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How To Plan An Event For Your Real Estate Business (and a FREE checklist)

By: Kara Macdonald

October 9, 2018

Realtors, are you having regular events? If you aren’t, you are missing opportunities. Whether it’s an open house, a client appreciation event or a happy hour, you should be having some kind of consistent event to connect with your community and clients. I have held hundreds of events over the past 5 ½ years. In this post, I will explain my process.

Step One: Decide what kind of event you want to have. Some ideas include movie nights, autumn festivals, happy hours, homebuyer seminars and open houses.

Step Two: Pick a date & time. Keep in mind you almost always need 30 days to promote (except for open houses).

Step Three: Decide on a budget.

Step Four: Decide on a venue (this will usually depend on the budget).

Step Five: Decide if you want a photographer. You can hire an amateur photographer for about $100/hour. Being able to add the event pictures to Facebook and other social media channels afterwards is priceless. Hopefully, you can tag most of the people that attend, which gets you so much extra exposure. This expense is non negotiable for me.

Step Six: Identify sponsors. As an agent, you refer a lot of business to a lot of different companies. As your title partners, lender partners and home inspectors to chip in. Be sure to keep your sponsors in the loop at all times. If it makes sense, ask them to help you promote the event.

Step Seven: Decide whom you are going to invite.

Step Eight: Decide how you are going to invite people. If you do an electronic invitation, you can use a service like eventbrite, evite or punchbowl. If you have a larger budget, you can create a postcard or invitations to mail. You should also promote your event on social media. In addition to sending an electronic invitation out to your database, create a Facebook Event (you can insert the link to evite or eventbrite into the Facebook Event so people are redirected from Facebook and all your registrants are in one place) and share it regularly on Facebook, Instagram, anywhere you are active online.

Step Nine: Decide if you need any marketing materials. Think through the event. Picture yourself there. I have a stand up banner that I invested in about three years ago. The cost was approximately $475.00. Perhaps you want to give people a parting gift of some kind. The last thing you want is to realize you need something three days before  the event and it’s too late or it will cost you three times as much to get it rushed.

Step Ten: Make a list for “other” items. Depending on what kind of event you are having, some things you might need are name tags, pens, food (perishable and non-perishable), balloons, utensils, napkins, plates, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), games for kids, games for adults and brochures. One more thing to consider is audio visual equipment. If you’re going to be doing a presentation, ask the venue if they have A/V and make sure to ask the cost. Some venues include it in their fee to use the space. If they charge extra, you’ll want to know the amount ahead of time so you can decide if it’s in your budget. If you’re going to be doing a lot of events, it may be worth it to invest in your own projector and screen.

Step Eleven: Shop for everything in step nine. Think through every aspect of the event AGAIN.

Step Twelve: HAVE THE EVENT & ENJOY YOURSELF! The less nervous you are, the more people will be attracted to you and want to work with you in the future.

Step Thirteen: FOLLOW UP! Send a very nice, hand-written card to every guest that attended. If there are any nice pictures from the photgrapher, I would print them and include them with the card.

Step Fourteen: Post the pictures. Create an album on your Facebook Business Page. Upload all the pictures, add descriptions and tag people. Share the album to your personal timeline and say something like “Thank you to everyone that came out to our first annual __________________ event. We had lots of fun and look forward to doing it again next year.”.

Two years ago, I created a Client Appreciation Party Checklist. It could be adapted to use for any event but it’s best for a client party. Once you add the date of the event, it calculates timelines for each thing you need to do for a successful event.

Get your free copy below.

How Real Estate Agents Can Use Instagram Stories

If you’re looking to raise your Instagram game, this feature might just be a game-changer.

By Kara Macdonald
June 12, 2018

It’s tough to keep up with the ever-changing social media landscape. Between movements to abandon social media altogether, ever-changing permissions and features on existing platforms, and the seemingly endless parade of brand new platforms, it’s difficult to know what’s worth your time. Add to that the question of which platforms actually get conversions, and you may be suffering from social media paralysis. But one platform is the current darling of real estate companies everywhere — Instagram — and its Stories feature might just be what you’re looking for to raise your social media profile.

