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Real Estate Advertising & Marketing

Real Estate Marketing

How Do You Know If Your Marketing Is Working?

Don’t Be an Amateur Advertiser!

It’s no secret that marketing is the key to the success or downfall of any business.  Marketing is the systematic and strategic plan you put in place to sustain or grow your business.  Marketing includes many components: the customers you target with your advertising, how often to advertise, how much you charge for your product or service, and how you fulfill your obligation to your customer are just a few pieces of the marketing puzzle.  Getting the interlocking pieces of your puzzle together to create the beautiful picture that is your business takes time, patience, and planning.

A lot of people confuse marketing with advertising.  Advertising is just one component of your marketing.  Advertising is really the vehicle you use to announce to the public what product or service you provide.  These are things like an ad in a newspaper, a commercial, or a direct mail piece.  Since it’s one of the most expensive pieces of your marketing, it warrants an entire blog dedicated to doing the smartest advertising you can by applying principles rooted in marketing.

There are several common mistakes made in advertising.  In my opinion, these mistakes come from a lack of understanding of marketing.  The two are so intertwined it can be difficult to see where one starts and the other stops.

Get a smaller net and find concentrated waters:   Anyone can place an ad, but do you really understand why you chose to place the ad where and when you did?  Why did the ad say what it did?  A successful business owner can tell you specific answers to these questions based on sound research done by their marketing department.  If they can’t, well they are just gambling and got lucky.

One of the keys to finding a great deal in residential real estate is to find sellers that are motivated.  People often cast such a wide net when advertising that it becomes cost prohibitive to find the few deals that makes sense.  Instead, I suggest getting a smaller net and finding more concentrated waters.  For example, some people might choose to buy a zip code mailing list and send postcards.  The problem is that while you do get a large distribution it’s also quite expensive and most of the people in the zip code are not going to be motivated to sell.  Instead find lists where the seller would be in a situation that creates the motivation.  For example, code enforcement lists or absentee owners with delinquent taxes.  When you track your advertising you will find you can send less mail and get more response.

Track your advertising:  Would you spend money and not know what you are getting?  Well, I suppose some people would, but my guess is a smart business person like you wouldn’t.  Keep statistics on your response rates.  Sometimes a change in the economic environment will lead to changes that need to be made in your advertising.

Just take a look at all the products on the grocery store shelves.  As our country recently fell on tough economic times the product packaging changed from razzle dazzle potato chip bags to grass roots old-school packaging to reflect our conservative spending habits.  You can’t expect your same message to work the same all the time and with every population of people. If you aren’t tracking your advertising, how will you know when it’s time to change things?

Also, look at your cost per lead and your cost per deal.  Basically, look at how much it’s costing you per lead, and also of all the leads you advertise to how much it costs to acquire the ones that actually turn into money makers. When you are tracking your cost per lead, keep in mind that to be successful in advertising you have to be consistent and repetitive in your marketing.  It takes several points of contact with a customer before he or she will do business with you.  I watch many people get frustrated when they are not getting any response from their advertising.  They quickly give up and abandon ship, saying, “I tried that and it doesn’t work!”  In reality, they didn’t work it!  In my experience a well thought out direct mail campaign will take 4 to 6 months to see a significant response for your efforts.  That’s why I always tell people start with a small number of quality leads that you can sustain your marketing for 6 months rather than a large quantity that drains you after one mailing.

Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em:  Advertising advice from Kenny Rogers?  People often ask me how many times they should keep mailing to a lead.  I always say, “For as long as the condition exists.”  For example, if you have a list of leads that you acquired from your research in probate, keep mailing for as long as that home is still in the decedent’s name.  In order for probate to settle, the property must be removed from the decedent’s name.  Once the property has transferred to someone else, you can remove the lead from your database, right?  Well, maybe.  We find that if the property transfers to one of the heirs, we will continue to send advertising to them for several more months.  This is because sometimes the property is transferred in order to close probate, but the family is still liquidating the assets. Yes, this means that you’ll be reassessing the quality of your leads before you mail every month, but it’s necessary to control costs as your business is starting up.  Later on you may decide that it isn’t always necessary to do this, but as you are tracking your advertising you can make this decision based on financial fact.

While your advertising might be just a piece of your marketing, when done correctly it can create wild success.  Remember, start small with a concentrated target, track it, be consistent, and re-qualify.  Create a system that you can transfer to an employee once your business is up and running.

