Florida Realtor October 2015 : Page 14

FOUR WHO FOUND THE FORMULA ( Simple Tech ) + () x () Passion to Connect Know Your Audience BY LESLIE C. STONE = MARKETING MAGIC A purposeful mix of technology and in-person relationships can help you make magic. At age 27, Justin Helmus wants to build a real estate practice of which brokers twice his age would be proud. He opened The Gulf Life Realty Group in Belleair two years ago and credits both his social media presence and involvement in the local com-munity with helping him build a steady stream of business from first-time and sec-ond-home buyers as well as investors. “I constantly have to test myself and market myself [as someone] radiating passion so that people will see right through my age,” says Helmus, an early riser who starts his day with a 4:30 a.m. bike ride. Shaking Things Up While many of the sales associates shaking things up in the business today are Mil-lennials, there is also a contingent of older, established professionals who are rein-venting themselves to meet the needs of an evolving industry. And it’s not all about technology. In fact, mixing technology with relationship building produces the best returns, says coach and trainer Bob Corcoran , of Corcoran Consulting & Coaching in San Bernardino, Calif. “I love what’s happening in real estate,” he says. “Obviously, the younger agents are at ease with technology. That’s great because technology is here to stay, but real estate is still a face-to-face, relationship-based business.” In his training, Corcoran partners Gen Xers and Millennials with Baby Boom-ers so that the older generations can teach the younger ones how to interact face 14 FLORIDA REALTOR October 2015 to face and the younger set can educate the Boomers about technology. “We also teach them how to talk to each other and about the different types of words each generation uses,” he says. “For example, Millennials say, ‘Text me,’ Gen Xers say, ‘Email me’ and Baby Boomers say, ‘Call me.’ This is one of the most innovative things I’ve found that has some ‘sticki-ness’ to it. Real estate must be a balance between and across all generations.” Getting Social For Helmus, chosen as a member of the National Association of Realtors® 30 Un-der 30 Class of 2015, being involved in so-cial media comes naturally. He is active on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. “Real estate has turned into an Inter-

Simple Tech + Passion To Connect X Know Your Audience = Marketing Magic

Leslie C. Stone

A purposeful mix of technology and in-person relationships can help you make magic.

At age 27, Justin Helmus wants to build a real estate practice of which brokers twice his age would be proud. He opened The Gulf Life Realty Group in Belleair two years ago and credits both his social media presence and involvement in the local community with helping him build a steady stream of business from first-time and second- home buyers as well as investors. “I constantly have to test myself and market myself [as someone] radiating passion so that people will see right through my age,” says Helmus, an early riser who starts his day with a 4:30 a.m. bike ride.

Shaking Things Up

While many of the sales associates shaking things up in the business today are Millennials, there is also a contingent of older, established professionals who are reinventing themselves to meet the needs of an evolving industry. And it’s not all about technology. In fact, mixing technology with relationship building produces the best returns, says coach and trainer Bob Corcoran, of Corcoran Consulting & Coaching in San Bernardino, Calif. “I love what’s happening in real estate,” he says. “Obviously, the younger agents are at ease with technology. That’s great because technology is here to stay, but real estate is still a face-to-face, relationship-based business.”

In his training, Corcoran partners Gen Xers and Millennials with Baby Boomers so that the older generations can teach the younger ones how to interact face to face and the younger set can educate the Boomers about technology. “We also teach them how to talk to each other and about the different types of words each generation uses,” he says. “For example, Millennials say, ‘Text me,’ Gen Xers say, ‘Email me’ and Baby Boomers say, ‘Call me.’ This is one of the most innovative things I’ve found that has some ‘stickiness’ to it. Real estate must be a balance between and across all generations.”

Getting Social

For Helmus, chosen as a member of the National Association of Realtors® 30 Under 30 Class of 2015, being involved in social media comes naturally. He is active on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. “Real estate has turned into an Inter net sensation,” he says. The industry is changing so much that you have to adapt or you’re going to perish. Anyone can post a picture or video online and share it with friends, but that doesn’t mean it will reach the right people.” Instead, says Helmus, “I go to different Linked- In groups, such as real estate referral groups, groups of [real estate professionals] from Ohio to Florida, to share properties that I have on the market and explain why it might be advantageous for someone coming down as a snowbird to buy a second home.”