What are Instagram Stories?

Starting in 2016, Instagram introduced Stories, a concept lifted almost entirely from Snapchat’s feature of the same name. Stories are a different concept from most of the content on social media — meant to be quick and easy to explore and, most of all, temporary.

You can use fun filters, draw, go live on your Stories, even go live with other users. You can make stop motion videos, go hands-free — the possibilities are endless. Add emojis, photo stickers, comments, location, hashtags, picture-in-picture, polls and more. The whole idea is to be spontaneous, fun, and interactive — and to give your fans and followers a glimpse at your personality beyond the carefully constructed content you normally share.

What’s the difference between Stories and my regular feed?

One of the biggest differences between Stories and the rest of your Instagram feed is that they only appear for 24 hours after they are uploaded. The content you put in your Story doesn’t hang around and become part of your feed or your grid. It’s designed to be temporary.

That can be a good thing, because the idea is to give your followers some insight into who you are and what you’re up to. That’s a different purpose than the more careful construction of your newsfeed. It gives you the chance to share your day — whether you’re getting ready for an appointment, staging a listing, or just sharing a funny moment at the end of the day.

And because Instagram Stories are Discoverable, people who don’t currently follow you can find you through your Story. It gives you a chance to reach out beyond your current fans and followers and raise your profile. And just like with your newsfeed, when you tag other users in your Instagram Stories, you create opportunities for connection.

In addition, because you can see who viewed your Story and who voted on polls, you can determine who your biggest and most faithful followers are. That may mean you reach out to them a little more, give them a little more love in the feed, or otherwise strengthen your connection. For those who aren’t paying as much attention, you have the opportunity to create ways to reach out, maybe by tagging them or DMing them to create a personal connection.

For your current fans, one advantage of Stories is that they’ll get your Story icon at the top of their feed, so you can constantly stay top of mind, no matter what time you post and no matter what time they’re checking IG. That’s especially helpful as you create and nurture relationships with clients and colleagues.

How can I use Stories to promote my real estate business?

There are many ways to promote your real estate business using Instagram Stories. Try any (or all) of the following:

Create a Story for your new listing.

Walk your followers through your new listing, with heart-eye emojis and fun comments for all of the best features. End with a cute video of you describing the listing, then send followers to your newsfeed for more information.

Create a Story as you go through your day.

Give people a taste of “A Day in the Life” of your real estate business. Show them your early morning meeting, your listing appointment, your meeting with a photographer — anything that goes into the way you run your business. People will love the “behind the scenes” view, and you’ll remind them of how much work goes into what you do — and how good you are.

Create a Story featuring all of the people in your office.

Use the filters to create fun, silly, and glam photos of you, your broker, your administrative staff, and more. Be sure to include what all of those people do to make your clients’ transactions run smoothly. Make it both promotional and a big Thank You note for your colleagues.

Create a poll in Stories instead of a question in captions.

Instead of asking whether people like the red or blue front door in the captions of a Newsfeed post, create a poll in your Story for more feedback and interaction with your followers. The next day, publish the results of your poll so everyone knows the result.

Don’t be intimidated by Instagram Stories — and don’t ignore them. They can be a valuable way to reach out and touch your followers more authentically and creatively than ever before. Want more great insight and advice on optimizing your social media outreach? I’d love to hear from you and find out what topics you’d love for me to cover. I’m here for you!

kara-best-picAbout the Author: Kara Macdonald is the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC, a woman owned, independent title insurance company licensed in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. She has over twenty years of experience in processing, closing and marketing in the real estate and title insurance industry. She can be reached by email at kmacdonald@pruitt-title.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

What Realtors Should Post On Instagram

Real Estate and Instragram go together like peanut butter and jelly. So why aren’t more agents using the platform? I believe one reason is they struggle with what to post. But I have good news! As a Realtor, the opportunities are endless. You tour homes, have listings and are in the community all the time! All you need to do is start being more aware. See three examples of posts below and how to craft them to remind people you are an agent.