We forget that we don’t have to do everything ourselves.  If you don’t have time to do this yourself, then hire someone.  If you say you can’t afford it, I say, you can’t afford not to.

Alecia St. Germain
Rich Dad Education Elite Trainer

Business Networking Tips

Business Networking

Networking for an Event

It’s that time again!  Another Rich Dad Education Symposium is just around the corner.  And as Robert Kiyosaki says, “The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.”  This is an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who can unlock your earning potential.  I always look forward to Symposiums because the conversations that are sparked by a group of individuals coming together from all walks of life yields powerful ideas that lead to lasting wealth.  As you are getting ready to come to this or any other Symposium or networking event keep a few of the following things in mind:

Have your business cards ready! People are so intimidated by the idea of a business card.  Perhaps we should call it a contact card, so as not to make it so scary.  Who cares if you don’t have a business entity, the perfect logo, or a website?  You might just be getting started.  Not to worry, many other people at a Symposium are too; or they were in your shoes not so long ago!  My point is you should have something with your contact information on it because as you talk to other people attending a Symposium they will inevitably ask for your business card.

I can’t tell you how often I hear, “Oh I just ran out!”  Figure at any one Symposium there will be around two to four hundred people, so bring enough for at least a quarter of the attendees.  Also, get one of those little detective size notepads for your purse or pocket.  That’s for when you ask for someone’s card and they say, “I don’t have any.” Think what a super networker you’ll be when you are prepared to write down their contact information on something other than your lunch receipt that you disposed your gum in.  Make sure that you get contact information from everyone that you meet.

As a side note, you can get business cards printed, on the spot, from most office supply stores.  They are not expensive and you will look more professional.

Get out of your comfort zone!  People often have a tendency to stick with their partners at any kind of networking event, including a Symposium.  While I understand you decided to take the classes and perhaps even build your business together, you’re not utilizing your time to its full potential.  If you split up, you can meet twice as many people.  When your instructors give you group exercises, use that as an opportunity to make more contacts by going a different direction than your partner.  I know it might be scary, but remember we don’t grow and build character if we are comfortable.

Know yourself and get to know the other person!  Before a networking event spend some time thinking about what you want to tell people about what you do.  Often called an elevator speech, this is how you would describe your investing focus in the time it would take to ride an elevator.  Think about what you want to say so you can have a more targeted conversation with people.  Are you looking for a deal, funding, or power team members?  Be able to convey that message in a clear, concise way.

Now, don’t forget to find out about the person you are networking with.  Ask open-ended questions to get them talking.  Remember they might be just as uncomfortable as you are or even more so.  It’s always helpful to move the conversation along with some questions that will show you have a genuine interest in the other person. Have a list of questions ready and memorized.

It’s not always about you! I always tell people to first look to help others, then yourself.  So ask yourself, “What can I do to help this person be more successful?”  Listen to their needs and offer to be of service whenever possible.  It will come back to you in many ways.  Sometimes it’s a deal or an introduction to someone else who will be a key player in the success of your business.

But sometimes it is about you!  We all know people in our lives that become leeches.  You know, the phone rings or the email comes across and you sigh and roll your eyes.  That’s because you aren’t getting anything from the relationship.  So ask yourself after you meet someone, “Is this someone who either now, or in the future, will be worth me maintaining a relationship with them?”  We only have so many moments in a lifetime and we must be protective of our time.  This is going to help you focus on the quality of your relationships.  In the Wholesale Buying class people often ask, “How many investors do I need in my database before I can make offers on properties?”  In reality, the answer is one.  If that person buys every deal, you only need one quality investor.  Focus on quality not on quantity, no matter your investing focus.

Follow up and follow through!  The number one place a networker fails is in not following up or following through.  Always take time after a Symposium or other networking events to follow up with those that you met.  Put your contacts into your database and immediately send a personal email.  This will help establish a long term connection.  People can’t send you great deals if they don’t remember you exist.  That means you’ll have to keep following up with them on a regular basis.  Put together an auto-responder campaign using REI Blackbook for a more hands-off approach to maintaining your network long-term.

And if you said you were going to do something, then do it.  There is nothing more powerful than showing someone just how reliable you are when you do what you say you will.  If you offered a contact for a hard money lender, then send it without having to be prompted.  It speaks volumes to your character and makes you memorable.

So remember as you head to your next Symposium, have your business cards ready to go because I’ll be asking.  Happy networking and see you soon!