Other real estate professionals are building a business with a mix of social and tech savvy to get the benefits of both worlds:

Rae Catanese

Staying ahead of the Internet curve

Rae Catanese, a Gen Xer, created the most-viewed home on Zillow last year although the listing was in a rundown area and the homeowner’s association forbade signs and open houses. How did she pull it off? She wrote an attention-grabbing headline and a post about the home, highlighting the neighborhood’s history, and topped it off with a custom graphic created with Canva software (canva. Com). Then, she used a new, paid Zillow feature called “Special Offers” that allows agents to place featured listings at the top right of the screen for buyers to see when searching a geographical area. “This was one of the biggest changes Zillow made last year and what increased traffic to my listing because every time someone searched there for St. Pete homes, they saw my listing at the top right,” says Catanese, a sales associate with RE/MAX Bay to Bay in South Tampa. Her listing was prominently displayed for three months, leading to more than 187,000 views.

Catanese, who entered real estate in 2002 after several years of selling technology- based solutions for the video production industry, has a presence on most social media sites and has been writing The Tampa Real Estate Insider blog since 2006. She now has more than 2,500 subscribers. “Many subscribers have been receiving my articles for over four years, and my opt-out rate is very low. I like to focus on local statistics, neighborhoods in Tampa, waterfront communities and things of that nature. Many buyers come from out of state. If I can determine what people are looking for and publish articles that answer their questions, I can come up on the first page of [search] results. If you appear on the first page, people will contact you.” Catanese focuses on long-tail keywords—three- or four-keyword phrases very specific to whatever you are selling—that people type into search engines, like “St. Pete waterfront community,” “55+ community pets allowed” or “waterfront community boat slip.” “You want your listings to go viral,” she explains, “so a big part of my job is to make sure I write catchy headlines so people will want to click through to see more and share with their friends.”

In July, Catanese closed on a home for a buyer who had originally contacted her more than three years ago. “She kept receiving my articles and felt comfortable with me when ready to buy,” says Catanese. “This tells me persistence pays. People need to be nurtured, and I do that through my blog by giving people the information they need to make informed buying and selling decisions.”

Amanda Zuckerman

Not your grandmother’s brokerage

Third-generation Realtor® Amanda Zuckerman learned lessons about leadership in her early 20s. Following in the footsteps of her mother and grandmother, she excelled in real estate and became a top producer. But as a Millennial, who came of age with instant messaging, texting and social media, she felt the brokerages she was involved with weren’t finding the right mix of technology and relationshipbuilding marketing. She ventured out on her own a little over a year ago to create a more efficient, technology-based business model: MV Realty in Delray Beach.

“Our entire company runs on a creative system,” she says, adding that they closed $12 million in sales in seven months. “We aren’t your suit-and-tie kind of company. We are a relatable, jeans and T-shirt, ‘Get it done for you’ type of company that really knows its stuff.” That “stuff” includes a proprietary lead generating website called madvalorem.com, where visitors can search more than 100 million property records nationwide. When leads come in through madvalorem or other websites, such as Trulia, Zillow or Realtor. Com, they are filtered to her agents through FiveStreet, a lead follow-up program, and tracked by Top Producer. “We provide 60 to 70 leads a week, and we have an in-house sales team to prequalify leads,” she says. “We are [trying to] change the experience.”

Tara Moore

Bringing hospitality back

Tara Moore’s customers are more than customers to her; they are a network of relationships that she nurtures and stays in touch with long after the closing. “I take great pride in the networks that I have,” says the Millennial sales associate with RE/MAX Select in Winter Garden. Two and a half years ago, at the beginning of her career, she signed up for a lead generation service. “I spent a month following up with people who weren’t happy with me calling, so I canceled the service immediately. I want to deal with people who are excited about working with me,” she says.
That’s why she decided to focus on relationship building, rather than cold calling leads. “Almost all my leads come from referrals, but I don’t just run around telling anybody and everybody I’m a [sales associate],” she says. “I show people I care about them as a person or a family.”

