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How to Get the Unfair Advantage in Todays Tough Market

It's no secret we live in difficult times. Dwindling buyers, sub-prime fall-out, foreclosures, negative valuations, short sales, and "bleeding working capital" due to longer sales times have become the language of today's real estate market.

It's tough out there, but many agents are still making a good living, and some are doing better than ever. How? They know that if you want to survive or even prosper during this tough market, you need to be on your "A-Game."

Today I want to share with you one "A-Game" strategy that will position you heads-and-tails above other agents and help you gain a greater percentage of a smaller (and slower) market.

This simple skill will quickly and effectively help differentiate yourself from other agents in your market and generate buyers and listings more easily.

As a real estate professional your job is two-fold: 1) To market your real estate services to generate buyers and listings, and 2) To market and sell homes of your clients.

Yet whenever I see agent marketing (personal or home marketing) I'm constantly amazed at how little effort is placed to counteract the recipients stubborn reluctance to believe anything you say.

Agents create verbal and written marketing messages (ads, letters, listing packages, web sites, etc.) that naively presume they'll be believed.

Distrust is, understandably, everywhere. People, by and large, distrust nearly everyone and everything. They distrust politicians, their bank, community leaders, government and most businesses.

And yes, they even distrust YOU.

Anytime a person perceives an "ulterior motive" (such as they're going to be sold, courted for a vote or other obligation), they form a natural resistance to the message. This is true even when they actually desire what is being promoted.

The solution?

Get others to create your credibility and believability for you. After all...

What Others Say About You is 1000 Times More Credible and Persuasive than What You Ever Say About Yourself

Why? Because there's no perceived ulterior motive, so its easier for people to believe.

I constantly look at agent ads, letters, listing packages and other marketing and I'm shocked to see that 99% of them have absolutely NO comments or input from the very people who have benefited from their services.

Yet the most common comment I hear from agents is, "what can I do to differentiate myself from the swarms of agents out there??"

Thats all going to change for you starting NOW, because today Im going to give you everything you need to create your own powerful testimonial marketing system.

So let's get started...

Step #1: How Do You Get Testimonials?

Testimonials are easy to get once you simply commit to getting them. The secret is timing. The best time to ask for a testimonial is when your client has just received the payoff or benefit of your services. In most cases it's at or immediately after the closing of a transaction (for buyers, it's before they need to make their first mortgage payment).

Smart agents leverage their marketing by asking for a testimonial about their services while the "happy gas" is flowing with their clients. Average agents just walk away looking for another deal.

Would you like a proven letter you can send to clients right after a closing to generate testimonials for your services?

I thought you might, so here it is all written for you...

Words Can Move Mountains...

[[Date]]


[[Firstname]] [[Lastname]]
[[Street]]
[[City]], [[St]] [[Zip]]


Dear [[Firstname]],

Thank you for choosing me to help with your recent [home purchase/sale]. I am thrilled we were able to [find your home/sell your home] successfully.

Some people think real estate professionals are an "unwanted frustration" they must endure when buying or selling their home. It's been my personal goal to differentiate myself from that stereotype, and provide services above and beyond the expectations of my clients.

But overcoming this perception is difficult without the help of people like you. Thats why I wanted to ask if you would provide me with any positive comments about doing business with me. Perhaps the following ideas would help you in the process:

  • How did I overcome any questionable expectations you had about Real Estate Agents in general, or the process of [buying/selling] your home?
  • How did you feel my services benefited you? Was there anything I did that helped you save time, money, hassles, or make the process easier?
  • Would you recommend my services to others who are considering buying or selling a home?

In a world where you don't know who to trust, positive comments from clients like you are helpful to others who personally don't know me yet. They show that I strive hard to serve their best interests, and have successfully served others.

Thank you again for placing your confidence in me with your real estate needs, and for any helpful comments you can provide. [[Show them how to respond call a hotline, schedule a video or send a written comment]] Ive enclosed a postage-paid envelope to make returning your comments more convenient.