Plants, Trees & Flowers

Next time you are out showing property, be cognisant of what catches your eye and snap a picture of it with your phone. You already naturally notice things as an agent so the key is to remember to snap a picture. Perhaps there is an especially impressive tree in the front yard or a stunning potted plant on the front porch or a gorgeous arrangement on the dining room table . . . all of these would do very well on Instagram. Below is an example of a post I did (and then deleted since I am not a Realtor): Notice I have chosen a beautiful picture of flowers with multiple colors and a brick accent, I have added a location (Fairfax County, VA), the text part of my post has a touch of my personality and I have made it obvious that I am a Realtor and lastly, I have used 15 applicable hashtags using the 5/5/5 method (5 location based hashtags, 5 activity based hashtags and 5 fun/expressive hashtags). The hashtags for this post are #fairfax #fairfaxcounty #fairfaxva #nova #northernva #flowers #landscaping #backyard #singlefamilyhome #moveupbuyers #backyardgoals #realtor #sorelaxing #gladIamNotAllergic #colorfordays

favetitlelady

 

Beautiful Décor

I find model homes are the easiest to find stunning décor. Builders are so good at decorating, aren’t they? Next time you are passing by a new community, stop in, tour the model and snap a few pictures of what catches your eye (seeing a trend here?) and voila . . . you have content in your phone for posting over the next few days. Below is an example of how to do this while reminding people you are an agent. Notice I have chosen a beautiful bathroom picture with a splash of color, I have added a location (Loudoun County, VA), the text part of my post has a touch of my personality and I have made it obvious that I am a Realtor and lastly, I have used 15 applicable hashtags using the 5/5/5 method (5 location based hashtags, 5 activity based hashtags and 5 fun/expressive hashtags). The hashtags for this post are: #ashburn #ashburnva #loudoun #loudouncounty #northernva #ryanhomes #newconstruction #modelhome #masterbathroom #realestate #iwantone #timetonegotiate #springmarket #karakares

bathroom

 

Highlight Local Places

Not a day goes by that we aren’t in a local coffee shop, restaurant, store, park, school, etc. Keep your eye peeled for interesting and beautiful things. Sometimes our coffees come with foam art (hearts or swirls), THAT’S AN INSTAGRAM MOMENT. Sometimes a restaurant has a super unique bar; THAT’S AN INSTAGRAM POST. Sometimes a store has a local artist’s work on display or for sale, THAT’S AN INSTAGRAM POST. Parks have creeks and animals and rare birds and views of a gorgeous sky, THAT’S AN INSTAGRAM POST and schools, well they have your kids! And if you’re not keen on posting your kids, post pictures of flyers displayed of upcoming plays, musicals, mattress sales, etc. The best part of this kind of post is that you get to mention a local place and that ALWAYS gets you more engagement. Below is an example of how to craft this kind of post AND remind people you’re an agent: Notice I have chosen a modern and colorful establishment, I have added a location (Henry’s Sweet Retreat), the text part of my post has a touch of my personality and I have made it obvious that I am a Realtor and lastly, I have used 15 applicable hashtags using the 5/5/5 method (5 location based hashtags, 5 activity based hashtags and 5 fun/expressive hashtags). The hashtags for this post are: #bethesda #montgomerycountymd #bethesdamd #maryland #moco #realtor #realestate #showingproperty #icecream #cookies #henryssweetretreat #afternoondelight #sugarrush #sugarfix #guiltypleasure

its ok to crave

 

TAGS: #RealEstate #SocialMedia #Marketing #Instagram #Realtor #RealEstateMarketing

kara best picKara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

INSTAGRAM FOR REAL ESTATE: 5 Easy Things To Do Now & Be Light Years Ahead Of Other Agents

Jan18Blog MainInstagram and real estate go together like bread and butter. Instagram is a photo sharing app. Real Estate is extremely visual. It only makes sense for a Realtor to be on Instagram. In this article, I will share five easy things you can do now to be WAY ahead of the competition. This article assumes you have the app on your phone.

