303 Marketing Tips for New Real Estate Agents

Happy Friday everyone! For those readers who do not know, I recently took the plunge and earned my Florida Real Estate License. This is something I have wanted to do…FOREVER! So, I studied like crazy, and let me tell you that exam was stressful as all get out, but I passed it on the first try, which is great considered only 50 percent of people do.  I truly was not sure I had passed until I walked out and got the passing certificate in my hot little hands.

Real Estate License– Check!

So, now I was a licensed agent– and still there were big decisions to be made. For instance, we owned a little place in St. Petersburg, Florida, and I truly love St. Pete. I spoke with all of the large real estate brokerages in town, and they were all nice enough, but I did not feel an instant connection with any of them. Also, I could not envision dealing with the crazy traffic that is the Tampa Bay area while running to listing and showing appointments. 

SW FL–Check!

I happened to notice an ad for a small brokerage in Fort Myers, Florida, which is where a few of our friends in the entire world live. I talked with the broker, and the other people in the office– and felt like this was the right place to call home. Real Edge Brokerage is heavily into investment properties– we buy, rehab and sell distressed homes, and work with real estate investors as well. These are things I was also excited about, so I feel like this was the right match. 

My Marketing/Finance/Sales Background–Check! 

My professional background has been heavy on finance and sales prior to owning my own marketing company. I spent twelve years as a Finance Manager and Finance Director in the automotive world, and three years doing Mortgage Lending– so I know credit and lender parameters, basically what it takes to help a customer get the loan they need. Helping buyers, especially those that are credit challenged or first time home buyers find their way “home” will definitely be one area where I concentrate my efforts. Everyone should own their own home!
Of course, Marketing has been my life since 2008, and it will lend itself well to Real Estate. Who would you rather have list your house? Someone with tons of Marketing experience, or cousin Ruth that says she has a friend that might be interested. To get maximum exposure for your home listing, you need Maximum Marketing– and I will provide that to every real estate listing client. (In fact, my goal is to get so busy that my husband has to “retire” and work with me!) 

Real Estate Specific Marketing–Check!

I set out to find some great, inexpensive or free, real estate specific marketing tips, and found so many that I thought it would be helpful for other new agents as well. So, here is a roundup of some of the best articles I found, with hundreds of tips to help you get started listing and selling homes now! 
http://www.point2homes.com/agent-websites/blog/2015/09/08/75-marketing-ideas-for-real-estate-agents/  75 great tips from Point2Homes. It notes video marketing, which has huge impact for our agency. Customers love to really “see” a home, and a comprehensive walkthrough on video can really generate a lot of interest! 
Placester rounds up 107 tips; I love this article because it divides tips from fundamentals to advanced and innovative. I qualify for the advanced tips because of my Marketing background, but want to jump right to the innovative, break the mold tips that help agents stand out in a crowded field!
This 35 tip Wordstream post has lots of common sense, yet often overlooked, ways to build your brand—and make no mistake, the product you are marketing is YOU! 

This 50 item Fit Small Business post has some good offline and online tips for creating buzz about you in your local area. 

This blog post on Agent Redefined actually has 26 tools and apps to help real estate agents be more successful in 2016. 
This post on Outbound Engine shows ten tried and true methods of marketing for real estate agents. 
If you need more marketing tips, or help with your real estate specific marketing, contact me! I am always happy to help others be more successful. 

Branding Your Business: Why and How to Get Started!

If you have a startup business, or one that is not doing as well as you’d like, it’s time to kick your marketing and branding into gear and get things rolling! Effective marketing can jumpstart your traffic, pump up your revenue and skyrocket your profits. Many small business owners suffer from inertia– they have no idea where to start, so they do nothing. Obviously, getting started is crucial, and doing it right is vital! Here is my simple three-step plan to get started branding and marketing YOU and YOUR business:

1. Create a logo

It should be unique and be able to be used everywhere, and for a long time. Your logo is what will tie all of your marketing, both online and offline, together. Think of large companies and their logos– people recognize them easily by their “brand” mark, and that is what your goal is with your logo as well. How many of the logos and brands below do you recognize? Probably almost all of them!
For lots of good ideas about designing a good logo, check out this logo design tips post on Mashable. There are many sites where you can play with logo design yourself, and only pay when you find exactly what you love. Check out this blog post that has lots of resources for free logo designs and inspiration. 