Alecia St. Germain
Rich Dad Education Elite Trainer

Effective Communication Skills

Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal Communication

As a continuation of the series related to Effective Communication, I would like to take a look at the area that is often taken for granted but is probably one of the most important. Although researchers disagree somewhat, most studies have shown that somewhere between 70% and 90% of all communication is actually nonverbal.  Wordless communication (sometimes referred to as body language) includes facial expressions, body movement and gestures, eye contact, posture, the tone of your voice, proximity, clothing choice and even muscle tension and breathing. The way you look, listen, move, and react to another person tells them more about how you’re feeling than words alone ever can.

Developing the ability to understand and use nonverbal communication can help you connect with others, express what you really mean, navigate challenging situations, and build better relationships at home and work.

  • You can enhance effective communication by using open body language—arms uncrossed, standing with an open stance or sitting on the edge of your seat, and maintaining eye contact with the person you’re talking to.
  • You can also use body language to emphasize or enhance your verbal message—patting a friend on the back while complimenting him on his success, for example, or pounding your fists to underline your message.

Tips for improving how you read nonverbal communication

  • Practice observing people in public places, such as a shopping mall, bus, train, café, restaurant, or even on a television chat show with the sound muted. Observing how others use body language can teach you how to better receive and use nonverbal signals when conversing with others. Notice how people act and react to each other. Try to guess what their relationship is, what they’re talking about, and how each feels about what is being said.
  • Be aware of individual differences. People from different countries and cultures tend to use different nonverbal communication gestures, so it’s important to take age, culture, religion, gender, and emotional state into account when reading body language signals. A teenager, a grieving widow, and a businessman, for example, are likely to use nonverbal signals differently.
  • Look at nonverbal communication signals as a group. Don’t read too much into a single gesture or nonverbal cue. Consider all of the nonverbal signals you receive, from eye contact to tone of voice and body language. Anyone can slip up occasionally and let eye contact slip, for example, or briefly cross their arms without meaning to. Consider the signals as a whole to get a better “read” on a person.

Tips for improving delivery of nonverbal communication

  • Use nonverbal signals that match up with your words. Nonverbal communication should reinforce what is being said, not contradict it. If you say one thing, but your body language says something else, your listener will likely feel you’re being dishonest. For example, you can’t say “yes” while shaking your head no.
  • Adjust your nonverbal signals according to the context. The tone of your voice, for example, should be different when you’re addressing a child than when you’re addressing a group of adults. Similarly, take into account the emotional state and cultural background of the person you’re interacting with.
  • Use body language to convey positive feelings even when you’re not actually experiencing them. If you’re nervous about a situation—a job interview, important presentation, or first date, for example—you can use positive body language to signal confidence, even though you’re not feeling it. Instead of tentatively entering a room with your head down, eyes averted, and sliding into a chair, try standing tall with your shoulders back, smiling and maintaining eye contact, and delivering a firm handshake. It will make you feel more self-confident and help to put the other person at ease.

As you continue to pay attention to the nonverbal cues and signals you send and receive, your ability to communicate and the impact you have on others can improve significantly.  Watch for my next blog post discussing the very important communication skill of “Managing Stress.”

Jonathan Dugger
Rich Dad Education Elite Trainer

Save Time With Effective Phone Screening

Real Estate Marketing: Phone Screening

Real Estate Marketing: Phone Screening

In sales, there is an expression that a salesperson should not “pit polish.” This expression means that they shouldn’t spend their time trying to turn a pit (someone that is not interested or qualified) into a piece of fruit. Obviously, this is a waste of time and not the best way to get a deal.

In a very similar way, investors do the same thing. They are so happy that someone called them as a result of their marketing that they make one of two mistakes. Either they waste their time scheduling appointments to look at properties that are never going to amount to a deal, or they spend a lot of time trying to convince the seller that they should be motivated. You can save a lot of time by qualifying the home and the seller on the phone with effective screening techniques.

The whole point is that we only want you to spend your time with properties that really are deals instead of trying to force a deal.

The call-screening process is split into two parts. First, determining if the seller is motivated or not. Remember to always look for highly motivated sellers. They will be willing to accept a lower offer and/or more preferred terms for their house. If the seller is not motivated, you are wasting your time. So when someone calls you as a result of your marketing, the first thing you ask is how he or she found out about you. Find out what part of your marketing is working so that you can do more of it. Track your results and spend your marketing dollars where you are getting results.

