’s the perfect remote office for those who appreciate peace and quite while they work. Need to focus on a big project coming up? Reserve a free private room at your local public library.

Free Digital Studio Space

Image courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Library in Tampa, Fla.

At the Hillsborough County Public Library system in the Tampa Bay area, the libraries offer free access to “The Hive,” a studio space with modern tools and technologies for entrepreneurs and creative designers. These recording studios are available for making videos, podcasts, and more. Simply reserve it for free – all you need is your library card! Plus, take full advantage of the digital media center with interactive programs available for you and your team.

Free Books, Magazines, and Movies

Yes, this is what libraries are most commonly known for, but that doesn’t mean this benefit should be overlooked. You can get your library card and check out a book for approximately two weeks before returning it to the library. It makes you wonder why you even bother buying books any more. Don’t have time to read a book within two weeks? No problem, just check out the DVD version of the book.

Free Access to 3D Printers

Image courtesy of the Hillsborough County Public Library in Tampa, Fla.

Think that libraries are stuck in the past with antiquated practices and technology? Think again. Some of the coolest gadgets and technologies are now available at your fingertips at many public libraries around the country. Some of the best new programs revolve around the 3D printer technology. Have a design ready to be printed? Want to learn how to set up a design? Just bring your material to the technology center and see the printers in action.

Free Classes and Workshops

Through various city, county, or state programs, there are several free classes available for anyone with a library card. Are you just starting your real estate business? Do you need help setting up your taxes? Are you looking to do your own graphic design work and want to learn how Photoshop works? Do you have a product idea but need to get funding for its production? These are just a few of the many different classes and workshops that are available every month at your local public library. And the best part? You guessed it: all free.

Your Wallet Never Looked So Good

Tell people you have a library card. Go ahead, do it. I’m sure you will get some very interesting looks. Whether young or old, most people do not appreciate their public libraries like they used to. Instead, show off your library card proudly. Carry it in your wallet just like you would any other card. Make your wallet proud.

Yes, it is 2015, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore all the great benefits of having a library card. Just share these useful tips with the people and agents around you, and see how you can become a better person and business owner – all for free!

Nico Hohman is a Tampa-based real estate pro with an emphasis on renovation and rehab properties. Learn more about Nico at hohmanhomes.com or connect on Twitter: @thenicohohman.

Commit to Being Better

Thu, 08/13/2015 - 17:56

Alyssa Hellman

By Alyssa Hellman

As I write this blog post, I am sitting on a plane returning from Inman Connect, a week-long conference in San Francisco. The bi-annual event has been a non-negotiable block on my calendar since I first attended back in 2012. While the content and attendees change from year-to-year, there are a few staples that keep me coming back every time: the people and the conversations.

Even though the event is a real estate technology conference, I find we really dig into some major issues happening in our industry. Sure, there is a lot of noise, but there is also a lot of really great stuff that comes out of the event.

Truthfully, this isn’t something that is exclusive to Inman Connect though. I find that I get the same energy and inspiration from similar events (like the upcoming REALTORS® Conference & Expo) that connect me with others around our industry.

Alyssa Hellman (right) with Lynn Johnson of Keller Williams Realty Cary at the 2015 Inman Connect in San Francisco.

So why do these events have such an incredible impact on the attendees? Well, in my opinion, it has to do with the mindset of the attendees. The mindset is different when it isn’t a requirement. Yes, we all commit to continuing education to keep our real estate license active, but the very nature of a required course for credit can be disengaging. I’m not suggesting that we do away with continuing education or the requirement element, but I am suggesting that we take note of events like this.

When you attend an event that is neither required or offering any benefit other than the knowledge you can gain, you are committing to being better. That commitment carries over to how you serve your clients. You are staying engaged with the industry and going beyond the annual updates on your local contract. You are forward-thinking, and dare I say, innovative – or at least interested in being innovation. To me, that is exactly where we need to be as an industry. We need to be committed to being better, not by comparison to others, but by comparison to ourselves. This desire to keep learning and stay on a constant journey of personal and professional growth is how we grow as an industry. It is how we demonstrate the value of a REALTOR® to consumers.

What are you doing to stay educated beyond your required continuing education? I’d love to hear about it!