2. Create a website 

No matter what other online presence you have (social media like Facebook, Google+, Instagram or Twitter, for instance) you MUST have your own online home! Customers and potential new customers expect to find you online. Additionally, when you market your business, you want to send customers to your own website. You have limited control over websites that you do not own! And why would you want to help someone else’s business grow, instead of your own?  Build a website that is a good reflection of your business! 
There are many options for building a website these days. This Forbes articles about building a website has some good information for do-it-yourself web creators. In addition to the physical website itself, remember that you will need good written content, great visuals and that all-important logo that we mentioned initially. 
There are many things to think of while building your website: 
  • Responsiveness 
  • HTML and CSS coding
  • Colors and fonts 
  • Icons 
  • SEO setup 
  • Social media sharing 
  • Navigation and menus
  • User discussion 
  • Images 
  • Blog setup 
  • Hosting 
  • Graphic design 
  • Website content 
  • Marketing setup 

While building your website, you should be sure to make it SEO-friendly and Social Media friendly as well– this will make it easy for people to find it via search engines as well as Facebook and Twitter.

3. Create and link social media 

After your website is created, you will want to create complementary social media accounts. Use your newly-created logo to tie your branding together well, and be sure to link directly back to your website from your social media sites. 
You do not need to be on every social platform; figure out what your goals are for the website and your marketing, and then decide which social media networks are best for you. If you have a professional services business, LinkedIn and Twitter are great places to be; if you have a craft business, showing images on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest will work. Think about marketing this way– where are your customers? That is where you need to be as well!
Amplify your message via the right channels. Share news and information from your website and blog to your social properties. This image shows how interdependent Social Media and SEO have become. 

If you need more tips on SEO and social media marketing, follow my Facebook page at http://facebook.com/DGMrktng  or follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DeniseGabbard.  If you need further help getting started with branding your business, feel free to email me.

I have put together a new “Business Branding ” package that includes these items: 

  • logo creation
  • website creation and revisions 
  • complete web content writing
  • creation of three social media accounts
  • 12 months of website hosting
  • 6 months of social media marketing 

This package is everything you need to begin branding your business online and offline! The package is affordable at just $3000, and to make it even more doable for small business owners the payments can be divided into separate monthly payments. That means you can get online within just a few days!

Contact me at denise.gabbard@gmail.com today and I will get you on my branding package schedule! 

Original Content is Critical: What to Do When Someone Steals Your Work

Today has been a roller coaster ride. I added a cool, new client that needs a revamp of their website. I received an email asking if I would write an article for a popular SEO website. And I got blatantly plagiarized. By someone who claims to be a friend, and does not understand Google and duplicate content!

This is not the first time plagiarism has happened to me; I consider it an unfortunate fact of the free nature of the Internet. However, this time was different. It was not some nameless, faceless person in a third-world country snagging my post for their blog.

This time, it was far more personal. The work stolen was a page from my website, and this copycat was someone in our social circle. This was someone that has had trouble finding work, and that I have tried to help get started with writing for a living. I have pointed out on multiple occasions the importance of improving skills, and given her links to spelling and grammar checking sites. I have edited work for this person and pointed out weaknesses– (hint, f-en hint!) Sorry, can you tell I am just a wee bit perturbed?

In fact, I even passed some overflow work on to this person several years ago, and it ended disastrously. I let it slide, but learned that arm’s length is better at times and to double-check and oversee any work done on my behalf or in any way connected to me. 