After they have answered, ask how you can help them. Usually, they will say something like, “I need to sell my home.” At this point, ask an open-ended question like, “Tell me about your home.” You want them to talk for a little bit about how great their home is and all of the reasons you should buy it. This will soften what you are going to do next, that is, determine their motivation. There are three questions that you should ask to determine a seller’s motivation:

1. Why are you selling? This is why we want them to talk about their property for a little while before we ask this question. If you ask this question first, it can sound like you are asking so that you can use that information against them. If you find out about the property first and then ask this question, it sounds like you are saying, “If I had a property like that, I wouldn’t sell. Why are you selling?” Even if they do not give you an honest answer to this question, the other questions will flush out their true motivation.

2. When do you need to sell by? Time can be a motivating factor in why they are selling. If they respond by saying that they needed to sell the home “yesterday,” then that is the type of person you want to work with. If they respond that they are just checking to see what people are paying or it doesn’t matter when they sell, it probably isn’t the person you are looking for.

3. What are your plans if you cannot sell the property? This is the big question. If they respond that it won’t matter and that they could refinance or find another answer, this should be the end of the call. They are not the motivated seller you are looking for and it is okay to tell them that they are not the type of person you are normally able to help. However, if they don’t know what they would do if they couldn’t sell or don’t want to think about it, then that is exactly who you want to work with.

All you need to determine at this point is motivation. If they are not motivated, end the phone call and move on. It would not amount to a deal anyway. If the motivation is there, then move on to the second part of the screening process.

The second part of the process is to determine whether we would approach this with a cash offer or a terms offer. There are three questions to ask to determine price versus terms:

1. If I were to pay all cash and close quickly, what is the least you could accept for the property? Try to see what their bottom line is. No matter what the response is, follow it up with, “Is that the best you can do?” You will be surprised how many people lower their figure just because you asked. If they come down $10,000 or more, they are flexible on the price.

2. If I were to make your payment until I could find a buyer for the property, would that work for you? With this question, you are looking for a lease option scenario. If you ask a seller if they would consider a lease option, most sellers do not understand what that means and would say no. With a question like this, they understand the situation and can answer either yes or no. The point here is not to negotiate a deal, but to find out what the seller is open to.

3. If I were to make you a small down payment and then paid you the rest of your equity over time, would that work for you? You are looking for a seller financing deal by asking this question. You would make a down payment and pay their equity in monthly payments to the seller. Again, the point is that you cannot ask the seller if they would carry financing. Most do not understand what that means. You have to ask the question in a way that anybody can understand.

After you ask these questions, you should have a pretty good idea whether to approach this deal from a cash standpoint or a terms standpoint. If the deal looks like it could be profitable, schedule an appointment with the seller to meet at the property. The sooner you can meet with them the better.

If the seller is open to either price or terms based on the questions, make more than one type of offer. When you arrive at the property, you may say that you could buy the property under any of the following situations. Write down the cash offer, the lease option offer, and a seller financing offer. Then ask the seller which one of these would be best for them. Let them choose and often they will choose a solution that will surprise you. As long as all of those scenarios are profitable for you, it really doesn’t matter which one they choose.

If you screen calls this way, your phone calls will be a lot easier and you will not waste your time on calls that will not amount to anything. The better job you do at screening the call, the easier it will be for you to locate a motivated seller.

Education, Real-World Knowledge, and Gold

Education, Real-World Knowledge, and Gold

It should come as no surprise when you hear a company that focuses on education to state that “education is critical.” After all, from our earliest years, we are accustomed to hearing from those in the education field about the critical nature of education.  Better said, from our earliest years we are accustomed to hearing how school is important and how it can lay the foundation for our future success.

By adulthood most people rarely think about the importance of traditional education since they either accept it as a universal truth or are dismissive of it in general. Those that accept it would give you a blank stare if you had the audacity to question its importance. The cynic might point to the fact that they still haven’t applied their knowledge of algebra in the real world. Without finding common ground on what the objective of education should be, both sides of the debate could argue endlessly with each other without reaching consensus. Should education serve to train for specific vocations? Should it be to impart general wide-ranging knowledge to students? Should it revolve around teaching students to think critically? Should it teach more practical and useful knowledge?