Best wishes,

[[Your Name]], REALTOR®
[[Broker]]

P.S. To say "thanks" for taking the time to provide me with your comments, Ive enclosed personalized coupons for [[2 Free coffee drinks (or) 2 Free ice cream cones (or) 2 Free movie tickets, etc.]].


What you need to know about this letter:

  1. Send it as a personal letter right after closing - preferably hand addressed, stamped, etc.
  2. Consider sending it by FEDEX. Why? Because everyone opens FEDEX, and it communicates urgency, so your clients will act quickly.
  3. Consider using a "grabber" like attach a penny and change the headline to say, "a penny for your thoughts..." or something like that. Grabbers help the envelope become "lumpy" and get opened.
  4. Make sure you tell them exactly how to respond - see my next step for the many types and uses of testimonials.
  5. Hand sign the letter and consider writing a personal "thanks for your help" in your own handwriting to the right of your signature.
  6. If it's a written response, include a self-addressed stamped envelope to make it easy to reply
  7. Use the psychological element of reciprocation by enclosing a few coupons for 2 free coffee drinks or ice cream or movie tickets. This will motivate your client to reply quickly. Make sure you don't violate any state laws with respect to gifts given. Since these are not related to client procurement or referral you should be OK, but check with your broker.

Now (here's my overt pitch), you may or not know this, but the letter above is an excerpt taken from our Million Dollar Agent Marketing Tool Kit, and it's been proven to work for agents around the world.

If you don't have your own copy of the Million Dollar Agent Marketing Tool Kit you can click here and get it. Why would you want to do such a thing?

Because it contains over 35 sales and marketing letters similar to the one above and will quickly boost your production and make your marketing infinitely easier and more effective, all for less than you spent on lunch last week.

Plus you can get 4 incredibly valuable bonuses Free with your tool kit. You can work hard or you can work smart - this tool kit is a "smart agent" resource.

Step #2: What KINDS of Testimonials Should You Get and HOW Should You Use Them for Maximum Impact?

I combined this question because I want to show you how to get testimonials that will be 1) believable, and 2) will clearly differentiate you from other agents.

Here are some great ideas for the types and uses of testimonials you can create for your practice...

The Written Testimonial.
You can send the above letter after each closing you have (and you can even send it to existing clients and friends if you like), and ask them to complete an attached sheet and mail back to you.

Then, once you get the testimonial you can use it 1) with your ads, 2) with any sales letters you create, 3) with your pre-listing package, 4) place them on your web site, 5) use them with your home brochures, 6) with info-tube flyers, or anywhere you need more believability about your services.

The Photo Testimonial.
Agents frequently take a camera with themselves to visit their client's new (or old) home and take a photo of their clients happily in front of their home.

If it's a listing you sold, take a photo of them in front of your "SOLD" sign with a thumbs up. If it's a new home, take a proud photo of them on their new door step with a thumbs up. Then use your photo testimonial in the same places as your written testimonial (above).

The Photo Sign Testimonial.
This is similar to the idea above, except this time you create a sign that your sellers or buyers hold with an important (quoted) message from them. Once you get their written testimonial, have it produced on a sign (rolled paper) using a local printer, then take a photo of your client holding their sign. This is a very powerful tool.

Want to see an example we use?

I teach the very same real estate systems I personally use. Here's an example of a photo testimonial for our Service For Life!® prospecting and referral generating tool. I think it's adorable and it sends a powerful message.


Imagine having many photos like this in your inventory (I do!), then you can create prospecting (or just listed/sold) post cards, or put this on your web site, or integrate it into your pre-listing package.

Are you getting the "picture" here? (OK, that was really corny!)

The Video Testimonial
Take your video camera and get first hand video comments from your clients. Then use the clips on a personally created DVD (to give to prospects), load them onto your web site, or play them during a listing presentation. Powerful? You bet!

