Date Archives: December 2021

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December
30

There are many ways to find success in real estate, but the most successful modern teams also share some very important things in common. One key commonality is that thriving teams prioritize the integration of tech in a seamless, accessible way to ensure that every member of the team can easily stay on the same page. Tech helps teams in so many ways, from managing leads to showcasing properties and automating key marketing tasks with the help of AI. Here's why teams do better with tech and why every real estate team deserves the best possible tools for the job.

Making Sure That Your Team Is on the Same Page with Tech

Before we get into some specific tech that can help your team thrive, it's important to look at how your team uses tech in general. No matter how great a tool might be, you can only maximize its value when your team is on the same page about when and how to use it. That's why it's so crucial to ensure that every member of your team is trained in how to use the tech that's relevant to their job, and that they're encouraged to use it.

Some sales associates will jump at the opportunity to integrate new tech into their workflow, while others may take some convincing before they make new tech a reliable part of their daily schedule. Encourage the use of tech by building confidence, showing your team the benefits, and training them so that they can make the best use of their real estate tech.

How the Right Real Estate CRM Can Help Your Team Thrive

Your real estate CRM is the hub for so much of the key tech that can help your team improve their efficiency and effectiveness. The right CRM will help your team with marketing, lead management, and all of the nuts-and-bolts tasks that are crucial to real estate success.

  • Manage and Segment Leads
    No matter which member of your team is serving a client or nurturing a lead, you want them to have easy access to all of the information that they need to provide excellent service. Your CRM is a place to store all of the information that you have on leads, so that it's always just a click away when your team needs it. Easily keep track of data on leads, automatically segment leads so that you can provide timely marketing/service, and ensure that your team has the data that it needs to turn leads into clients.

  • Track Lead Activity to Provide Personalized Service
    Some of the information on leads in your CRM will come from the interactions that your team members have with that lead, but the right CRM can also provide a wealth of additional lead information based on online activity. Track IDX search activity, along with property searches, saved properties, and views, so that you know exactly what type of property a lead is searching for before your team connects with them.

  • Automation and AI-Driven Marketing Tools
    Want your team to have more free time to do what they do best? Of course you do! Tech can help you there too, by automating key marketing tasks and making it easier than ever for your team to connect with clients. Use AI-driven newsletters to keep clients and prospects up to date on the latest real estate happenings. Automatically generate My HomeFinder, Market Watch, and Seller Reports. Use email drip campaigns to stay top-of-mind and SMS text messaging to connect with clients in a quick, convenient way.

  • Virtual Open Houses and Showings
    Your team deserves the best tools for promoting properties, and these days that means providing a variety of options for how people can experience those properties. Virtual open houses and showings make it easy for your team to showcase your listings while allowing buyers to tour listings online easily.

  • Mobile-Responsive Design to Work from Anywhere
    Combine the modern, work-from-home trend with the fact that real estate sales associates rely so much on their phones while working on the go, and it's easy to see why you want your tech to work just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktop computers. Mobile-responsive design ensures that your team always has access to their tech, whether they're in the office or on the road.

Does Your Team Have the Right Tech?

One more thing to remember about tech is that your team is more likely to embrace it if you provide them with the best possible tools. That's why our DeltaNET®6 real estate all-in-one solution is the best choice for your real estate team. We're constantly innovating with new tech to help your team thrive, and DeltaNET®6 combines everything that your team needs to succeed in one convenient package.

December
28

This week Harley reviews Blog Setup in the DeltaNET.

 

Click Here to Read More...

December
27

I think I am like most entrepreneurs. I'm constantly looking for opportunities to do something new or to improve what is already being done. You are probably a business owner yourself, or you work for someone that is constantly pushing for improvements in technology and marketing to grow the business you are involved in, so you understand.

Because of that mindset, I like to take time at the end of every year to review the past 12 months: What worked, what didn't work, what was learned, and what is the plan for the coming year? So, for my article this issue, I am doing an abbreviated version that I can share with you as it relates to Delta Media Group. Hopefully, it will inspire you to do the same, and hopefully, it will give you more insight into Delta Media Group® as a major provider to the real estate vertical.

What are the Highs of 2021?

Building and Launching Local Showings™
The industry was rocked by the sale of the most widely used property showing management platform this year. The day that the announcement was made, I, with the support of Delta's management team, decided to launch Local Showings with a no-sell guarantee. As I sit here at a local coffee shop thinking about this decision, a short eight months later, we have our first MLS launched with more to follow. This rocked the industry so much that we are actively talking with three-quarters of the industry. Local Showings is a huge success for Delta and the real estate world.

Search Engine Optimization Success
We undoubtedly have the best SEO in the industry, and it got even better in 2021. Our sites are quicker, our blogs are deeply integrated into the property and local market data, and our SEO ranking has improved. In a year full of significant SEO ranking changes, this is a huge win, especially as I see the success of our business partners. This is the result of paying attention to SEO for 20 years, a fantastic platform, and an even more amazing team at Delta.

Buying and Remodeling a new Office Building
Undoubtedly 2020 was a year of change, and it changed how I viewed Delta's workforce and Delta's office space, so it was time for another shift in 2021. I purchased a new office building, completely gutted it, and remodeled it specifically for a telecommuting hybrid workforce. Next month the new office will open complete with a three-thousand square-foot cafe and large outdoor patio. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined having an office with such a large cafe and a large outdoor patio where team members could come and work the entire day in either of those areas. It seems almost bizarre to me, but I consider this a huge quality of life win for Delta's team members for 2021.

Expansion of Deep Integrations and Automations
The Delta team massively expanded our technology platform integrations this past year. For some major industry technology and marketing providers, we have the deepest integrations available right now from anyone in the space. This makes me proud because of how this benefits all the DeltaNET® users.

The Best Support in the Industry
We have the best support in the industry. But, more importantly, the high of 2021 is that the entire Delta team is working hard to make our support much better. The management team is not happy with just being the best when compared to other providers; we want to achieve an even higher level of support satisfaction.

Deploying a New Server and Storage Infrastructure
This past year we deployed a new server and storage infrastructure for the DeltaNET and other platforms. For over five years, we have enjoyed 100% uptime, but we knew we had to make significant changes to support our growth in the future. It is shocking that we currently peak at around 100-million sessions per month, and that is massive. I am proud that our team executed this deployment with minimal hiccups.

Launching Three Technology Advisory Committees
Saying that we listen to our customers is not just marketing, and this year we launched three technology advisory committees composed of dozens of our top partners. As far as I know, we are the only technology company doing this at this scale. We share what we are working on, we listen to their business, technology, and marketing needs, and we respond! But the biggest thing that I have seen come out of these committees is how groups of companies can work together within their advisory committee to benefit and grow their specific technology and marketing eco-system, especially with franchise groups. This is a massive win for 2021 for Delta and our partners.

Implementing EOS at Delta
I was and am hyper-paranoid of continual improvement as Delta experiences massive growth, so in 2020 I introduced EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to the Delta management team. As I type this, we have EOS fully implemented at Delta. This has benefitted not just Delta but Delta's partners (customers) as well, which is a huge win.

What are the Lows of 2021?

I was reluctant to share some of Delta's lows for 2021, but I think it is good that I am transparent. So as I share the lows, I will come from the perspective of what was learned in the situation.

Not Having an Office Building to Use While We Remodeled it
In hindsight, that was a huge mistake. I, and the management team, assumed too many things with a telecommuting work model, especially when adding so many new team members throughout the year. I will never make this mistake again. We are more intentional on team culture in a telecommuting model and more intentional on team training. Not having an office building to use for six months has been painful, and it had a negative impact on the business.

Creative Studio™ Pains
In 2021 we launched a new marketing platform called Creative Studio, and it was a huge win and a huge failure that we then had to turn back around into a win. Creative Studio made it more complicated for the sales associates to create marketing pieces when it originally launched, and we will work diligently to make sure that mistake never happens again. With the sales associates, we have one opportunity to win them, and we need to execute perfectly from the start. As a result of this failure, we instituted the following changes for all products: An ongoing monthly management team product review cycle; intentional product development with an emphasis on user experience along with technology; intentional product Quality Assurance processes; and earlier involvement from our partners through our monthly technology advisory committee meetings.

Not Meeting our Internal Support Metrics as We Grew
Honestly, this was frustrating and very disruptive to Delta's overall operations. Even though at our lowest, we still had the best support in the industry, our business partners were so accustomed to phenomenal technical support they noticed the decline. This will never happen again. As a result, we had to make the following business improvements: Proactive technical support metrics, so we are proactive in staffing rather than reactive; ongoing platform and career development training with technical support; intentional career development within the technical support team itself, so it is a career path on its own and not just a conduit into other departments.

Having Hiccups as we Deployed our New Server Hardware
Sometimes when you experience success for so long, you get caught off-guard, and that is what happened with our new server hardware deployment that was also a high for 2021. The reason it was a low for 2021 is because while we still met our uptime commitments, we could no longer tout the 100% uptime that we had achieved for the five years before this. In hindsight, we delayed moving to new infrastructure management tools for too long. Unfortunately, we also delayed this upgrade for too long, and this will not happen again. We already have plans for working on our next major upgrade in 2022, so we are no longer caught like this, and we can once again tout 100% uptime.

