Last fall, I talked about the Top 5 places you should spend your lead generation budget…and it was a really popular article. I completely understand why it was so popular. Lead generation is so important, and we are inundated with shiny objects all around us — constantly vying not only for our attention, but also for our money.

  • CEOs don’t outsource strategy, so why are so many real estate agents okay with outsourcing the most important element of their business?
  • Throw away the myth that “getting your name out there” brings in business. It doesn’t.
  • Instead of trying to explain to people why you are different, leverage your website to show them you are different.
  • We must stop falling for the “touch your leads X number of times” lie. It's not about the "touch."

Last fall, I talked about the Top 5 places you should spend your lead generation budget…and it was a really popular article.

I completely understand why it was so popular. Lead generation is so important, and we are inundated with shiny objects all around us — constantly vying not only for our attention, but also for our money.

But most of the time, what we should be spending our money on really doesn’t change. Not as much as the world around us changes, anyway.

The problem is, we are led astray by other people’s idea of what we should do with our money. We’re told that a multitude of (useless) things are important and fed ideas that sound good, but in reality, are detrimental to our real estate businesses.

The struggle is real. We are unsure of our exact goals for our businesses, and thus we are unsure what we need to do to get there — and thus we are tossed around like a boat without a rudder in the sea of shiny objects.

What’s your goal?

I’m going to make some projections in this article and assume that the basic, foundational goal for your business is to get more closings.

Cleary, you have got to determine exactly how many closings you want to get, but in general, most real estate agents want more closings.

You need “quality” leads that will result in closings. How do you find people who need to buy or sell real estate?

This is when we start jumping around — directionless, reactionary.

We are told to go on broker opens. Go to chamber of commerce events. Hold open houses. Go door-knocking. Make cold calls. Start a farm. Throw up a website. Run Facebook ads. Join Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Periscope, Meerkat, Blab, Pinterest…and so on and so forth.

By the time we come up for air, we are six months down the road of life and have nothing to show for it — except for either an ulcer (from all the stress of keeping up with everything) or a sudden lack of personal relationships because we’re too busy “being a real estate agent — because that’s what our broker (or other ‘successful’ agents) told us to do.”

Here’s the deal. There are four core places you need to be spending your lead generation budget.

Frankly, they haven’t changed since last year. But I’m going to dive into each one with a little bit of a different perspective this time.

1: Training

I see this all the time. Agents: You must be diving into and learn to love training — especially training outside of your comfort zone.

So you aren’t tech-savvy. Guess what? You need to at least learn how to be comfortable enough with the tech you should be using that you don’t feel like a fish out of water.

You do not need to learn to code a website. You do need to know how to use your smartphone, your IDX, your MLS, your website, your CMA software and so on — to the point that you could comfortably show someone else how to use it.

This is important. You need to know how to comfortably use what you own, so that you can use what you own!  Even if you are delegating most of these tasks to assistants, you must have a strategic understanding of what you are implementing into your business.

auremar / Shutterstock.com

auremar / Shutterstock.com

How is it going to enhance your business? How is it going to improve you? How is it going to change what you do now?

This applies to high-level concepts and strategies, too. I have conversations with agents all over the country who declare that “I have to be ‘realestating’ and I don’t have time for that .”

And then they proceed to tell me why they should be able to simply outsource Facebook or blogging or emailing or whatever else they’ve somehow decided isn’t important in the grand scheme of things.

You probably agree with that statement. But you’re wrong. Seriously. You won’t get the opportunity to “realestate” if you don’t focus on your main priority: building relationships, otherwise known as lead generation.

And if you have no idea how Facebook or blogging or emailing can possibly build relationships, then you must, must, must get training. You must understand the strategy.

Stop looking for everything you can outsource and start looking at everything with a new perspective. Signage, lockboxes, flyer creation, transaction coordination, data entry, coordinating showings … those should be outsourced (but they are what agents mean when they say “I need to be realestating”).

Facebook, blogging, and emailing? Those are relationship-focused elements. If you want to build a real estate business with people who already know, like and trust you, then you have to show them who you are, and Facebook, blogging and emailing are priorities.

2: Social media

Land sakes, agents go two directions with this one: They ignore it entirely, or they think they have to be everywhere, on every platform, because they’ve been fed a bed of lies that “getting their face out there” is important. (Getting your face out there is a lie. Just slap it aside and start ignoring it.)

Don’t get me wrong. Clearly, you can’t lie in bed all day and expect to meet anyone or bring in new business. But don’t miss the forest for the trees: We do these random (and ridiculous tasks) with no clarity, no strategy, no plan, and we call it “getting our name out there.”