Audio Testimonials
In your letter (above) you can make leaving a testimonial easy by asking your clients to call your hotline, enter a special extension, then they can record their comments for you. Take the audio and use it on your web site, transcribe it and use it as a written testimonial, put a series of them on a CD, or even put on your web site.

We use audio testimonials all the time at ServiceForLife.com check them out right on the home page.

Step #3: What Makes a Good Testimonial?

The best testimonials reveal a strong and relevant benefit your clients received by working with you.

When I say "relevant" I mean that the testimonial translates a benefit that your prospects consider important - such as saving money, avoiding hassles, getting an advantage other buyers or sellers don't get, etc.

That's why the letter I wrote guides them and helps them communicate the benefits you want to use. Did you help save them money? Did you overcome a specific obstacle or solve a huge problem they were facing? Were you easy to work with? Were you better than any other choice they could have made?

Step #4: Just DO IT!

You've just received a powerful marketing system that can make a huge impact on your real estate success.

It's easy to use. It's fun. And you'll be amazed how much your clients, friends and others who know you and use your services will be thrilled to help you. Seriously, just try it and you'll see.

I hope you use this system, get your "A-Game" going, and profit like never before!

Flip video camera

Could you use this cool Video Camcorder in Your Business?
Share Your Best STUFF!

Real estate can be a tough, lonely business. Even top agents need a continuous flow of guidance, support and new ideas to keep going strong. When you share your best stuff with our community, everyone wins!

AND…remember, each month we hold a drawing to award one amazing FLIP video camcorder to an agent who submits an idea we use. So submit your best prospecting, marketing, horror story, or other real estate idea that makes you more successful, and you'll automatically become eligible to WIN a BRAND NEW FLIP video camcorder. Be sure to include an example if you have one! Click Here

Will You Make $6-Figures Using THIS Marketing Strategy?

Do you think you could mail 100 letters to a neighborhood, generate 10 calls and take 2 listings? Helaine Forte just did...and she's going to show how you can do it too.

Every now and then we discover a marketing strategy so powerful, it could end up making some agents downright rich. I think we have found one of those ideas.

The value here is not just in seeing this idea first-hand, but in understanding the brilliant marketing behind it and applying it throughout your business...

One of the marketing subjects I teach agents is the profitable use of direct-response marketing. I've been doing it for over 30 years in various industries and it's never failed to make millions.

Once you understand the elements that motivate consumers to open, read, believe and act on your behalf, the real estate world becomes your treasure.

Today I want to share with you a brilliant strategy used by agent Helaine Forte (no relation at all).

Helaine sends out a simple targeted letter that is loaded with powerful strategy and psychology, and you'd hardly know it just by reading the letter. But before showing you this deceptively simple letter, I want you to understand the elements at play so you can use them correctly yourself.

First and foremost, Helaine learned that consumers sort their mail while standing over the trash. If your letter doesn't make the "A" pile (bills, birthday cards, personal letters, etc.), it's going into the "deep six." You could be offering Free Gold Coins, but your message would never be seen.

So here's what Helaine does (in her own words)...

"I never use labels. Going along with what everyone else was doing, I used to get free labels from the title companies when I farmed for business. I never received a response, until one day I was out of labels and addressed the envelopes by hand.

I received 10 calls out of 100 letters and got 2 listings! Since then I experimented with using larger envelopes of higher quality and got even better response. Instead of tossing my correspondence in the trash, homeowners felt I was really interested in them and that they were hand-picked by me."

OK, so Helaine's been paying attention with her marketing, and discovered the magic of "A-Pile" mail. But she didn't stop there. Take a look at her letter and then read the important elements she uses below it.


[[Date]]


[[Firstname]] [[Lastname]]
[[Street]]
[[City]], [[St]] [[Zip]]


Dear [[Firstname]],

I am writing this letter to inform you that there is interest in your home.