What are we Doing for 2022?

Note: These are only major highlights that I can share publicly!

Massively Staffing Up and Training Up Our Support Staff
At Delta, we are working to raise the bar even higher for quality of support. We are very focused on this for 2022!

More Search Engine Optimization Improvements
Work is already underway to improve our SEO platform. When you are #1, you can only go down, so we are pushing hard to be even better at SEO.

Solidifying Our Telecommute Work Hybrid Model as We Continue to Grow
Telecommuting is here to stay, and at Delta, we are intentional in making this model work. Our team members love the fact that they can work from anywhere, and I love the freedom it gives them. We will be even more intentional in developing this model to the benefit of our team members, the business, and our partners.

DeltaNET 7
Yep. You heard it here first. DeltaNET 7 is already in the works. While DeltaNET 6 is the most advanced CRM in the market, in my humble opinion, we are working to further the customization of the DeltaNET with version 7 and bring massive simplification to it as well. More will come out soon, but we are already excited about the direction of DeltaNET 7 and what it will do for those using it.

Pushing Open Standards in all Products (DeltaNET, Local Showings)
I have been pushing Delta's integrations since 2015. Right now, we have hundreds of integrations, a flexible SSO platform directly within DeltaNET 6, and very robust APIs for all Delta services. This is why we are the business hub for all of our large clients today. Massive expansions are already in the works, especially in the area of open APIs. They will become much easier to use and manage and more robust in 2022, especially for DeltaNET 6+ and Local Showings.

CMA / Presentation Product Launch
We have been working on a CMA product that, quite honestly, will also double as a presentation product. We took what we learned from the Creative Studio launch, and we have been working on polishing up the product before launch. By the time you read this, it will either be launched or be very close to launching, and we have big plans for this in 2022.

Training and Resources Center
Another new product that is very close to launching is our new Training and Resources Center. This has been in development for quite some time and may also be launched by the time you read this. The most promising part of this platform addition is that it is built in such a way that our business partners can utilize this to power their own unique training and continuing education. We also have big plans for this in 2022.

December
23

The end goal of your online marketing is to create a reliable source for converting clients, and generating engagement is one of the most important steps that leads to that goal. But with so much competition for attention online, increasing your engagement can feel like an uphill climb. The good news is that growing your online engagement is easier than you might think, with the right tools, tactics, and a willingness to invest consistent effort into achieving your engagement goals.

Know Who You're Trying to Reach and Where to Find Them

Before you get busy with specific engagement tactics for your online marketing, it's critical to understand exactly who you're trying to reach. That's because the best tactics for generating engagement will differ depending on your target audience. Whether you're planning out your website content, social media strategy, or paid advertising, start by considering the needs and online habits of your target audience.

When you know who you want to reach, you can get busy learning about the best places to find them online. This is especially important for social media because different demographics favor different platforms. Research any social platform you're planning to use ahead of time, integrate best practices, and ensure that you're investing your energy in the places that will deliver the best results.

Invest Your Time Wisely on Social Media

While there are many places to grow your engagement and guide people to your website, it's tough to top the efficiency of social media. With the right tactics, you can spend more time generating engagement on social platforms and less time thinking about what to do next.

  • Less Promotion, More Conversation
    Spending too much time on promotion and not enough time on conversation is one of the easiest mistakes to make with social media marketing. That doesn't mean that you can't showcase listings or highlight all of your great content. It just means that the most successful real estate brands and agents on social media invest significant time in engaging with their audience. Always remember that engagement is a two-way street, especially on social.

  • Want Engagement? Start by Asking Questions
    If you want to inspire conversations and get your social connections to engage, asking questions is the perfect place to start. Think about questions that speak to the needs of your target audience, ask them often, and encourage your audience to ask questions, too. By answering questions, you can advance the conversation and build trust by demonstrating your real estate expertise.

  • How Social and Your Website Work Hand in Hand to Generate Engagement
    Ideally, you want a seamless experience between your social media pages and your real estate website. The content on your website should be easy to find on all of your social channels, and visitors to your website should be able to connect with all of your social accounts easily.

  • Create a Social Schedule and Stick to It
    Achieving your engagement goals is so much easier when you have a plan for how to get there, and a social schedule so that you'll always know what to do next. When you know how to reach those goals, you can use your social media time much more efficiently and effectively.

Create Content That Tells Stories and Encourages Conversations

The content that you create for your real estate website, blog, and social media should be one of your best sources of engagement. When you share content on social, jump into the comments to start the conversation. When you're thinking of content ideas for your blog, focus on topics that will encourage your audience to ask questions and leave comments.

And don't be afraid to branch out into new types of content! Video content is easier than ever to create, and it's a great tool for generating engagement. People are more likely to feel a connection when they can see your face, listen to your voice, and hear directly from you. In addition to attracting people to your website, your content is a powerful tool for keeping them there once they arrive.

Track Results to Find Out What Works Best for Your Brand

Not every engagement strategy will be the right fit for every agent or real estate business. That's one reason why it's so important to track your results, look at your analytics, and refine your strategy over time. It's easier to grow engagement when you have data-based insights on what works best with your audience.

No matter what else you do to grow your engagement, remember that authenticity is key. When your audience feels like they can connect with you on a human level, they're more likely to engage. That's true for social media, your website, and all of your real estate marketing efforts.

December
22

Work hard, play hard, and give back.

Simple and straight to the point, the words, and the meaning behind them, have served as a guidepost for Coldwell Banker American Homes' company-wide culture — particularly this year. Because before this year, Coldwell Banker American Homes didn't exist. At least not in its current form.

Following two and a half decades of success in the Century 21 system, as Century 21 American Homes, co-brokers and owners Michael Litzner and Thomas Gallagher, in April, announced the acquisition of Coldwell Banker Realty, a residential brokerage in New York owned and operated by Realogy.

Suddenly, two of the top 10 companies in one of the nation's most competitive markets, Long Island and the New York metro area, were one. Coldwell Banker American Homes was born, and with it came plenty of changes. More than just the name. Agent totals nearly doubled, with more offices across Queens, Kings, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, giving Coldwell Banker American Homes more opportunities than ever to provide clients with the best real estate experience possible.

"We took two of the top companies and put them together, which is no small feat," Litzner says. "We went from 650 agents to [over 1,100] agents in 24 locations overnight. And here we are, learning and growing and continuing our path in real estate."

Through all the headline-making changes, not one of their agents lost sight of the end goal or the simple words defining the company. And it's that mindset that's continuing to inspire the entire Coldwell Banker American Homes family as it settles into its new name and new position in New York real estate. Because culture is still culture, no matter what the name on the office door is.

Even when there are two dozen offices.

"We have a fantastic leadership team, and I think they do a fantastic job of extending those values into the local offices and bringing them down to the agents, the admins, the support staff," Litzner says. "So it's in every fiber of the company. It's okay to have fun while working; as long as you're not so busy having fun, you take your eye off the ball. The work hard always comes first, so we have a culture of hardworking people."

JOINING FORCES

The opportunity to merge two of the most prominent real estate names on Long Island only comes once a certain amount of work has been completed. Decades worth, really. In this case, Coldwell Banker American Homes began when an 18-year-old Litzner started taking classes to obtain his real estate license and, in 1983, began his career at a small independent company in East Meadow, New York.

A short train ride from midtown Manhattan, East Meadow is still suburbia through and through, but it was more than enough for Litzner to get his real estate feet wet. Fast forward a year and a half, and Gallagher joined the company. As time went on, it became clear that the company's owner was looking to retire, and it didn't take long for suggestions to come regarding what should happen next.

"One of the guys said, 'Why don't [you and Gallagher] buy the office?'" Litzner recalls. "That's how it started. We bought the first office in East Meadow, New York. I was 23. And we were learning the business, and we were pretty good producers, still growing into our roles and were now office owners."

From there, the partners continued to hit their stride, buying a second office that Litzner calls "the big pivot" in their careers.

"As we continued to find our legs and work our way through," Litzner says, "we started to generate a certain level of activity that caught the attention of a lot of the brands."

One of those brands was Century 21. At the time, the company had been part of "a loose affiliation of brokers under this banner called Home America," but the chance to join their two offices under the Century 21 name was simply too good to pass up. With the move came a new name, Century 21 American Homes, and all the tools provided by a nationally recognized brand.

"We got a lot of support and insight, many friends and fellow brokers that we've networked with over the years," Litzner says. "When you join a brand, you can have access to its branding tools. It could be technology; it could be training; it's numerous things, especially over the years. It's a matter of taking the best pieces of what they offer you and applying them to your company."

With 10 offices and more than 650 affiliated independent sales professionals, Century 21 American Homes had grown into a dominant presence over its 25 years, but, once again, an opportunity presented itself that simply could not be ignored. Bringing together Century 21 American Homes and Coldwell Banker Realty made sense, a significant move not only on Long Island and the surrounding New York areas, but across the country. Combined, the two companies boasted 5,096 transactions and $2.7 billion in sales in 2020.