Alyssa Hellman is the director of the Go School at Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Go Realty based in Cary, N.C., serving Raleigh-Durham and surrounding areas. You can find Alyssa on Twitter @AVHellman or visit her website, www.alyssahellman.com.

How to Automate Your Online Marketing

Sat, 08/08/2015 - 14:15

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

I’m always testing online tools and services that agents might find useful so that I can share them with my Killer Online Mastermind group for real estate agents. One of my goals is to automate some of my online marketing efforts to propel my online presence while saving time. I’m always looking for ways to make my life – and the lives of the agents I coach – a little easier.

One of the first automation tool I started using was Hootsuite. This is a great platform for scheduling all your social media posts in one place. The problem was, I wasn’t using it, and my social media posts were sporadic at best.

I have a goal to write two blog posts a month for my site, Secure Real Estate Phoenix. Right now, it doesn’t always happen, mostly because I’m selling homes, writing blogs for the YPN Lounge and charlieallred.com, oh, and parenting my twin daughters. Like most of you reading this, I’m a busy person.

Previously, I would write a new blog post and then go through my checklist of social media and other sites to promote the piece. But sometimes I’d run out of time or steam, and the post wouldn’t get promoted to all my favorite sites.

Then I was turned on to IFTTT.com by a member of the Killer Online Mastermind group. I quickly found that using IFTTT.com was LIFE CHANGING! And I think it will change your life, too.

The site stands for “if this then that,”  and you’re are able to create “recipes” where you input a trigger (“if this”) and the site will automate your requested action (“then that”).

For example, if I post a new blog post to CharlieAllred.com, then IFTTT will automatically post it to my Twitter account for me.

This is how it looks:

If I post a new blog post to SecureRealEstatePhoenix.com, then IFTTT will post it to my SRE Facebook business page.

This is how it looks:

Another recommended IFTTT recipe.

I have created recipes that will publish my blog posts to all my social media pages. But you can use IFTTT to create alerts on a wide variety of events and actions. For instance, I get an e-mail when there’s a full moon.

Here is a full list of my recipes for you to view and use if you like them. To try it out for yourself, head to IFTTT.com.

One note: Make sure you don’t just automate your blog post promotions and then ignore all your social media pages. You have to engage with your friends and followers in order to be successful. Respond to comments, write comments on other people’s posts, and be active in general. My fellow YPN Lounge blogger Bill Gassett is the master of being on top of his social media; check out his expertise here.

Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She leads the Killer Online Mastermind for real estate agents; you can learn more at charlieallred.com. She is a Pinterest expert who coaches agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.

8 Ways to Improve Your Daily Prospecting

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 14:20

Nico Hohman

By Nico Hohman

As a sales professional, you should be conducting direct sales activities everyday that will add new prospects into your lead list. But sometimes you get into a rut or you need new ideas to help grow your list. Here are eight ways to improve your daily prospecting routine in order to get more clients.

1. Inspect Your Lead List

The most crucial checklist for anyone working in a sales position is your lead list. Your lead list will identify potential clients and where they stand in your sales cycle. At a minimum, you should be inspecting this list on a daily basis. For some people, checking this list multiple times a day is useful as well.

Having an adequate system – whether an online CRM, a spreadsheet, or index cards – to track, upgrade, downgrade, and to make notes on a particular lead is the lifeblood for a sales associate. You should always know exactly where your client is in the life cycle of the sales process. Plus, if you can identify the likelihood of closing a particular lead, the more worthwhile your lead list.

2. Calendar Checking

@jdurham, 2010. MorgueFile

As a sales professional, you probably rely on the records in your calendar just as much as the data in your lead list. You probably note the time, date, location, and with whom you are spending every meeting, every breakfast, and every networking event with. Why not tap into all of that useful data?

Go back one day, one week, one month, and one year in your calendar. Look at what you were doing during those intervals. Who were you meeting with? Where were you meeting? Did you have coffee with a potential new client a month ago? Were you at an out-of-state conference last year? Follow up with all of the people to stay in touch or remind them of your encounters. It is an easy and free way to stay in front of your clients.