                                                                         No good deed goes unpunished.~ Clare Boothe Luce 

Still, NOTHING prepared me for the word-for-word copying of my website into a newly setup Facebook business page, effectively competing with mine, and with a name that sounds way too much like my own business name. It was my writing services page, complete with my pricing– which reflects someone with my experience and references. (Over ten years, with credits from USAToday, SanFranciscoChronicle, Kikolani, Business2Community, SocialMediaToday…and hundreds more, literally. You can Google me and find me everywhere online.)  As my Dad would say, somebody’s got some brass balls. Did she think this was okay to do? Did she really think I would not notice? What’s more– does this person who does not string sentences together well believe her writing deserves the same rates I charge for high-quality work? That’s fairly insulting.

What to Do
Do not ignore it if you notice someone taking your work– I guarantee that this person is ripping off other people’s work, too. Tell them you know about it, and you want your work removed.

I could rehash all the laws and how they pertain to the Internet— but there are some excellent resources already available which I will point you to.

First, take a gander at this terrific blog post, which has great tips to help you keep your work from getting ripped off, as well as the author’s plagiarism story. This blog post outs the person in question in the beginning of their blog post…but don’t try to follow the link to her blog. It does not exist any longer. Finally, for a comprehensive look at copyrights, patents, trademarks, check this out.

5 Tips for Making More Money with Pinterest

Pinterest is no longer just for pinning recipes; a quick look at the numbers proves that ignoring it means turning your back on buyers! Today, Pinterest has over 20 million active users, and those users spend an average of over an hour per visit to the website. Even more important for marketers, look at these stats–81 percent of online consumers say they trust information they find on Pinterest (BlogHer stat), 69 percent of those consumers have found something on Pinterest that they have bought (Bizrate stat), 20 percent of social referrals to ecommerce sites come from Pinterest, people spend more on average (All Facebook stat) and more than 70 percent of Pinterest users are right here in the United States(Business2Community stat.)

It is pretty clear that Pinterest users are looking for more than cute puppies and pictures of desserts. Pinterest users are extremely receptive buyers as well. Make the most of Pinterest with these tips:

Add Pins to your email newsletters – Include some of your favorite Pins in your emails to your customers and prospects by including an image and a clickable link to the Pin. No doubt, asking Pinterest enthusiasts to “pin this” will delight them, and they will happily click your link and check out your other pinboards as well.

Include price tags (really!) – While this tip runs counter to most of what we hear about social media in general, Pinterest is different and Pins with prices get liked 36 percent more often than those without, meaning you are more likely to drive sales directly! Be sure that your Pinterest boards are not solely for sales, however…as that would likely turn many people off. Keep a balance of tips, inspiration and product and you should be good to go.

Promote, promote your Pinboards – You have to let people know about your Pinterest account! You can add a Pinterest button to your Facebook account, feature a Pinterest widget on your blog or website, tweet about it, and add some links to specific Pins on Facebook and Twitter a few times a week.

Use awesome images for your Pins – Pinners expect great pictures, whether they are of a cheesecake, a waterfall or your latest Etsy creation. Regardless what your subject matter is, make sure you use high-quality, well-cropped photos. Watermark your images using a tool like pixlr or canva to protect your content, and get further visits when people find them around the web.

Use your SEO knowledge – Google indexes Pinterest, so make sure you properly use it for those benefits. Use keywords, hashtags or categories that align with your marketing strategy (if you do not have a marketing strategy, stop reading this article right this minute and figure that out first!) to bring searchers to your Pinboards and help yourself in search rankings as well.

Okay, those are my five quick tips to using Pinterest. Now, commit to spending just 5 minutes per day adding new Pins and watch your marketing momentum build, and your sales soar!   

November is Writing Time: NaBloPoMo Here I Come!