Now, with two impressive names combined, Coldwell Banker American Homes is on the precipice of unparalleled success, with agents and a leadership team who are determined to stay at the top of their game. From October of last year to the end of this September, a 12-month span, the numbers were an astounding 5,975 sides and $3.5 billion. As of this printing, the 2021 year to date is $2.6 billion and 4,330 sales.

"It's critical to have trust, loyalty, committed professionals as part of the whole team," Litzner says. "And we've exhibited or enjoyed the loyalty and commitment of many long-standing professionals in our company. I think two of our agents, or two of our management leadership team, have been with Tom and me for over 30 years now. That's a big part of it."

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. That's what they say about New York, after all. One of the world's most competitive and constantly evolving real estate markets, New York and its surrounding areas present a distinct challenge for sales associates and the companies they work under. The same holds for Coldwell Banker American Homes.

To find success in a market like New York, the key is to use every tool at your disposal.

Training at Coldwell Banker American Homes begins by making sure agents understand what their job entails. It's not just about helping a client buy a house. It's about helping a client find a home they love, about finding a foundation, both literal and metaphorical, on which they can build the rest of their lives.

"We talk extensively about our tools, system, and support," Litzner says. "I need agents to be the most productive, with the most professional reputation. We often say the easy business for an agent to convert is the referral business, and referrals happen by design, not by accident. So again, part of our core value is it's a service industry."

No matter where an agent is working, from the most competitive markets to small towns across the country, real estate has always been a deceptively human industry. Sure, there's plenty of money to be made. Properties to be bought and sold, too. But, at its core, real estate is an opportunity for people to help people. To be a partner in one of the biggest moments of their lives, and for Coldwell Banker American Homes, it's that opportunity that continues to be the driving force in everything the company does.

"It's not about trying to sell [clients] something they don't want," Litzner explains. "It's about understanding what's important to them, and help them wade through the choices in the marketplace, and help them find the house that best meets their needs.

"It's a rewarding business in many ways, economically, but also emotionally," Litzner continues. "When you're helping people, and you see the excitement when they buy their home or the relief when they sell a property. When you see that come to fruition, closings happen, and it's rewarding on many levels."

Of course, there's more to Coldwell Banker American Homes than simply ensuring everyone's operating with the same mindset. That's where Coldwell Banker American Homes' comprehensive training program comes in. With support at all levels for both new and experienced agents, the company covers everything from the fundamentals of a career in real estate to deep dives into technology offerings and the ins and outs of the market.

Coldwell Banker American Homes provides agents with marketing and technology-driven productivity tools, including those offered by Delta Media Group®, as well as professional mortgage and title services. No agent is left on an island to understand those tools, either. Support comes from the management and leadership team, assisting agents every step of the way as they find their niche. So, whether an associate wants to pursue residential or commercial sales, leasing, business brokerage, property management, branch management, new homes sales, or relocation, the opportunity to tailor their career to their interests is there.

"The goal that we have for all of our tools, systems, and support, including our training, is to give our agents the highest rate of return on their investment, which is their time," says Chief Technology Officer and Associate Broker Chris Manteria. "That's their biggest investment at the end of the day. I don't care how much money you put into this business; you can't generate more time. You can generate more money. You can't generate more time."

And training doesn't end with those initial instructions. Coldwell Banker American Homes' Educational Program offers multiple classes, allowing agents even more chances to learn and fine-tune their approach in the real estate world. From Agent Success, a weekly 2-hour module for both newly licensed and experienced associates, to commercial training and coaching, agents never have to worry there isn't an answer to whatever questions they may have.

Soaring to Success, a 10-session program written by National Real Estate Coach and Speaker Debra J. Asher, now a member of Coldwell Banker American Homes' leadership team, is also a top-rated course and one that's relevant to agents with every sort of background and success level.

"As an experienced agent, I took it after being in the business already [for many] years," Manteria says, "and I was able to capture a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that I had missed before, or it changed my thought process on how I presented information to my customers and clients, which allowed me to have a higher rate of return."

In addition to company-wide training offerings, managers also do trainings in their specific offices. It's that sort of unique training that cements Coldwell Banker American Homes' support and allows agents to interact one-on-one with those they work closest with.

"There is a very personal touch, a high touch in all of our offices," Manteria says. "Every single one has a full-time non-compete manager, who takes the agents by their hands and walks them through the process. No matter what level they're at, whether they're a brand-new agent, experienced agent that needs to get to that next level, or the top agent that comes in or has been with our company for a long time, that just needs support. Those managers are there for them. I truly believe that our leadership team is top-notch."

Litzner echoes the sentiment, adding that it's the ability to connect with agents that makes training all the more impactful.

Providing that specialized focus, taking the time to truly understand what agents want out of their careers — that can make all the difference.

"Where the rubber meets the road is on application," Litzner says. "So, by having centralized training, we can control the messaging, the information, the flow of information to our agents in scale. It's having those high-level professionals in our office work with those agents, saying, 'What did you learn? How are you going to use that in your business?' That's phenomenal."

SUCCESS IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

Ask any person what they imagine when they picture New York City, and the odds are pretty good that you'll hear conjured images of Times Square. Flashing lights and yellow cabs, bumper to bumper traffic, and sidewalks covered in pedestrians and tourists. And that's true; Times Square does look like that. But that's far from all New York and its surrounding areas is.

With so many different characteristics to define so many different boroughs and neighborhoods, every area Coldwell Banker American Homes serves presents its own distinct opportunities and challenges. In Brooklyn, clients may be looking for brownstones, or condos and co-ops, while Queens generally runs a bit more residential and rent-prone. Then, take a drive out on Long Island, and depending on what town or village you stop in, you'll find distinctly different real estate markets. Nassau County is full of suburban living, but keep going east out the Long Island Expressway, and you'll quickly find farms, vineyards, and the beaches of the Hamptons.

"We have such a diverse marketplace," Litzner says, adding that the acquisition has only increased that scope. "We've acquired offices in some of the highest-priced, global luxury markets. So we have this North Shore/South Shore dynamic now that we didn't have prior. We also have unique markets. Like we have the leading REO guy on Long Island as part of the company.

"We also have probably the top rental person," Litzner continues. "We have relationships with management companies that we control thousands of units of rentals and represent them in that end of the market."

Learning what works and what doesn't in any given micro-market is crucial to an agent's success. Each area comes with its own idiosyncrasies, both good and bad. Understanding what clients expect and want when searching for a real estate partner in Brooklyn won't always be the same as someone in Suffolk County. Coldwell Banker American Homes' associates understand that, and thanks to the training they receive as soon as they join the company, as well as the individualized and hyper-focused information from their specific offices, those same associates have proven time and time again they're ready for the challenge.

Then, of course, there is also Coldwell Banker American Homes' Commercial Division. What Litzner calls "a very different discipline," from working in residential real estate, the Commercial Division operates under Coldwell Banker Commercial AMH as "a separately licensed office with separate tools and systems." And while the Commercial Division adds another bullet point on the list of everything Coldwell Banker American Homes offers, it's also another chance for the company's agents to truly specialize their careers.

Ultimately, no matter what an agent decides to do or where they decide to do it, Litzner says two defining factors will determine someone's success: Personality and passion.

"They hold true in every single market," Litzner says. "Having the right commitment to professionalism. Do they attend training classes? Do they learn the tools and systems? When you partner with companies and vendors like Delta Media, who support us with their suite of websites, company, office, agents, the CRM at the center of their Open House App. It doesn't matter which one of those markets you're in; the fundamentals hold."

MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY

Since first deciding to partner together, Litzner and Gallagher have made it a priority to provide every opportunity for anyone looking to begin their careers in real estate. With the Recruiting America's Heroes initiative, that also includes United States veterans.

"It's about helping provide benefits to America's heroes," Litzner details. "That's the people that have served our country, and so it's about helping them transition back into a life and explore career opportunities and essentially the entry-level to a real estate career."

Getting into real estate can sometimes be seen as an easy career move, but Litzner is the first to point out that there are a handful of steps that can quickly become obstacles. Thanks to the Recruiting America's Heroes program, however, those obstacles are a bit less intimidating for those who have previously served, ensuring veterans have a structured plan for the next phase of their lives. Complimentary continuing education courses are offered, as well as first-year registration for the Global Conference, a multi-day event that brings together some of the top Coldwell Banker names from around the globe, in addition to discounts on pre-licensing and new agent materials.

"The concept was a way to thank the service members who are transitioning back, to try to reach out and offer them the ability to transition into a new career," Litzner says. "And they say that discipline, the service-minded mentality that service members have, translates well into the real estate business."

Recruiting America's Heroes is just one instance of Coldwell Banker American Homes' core values in action. Work hard, play hard, give back. Those were never hollow words and, over the years, the company has made sure to place a clear emphasis on the last two in particular.

"We've always been a service-minded company," Litzner says. "My business partner and I have been in our local Chamber of Commerce [for years]. We're very, very involved in the Kiwanis organization, a non-denominational charitable organization."