Revise Your Username

It should be obvious that you are a realtor. Great examples are @JoeySellsGeorgia, @MaryCanMoveYou, @BuyOrSellWithPaula. Including your first name creates relatability. Using “sell”, “buy”, “move”, “list” or “homes” clearly shows you are in real estate and reinforces your brand. Don’t worry that changing your username will confuse your followers. In the long run, it is more important to have a GREAT username and the sooner you do it, the better.

Profile Pic

Your profile picture should be the same everywhere AND it should be a professional photo. It should be very easy for people to recognize you. Other tips to make your picture stand out include using an assymetrical picture (symmetry makes a picture less interesting) and think big. Since most people will be viewing your picture on their phone, your face should be very close to the camera so it is easily recognizable (again, always making things as easy as possible for your audience).

Update Your Bio

Your bio is prime real estate; treat it accordingly. Choose three words that describe you (example: Dog Lover, Realtor and Mom of 2) and place them at the top. Include emojis after each word. Your phone number and email should be next, again including emojis. There is a place for a link to your website. Use it! And if you blog or do videos, use this space to promote them by doing a post that states “link in bio”. Just be sure to change it if it is a time sensitive blog or video (example: 10 Ways To Not Get Stressed Over The Holidays”).

Post Consistently

According to Union Metrics, what matters most on Instagram is consistency. Posting a lot will not negatively affect your account however, if you post a lot and then stop posting a lot, you will lose followers and engagement which does hurt your account. So pick a frequency that you can maintain.

Use 15-30 Hashtags Every Time You Post

In order to grow your following on Instagram, you MUST use a lot of relevant, local hashtags. Try the 5/5/5 method. Use 5 location based hashtags (example: #northernva, #princewilliamcounty, #woodbridge, #woodbridgeva, #virginia). Next use 5 activity based hashtags (example: #home #forsale #homebuyer #closingtime #settlementday) and lastly, use five fun or expressive hashtags (example: #homesweethome, #citylife, #bestdayever #shegotthekeys, #hardworkpaysoff, #dreamsdocometrue).

kara-best-picKara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.

Goals Blog – December

RealDeepDiveBlog2From December 2017 to December 2018, I will be taking a REAL DEEP DIVE into a different topic each month. As a marketing consultant for real estate agents and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, a title company in the DC metro area, I am acutely aware of the many areas in which realtors struggle and desire change. I have chosen 13 topics to take a deep dive into that I am confident will help agents both personally and professionally. It is my hope that over the next 13 months, you will join me in this adventure and be incredibly inspired!

December 2017’s topic is GOALS.

December is my favorite time of year. There is just something in the air. Holiday hustle, Christmas cheer and the dawn of a new year right around the corner; it literally makes me giddy. To me, a new year is a chance for a fresh slate, new beginnings and endless opportunity. It is only natural to think of what goals I hope to achieve in the coming year.

That said, a couple of weeks into January and my enthusiasm seems to fade. I am and always have been pretty hard on myself. I constantly think I could have done more or should have planned better. I want to achieve so much and help so many people but the days seem to get away from me. I always seem to be striving to do better “tomorrow” or “next week” or “next year”. If I am honest with myself (and a little more gentle), I absolutely have made progress. Looking back to one year ago, five years ago and ten years ago …. WOAH! I have come SO far. And I am super proud of ME! But this year feels different. I turned 40 in July. Time to change something up. So what’s going to be different this time? Well, instead of keeping all of those hopes and dreams up in that crazy head of mine, I am going to WRITE THEM DOWN.

Why is this so hard for me? Who knows? I have difficulty focusing. Don’t we all feel like we have a touch of ADD, ADHD, Shiny Object Syndrome, SQUIRREL!!! Perhaps there is some subconscious doubt or fear happening like I won’t achieve it anyway or that’s going to be a lot of work. It’s hard to admit that but it’s true. Luckily, difficult tasks (or fear that I won’t know HOW to do something) is exactly what drives me to try it.