That’s an approach familiar to Baby Boomer agents who built businesses without the help of technology, and it’s where this Millennial agent turned to build her business.

To show her appreciation, Moore, also a member of the National Association of Realtors® 30 Under 30 Class of 2015, sends handwritten notes and personalized gifts. “It’s not just a closing gift or a thank you for their business per se, but if I’m working with them, or we have connected recently, or if I see on Facebook that a life event happens, I send something,” she says. “If somebody is having a baby, I will send a blanket from Pottery Barn with the baby’s name on it. It’s a strategic marketing [move], but [giving a gift is] a genuine touch point to let them know I care. When a client recently had to put her dog down, I sent a small book called ‘The Heaven of Animals.’ I don’t include my business card in those situations.”

On closing day, Moore will sneak into a buyer’s new home and stock the fridge with snacks and drinks. “Moving day stinks no matter what, so I think, OK … what would this family appreciate having? And go buy it,” she says. “I recently got one couple an assortment of craft beers and chips, and they sent me a thank you text as soon as they came home, saying, ‘OMG … you know us so well!’ It costs me $25 to $40, and it’s the best marketing dollars spent.”

“You cannot fake it,” however, says Moore, adding that she is successful because she is genuine. “I think it elevates our industry in a sense when we treat people that way because a lot of times there’s a stigma that we are just working for the dollar—at least that’s what I hear—and this shows people we really care.”

In Moore’s case, says Corcoran, “It’s always good to do what everybody stopped doing. People tend to say, ‘I shot him an email,’ but what if it ends up in the spam folder? The handwritten note card has gotten lost, but we teach our clients to send three to five written note cards a day.”

No matter how you mix technology with personal marketing, the truth is that as long as you combine the two approaches, you’ll find a rhythm that works for you.

Leslie C. Stone is a Vero Beach–based freelance writer.

8 Break-the-Mold Marketing Tips



Ask for testimonials. Happy past customers are your best brand ambassadors. Approach a few of your best former customers and ask if they would offer written feedback. (Hint: A testimonial with photos or a video is even better.)



Create your own style. Whether it’s a color you wear often, a style of dress, a hat or a hairstyle, develop a positive, professional, distinct (but not tacky!) Look for your personal brand that is recognizable and memorable. For example, you always wear a red tie or a scarf.



Be original. Use customized art for your blog, website and social media content. Sites such as Canva.com and Piktochart.com offer easy-to-use programs featuring clever banners, icons and images.



Make guest appearances on high-traffic blogs. Market your content on sites with a visitor base you’d like to reach. Creating new content for your guest post will help debut your name to a new, larger audience.



Comment on articles featured on other websites. Developing a voice can start with your thoughtful comments at the end of a relevant high-traffic post. Include the URL to your own website so people can learn about your business.



Provide leads, expense information and calculators. Create a document to answer prospects’ financial questions, and help them calculate their expenses before, during and after a sale.



Host free seminars. Find areas in which you can host informal sessions to offer your knowledge and advice to locals. Use a sign-in sheet to collect names for following up after the event.


Secure speaking engagements at your local Chamber of Commerce or Realtor® association. This will give you an opportunity to answer questions people may have about the market and make yourself a go-to source for local real estate.

Source: Sandra Manzanares, Placester.com

GREAT IDEA Want to stay on top of the latest trends in marketing and technology? “Training events give agents the opportunity to learn, network and grow while being surrounded by their peers in a highly focused environment,” says trainer Tom Ferry, of Tom Ferry—Your Coach, Irvine, Calif., who hosts hundreds of events a year, many of which are free. “We recommend at least three a year to keep your business on track.” For more information, visit tomferry.com/live-events.

Read the full article at http://browndigital.bpc.com/article/Simple+Tech+%2B+Passion+To+Connect+X+Know+Your+Audience+%3D+Marketing+Magic/2271888/273145/article.html.

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