3. Warm Calling

Inspecting and checking your lead list is a great internal control to see where each one of your clients is in the life cycle of your sales process. But if you never talk to any of your leads, then your lead list is practically worthless.

Use your lead list to engage in warm calling. E-mail your existing clients just to say hello and catch up. Text some clients who are just starting in your sales loop to give them some useful bits of information about your industry. Call a lead that may have died a few months ago to follow up and see if there is anything you could have done better to keep them as a client.

4. Networking Events

The best and most meaningful form of sales comes from face-to-face, in-person meetings. The only way to get these types of meetings is to meet new people in the first place. That is where networking events come in.

Look at your calendar for the coming weeks and if you have some openings, fill them with networking events. The beauty of networking events is that they can be anything from a kickball game with your friends to an industry specific seminar. Great sales professionals know how to network!

5. Social Media Engagement

By now, you should have a profile on at least three different social media outlets. The more social media outlets you have a profile on the better. But, it isn’t just about the number of profiles you have. The most important metric in social media is engagement.

To really see a return from using social media, you need to engage those on that social media platform. Don’t just post and spread your content. Like, follow, and comment on other people’s content. Start discussions with other people. Make connections with the influencers on each social media outlet so you can grow your sales by making more strategic connections.

6. Write a Blog Post

If the adage in the traditional media world is “content is king” then the adage in online media should be “new content is king.” Everyone with a website should be posting new blog content at least once a week. The more original, quality content you can promote, the better. There are studies showing significant gains in traffic the more often you post content.

Unlike social media engagement where you are purposefully finding and communicating with other people on the different outlets, posting an article is an insightful way to get your message to your audience. Writing lots of new and inspiring content not only will get you more social media engagement, it will also start to brand you as an expert in your particular craft.

7. Make a Video

If writing a blog post is meant to establish yourself as an authority in a particular subject and to grow your audience, creating a video is how to spread your message exponentially quicker. If one of your social media profiles isn’t already on a video sharing outlet, you need to add it to your portfolio immediately.

Currently, nearly 3 billion hours of online media content is watched on a monthly basis in the United States alone. That means every person living in America is watching a little less than 10 hours of video online per month. If your videos aren’t part of those programming decisions, you are missing out on a great deal of potential traffic.

8. Cold Calling

Finally, the least enjoyable of any sales activity for most sales professionals is the cold call. Whether it is dialing every business in a certain radius or canvasing office parks in a certain part of town, cold calling can take many different shapes and styles. While today’s consumer is less and less likely to buy into a service or product from a cold call, it is still a way to make new connections. Once you have this new connection in your lead list, it is up to you how well you can cultivate them into a new client.

The next time you sit down at your desk and scratch your head as to what to do next in your real estate sales career, think back on some of these routine refreshers and you’ll be increasing your sales in no time at all.

Nico Hohman is a Tampa-based real estate pro with an emphasis on renovation and rehab properties. Learn more about Nico at hohmanhomes.com or connect on Twitter: @thenicohohman

Expand Your Client Base in 5 Minutes

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 16:20

Lee Davenport

By Lee Davenport

Does selling on social media intimidate or frustrate you?  I can understand if it does.  Maybe you focus on one social platform, doing the obligatory thing of posting your listings. Or maybe you’re promoting your real estate business through several social media accounts. Either way, if social media has not become a big bread winner for you yet, then you might be slightly miffed at this time zapper.

One main way that you can start correcting this today is to stop speaking to an empty page or site. It makes total sense that if you walk into an empty room (that is not adjacent to anything or anyone and has no cameras, mics, telephones, etc.), no matter how loud or long you scream, there is no one there to hear you. Believe it or not, many of us make this same mistake on social media. We post on pages and to accounts where no one is listening.

Stop waiting for potential home sellers and buyers to come to you; you need to go to them. You may be thinking, “I want to do that, but with the millions of people on social media, it just seems impossible.”  Au contraire, mon cher! In today’s technological age, there is an app, site, software, or something else that can help you with that.