Through their past affiliation with Century 21, the company frequently donated to Easterseals, a charity focused on responding to the needs of people with disabilities, their families, and communities, with a variety of services. Coldwell Banker also fostered a strong relationship with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Giving back has long been one of the fundamental building blocks of the company that is now Coldwell Banker American Homes. Still, although Litzner says it's fantastic to work with national charities, the company's presence across Long Island and in the New York metro area makes it ideally suited to give back at home. Because Coldwell Banker American Homes helped thousands of people buy those homes. So, about four years ago, the Heart of American Homes Foundation was formed through a collaboration of like-minded individuals, both agents and brokers, who were working under the Century 21 American Homes umbrella at the time.

"[The charity] is fully housed within our offices," Litzner says. "There are no paid employees, and a hundred percent of the money that we raise in that organization goes back into our local communities."

The Heart of American Homes Foundation continues to host multiple fundraisers throughout the year, all with a specific hometown focus. For example, lottery fundraisers are held, as is the annual Night at the Races, and company-matched donations whenever an agent contributes a certain amount from their closed transactions. This year alone, Litzner says, Coldwell Banker American Homes has matched agents with $50,000 in donations to various causes — all as a result of closing transactions.

Deciding which causes to highlight and how to give back is also a true company-wide effort. Each Coldwell Banker American Homes office elects an agent or office member to sit on the Heart of American Homes Foundation board of directors, so, as Litzner explains, "they all have ownership in it."

Each member of the board has taken that ownership to heart with different programs and causes supported each year. Not every initiative has to be a $50,000 donation, either. Sometimes it can be as simple as putting in handicapped ramps or as impactful as helping people afford life-saving medication and assisting with funeral costs. So long as it benefits the community — the same one Coldwell Banker American Homes has helped so many find a home in — the company wants to ensure it happens.

"It's had a profound effect on the agents and the culture of the offices," Litzner says, "because one hundred percent of that money goes back, and they see it. It's something that I'm proud to be part of. I believe every member of the American Homes family shares that sentiment."

Coldwell Banker American Homes still regularly donates to those national causes, of course, but being active and present in the communities the company services, in the neighborhoods that, although so strikingly different from one end of Long Island to the other, are home to so many clients, is something that cannot be overstated. Nor can the impact this mindset has had.

"The agents, since this has started, have entirely changed their engagement," Manteria says. "They've increased their engagement tremendously because [they] do want to give back to their communities. When we have fundraisers, we'll have a couple of hundred people at a fundraiser, and 90% of them are from our company."

THE NEXT STEP IN TECHNOLOGY

Bringing in hundreds of new agents and combining the long-term successes of two dominant real estate companies may have become official seemingly overnight, but the path leading to the creation of Coldwell Banker American Homes was a much longer one than some may assume.

"Realistically, we've been on this path for about a year and a half," Litzner says. "Something of this magnitude, you don't just wake up and say, 'I think I'll buy a billion and a half dollar sales company in the morning.' We took a long, hard look at our company, where we were, what we were doing, how we were doing it, where we wanted to go, and said, 'What's our vision for our company in 10 years?'"

While preparing for the future, Litzner says the company that would eventually become Coldwell Banker American Homes also realized it needed a technological facelift. Calling their previous platform "outdated," Litzner adds that the tech "didn't communicate well; everything was separated. And we said, 'You know what, this is not good enough. We can do better.'"

So, much like preparing for its headline-making acquisition, the company took all the necessary steps to find the perfect tech fit. Researching multiple platforms and vendors, Litzner says certain factors were "non-negotiable, and Delta Media Group® was one of them that checked every one of those boxes." Still, nothing was decided on immediately. Instead, a committee was formed, including Litzner and Manteria, and about 15 demos were held between a handful of companies to ensure that every aspect of the platform was worth the effort to implement, integrate and ensure adoption with the company's agents; what would be all 1,000-plus.

Because, as Litzner put it: "If you do all this and the agents don't use it, what's the difference?"

Luckily, Delta Media Group continued to stand out throughout the process, a platform that wasn't only an excellent fit for the company when it was still Century 21 American Homes but one that would be there every step of the way through this next stage. Combining companies is as challenging as it is exciting, and with Delta Media Group in its corner, Coldwell Banker American Homes knew it had a tech partner in the truest sense of the word, one that would operate within the framework of the company and assist, rather than hinder, throughout the hectic nature of the last year.

"Since we've implemented our relationship, [Delta has] continued to work with us on further integrations," Litzner says. "We've laid out a wishlist, our roadmap, and Delta's at the center of it. Delta has been a partner that's developed their product to play nice, to communicate well with all the other technologies we're able to bring in. So we've been able to develop our own technology that works for us."

Delta worked with Coldwell Banker American Homes to function with its Just Engage Today (JET) Platform, a company-provided turn-key productivity platform meant to propel agents directly into a profitable real estate career. With all of Delta's best features directly at their fingertips, agents have tech tools that are undeniably real-estate focused, something that hasn't always been the case.

"One of the things that I've often found myself saying is that in the past, we knew technology would come in, but a lot of the technology came in, and it didn't work the way we work," Litzner says. "What we feel we've been able to do for the first time, through this transition, is get the technology to work intuitively and follow the natural transaction pattern that an agent goes to when generating a customer or client to converting that client, to signing up contracts to mortgage, title, closing. Delta has been a great partner."

Ease of use has been a major factor in Delta and Coldwell Banker American Homes' partnership over the last year or so. Often, Manteria says, multiple agents work with the same client, and Delta allows them to do that without "any sort of cross-contamination."

"[It doesn't lock] out the agent from being able to work with [clients]," Manteria adds, "and the open architecture, the ability for us to bolt on other technologies into it and have data transferred back and forth using APIs made a lot of sense."

With so many agents operating in so many different markets working on so many different transactions, DeltaNET® 6's one-stop-shop format has also proved crucial. Instead of bouncing between X or Y to do multiple tasks, Delta has integrated almost everything an agent needs in a singular spot, allowing them to focus on the task, not the technology.

"Let's be honest, our agents are good at selling real estate," Manteria says. "They shouldn't be worried about being technology experts. It's not their job. And Delta is the closest technology out there that lets our agents use their natural workflow and allows us to integrate multiple tools to work together."

Manteria also commends Delta for its willingness to work with Coldwell Banker American Homes. If the company wants something new, Delta does its best to make it happen, a trait that isn't always true of other tech providers.

"The reality is, we needed a partner in this and [Delta has] been a great partner," says Manteria, who also serves on Delta's Coldwell Banker advisory committee. "I can't tell you how many times I call [Product Development Manager] Harley [Wolfarth]. [Vice President of Sales] Franklin [Stoffer] hears from me all the time, looking at how we can make Delta better because the better you become, the better we become, the better it is for us. So the fact that [Delta] looks at this as a partnership, as opposed to a vendor-client relationship, that alone sets it apart."

WHAT'S ON THE HORIZON

This has been a year of change for Coldwell Banker American Homes. Of embracing new and building on a reputation that was already impressive. It is also a jumping-off point for what comes next. With sights set on the future, Coldwell Banker American Homes has no plans of slowing down. How can it when the company is so firmly entrenched in the markets it serves?

Listing Concierge, a new program that allows agents to access new marketing tools and professional photography for their listings, is already underway. Lessons learned during COVID-19 won't soon be forgotten, as agents took their marketing and engagement games to the next level even from a distance. In fact, throughout the pandemic and 2021, the shift to virtual has been a success, particularly when it came to things like training.

Manteria credits Coldwell Banker American Homes' local leadership for keeping the company on track recently, "because many of them were quasi-comfortable with some of the technology going into COVID, but they stepped up, and they embraced the technology, and once they did, they were able to get that extra engagement from their agents."

Having a manager for every office location provided personalized leadership and assistance that has become the norm for Coldwell Banker American Homes at a time when nothing was truly normal.

Whether it was changing franchises or contending with an international health pandemic, every single person with Coldwell Banker American Homes on their business card was still able to work with confidence, thanks to the support they received.

"We have engagement with a leadership team that cares about their agents," Manteria says. "And at the end of the day, everybody agrees that giving our agents what they need is what this comes down to. Having that support that you won't get in other companies, having that training, having that company culture, where we give back to all of our local communities."

Getting the best of both worlds can sometimes seem like an impossibility when combining companies, but Coldwell Banker American Homes has made it a reality: Providing agents with the sort of professional home that inspires growth, backed by decades of experience with leaders who embrace the company culture every single day. And that won't change any time soon.

"We are taking the best and picking and choosing and bringing it into the new ecosystem," Litzner says. "So I think our opportunity is to improve our company and transform it into something that is best in class. I'm excited about where we are and our opportunity to go forward. I think we hit it out of the park. And honestly, if I do say so myself, I'm excited about what the next 10 years bring."


To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

December
21

This week, Harley goes over mail merging and mailing labels in DeltaNET.

