Friday, June 22, 2012

Being Different is Super Duper Important

If I see one more canned, ugly Realtor email campaign, I think I will go insane.
The key to every successful marketing campaign I've seen is product differentiation - how to make yourself and your products stand out from the clutter and get noticed. It doesn't matter whether you are selling soap or million dollar Chicago Gold Coast condos. The first place to start is having a different set of products. You may think product A is much more profitable than product B, but if something goes wrong with A, like a shortage in a necessary material to produce it, then you can always have a fall back option.
We have always preached differentiation from day one. Everything you do, you must do better, more efficiently or in ways that your competitors can't or won't.  For instance, a common email marketing system used by agents in Chicago has canned templates to advertise new listings, open houses, and price reductions.  Unfortunately, there must be hundreds of agents using these same templates, which makes every email that arrives in my inbox look almost exactly the same.
However, the email marketing system also allows you to create completely custom HTML email messages.  It's just too bad agents can't or won't take advantage of that feature.  I recently sent out one of my custom email campaigns, and a Realtor wrote back to me saying "How do you make your emails come out looking so different than everyone else's?" This is not an unusual occurrence - I get a lot of questions and compliments on my email marketing pieces.
I explained to her, from a high level, how to do it, and how easy it really is, if you just know a few simple things about creating HTML documents.  And for advanced users, it's nice to know a bit about CSS, but it's not critical.
The greatest thing about differentiation is that its benefits are boundless.  It is also the best method of insurance. When something goes wrong in the market, you may be able to stay afloat by focusing more on what's working right. Agents could and should use differentiation to help sell their listings, but they should be using a differentiation mindset when talking to potential clients in their listing presentations or during their buyer representation pitches. In a business where so much of your competition is of average or poor quality, even slight differentiation between you and the rest of the crowd goes a long, long way.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Top real estate markets

Austin Texas Lake FrontAustin Texas Lake Front (Photo credit: StuSeeger)According to, there are ten real estate markets that investors should keep their eyes on. Starting right with the best first, here is their list:

  1. Tucson, AZ
  2. Austin, TX
  3. Kansas City, MO
  4. Baltimore, MD
  5. Fort Worth, TX
  6. Salt Lake City, UT
  7. San Jose, CA
  8. Raleigh, NC
  9. Milwaukee, WI
  10. St. Louis, MO
I was quite surprised to see as many cities from Missouri on the list, especially St. Louis. I was also a bit disappointed to not see my home town on the list. I know there is quite a good amount of Albany Oregon real estate available on the market at a good price. I would certainly put my money on it!

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