Here is one of my favorite tools to help get on the offensive and make social connections that boost your likelihood of converting clicks to clients to closings to commissions (which are the vital 4 Cs of online real estate sales): Mention.com

Mention offers a more extensive search on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube than Google Alerts because you can find out what’s being said about your topic/keyword on just social media rather than on the Internet as a whole where it may not have the same level of engagement and interest. (Another alert system I favor is Talkwalker Alerts because it too retrieves intel from social media sites.)  This means that you can find people chattering about your target area (or farm area) where you want to become the agent of choice (like Cherry Hills Village in Colorado, El Cerrito in California, Woodridge in Washington, East Atlanta in Georgia, Palmer Woods in Michigan, and so forth).

I have found that home buyers and sellers may not go online looking for you specifically, or even a REALTOR®, but they are posting their housing dreams and concerns in hopes that help will find them. Mention allows you to do that more efficiently. You’ll spend less money than sending postcard mailings, and you’ll likely create more authentic connections if you actively pursue people posting about your real estate niche or area of interest. Check out the image at the right for an example of an alert I recently received of someone sharing an article I wrote for Huffington Post. You better believe I connected with this person, who is a “raving fan” but whom I had never met. This shows the power of using Mention.

In addition to following topics of interest relevant to my business, I also follow myself and my brand, which I recommend you do too.

Are you multilingual?  You can create one alert that searches social media and the Web in the different languages you speak – I love easy automation.

Imagine what would happen if you could easily locate people who share and comment on articles and topics germane to your sales area. It all starts with creating an account and an alert of your choosing in under five minutes. I hope that puts a smile on your face.

If you are not convinced this can be done in under five minutes, watch me setup an alert from my phone. (My only qualm is that Mention.com is not as mobile responsive as I would like. You will see in the video how I have to scroll to see everything on the webpage).

Once you start getting alerts (which you can send to your email), make sure to review them in short order, and connect with the person that posted it as soon as possible. These alerts will all be in vain if you do not do anything with them.

Also, there should be a method to your posting madness. Make sure you do not become a creepy, cyber stalker – there has to be finesse in your approach to connecting with people you don’t already know. Check out this past article or grab this workbook to help create strategic posts to build your sales. Here’s to your success!

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, business doctoral student, trainer and coach.  Learn more about the training and 1-on-1 coaching programs that she offers by visiting www.AgentsAroundAtlanta.com.

Google My Business, Google+ Builds SEO

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 16:16

Bill Gassett

By Bill Gassett

There is no question that using Google Plus is important for a real estate agent looking to capture business from social media. What is often overlooked – and probably even more important – is using Google My Business (formerly Google Local) to tie your business in through search.

When someone does a search for a local business using Google, the search engine will often deliver what is called the “7-pack,” which includes seven local businesses based on geographic location. Google chooses seven lucky business websites that have been optimized to appear in these kind of searches. The 7-pack is grouped together, slightly separated from rest of the search results.

Hopefully bells are starting to ring in your head, telling you that this kind of search is important. In the real estate sector, you want your information to come up in a local search like, “Realtor Portland OR” or “real estate agent Miami FL.” Keep in mind that getting into the 7-pack is free, you just need to know how to do it.

Are you interested in how an agent or broker can get themselves into the Google 7-pack? I am sure you are all nodding your heads as you’re reading this.

Let’s use me as an example. I’m a real estate agent from Hopkinton, Mass., and you can see what I’m are talking about by going to Google and entering the search term “Realtors Hopkinton MA.” You are more than likely going to see my websites, massrealestatenews.com and maxrealestateexposure.com, in the 7-pack. As a real estate pro, this is a very valuable position.

Here is what you need to do to increase the odds of appearing in the 7-pack. First, you need to get a verified business page with Google. Once you have followed the steps and created your business page, then you will need to create a foot print around the Web. Local SEO is similar to traditional SEO in that there are a number of factors that will determine how high a website will rank in search results. It’s a little less difficult, however, to achieve high local SEO.

While links online are still really important in local SEO, citations are also vital. Citations are mentions of your business online. A citation is formed by having the name, address, and phone number (NAP) of your company appear on other websites. The quality of your citations is especially important. For example, you want to see your citations coming sites that everyone is familiar with, such as Facebook, Yelp, Merchant Circle, Manta, Bing, Yahoo, and others. The more quality sources where your website and NAP appear, the better.