I am currently working with two qualified buyers anxious to move to Sonoma. We have driven through several neighborhoods, previewed many properties, and they find your area most desirable.

If you are interested in selling your home to a local business owner or a CEO of a senior care organization, please ask your REALTOR® to call me, or you may contact me directly at [[your phone number]].

I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely

[[Your Name]]
[[Broker]]


I'll bet you've seen lots of letters similar to this one, but this one is different in subtle but important ways. Here's what Helaine says...

"As you can see, I tell the sellers a little about their new potential owners. I also give them a chance to contact their own REALTOR®, which gives me credibility. It makes it more believable since lots of agents tell owners they have buyers. Oh, and the people I describe are REAL BUYERS that I am working with."

Do you think you could use a simple letter like this to generate lots of listings? The secret is...

  1. Get your mail delivered by making it "A-Pile." I would add to this using a monarch size envelope, hand addressed with a 1st class commemorative stamp and hand signed. Hand address your return address, or use those personal labels you use with holiday cards (do not place your broker on the envelope unless required by law).
  2. Make your mail very personal - meant specific to the person receiving it (so they think they've been "hand-picked", as Helaine puts it).
  3. Create credibility by mentioning something specific about your buyers (who they are), and ask your reader to call their agent.
Quick Tip…

If you like getting up early and farming early, a great idea that I have used in the past is to go out early with your farming material and put it with the morning newspaper. You not only get your farming materials to the homeowner with their morning paper, but you may meet someone going to work or coming out to pick up their morning paper. And, you get your morning exercise before you head to the office and meet with clients.

Submitted by Susan Miller (Thanks Susan! You're now in the running for a New FLIP Video Camcorder for submitting your idea at this link)

A Closing Gift that Bonds Clients and Stimulates Sales

For every home I close, whether I represent buyer or seller, I leave at the home a bag with my company name and logo in an obvious location.

The bag is full of basic, inexpensive items that are typically needed in moving: Paper towels, a bar of soap, light bulbs, paper cups, toothbrushes, tooth paste, toilet paper and a box of Kleenex. Each bag costs me less than $3 as I buy the items in bulk. I leave it on a counter for the new home owner with a quick hand written card wishing them the best in their new home.

Moving is tough and this is just a little something to help so they don't have to open every box to find the necessities. Even if they are not my client, they are so appreciative of my thoughtfulness and some have chosen to list with me when it came time to sell the home. I never solicit someone else's client with this directly.

But indirectly, it has increased my business as this is what people remember, the little things. It places my name and company in their head at closing, their last memory. This has been a valuable item for me with little effort and cost.

Horror Story: The Adventures of Showing Homes, Grumpy Clients, and the Payoff of Persistence

This is a horror story that was rather funny! After showing my clients many houses over the course of 2 weekends, we were coming down to the wire. Their house was closing in two weeks and they still had not found the right house for them...

So we trudged on, during the final weekend marathon of house hunting with their college graduate daughter in tow, we headed out. After about 4 houses we came to the door of the 5th, which we almost didn't even try to see because of the steep hill and the husband was really not excited about it, but being the good agent, I said, we're hear, we have an appointment. Let's go ahead.

Now following all my REALTOR® training I did as I was taught and let the family enter ahead of me after unlocking the door. Suddenly the daughter and mother were back peddling and mumbling in a whisper, "someone's here, someone's here!" Being certain they were wrong I stepped in to be met by a very irate home owner yelling "Get out, you don't have an appointment!" To which I assured him I did! Nonetheless we DID NOT see that home.

I was mortified and my clients fell into the car laughing. I couldn't believe that this had happened. I found out later that the homeowner's own agent had nicknamed him "Mr. Grumpy".

Oh well, at least they had their clothes on! Oh by the way, the next house I managed to forget to take the alarm code in with me and set the burglar alarm off. The daughter was pretty much done with me after that and wouldn't go inside the other listings! I did sell them a house that next day however.

Issue #1130