If one believes that an objective of traditional education should be to help prepare students to deal with the complexities of money and becoming financially literate, then it might be hard to argue that it has succeeded on any level. Through his teachings and writings, Robert Kiyosaki has helped expose the deficiencies of traditional education in the area of financial literacy: “Our schools do well at teaching reading, writing and arithmetic, but they are horrible at preparing people to work with money. Nearly every person who graduates from school is financially illiterate.”

Rich Dad Education has made it its mission to help fill the void that traditional education has left by providing financial literacy and lifting the financial IQ of humanity. To help achieve this mission, Rich Dad Education chooses to teach real-world, wealth-building techniques and strategies in a variety of real estate and stock market areas.

Real-World Wealth-Building Knowledge

As mentioned, through its elite trainings and mentoring offerings Rich Dad Education imparts on its students real-world knowledge on how to build and maintain wealth. The majority of this knowledge is taught in a practical how-to manner that teaches students not only the necessary information on how to succeed in a specific investing area, but also provides a step-by-step blueprint on how to do so. In addition, students are taught to avoid the many pitfalls that investors may face by experienced trainers and mentors who many times had to learn them firsthand and now can pass on their experience and wisdom to others. This practical wealth-building knowledge can greatly accelerate an individual down the path of success and is a primary reason students flock to Rich Dad Education offerings. However, there is an additional bonus that students receive while they are soaking in the specific practical knowledge imparted in the Rich Dad Education offerings.

In an average Rich Dad Education elite training, students are exposed to a tremendous amount of practical knowledge on how to make money and build wealth. This specific how-to knowledge can turn into real-world wealth when properly applied. As a wonderful bonus, students are often exposed to how the larger world truly works as they start to apply the knowledge they are taught. A recent example in the gold market illustrates this point nicely.

Gold Futures and Trading

This section exposes some of the mistakes inexperienced traders in the stock market make in bullish markets. For those unfamiliar with the world of trading, the article is essentially saying that traders should not try to guess how high the market will go or how low it will fall. Instead traders should adhere to their training and follow the proper signals they have been taught that will guide them to making proper decisions.

One of the signals traders are taught to look for are price areas where stocks can logically be expected to stop falling in price. For our example, if the price of the stock does not stop falling at the expected area, then an opportunity to make a bearish trade is presented (a bearish trade is a trade that profits when the stock continues to go down). Rich Dad Education students are also trained to recognize that as the stock breaks through this price area on high volume, then a really good trading opportunity is present.

In recent months, gold futures presented trained students with a very nice pattern: a downtrend with a specific price area below which gold futures could logically be expected not to drop. When this area broke on extremely heavy volume in late April, a trading opportunity was presented that trained traders could take advantage of. This was just one of numerous examples that can be used to demonstrate the practical wealth-building knowledge in action that Rich Dad Education teaches every day.

What makes this example interesting is not the successful wealth-building technique taught, but the external knowledge of how the world works. To say that the gold futures broke through the price area on high volume is an understatement. It broke through on astronomically high volume in a short amount of time. To the short-term trader, why a stock had high volume is irrelevant as they are trained to follow the signal and make their profit. However, after their trade is closed and a profit is made, any astute trader’s curiosity would have been peaked by the abnormally high amount of volume and dramatic move down in price. A few questions might have been raised in the experienced trader’s mind:

1) Who was behind the huge volume? To say the trading volume was abnormally high is an understatement, which means that institutional forces were at work.

2) What institutional forces were behind the sell off? A little research would have turned up that large traders (bullion banks?) had amassed large short sell positions in previous months. Short sell positions benefit when the market goes down.

3) Was the high volume the result of market manipulation? By creating enormous downward pressure on abnormally high volume at a critical price area, there was an opportunity to make tremendous wealth on the previous shorts.

4) If the gold futures market was manipulated, what does that say about the vulnerability of other markets?

5) If there was ample evidence of market manipulation then why didn’t the government regulatory bodies become involved? Are they ignorant or complicit?

The conclusions one may come to will undoubtedly vary, but needless to say, one’s eyes open to a financial world that is much different than the one traditionally portrayed to us in an introduction to economics class or by the mainstream media. This is but one example of many where the application of real-world wealth-building techniques taught by Rich Dad Education can lead to financial success and also open one’s eyes to a deeper understanding on how the world truly operates. This deeper understanding will lead to informed decisions, assist you in gaining a true understanding of the principles of financial literacy, and help you build and protect your wealth and your family’s financial future. Not a bad bonus for learning how to escape the rat race.

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