You will be tempted to want to write down several goals. But you must be realistic. If you try to tackle multiple goals at once, you will probably fail. So the first step is to do some soul searching. What one thing have you thought about for a long time? Do you want to lose weight? Take more vacations? Save more money? Increase your income? Spend more time with family? Volunteer more? Make that ONE THING your goal.

Next step: WRITE IT DOWN. The research is conclusive. Goals work if you write them down. Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal setting with 267 particpants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down. This is fascinating to me so I dug a little deeper . . . . Neuroscience has proven that when you write something out that takes deep thought like your goals, you build over 10,000 new neural pathways in your brain in one sitting. And the more you write your goals down (even if they are the same goals), the more likely you are to achieve them. Your brain will start to think of these goals automatically by default and become a part of your subconscious. Actions we take will subconsciously be towards the goals. You can literally wire your own brain for success. WOW!

So I challenge you . . . pick one main goal and no more than one secondary goal for 2018 and write them down. I will share mine in the next blog. I hope you will share yours with me too!

If you need some additional inspiration, one of the books I listened to this month came with a free  downloadable worksheet (I love a good worksheet).

I am on a mission to learn, educate and inspire realtors all over the world. We are in a very unique time right now. I hope you will join me on this adventure. It’s an amazing ride!

 

GET YOUR REAL ESTATE BUSINESS ON GOOGLE FOR FREE

The definition of GOOGLE MY BUSINESS, according to Google Support, is a free and easy-to-use tool for businesses and organizations to manage their online presence across Google, including Search and Maps. By verifying and editing your business information, you can both help customers find you and tell them the story of your business.

Google loves local businesses so this is their way of helping local businesses get seen more by consumers. Google My Business combines Google+, Maps, and Google Search  into one convenient all-in-one business solution which in turn helps you get more easily found! Can I get an AMEN?

Benefits include a Google+ Page for your business which others can engage with, tracking insights and enagagement, manage and review metricsw from your YouTube Channel and Google Analytics Account and seamlessly start and manage a Google AdWords campaign.

So how does it work?

  1. The first thing you should do is visit https://www.google.com/business/ and sign in with your Google account.
  2. Next, add a single location and type of business (choose Real Estate Agency for the brand category).
  3. Google might ask you to place a marker on the map correctly.
  4. On the next page, Google will prompt you with a few suggested addresses. Choose “none of these match” at the very bottom.
  5. The last and most important step is to verify your business listing. Assuming you did everything correctly, you will be brought to a screen that says “how would you like to get your verification code” with just the mail option. Once you receive the code (Usually it takes 14 days for the postcard to arrive), login to Google My Business and click on the Verify Now button on top. Enhance your profile page by adding photos, writing a detailed business description, offer coupons or specials, upload videos and asking for reviews.

More good news …

Recently, Google added a new feature called Google Posts, formerly called Candidate Cards. It can show up on Google Search and Google Maps along with your business details when someone searches you. Posts can be up to 300 words long, giving you ample opportunity to convey valuable information that resonates with your audience. If your title and image are catchy and people click on it, you could send them to a landing page.

Google definitely favors websites that are fast and mobile-responsive over ones that aren’t because most of Google’s users are mobile. Google Posts have a card-based design making it very easy on the eyes. Users will easily see it when they search for your business or topics related to your business. Thoughtful design will attract more mobile customers in your area.  Creating a Google Post is very easy. Simply log into the dashboard, then head to the left side of the screen to access the “Posts” area. From there, you can select “Add A New Post”. The jury is still out as to how much benefit you could get from Google Posts. But it takes almost zero effort and it’s free. So if you have a new listing, a new team member or an event to promote, I think it’s worth the time. I mean, it is GOOGLE so it can’t hurt your rankings, right?

kara-best-picKara Macdonald is the Owner of Your Favorite Title Lady, LLC and the Vice President of Pruitt Title, LLC. Her mission is to inspire real estate agents by teaching them how to market themselves better online and offline through blogs, vlogs, webinars and in person consultations. She can be reached by email at kara@yourfavoritetitlelady.com and on her cellphone: 571-432-9382.