The REW Summit is a conference dedicated to those who use online technologies to grow their real estate business. It is held twice per year by Real Estate Webmasters; the most recent one that I attended was May 28-29 of this year. Most of the attendees are customers of REW, including many of the top-performing agents in North America.

This conference is one of the few where you can dive deep and learn the latest real estate tech at an advanced level. Unlike some other events, most attendees are willing to share their knowledge to help you and your business.

The lineup of speakers was impressive. They included some of the most influential professionals in real estate today.

Here are my top five takeaways from the REW Summit:

1. The best successes happen on the heels of failure.

Barbara Corcoran, star investor on the show “Shark Tank,” was the keynote speaker. Her life story is both amazing and inspirational. She turned a $1,000 loan into a real estate firm with more than $6 billion in sales.

It started with Barbara’s mother, her ultimate role model. Barbara’s mother knew that everyone had a gift to offer the world. Something that would make them successful if they choose to embrace it.

Barbara’s gift was her imagination. She used it start The Corcoran Group and build it into the largest real estate firm in New York.

Looking back on her career, Barbara noted that her biggest successes happened on the heels of failure. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, she turned the negativity into motivation.

Today, Barbara spends her time helping other entrepreneurs grow their businesses. She reminded us not to give up on our dreams and not to quit just before we achieve success.

2. Embrace your authentic self.

Debra Trappen, CEO and owner of d11 Consulting, led an excellent talk on personal branding. She told us of the importance of messaging in marketing strategies, which is essential to achieving the highest levels of success and personal satisfaction.

“To attract your ideal clients, your personal brand message needs to align with your values, passions, purpose and niche,” Trappen said. She calls these her Core Four. “If you embrace your authentic self, you have no competition.”

One way that we connect with our ideal clients is through our passions. Trappen suggested that we choose five of our favorite things to share with our audience. These five would be the focus when we tell our personal stories online. By sharing the things that are closest to our heart, we will attract others like us. We are happiest when working with those who have the same values and passions.

3. The reason you fail at lead conversion.

Mitch Ribak, broker-owner of Tropical Realty of Suntree, delivered an inspiring presentation on the lead conversion process. Ribak said not having a process to follow up and nurture leads is one on the main reasons why brokers fail in lead conversion. Because they do not have a process in place, they fail to send valuable information and engage their potential clients. Last, brokers trust that their agents will do the work without supervision.

According to Mitch, most agents fail at lead conversion because they will not make the calls and follow through. If they make contact with a lead, they seldom follow up. Most do not see the value in a lead and give up long before they had a chance to build a relationship.

Ribak recommends that you develop a system that shares the lead conversion responsibilities. His system has built-in accountability and oversight. The inside sales messaging includes branding the agent in every communication. They handle a majority of the nurturing process. The agent makes an introductory call and then takes over from the inside sales team two months before they buy.

4. Grow your rankings with content and on-site SEO.

Tony Gilbert led a popular small group discussion on his success with on-site SEO. Gilbert is an agent with Coldwell Banker Danforth. He is also the SEO expert and community leader for Real Estate Webmasters.

In less than two years time, Tony has grown his site to more than 30,000 monthly organic viewers with a focus on content and on-site SEO.

The bulk of the discussion focused on inner link structure and community pages. Internal links point to other pages on the same website. These links help users navigate, define the architecture for search engines and spread authority. Good content and messaging is useless when people and search engines cannot find the page.

According to Gilbert, community pages are the workhorse of an agent’s real estate website. It is almost impossible to compete with the portals for the short-tail keywords. The most successful agents focus on long-tail keywords and see results at the community level. A healthy website with a consistent flow of new content will see growth over time. Creating a healthy website includes creating new pages and updating older pages.

Gilbert suggests that you make a few changes to your site and track the results. By monitoring community page landings and keywords, you can apply your success to other pages.

5. Change an expense to an investment.

Michael Audet, vice president of business development at Real Estate Webmasters, discussed the importance of technology plans. Audet has been an industry veteran for many years and was a co-founder of the WAV Group. He suggested that you need to create a long-term plan, analyze costs and install the right cost-sharing model.

Audet suggests that a good technology plan requires documentation, unbiased research, accountability and benchmarks. He recommends a SWOT analysis to start. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. From this analysis, you would set goals, create action plans and execute.

According to Audet, we need to change how we think about technology. In today’s market, technology is a necessity, not a luxury. Investing in technology should be ongoing and never paid off. Spread your technology spending over time and build enhancements into the budget.

Audet suggests that you share technology costs with those who benefit. Brokers can share the cost in flat fees to the agents, based on productivity, in transaction fees, per lead or a combination.

The REW Summit was an excellent conference. It was difficult to pick only five takeaways with such a stellar supporting cast.

Steve Jolly is a broker with Benchmark Realty LLC in Nashville, Tennessee. Steve is also a client of Real Estate Webmasters who loves marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @MusicCityREO or find him in his Facebook Group, Real Estate Marketing All-Stars.

Email Steve Jolly.

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