 

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December
21

It was only a few decades ago when many experts believed that, due to the rapidly accelerating pace of productivity, technology would render the five-day workweek obsolete in a few generations. There were several visions of how it might happen, including a three-hour, four-day week.

Amazingly, while productivity has continued to rise, most people are working even longer hours. What's more, wages have stagnated in relation to productivity, meaning that earners in many industries are going home with less. Luckily, real estate pros are positioned to reverse both these trends.

Unlike so many others, the nature of your business means you really can have it all:

  • Vastly accelerated daily productivity by using technology the right way
  • Business results that mean your income actually track with productivity

Where workers once relied on muscle, your stock in trade is concentration — and even that can be stretched to the limit. Good technology investment is something that allows you to do more in less time while focusing more of your attention on things that matter to you.

All machines have one major purpose: To save labor. That hasn't changed at all even though we're now using artificial intelligence and machine learning instead of windmills that grind flour. And by unlocking the labor-saving power of modern technology, you can achieve more in a day than some do in a week.

Let's look at some of the best technologies for a smooth, seamless increase in productivity:

  • Customer Relationship Management for Real Estate
    Most real estate agents spend the majority of their time building or evaluating their relationships. It can be both difficult and time-consuming to know where all your prospects, leads, and customers stand in their individual journeys. A real estate CRM like DeltaNET®6 gives you complete visibility into all of your contacts. It also uses artificial intelligence to cue you on the best times and ways to follow up.

  • Centralized Online Showing Management
    While many buyers and sellers are enthusiastic about virtual tours, face-to-face showings are still called for in many markets. A property showing management platform can make all the difference in convenience, flexibility, and accuracy. Combining end-to-end visibility with a self-service element that gives buyers a measure of control means you can leave much of the logistical work to them.

  • Social Media Automation
    Some people seem to be born with the "social media gene," while others — even some of the most outgoing and gregarious real estate experts — don't seem to get it. Wherever you fall on the scale, social media automation can help you capture more business value while spending less time scrolling your feed. Event-driven updates on your listings can be sent to your followers instantly.

  • Simplified Virtual Tour Setup for All Your Listings
    Virtual tours are beloved by just about everyone. Sellers no longer need to invite huge crowds into their homes, and buyers can extend their search radius while minimizing their travel hours. Tours can increase the time buyers spend on listings by 20% or more. However, it can be tough to set up a polished, professional virtual tour. Properties in Motion makes it easy to maximize the impact of every listing.

  • Email Marketing to Build Your Business
    Your email subscriber list is one of the most powerful assets your business has. It gives you the ability to highlight and publicize your most valuable listings to your most enthusiastic audience. But, to get there, you need to be building that list. Automated email marketing is the key to ensuring that every message you send is packed with relevant, valuable content that deepens the relationship.

  • Manage and Optimize Paid Advertising in Minutes
    Whether you're looking at pay-per-click advertising on Google or paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram, it's essential to be conscientious. Carefully maintained ads can accelerate your transactions, but all the pieces must be in place. Delta Media Group tools such as Ad Wizard make it easy to monitor your ads, ensure results, and fine-tune any that underperform.

The secrets of productivity are no mystery. Contact us at Delta Media Group to get inside information on how our suite of reliable, AI-driven tools can help you achieve more in less time in the coming year.

December
16

Are you ready to make 2022 your best year yet? Then now is the perfect time to give your lead generation a boost, whether that means innovating with the integration of the latest ideas or doubling down by enhancing the tactics that are already working for you. There are more opportunities than ever for generating leads, boosting the visibility of your real estate brand, and connecting with prospects online. Here are seven tips for enhancing your lead generation in 2022 and taking your business to new heights.

Enhance Your Lead Generation in 2022

  • Advertise in All the Right Places Online
    With most forms of online marketing, there's no guarantee of instant success. The payoff is worth it, but it may take time to see results. But what about when you want to generate more leads right now? Paid advertising on search engines and social media is very effective for reaching specific, targeted demographics with your real estate marketing message. With paid advertising, you choose who you want to reach and where you want to reach them.

  • Refresh Your Social Media Schedule
    Finding success with social media marketing requires a plan, and your schedule is one of the most important factors in effective planning. Creating a schedule for what you will do on social media each day, how you will do it, and how it all fits together makes it so much easier to use your social time more efficiently. And don't stop at scheduling. Social media is constantly evolving, so catching up on the latest trends is a must for maximizing the lead generation potential of your social presence.

  • Become the Next Real Estate Video Star
    One way to give your social media and overall online presence a boost in 2022? Try your hand at video content! Long gone are the days when you needed to buy a bunch of expensive equipment to get started with video content. With your smartphone, a few affordable peripheral tools, and some creativity, you can take advantage of the most popular form of online content. Adding a face, voice, and personality to your marketing is such an effective way to enhance your lead generation online.

  • Leverage Local SEO to Help Prospects Find You
    Local SEO is a powerful tool for generating high-quality leads, standing out from the competition in your market, and making it easy for prospects to find your real estate website. Creating informative content with targeted keywords, optimizing your website for SEO, and optimizing your Google My Business page are all great ways to give your local SEO a boost.

  • Harness the Power of Social Proof
    Your current, happy clients can be one of your greatest assets for generating leads by providing social proof about how you helped them with their real estate needs. If your real estate website doesn't integrate reviews and testimonials from current clients in a seamless way, now is the time to change that. Feature the best testimonials on your homepage, create a page where you can share even more testimonials, and make it easy for everyone to see how highly rated you are on major review platforms. And don't forget to share them on your social pages, too!

  • Position Yourself as a Neighborhood Expert
    If you want people to fall in love with your listings, start by helping them fall in love with the communities where those homes are located. Every agent should be an expert on the markets where they do business, and every prospect is searching for more information on the places where they're shopping for homes. Your real estate blog and social media pages are great places to post the content that you create about your neighborhoods. You can also create neighborhood-specific landing pages, where people can easily find a collection of key information in one location.

  • Make the Most of Your Real Estate CRM Platform
    Are you taking advantage of all the lead generation tools your real estate CRM offers? Just as importantly, does your real estate CRM offer everything you need to thrive? There are so many ways that a great CRM can make your life easier, from keeping track of all the key information on leads to automated, AI-driven marketing tools that help you convert those leads. The right CRM can unlock so many lead generation opportunities for you in 2022.

With so many different ways to generate leads, one of the big things to remember is how important it is to diversify your lead generation strategy. The start of the new year is the perfect time to experiment with new lead generation options and optimize all of your dependable, existing tactics for generating leads. The work that you do now will pay off all year long with more and better leads.

December
14

This week Harley goes over Seller Reports in the DeltaNET.

 

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December
14

Over the last few years, consumer preferences across all industries have been changing. These days, customers want to have the opportunity to do their own research online and figure out what they need to know before they ever speak to a sales professional.

With the vast amount of information available to them, the whole buyer journey can be enacted online:

  • Awareness: The customer is aware they have a problem and needs to learn more about it
  • Consideration: The customer develops a shortlist of potential solutions to the problem
  • Decision: The customer compares the possible options and selects the best one for them

In the online era, just about any purchase can fit into this framework. Only the simplest buys — like "fast-moving consumer goods" — don't go through these three steps. Any time someone needs the help of a specialized expert, such as a real estate agent, you can be sure this is the process they follow.

At first, this can seem like a real downer for real estate agents.

You can't be sure when or where someone will first encounter your brand, or what other alternatives they might be reviewing at the same time. Prospects control the tempo of the relationship, and it's up to them whether or not they make themselves known to you and become leads.

So, exactly what can you do?

The key is inbound marketing — an all-new way to make marketing faster and more effective.

Inbound Versus Outbound Marketing for Real Estate Agents

Inbound marketing refers to any form of digital marketing that draws qualified leads to your website and helps them through the process of becoming customers. Because inbound techniques are connected to your digital properties, they can work for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Most inbound marketing techniques are involved in raising your online visibility. By ensuring you can be discovered online through relevant online searches, it becomes much easier for prospects to find their way to your real estate website. From there, you simply need to be set up to convert that traffic into business.

The core philosophy behind inbound marketing is the idea of respect for the customer's time. No one wants to have their day interrupted so they can be steered into a conversation they're not interested in having. Such interruptive methods are known collectively as outbound marketing.

For real estate agents, outbound marketing continues to hold some potential. Although most people are not amenable to a cold call from a real estate agent, for example, there is nothing wrong with attending a networking party or sponsoring a charitable event in the community where you may meet clients.

That said, inbound marketing does the majority of the work.

Some 98% of the people you meet on a given day will not be ready to jump into the market, either as a buyer or seller. Outbound marketing relies on the idea that they will remember you in the future some way, somehow. Inbound marketing caters to future clients at the very moment they need you.

Because they are interested in what you have to say at that moment, they may act quickly.

Even so, it is a wise idea to have real estate email marketing in place. Email is an inbound technique that allows you to cultivate a relationship over weeks and even months. As long as you continue to add value, you will position yourself as a trusted advisor who could be chosen over any other local agent.