One thing I cannot emphasize enough is that your NAP needs to be identical to what you have on your website. When I say identical, I mean identical! If the address of your business is 50 Main Street, Lubbock, Texas, when you add your business to Facebook it has to match that address exactly. The address is not identical if you’re using “50 Main St.” instead of spelling out the word “Street.” This would work against you appearing in the 7-pack. The same holds true if you use a different phone number. Your NAP must match perfectly.

You may be wondering how to find local online directories where you can add your contact information. Here is a list of some of the most important local directories to help your business appear in the 7-pack. If you add your site to these directories, not only will you have picked up 55 new links pointing to your website, you will also receive local citations from important sources.

Why would a real estate agent want to be in the Google 7-pack?

If you are a practitioner who gets their website and contact information into the 7-pack, I guarantee that more local customers will be calling you to potentially interview you for business. Sellers who are not already connected to a real estate agent will commonly search Google to find someone they think can help them. While these types of inquiries are not high volume, they are “money searches.” What I mean by money searches is that the person who is doing research is ready to do business. They are seeking out the services of a real estate agent who can help them immediately. When your information comes up in the 7-pack, your odds of being called by those motivated sellers increase. This advice works whether you are an agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, electrician, or any other business for that matter.

Why you should be use Google Plus.

What most people don’t realize is that Google Plus is not just another social channel like Facebook. Google Plus is a social site that is integrated with Google search. When you share content on Google Plus, people who follow you are more likely to see your content in search results when they are logged into Google. Keep in mind that most people stay logged into Google all the time. What this means is if you gain a large following, the content you produce is more likely to be seen.

Additionally, the posts you create and share on Google Plus can be found as standalone search results in Google. So when you share an article or post from your own website, not only is that article itself getting a boost in SEO from Google Plus, but the post you create has the potential to show up in search results as well. Like any other site, the more you use your profile, connect with other people, and share content on Google Plus, the more likely your information will appear in search results.

There is no one who explains this better than Mark Traphagen from Stone Temple Consulting in his article on why real estate agents should be using Google Plus. Mark carefully provides all the benefits a broker or agent receives when they take time to become a well-engaged authority on the Google Plus platform. If you are a real estate agent, I would highly recommend taking the time to read this article and bookmark it.

Similarly, it is important to understand how Google Plus profiles gain search authority. This is yet another excellent contribution by Mark over at Search Engine Land on how the strength of your profile influences your visibility on the Web.

As a real estate agent, mortgage broker, lawyer, or any other businessperson, you should be taking the time to learn how to gain more visibility online. We live in a world where people utilize the Internet more and more to find what they are looking for. Social media is an avenue many businesses are not utilizing to its fullest potential.

What should be made clear that there are no magic bullets in social media. There is quite a bit of misinformation being passed around on how social signals can boost your position in an online search. For example, there are some SEO pundits who will claim that having a lot of Facebook shares or likes will put your business higher in Google search results. There is no evidence that this actually occurs, but you will see all these fancy infographics along with correlating studies that cite Facebook (and others) as a driving force for SEO. Unfortunately, a couple people write about it and then the next thing you know it becomes truth on the Internet. Fortunately, there are some renowned SEO experts who will actually explain that not everything you read on the Internet is true. Eric Enge, owner of Stone Temple Consulting, is an SEO expert I trust. He took the time and did a carefully designed analysis showing that Facebook does not increase your SEO. Take a look and you be the judge. Correlation does not equal causation, my friends!

One of the amazing things about the real estate industry is that there is a low percentage of repeat business. In other words, many real estate agents will not be hired again when a past client is ready to sell their home. There are so many reasons why this happens, but the bottom line is that many of these people will use the Internet as a tool to find their next agent. Don’t be left off the train! Take the advice here and use Google My Business and Google Plus to become the next highly visible real estate agent on customers’ radar.

If you liked this article on how to use Google as a real estate business builder, then be sure to also read my piece on mastering real estate social media marketing where you will learn more tips on how to use the top social networks properly for your business. I provide guidance on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Linkedin. This is one you won’t want to miss.

Bill Gassett is a nationally-recognized real estate leader and one of the top RE/MAX salespeople in New England. See all his real estate articles at www.maxrealestateexposure.com.