Kris Berg generously spent time after her “Real World vs. Virtual World Tools” Secrets Webinar to answer all your questions… in full. Thanks Kris!
Question: Do you have a sign up sheet put on your website to capture leads? Lucretia R.
Kris’s Answer: We are pretty contrarian where “lead” capture is concerned. Our IDX search has a robust back end which would allow us to “capture,” but we have turned off the required sign-in feature. Our approach — on the website and even at open houses – is more passive. People don’t generally respond well to being stalked or chased, we have found. Instead, they come to us when they are ready. It is fundamental pull versus push marketing. We have gotten business from people who told us it was because we were the only agents that didn’t try to throw them to the ground and force a pen in their hand.
Question: Kris what website do you use and what do you feel makes the most difference to your sellers? Laura F.
Kris’s Answer: Our current website, one we just launched a few months ago, was designed by Virtual Results (virtualresults.net). For years prior we used a highly customizable, templated site by Ubertor.com. The latter was awesome, but our current site runs on a WordPress platform which allowed us to incorporate our blogs, among other things.
As far as what sellers want, each is different. First, every seller wants their home sold for the most money. Period. Beyond that, our sellers typically want very-full-service at competitive fees and marketing that helps their home stand out.
I would say that the things we offer which the sellers tend to place the most value on are our time investment (we are available to coordinate everything from paint and carpeting to handymen and landscaping – I personally have scrubbed pots and swept out garages to help ready homes for sale) and our commitment to higher quality marketing materials. In other words, they appreciate that we don’t cheap out — we are far more concerned with their success and bottom line than with saving a few bucks here and there. Of course, the investment pencils because they tell their friends, which helps build our business and brand. The fact that we pay for the staging services on their behalf is a often a big deal to our clients.
Question: Does Kris have a web address for each and every listing? On sign in bottom, is this the address of the listing? Maria B.
Kris’s Answer: We purchase a distinct url for each listing – the address. It costs a whopping $10 or so (we use godaddy.com), and then we redirect the url to the webpage on our site. Google likes it, the sellers like it, and it’s easier for buyers to remember and find. The QR codes on our signs also point to this same webpage.
Question: First, thanks for putting on this webinar it is always great to be able to relate to the Realtor and what they do, especially if it follows our same mindset. When you find yourself competing for a listing as you and the other agents (similar agents of reputation and production) competing are on an equal playing field, do you ever make a choice to add or delete anything that you do not normally do to gain the business. Delete meaning, reduce your brokerage fee and add meaning spend more money that you would not normally? Bruce D.
Kris’s Answer: First, no two agents are alike. I recently heard an agent say, “We all do the same things.” That’s baloney, and the minute you believe that, you are finished. We all have something unique to offer, even if it is just personality or philosophy. Most times, it runs much deeper than that.
As far as spending more money goes, there isn’t much more we could do to expose our clients’ homes than we already do, so making the distinction is more about effectively communicating the value in the things we do. For instance, we often hear how competing agents who don’t provide brochures argue that the brochures are worthless. We know better, and we have to be able to explain why. We have to be able to convey the importance of the things we are doing online and how our approach may be different or better. It’s all about perceptions.
Commissions always a topic at the competitive appointment. Our model is not to earn business by charging less, but instead by offering more value. The seller ultimate cares about the bottom line, so agents need to be able to show how they will best deliver the largest bottom line. There will always be someone willing to list that home for $1.95, but maybe that suggests they are just a little too hungry, or that they won’t have the resources or the motivation to do the things that need to be done to market homes today or to serve todays’ customers. Having said that, we are business people, and we sometimes make business decisions that deviate based on the circumstances. Typically we do this for past clients (“repeat offenders”) or when more than one transaction is involved. But, I will tell you that my experience has been this: Relationships that begin where our fee was the client’s primary concern rarely end well. We would rather work with people who respect us and our value.
Question: Are these brochures 8 1/2 x 11 fliers on card stock?
Kris’s Answer: The brochures are high-gloss, bi-fold card stock. Each side is 8 1/2 by 11.
Question: Do you do all your brochure copy writing and photo selection, etc? This is so time consuming. Fran H.
Kris’s Answer: Yes! And, yes it is time consuming! Although, we have our systems pretty well down. Each new listing, from the time the photos hit my inbox, takes about 4 hours to get “live.” This includes photo selection, writing the copy, MLS input, ordering the custom sign and brochures, and preparing an interactive floor plan (which you can see on the right side bar of a property web page like this one: http://sandiegocastles.com/listings/10678-breckenridge-drive-san-angelo-scripps-ranch-san-diego-ca-92131/.
Question: Do you setup a budget for each home for marketing, and how much of a budget?
Kris’s Answer: It’s not so much a budget as a “to do” list that is basically the same for each listing. Obviously, when a home sells first week the costs will be less than for the home that takes three or more months to sell. It tends to average out. On average, our business and marketing costs run about 20 – 25% of our gross income.
Question: Kris: do you recommend any books/publications that have inspired you and your business over the years? Any bloggers, websites, courses to take, companies etc.
Kris’s Answer: I LOVE Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com). His observations on new marketing are priceless, and so much of what he writes can be related to real estate. There are so many great bloggers out there — My advice would be to start following a few agents you admire or relate to on Twitter and look at who they follow and read. Twitter has, for me, replaced my feed reader. I read Inman News, of course, and highly recommend attending one of their Connect conferences if you haven’t already. I always come back with a head full of ideas. Finally, one of the best, most inspirational books I have read over the years is Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. Go read it. Now.
Thank you Kris for your well considered answers!
Our next Free Secrets Webinar is June 29th with Michael Krisa, Guerrilla Video Marketing, Just Shoot It! Don’t miss this one; Michael knows what he’s talking about and is an inspiring teacher.