Maybe it’s the weather getting colder (did I mention I saw little chunky pellets of ice/snow/yuck today?) or the fact that so many cool writing events take place in November– whatever it is, always makes me want to write more, and more often. Of course, this is a good thing– I have several books in various stages of completion, and my goal is to have three of them published by year-end. While that may seem like pie-in-the-sky, the fact is that I am pretty close with all of them and just need to buckle it down and “get ‘er done” as Larry the Cable Guy says.

This might seem counter-intutive, but I also joined NaBloPoMo for this month as well. For someone with adult ADHD like myself (I linked to my book about how I deal with it, naturally, in case anyone needs that help) structure is paramount. So, the fact that I have to sit down and write a blog post each and every day is a big. flippin. deal. for me! It’s not that I am lazy, but I get distracted….you know, squirrel! Seriously, once I start working, I am a machine…but I can honestly say that I work best with a deadline approaching…under pressure. So this actually helps!  

NaBloPoMo is a takeoff of national novel writing month (Nanowrimo) and means National Blog Post Month. If you have a blog yourself, you can join as well. If you don’t have a blog, start one– seriously. If you ask me nice, I will probably help you set it up. There are also prizes– you can win tickets to BlogHer Pro ’14 Conference in San Francisco! Click here to sign up for NaBloPoMo and be eligible for prizes.

This is my (short) blog post for today. I have spent most of the day getting WordPress set up locally so that I can work on multiple websites “behind the scenes.” I can tell you that I got a crash course in mySQL, PHP, WAMP, MAMP, XAMPP, and AMPPS today— and finally found the proper combination to get things functioning exactly the way I need them. But my head is aching and I am ready to watch my Buckeyes finish
off Illinois!  

These Two Simple Things Will Keep You Out of Google Jail

  •                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We’ve seen lots of Google smackdowns over the last five years…first there was Panda in 2011, then Penguin in early 2012…since then, there have been a number of smaller algorithm changes.
Last week, we saw a Penguin “update” which targeted spam links and junk websites. On this one, I say more power to them for taking out the trash! 

Google is trying to make everyone play by the rules, and where there are rules, there are always rule-breakers!  However, we need to keep in mind that 
“He who has the gold makes the rules.”

It’s quite obvious who holds the lion’s share of the gold when it comes to the Internet…so barring some mass webvolution, we need to play by Google’s rules. 
However, this article I wrote about Google Penguin nearly three years ago still holds true– do things the right way and you don’t have to worry about being affected by the whim of the Big G! Here are some of the points I made in May of 2012: 
  • Check out your site’s links and get rid of anything questionable. 
  • Add fresh content regularly to keep your site relevant.
  • Don’t keyword stuff. Make your writing natural. 
  • Don’t use article spinners. (DUH–this is a no-brainer!)
  • Have a presence on Google+. Seriously, Google loves it. 
  • Tone down advertising. (I would add that rel=”nofollow” is your friend nowadays.) 
  • Stay over from bad neighborhoods. (Spammy sites, casinos and porn!) 
  • Keep it relevant. (Write about what your site is about, and tie articles to your theme.) 