Produktownia / Shutterstock.com

Produktownia / Shutterstock.com

Getting your name out there will not bring you business. But building relationships, and digging deeper in those relationships, will build “know, like and trust” sentiments with people who will use your services.

Building profiles on 50 different social media platforms is a waste of your time. An insane waste of your time. In fact, if you are focusing on more than two social media platforms, you are diluting your efforts.

Focus on Facebook. Why Facebook? Because a quarter of the world is on Facebook, and your clients are most likely on Facebook, too. Because Facebook has the insane ability to both target your ideal client while simultaneously building “know, like, and trust” relationships with that ideal client.

You’ll need to invest some time and some money to make all of this happen. Eliminate the other time-wasters and you’ll find your time.

3: Online

We throw up a template site and call it good. We hire out a custom site, spend hours engaged with the designer, get it up — and call it good. We throw our name on a broker-provided site…and call it good.

Why do we do this?

Because we have no idea exactly how a website can drastically change our business. Most real estate agents have no idea — including agents who generate most of their leads via their websites. Most of them are simply throwing oodles of money to Google PPC and Facebook ads.

On the surface, that sounds good. Digging deep, that sucks.

There is no end to the constantly increasing ad costs. There is never an increase in conversion rates. There is no point of even thinking of “resting on laurels.” Why? Because there isn’t a self-sustaining, self-perpetuating, self-lead generating website.

Of course, there are key features you must have in your website:

  • Mobile-responsive
  • Lead-capture optimized
  • Content-marketing focused

But what do these mean? Why are they important? Does it really matter?

Mobile-responsive is pretty obvious. We’re all carrying computers in the palms of our hands, which means you have to make sure your website is easily used on the different mobile platforms.

Lead-capture optimized — this one is up for debate. I’ve seen what most of the top real estate website vendors call lead-capture optimized, and they simply aren’t cutting it. They think they are, though!

The problem is, they are a tad incestuous — always looking inside the industry instead of outside the industry at what is actually working. Actually working based on data — not what “looks pretty.” There is a difference.

If you’ve got a few forms on your site, or subscribe buttons or IDX requiring registration, then you are only part of the way there. In every moment of your website users’ journey, they should be given a multitude of opportunities to get more value — not just “request a showing” or “request a CMA.” And those moments should be part of their journey, not a disruption along the way.

If you are using your website as your click-through destination from your Facebook ads, you are definitely not on the right track. You need to up your game, whichcomes from…training.

You need proven conversion landing pages that are in alignment with your ad. This isn’t about branding. Don’t get caught up in thinking that “looking consistent” will bring in business, because it doesn’t. Focusing on conversion does.

Content-marketing focused — what does this even mean? To many agents, it means “can I just have someone give me canned crap that I can throw up on my website and call it good?”

To that, I say, “don’t bother. Just shut down your website.” It’s not going to do anything for you. If you put up canned crap, even if you “edit” it with your “keywords,” consumers will still be reading canned crap and associating it with you.

Content marketing is you, creating content that is highly valuable and relevant to — and for — your ideal client. Do they have problems? Are you solving them? Do you have opinions about things the media says about real estate in your market? Are you sharing those opinions?

Instead of trying to tell people why you are different, show people how you are different by talking to them. Having a conversation with them. Educating them.

4: Email

I don’t even know where to begin on this one. I’m constantly seeing agents asking for pre-written email drip campaigns that work.

Let’s be clear on this. There are no pre-written email campaigns that work for every agent, for every consumer, in all markets. None.

See above: Pre-written canned crap doesn’t work.

I’ll bet either you’ve used, or someone you know has used, some of the most popular email “touch” campaigns that are available for sale to real estate agents — and you, or they, have raved about how it got some of your list to reply, or comment, or whatever.

Email open on a laptop computer

Rawpixel.com / Shutterstock.com

If you want to build “know, like and trust” relationships…you’ll get some (outside of the industry) training on how to truly leverage email. Period. Which will mean that, guess what — you will have to talk to your list (your ideal client) every single week. And quite frankly, a whole lot more often.

The problem with “inside the industry” is we have a whole lot of opinions, and a lot of vendors creating products for us thinking they are filling a void — when, in fact, they aren’t helping at all because they don’t understand the science of email marketing themselves.

You need an email marketing software of your own. You must be talking to your list every single week, without fail. Not “touching,” but talking. Having a conversation. And this is just the beginning.

As always, I have a checklist of resources to help you when appropriating your lead generation budget.

Christina Ethridge is the founder of LeadsAndLeverage.com, helping real estate agents capture, convert and close Facebook leads.

Email Christina Ethridge

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