The Secret Key to Inbound Marketing for Real Estate

Inbound marketing pivots on the concept of publishing helpful, informative online content that aligns with the needs of your ideal clients. Regular publishing gets the attention of search engines, and more information amplified through social media marketing will bring ready leads into your funnel.

Blogging, email, and social media are all functions that can be planned in advance and accelerated with the right real estate CRM. DeltaNET®6 incorporates all of these features and many more into an "all in one" AI-driven center of excellence for your entire marketing operation.

You can automatically share event-based updates for all of your listings, generate high-quality virtual tours, and launch and monitor local showings all in just a few clicks. With a wide variety of templates and presets, you save thousands of hours a year without sacrificing the quality you want.

Once inbound marketing has been properly set up, it continues to yield dividends throughout the whole life of your business. The sooner you begin, the sooner you'll see competitive advantages others can't reproduce. When you use DeltaNET®6, you can get off to a running start in a matter of just a few days rather than weeks or months.

Contact us today to discover more about inbound marketing.

December
9

Your real estate website should be one of your greatest assets for generating leads, informing prospects, and making it easier for your clients to accomplish their real estate goals. If you're building a website for the first time or your existing website is in need of an update, it's important to make sure that your new website has all of the modern features that will help you generate more business online. There's plenty of room to customize your website, as long as you make sure to include the essentials. Here are 5 essential features that every real estate website should have.

  • Mobile Responsive Design
    For anyone who's buying or selling a home, real estate is always on their mind. They want to be able to visit your website on any device, and still get the same great user experience. Mobile traffic has long since passed by desktop traffic in terms of volume, and that trend is only likely to continue. So mobile responsive design, which ensures that your website offers a seamless experience on any screen, is an absolute must for a modern real estate website. With responsive design, the features of your website will shine whether the user is accessing your website on their phone, their tablet, or their desktop computer from the comfort of home.

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    No matter how great your website is and how many resources it offers, it can only boost your business if people know where to find it. Given the level of competition for the attention of real estate prospects, finding ways to stand out online is more important than ever. SEO helps ensure that when people search for real estate services in the markets where you do business, your website will be one of the first that they see.

    Through your content, on-page SEO, and all of the SEO that happens behind the scenes of your website, you can rank higher in search results over time. Local SEO is also essential because it helps you stand out in your markets and boosts your visibility with people who are shopping for homes there. Since so many people begin their search for real estate services by visiting their favorite search engine, SEO helps them discover your business and is key to driving traffic to your website.

  • IDX Listing Integration
    While there are many features that drive traffic to your website, many of the prospects and clients who visit your will be there specifically because they want to search for homes. IDX listing integration makes it easy for them to search for homes based on location and use a wide variety of filters to find homes that suit their unique needs. By pulling listing information from MLS databases, IDX integration provides a comprehensive look at which homes are available in a given market. And it's not just a perk for buyers who are searching for homes. For sellers, the exposure that IDX provides means that a larger pool of potential buyers will be able to find their listings online.

  • Market Stats and Information
    Buyers who visit your website will often be searching for more than just a home. They will also be looking for the ideal community or neighborhood to live in, based on the factors that matter most to them. That's why it's so important to provide resources that help buyers get to know what your markets are like, both in terms of real estate trends and what it's like to live in those places.

    Your blog posts and real estate videos are great places to showcase your markets, but you will also want pages where website visitors can quickly, easily find key information on specific neighborhoods. Sellers also benefit from your market resources because your website content and market reports help buyers fall in love with the communities where a seller is listing a home.

  • Review and Testimonial Integration
    Ultimately, you want your real estate website to play a key role in converting prospects into loyal clients. Social proof like reviews and testimonials from satisfied clients is one of the biggest factors in the decision-making of many real estate prospects. So you'll want to be able to easily integrate all of those glowing testimonials and reviews into your real estate website, where they will be easy to find. When prospects can quickly find out what others are saying about your brand, they're more likely to convert with confidence.

With all of the right features, your real estate website can drive more traffic, generate more leads, and serve as the hub of all your online marketing efforts. These 5 features are essential, and there are plenty more that you'll want to include to provide the best possible experience for your audience.

December
8

SEO — search engine optimization — is a suite of best practices aimed at two goals:

  • Raising your visibility in online searches relevant to your business
  • Giving people who visit your website a better, easier experience

Reaching the top of any significant Google search doesn't happen by chance. It's possible only when you practice search engine optimization throughout your website. Although it might seem like an intimidating prospect, SEO becomes much easier when you have the right resources in place.

SEO Is Your Key to Affordable Organic Leads for Your Website

Your real estate website is one of your most important assets. In fact, it's second only to you in its power to deliver business value.

It's true!

You're the star of your brand — and you'll always be at center stage. But there's one pesky thing about humans, even real estate agents: We have to sleep at night. Even when you're doing something else, your website is always hard at work on your behalf, introducing people to your brand.

Making your website work for you should be one of your biggest goals in 2022, especially if you're early in your career. A website that attracts, qualifies, and converts leads helps take a lot of the pressure off your business. You no longer need to hustle constantly for new prospects.

And that means you can spend time up-leveling your skills and deepening existing relationships.

All in all, real estate agents who don't find a way to create the right balance are on their way to burnout. The most reliable way to yield ROI from your website is to make sure it appears prominently in search, and the only programmatic way to do that is to practice SEO.

In our SEO services for real estate, we've consistently seen small, mid-sized, and large agencies reach thousands of new leads after implementing best practices in search engine marketing. That adds up to less than $10 per organic lead, just 0.001% of what a single transaction could be worth.

Even solo real estate agents can stand shoulder to shoulder with their larger competitors if they choose a long-term focus on SEO. Unlike online advertising, SEO delivers compounding benefits in organic traffic that are virtually free of charge. By comparison, ads stop working for you as soon as you stop paying.

Use SEO for months and even the wealthiest rival can't come along and reproduce your success.

And the sooner you get started, the sooner you'll see results.

How to Get Started with SEO for Real Estate

With DeltaNET 6, the premier CRM for real estate, you can get off to a running start on SEO. But even if you want to take a do-it-yourself approach, SEO isn't really as fearsome as it appears. By knowing some of the basics, you'll have much more power to influence your digital marketing's direction in the future.

Here are the fundamentals that will turn you into an SEO-savvy real estate agent:

  • Start by Understanding Who Your Ideal Client Is
    First and foremost, you have to know exactly what kind of client you want to attract to your doorstep. SEO requires content — helpful, informative material you publish on your website — and every piece of content is written for someone. That "someone" is your buyer persona. Who are they? What are their problems? What questions do they have? Write down everything you know about your ideal client. You'll use this information to help build out the strategy around your search engine marketing.

  • Then, Figure Out What That Client Searches For
    The goal of any good SEO campaign is to help your website rank near the top of Google results for relevant keywords. Keywords are the specific words or phrases someone types into Google when they're looking for information — for example, "real estate agent Austin TX." The more specific a keyword is, the less traffic it tends to have. But that can also make it less competitive and more pertinent to you. It's much easier to rank for "first-time homebuyers Austin TX" than for "real estate agent"!

  • Publish and Promote Terrific, Keyword-Informed Content
    Keywords are valuable because they help Google understand the purpose of a piece of writing, image, or video. But they're also there for the convenience of real, human readers. Keywords often don't tell you exactly what your article should be about — you'll need to match each keyword with a topic that's useful to your ideal clients. As you publish more of this valuable content, Google takes notice. Sharing it on social media will also help you attract more backlinks to your site, which drives even higher visibility.

Once you see results from SEO, you'll wonder how you ever did without it. Contact us to learn more about its role in real estate digital marketing.

December
8

At Delta Media Group, our mission statement is literally: "Automate to Elevate Life," so it should come as no surprise that 2021 was a year of constant innovation for our team. Of course, this challenges us to constantly look for ways to automate processes within our business, and more importantly, automate processes for the agents and brokerages that utilize our all-in-one CRM & website platform, the DeltaNET®. With this in mind, I wanted to look at some of the biggest technology updates we saw in the real estate industry and what to expect in 2022:

  • Automated all-in-one marketing solutions
  • The rebirth of real estate mobile apps
  • Customized tailor-made CRM systems

First and foremost, I believe that automated marketing tools are the biggest time saver offered to a real estate agent. Building high-quality marketing designs for things like new listings, "just sold" postcards or multi-page brochures can be a huge time sink. Earlier this year, we officially launched our Creative Studio™, which allows agents to quickly gain access to dozens of flyer designs, postcards, multi-page brochures, and more.

The initial launch of the system brought new functionality with integrations into third-party printers, like Xpressdocs, giving agents the ability to see dozens of beautiful designs, select one, and then check out and order their print through a third-party printer. One of the biggest benefits of marketing systems like the Creative Studio within the DeltaNET is the ability to automate your marketing completely.

REALTORS® are busy, and even finding the time to take five minutes and choose a flyer to send off for something like an open house doesn't always fit into the schedule. So, we launched our "Automation Wizard" that allows a real estate agent to pre-select their favorite designs for categories like "New Price," "Just Sold," "Homeowner Anniversary," "Client Anniversary," and more. This means within minutes of new listing data being pulled from the MLS; a beautiful flyer design can be automatically built and sent to a group of prospects. At Delta, we typically pull in new MLS data incrementally every five minutes or less.