In addition to keeping those points in mind, there are two really simple ways to stay on Google’s good side. These are the things that we know have not been dinged for bad behavior, and that Google wants more of– so it’s probably best to play by their rules. 
High-quality and relevant content: If you provide valuable information to your site’s readers, Google will not ding your site for it– I promise. This is exactly what Google wants you to do– provide excellent answers to people’s searches on the Google search engine. 
On the other hand, if your site is filled with thin articles written just to stuff in your keywords, look out, because they will get you eventually!
Remember in the past when you could land on a page filled with total nonsense? Google has gotten rid of those with these algo changes. I will add to this the articles that are obviously not written by any human, even in a third world country….these are the spun, trash articles that take a good blog post and turn it into five junk ones. 
Have you had content blatantly ripped off? I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had articles stolen in the past. So many times that I finally stopped trying to track them down and send DMCAs to get them removed. Thanks to Google and Karma, however, those ripoff artists have likely gotten spanked for the thefts.
Spend the time to research and write articles for your website that bring value to your readers. Not only is it the right thing to do for Google purposes, it is simply the right thing to do in general. It will keep you in Google’s good graces, and keep people coming back to your site for more! 
SocialSEO : Instead of trying to game the system with black-hat SEO techniques, your time should be invested in sharing on social media. You can share your own high-quality, and original content that you have written on your topic, and you can also share links to other quality information, videos, and images that pertain and are relevant to your website and/or business. 
Never re-post someone’s article without permission. However, most people will be thrilled if you link to their article and mention them in yours, as the Weidert Group did here with my Social Media Success Proof article. This validates the writer and helps to share their content to a wider audience
Likewise, social media mentions, likes, comments, and shares are increasingly being used in SEO calculations and helping to drive traffic to good websites. 
In the early days of SEO, everyone scrambled to find ways to get their content syndicated— blog comments, press releases, and thin guest articles were all used, and since then all of these have been penalized.
Do not depend on any of these methods to get you anywhere good in today’s environment.

So, to summarize—

1. I recommend that you provide lots of high-quality, relevant content on your own websites. 
2. Share your content liberally throughout the Internet.
These two actions are the way to keep your site fresh in Google’s eyes, and are the main components of what I call #SocialSEO. I believe this is what Google, and the other search engines, had intended the world wide web to be all along– it has just taken some time for all of us and Google Bot to really learn where we were headed. 

Are You Doing it Right? SocialSEO for Businesses

I have always been a strong believer in the power of social media; to me, it is the equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising on steroids. I realize not everyone shares this view, and until recently it was hard to prove that social media was so effective. Indeed, social media professionals were often looked down upon by SEO gurus who thought that only their work was the secret to online riches. In many years doing marketing work online, I’ve come to realize that the only thing that is constant is change– and now those same SEO people are singing the praises of social media! The fact of the matter is, you can no longer separate the two, they go together like peas and carrots. (In my best Forrest Gump voice.)

New reports show that combining social media with organic (non-paid) search engine optimization results in higher search engine rankings 58% of the time.(I’m going to go out on a limb and say those that don’t see results aren’t doing it right!) In a nutshell, SocialSEO works. Further, the same report, which was done by Social Media Examiner, pointed out that smart marketers focused on providing unique content and value to their readers; meaning that the original content we are populating websites with both keeps web properties fresh and draws more traffic! Win-win for everyone, right?
Not so fast! Doing this right is important; and it’s crucial to realize that social media is “social” to the very core. Make somebody happy, and news will spread fast; make somebody mad and it will spread like wildfire! That means always being kind, paying it forward when you can, and NO HARD SELL! Social media marketing is very different from regular advertising; people do not appreciate in-your-face, do it now types of marketing on social media. If you are doing it that way, I guarantee that people are blocking your posts and not even seeing them. You cannot demand people like your Facebook page, follow you on Twitter, or accept your invitation on LinkedIn. 
What you can do is provide them with valuable content that will keep them coming back to your website and sociale media pages. This can be content that you have written, and you can also share links to great content written by others in your niche. Doesn’t seem so hard…either write or find epic posts that provide tons of great, topical tips, and share freely. However, I have seen marketing people get this wrong as well, by turning posts into “look at me and how great I am,” or criticizing someone else’s writing or thinking. what business or area you work in. 
Therein lies one major difference between advertising (one-way marketing) and social media marketing (two-way marketing.) People love businesses that are easily accessible and that answer their questions about products and services they provide. Sharing freely of your time and expertise builds the trust I mentioned, and allows your readers to see how much you know about your topics and your industry. No hard sell– no stroking your own ego, which can be a total turnoff. One thing I learned many years ago is that the ability to build trust and confidence is one of the most important business skills anyone can possess.

Okay, that is all I have to say about that! ( I know, I sound like Forrest Gump.) 
Here are some more great articles about SocialSEO that you should read: