Last November I wrote a blog post about Black Friday and about how I would be happy to show a home on that busy shopping day to anyone who wanted to see one — and no waiting in lines. I wrote that I would help them buy any home on the market for less than the asking price as a Black Friday bargain.

I wrote the post because I needed business. One of the best ways to get business is to ask for it, and it worked. I ended my post with: "I will be near the phone all day waiting for your call. You … can wait until after sunrise to make that offer."

The post was short and simple, with no keyword stuffing or thought about search engine optimization. My phone rang, and the end result was a commission check and an opportunity to earn another.

That single post resulted in two new clients and one sale so far. The blog is designed to get people to call me or write to me, but once they do the real work begins and there are no guarantees that there will be a sale. If there is a sale it could happen at any time.

There are several calls to action on my blog. There is a home search; a way for homeowners to request an estimate of the value of their home; a link to finding an open house; and a way to look up sale prices on homes that have recently sold. I may have been the first real estate blogger to offer a home search right on the blog. It did raise some eyebrows back in the day, but today it seems to be an accepted practice.

I also have my own unique call to action that has been very effective in getting people to take action. It’s a little button on my site that leads to a simple contact form, and it states, "Questions? Ask Me I Know Stuff."

After almost six years of blogging, and, more important, more than 2,200 posts (blogs work only if you supply them with content), I have heard every reason why blogging for business is a waste of time, and how social media for business is all about strategy and measuring return on investment. And there are some overly complicated social media and SEO strategies that I haven’t yet figured out.

I’ve found some simple rules that work just as well on a blog as they do for any other type of marketing piece:

  • People need to know that you are in business and what kind of services you provide.
  • Prospective clients need easy-to-find contact information and should be given a couple of alternatives.
  • We need to be easily found on the Internet because that is where people go to find homes for sale and Realtors.
  • We need to show which geographical areas we serve so people don’t waste our time by asking about homes for sale in other states.
  • Advertising works best if there is a call to action so that prospective clients know what the next step is for them if they want to do business with us.
  • There is no way to cut corners on prospecting — it has to be done often and consistently.

This may all seem obvious to most real estate agents and brokerages, but there are still too many who name their websites after themselves.

There are others who assign a cutesy name to their website or blog but no display of the brokerage company’s name or the phrase "real estate" anywhere on it. Another fault: Some agent blogs feature a lot of posts that do not have an obvious connection to real estate.

There are agents who fail to identify which geographical areas they serve. It is not unusual to find a business site or blog where the contact information is impossible to find — or when it is found it leads to voice mail or an email that isn’t answered for a week.

There are agents who have websites that are all about themselves and their dogs, their accomplishments and their families.

People who are looking for real estate are often even more interested in photographs of homes than they are in photographs of real estate agents, for-sale signs, or a set of keys.

An agent stating that he or she is No. 1, or the best, is not a call to action and it isn’t a value proposition or even a unique claim.

It isn’t enough to be found on the Internet. People need to know what you do and how to reach you if they want to work with you. Asking for business is a critical step, and sometimes we overlook it in our marketing. If you need business today, try asking for it.

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