We've also continually made refinements to the Creative Studio over the last year. With automation in mind, we made it even easier for real estate agents to quickly select any prebuilt flyer design in the system and automatically have their company's colors and logos applied. We even added a dynamic "disclaimer" system for the designs, so in states like New York, where disclaimers are required, our NY-based clients could still use the designs. This has been a game-changer for the agents.

One last note I should add is that your marketing system should also have the ability to import Adobe InDesign files. Most marketing departments already have professionals who build amazing designs in InDesign, so we added functionality that allows you to build a design in InDesign and then import it into the Creative Studio. As a result, we have seen clients with more than 200+ options for different market flyers for their agents to use!

Going in a different direction, I believe 2021 was the rebirth of the traditional mobile apps. What was once a trend back from 2012-2015 had quite a bit of a renascence this year. Years ago, we provided dedicated mobile app versions of our client's websites so they would encourage their clients to download and use the mobile version of the site. At the time, we noted across many different mobile apps that the usage rates simply weren't there. Even if the consumers downloaded the apps, we saw less than a 5% usage rate, so we deprecated support of those apps in 2016 and thought that would be the end of that.

Five years later, the mobile app space within the real estate world has started to boom. It's not the consumer-facing website apps that are popular, though; it's applications for the real estate professionals to use to automate their business even further. In just the last two years, we've launched two dedicated agent-centric applications to great success.

The first app, launched in 2020, was our Open House Connector® App. This application allows real estate agents to seamlessly run an open house where the attendees can register, receive updates about other upcoming open houses, and leave feedback for the seller/real estate agent regarding what they thought of the property. As the app launched during the pandemic's peak, we offered "contactless" registration for open house attendees, where they simply scan a QR code to sign in and answer survey questions.

This open house app ties directly together with the agent's CRM, where they can have dynamic follow-up campaigns based on how the attendees answered different questions. For example, if an open house attendee said another agent was already representing them, we wouldn't import that customer as a contact into the agent's CRM. In another example, if an attendee said they were looking to put an offer in on a property in the near future, they could be automatically enrolled into a "potential buyer" follow-up action plan/ drip campaign available within the agent's CRM.

The second app we launched just a few months ago. For the first time, our mobile-responsive CRM system, DeltaNET 6, was now available in the form of a mobile app in the iOS and Android app store. By having a CRM that supports a traditional mobile app, it opens the door for many additional notification updates that were just not feasible with a strictly web-based CRM.

For example, let's say I'm an agent with a great website that has lead capture forms built-in. That website is automatically tied into my personal CRM, so whenever a customer fills out a form or saves a search, I get an email or text notification. Thanks to the power of mobile applications and their real-time push notifications, we can do new things like automatically notify the real estate agent whenever a customer is currently active on their site and looking at properties. We could also send a notification directly to the agent's phone if a customer has just signed up on their site or even clicked on an email they had sent. It allows the agent to get instant insights into which of their clients or prospects are truly active on their site and with their marketing.

Another significant step forward for CRM technology in 2021 has little to do with automations. Still, it is one of the more important things that brokerages should be looking for in any tech stack they may be evaluating. Beginning in 2021, the DeltaNET platform officially began customization of our actual backend tech stack. No longer was the CRM an "off the shelf" offering. Brokerages can now build dynamic dashboards, workflows, and even white-label the entire system to be EXACTLY what they want their agents to have in front of them.

I like to use this analogy to describe the importance of this type of functionality: Typically anyone can find a good-looking suit, and take it off the shelf and make it work. However, the feeling of getting a suit tailored and wearing a suit that was specifically fitted for you is a totally different feeling than just putting on something off the rack. The tailored suit will last longer, will feel better, and will look better. That's the power of customizing your CRM for your firm's unique needs.

Our thought process was simple. We build great technology, but we're not REALTORS®. Each business operates differently, with different cultures and skillsets. Rather than force every brokerage to play in the same sandbox, we gave brokerages the ability to put unique dashboards together that can differ from company to company and even office to office within the same organization. Our clients can change their navigation and brand the entirety of the system to look like it's an in-house tech system and not something built by a third party like Delta.

This has been huge, especially for our enterprise partners, as they can take our DeltaNET framework and have a beautiful tailor-made CRM solution that their agents feel like they can ONLY have with their current broker. It's become a great retention tool because even if the agent left the brokerage using the DeltaNET, they wouldn't be able to purchase that same version of the system provided by our brokerage client.

This is a perfect segue into what I feel brokerages will need to have in their business in order to stay on the bleeding edge in 2022. As it relates to customization of your backend systems, Delta is planning to massively up the ante next year. All of the great tools we have internally to build unique versions of our CRM platform will be put into the hands of our clients and brokerage admins to build and dynamically change their own system on the fly. By putting these tools in the hands of our clients, they will have even more flexibility to listen to their agents' feedback about usability and apply their feedback to the system in real-time. We feel this will boost the adoption of the system and make it easier to use.

What else is needed to stay bleeding edge in 2022?

  • An Intranet/CRM system that you can build for your company

  • Built-in learning management functionality

  • Cutting edge automated CMAtools

  • True video marketing that is more than automated slide shows of listings

I also see the future of these "all-in-one" systems adopting more training and learning
management type functionality. One of the most exciting updates we've been working on at Delta is our Training and Learning center that offers dynamic course creation, out-of-the-box DeltaNET training classes, built-in quizzes, and more. It will allow our clients to make the DeltaNET a critical piece of their new agent onboarding, as they can take assigned courses right in the software.

Of course, integrated all-in-one systems should have a built-in CMA builder as well. So in early 2022, we will be launching our much-awaited DeltaNET CMA tool. Unlike many other systems in the all-in-one space, we want to offer this as an integrated tool, not a paid add-on.

Finally, I expect to see more and more push for video content marketing. While video marketing is nothing new, I believe we will see a bigger call for even more tools that sales associates can use to integrate automated videos into their marketing packages. We've provided our automated listing video product, Properties in Motion®, to thousands of agents since 2014, and have been working on some incredible updates to that platform that I believe will blow our users away.

Many automated listing video services today include dynamic photo slideshows, feature the listing agent's information, and perhaps automatically post to places like Facebook or YouTube. Historically these products didn't offer much in the way of customization and were usually nothing more than a glorified vTour. That will change in 2022, as products like our Properties in Motion system receive updates that will allow agents to upload dynamic photos or video snippets into the automated video, have unique animations, upload their own voiceover scripts, and more. The goal is to take the static automatically generated video and give the agents tools to bring it to life.

To conclude, I'm excited about the advancements that have been made to real estate technology over the last year, but I'm even more excited about where things are headed in 2022. As a sales professional who uses these tools in my own business, I can't say enough how important these types of automations are in giving me back time in my day to focus on the more human-to-human relationships that matter so much to a salesperson.


To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

December
7

This week Harley goes over mobile app setup in the DeltaNET.

 

Click Here to Read More...

December
7

If there's an exception to every rule, then, sometimes, the cliché isn't true: Everything isn't always bigger in Texas. And that's a good thing.

At least when it comes to RE/MAX Capital City.

For more than two decades, RE/MAX Capital City has been one of the premier real estate brokerages in the greater Austin area. Buying and selling homes is a success story waiting to be written for RE/MAX Capital City agents, and while there has been plenty of growth since opening in 1994, owner Jeff Osborne says, nearly three years ago, he realized it was time to "refocus the company."

So, RE/MAX Capital City shifted its collective approach to real estate: Working, more than ever, directly with agents and making sure those individuals receive all the hands-on help they need to take their careers to the next level. Accomplishments are no longer measured in just facts and figures but in what each agent can do when they have the backing of an entire company behind them.

"Everybody wants more agents, lots of agents, virtual offices, and virtual offices can mean virtually no service, sometimes," explains Osborne, a broker since 1989 and two-time winner of the RE/MAX of Texas Broker/Owner of the Year Award. "So I decided we needed to be a different organization, specializing in supporting top-producing agents that share our values."

RE/MAX Capital City's new norm is a strong culture, a host of training opportunities, and a leadership core that not only takes its roles seriously but enjoys working closely with agents. Things are more focused and, sometimes, a bit smaller than they've been in the past. What used to be a three-office operation is now two. Recruitment has evolved. Even the company's technology offerings have changed since partnering with Delta Media Group® earlier this year.

No matter what else has changed, though, those values haven't. The desire to provide the best real estate experience — for agents and clients — is as true for RE/MAX Capital City now as it was on day one, and in almost 30 years of business, that's made all the difference.

"The four pillars of our success and my commitment to RE/MAX Capital City are vision, leadership, guidance, and inspiration," Osborne says. "Having the right support staff is key; I can't stress that enough."

CHANGING THE CULTURE

Honing the sort of support system RE/MAX Capital City wants to provide begins at the top, with Osborne as the driving force behind the shift in mindset since its inception. And while his experience in real estate makes him an incredible source of information and inspiration for any aspiring agent, it's something else, something a bit surprising, that's allowed him to be so involved. He retired from selling real estate in 2002.

Having an owner who is knowledgeable about the market without actively selling real estate gives RE/MAX Capital City agents a unique advantage. Because, as Digital Marketing Manager Jennifer Dorr explains, "this results in a full-time commitment to supporting agents and producing an optimum work environment for them to prosper and grow their own business."

In other words, his sole focus is on helping. Providing agents with every opportunity to achieve their goals is the goal of RE/MAX Capital City. And with Osborne taking such a personal approach to cultivating the company's culture, it's easy for the rest of the leadership team to follow suit. Whether it's providing compliance assistance, offering training classes, detailing everything agents can do within the DeltaNET® 6 platform, or managing the Cedar Park and Round Rock offices, Osborne calls the staff a "huge part" of what RE/MAX Capital City does.

In addition to providing as much on-site support as possible, RE/MAX Capital City also offers what Osborne calls "direct support services to our agents from human resources."

"We help them find their assistants, manage their assistants, take care of a lot of that," Osborne says. "We're always finding ways to help people that could be doing much better and doing things for them that are otherwise preventing them from moving ahead."

Once agents have that help in place, it's only a matter of time before they hit their stride. Getting up to speed with systems like DeltaNET 6 or learning the ins and outs of the greater Austin real estate market is suddenly simple because agents have the resources to contend with any potential bumps in the road.

"It's been a good strategy," Osborne says. "I love working with people that are committed to making a lot of money, being successful, having abundant lives."

This goes hand-in-hand with the company's long-held mission statement, "RE/MAX Capital City is dedicated to Maximum Professionalism, Outstanding Customer Service and Individual Associate Success."

SETTING THE CURVE

Finding the right people, those who mesh with RE/MAX Capital City's culture, is a process that's grown and evolved as much as the company itself. Whereas in the past, agents may have arrived from other companies or as a product of active recruitment, now, Osborne says recruitment is far more organic.

Current agents often bring other people in, suggesting names and individuals they believe are a good fit. Having that personal connection from the get-go is a perfect foundation for new agents to build the rest of their careers. They already know someone within RE/MAX Capital City and, by extension, know what the company expects of its associates.

"This helps to get the kind of people we want joining RE/MAX Capital City," Dorr says, "and keeps the culture supportive and positive."

Of course, simply knowing the right people isn't all it takes to get the RE/MAX Capital City name on a business card or in a Twitter bio. Potential agents meet with Osborne before they're brought on board, and Operations Manager Shelby Meyer is quick to point out, "it has to be a good fit, and they have to fit in with our culture."

"Sometimes people get into this business for the wrong reason," Osborne adds. "I like people that are committed to delivering the best service and the best support for their clients."

Once an agent is brought in, though, the real work begins. New associates sometimes come from other fields, and while Osborne credits them for "very impressive former careers" and "the work skills and disciplines and drive to succeed at their second career," getting the right training to make sure that can happen is crucial.

"We have two-hour training classes with new agents, direct hands-on," Osborne says. "We have classes on agent proficiency that are well attended. It's fun to have people turning out and feeling like what we do is valuable."

More often than not, one of the biggest training struggles for new agents is getting a handle on all the technology available to them. Because, while agents are, as Osborne puts it, "really good salespeople," occasionally they "are not as strong with technology."

"We try, with many agents, to get them engaged with what [technology] does and what it can do," Osborne says, "and find out what they want to use it for. And then that's, again, a lot of direct staff support. We implement those things for them. We get their website, their CRM, their database running for them if they can't get it kicked off. They can't get off square one if they have to do all of that administrative input work and set up."

By taking the time to work with agents, to understand their wants and what they need both in the field and in their office, those same agents have blossomed under the RE/MAX Capital City banner.

"The numbers this year have been phenomenal," Osborne says. "We have several agents and teams on the precipice of making the RE/MAX Chairman's Club this year, which is an astronomical height for a RE/MAX agent or any agent. Then, 55, 60% of our agents will make the RE/MAX 100% Club, which in the RE/MAX system, that's a $100,000 year. Those are some big numbers for a real estate brokerage."

TAKING TECH TO THE NEXT LEVEL

RE/MAX Capital City has made change a habit. From evolving training to fit agents' needs to learning the best ways to work with those agents and their clients, embracing the idea of something new is a fundamental part of the company. So, it's no surprise that RE/MAX Capital City was once again willing to try something different with its technology.

Enter: Delta Media Group.

Dorr spent much of the summer last year examining new tech options, looking for a platform that would help RE/MAX Capital City achieve everything it wanted to accomplish. Each option was demoed, with all available features examined and discussed, and out of all the choices, Delta stood out. Not only for everything the DeltaNET® 6 platform can do, but because of the personalized support RE/MAX Capital City received during the initial process.

"[That was] one of the things that tipped me over the edge," Dorr says. "[Holly Christiansen] came to do a live demo for us, and that was awesome. And then through the whole onboarding process, just getting things set up, the constant meetings to make us feel at home. This was the best decision for us."

As soon as RE/MAX Capital City partnered with Delta Media Group, the task then became getting agents acclimated to a new system. Naturally, there are still challenges associated with that, but, as it has for the last few years, RE/MAX Capital City made training a priority, and with Dorr leading the charge, ensured that it was as easy to understand as possible.

"I show them what [Delta] can do," Dorr details. "We have some agents that are working in there every day and coming to me with recommendations. And Delta is very open to making the system as best as possible, taking that feedback and growing the system. We've already seen some of those changes implemented for our agents, and that makes them feel that we made the best decision for them.

"Over the years, we've had a lot of agents say, 'Well, I'm looking for this,'" Dorr adds. "And our previous tools didn't have those features. It's great to be able to say now, 'Oh, you want to do that? Well, here's how we can get that going.' So that's awesome."

Delta workshops are now regularly held, with standing room only attendance as agents want to get a handle on the technology that can so clearly help them. Agents learn how social media automations take the hassle out of posting, and should an agent not be entirely comfortable using social media, RE/MAX Capital City staff can easily go into the DeltaNET to help set everything up. It's what Dorr refers to as a more "concierge-type service for our agents," allowing them to "focus on real estate."

"We've also had agents that were not so tech-savvy," adds Cedar Park Office Manager Letty Cantu, "but after we go in and complete quick tasks for them like creating an Open House flyer or registering them for an upcoming training class, they will often then give me a call saying, 'Hey, send me instructions on how you did that so I can do it myself next time.' So [Delta has] helped them grow their technology skills and strengthened them as an all-around agent."

Blog content provided by Delta Media Group also guarantees agents can post the sort of local information that's appealing to clients, while My Customer for Life emails make it easy to stay in touch with everyone in their system.

"Some agents were paying for that service through other companies," Dorr says. "Now, it can be offered to them for free, and it's a set and forget it type of thing."

Of course, with any new system, nothing will be entirely perfect. Osborne admits that when RE/MAX Capital City first partnered with Delta, there were a handful of things the company didn't like. Delta didn't flinch. Instead, change once again took center stage, as each question was answered, each request honored, and each problem fixed. Even now, months after onboarding, Dorr continues to meet monthly with Delta to discuss what's working and what isn't and to forecast what's next on the technology horizon.

"It's been phenomenal," Osborne says. "We have a lot of things we want to improve, and the work goes on all the time with Delta, but everything that we've looked to get implemented so far is there. [Delta] is on top of it."

STAYING LOCAL

Keep Austin weird — and wonderful and growing. Especially growing.

Over the last few years, Austin, and its surrounding areas, have become the much-desired landing point for everyone from Millennials to families, business professionals, and retirees, all flocking to the city in a way few other locations can compare to. And despite the differences in their descriptions, each group of brand-new Austin'ites has one thing in common: They need somewhere to live. That's where RE/ MAX Capital City comes in.

"We're focusing a lot on the fastest growing suburban county, which is Williamson County, just north of Austin," Osborne says. "I don't think there's any county in the United States that has experienced the kind of price appreciation that we have here. We have to adapt every week, every day, strategically, and for our agents to have excelled so well in the last 12 months, particularly with that market reshaping going on, that I think it is a real tribute to the people we have."

All that growth often comes with an uptick in housing prices, and although that can mean good things for agents, Osborne says those working with RE/MAX Capital City are hoping to see the curve flatten out soon. Big-budget transactions are always good for making big waves in the real estate world, but they aren't always what drives a RE/MAX Capital City agent.

"That's one thing my agents like, is helping people, making a difference in their lives," Osborne says. "We're starting to see some first-time buyers back in the market, and that's been good."

Real estate has long been a distinctly human business, particularly at RE/MAX Capital City. Most of the company's leadership team has strong Texas roots, living and working in these communities for years, and it's that family feel that has impacted the company's culture for the last 25-plus years.

"Agents that join us feel like they're part of a family, and they know we've got their backs," Meyer says. "Many of our staff and agents have kids at the same schools, attend the same churches, and we run into them around town. There are a lot of connections between the staff and agents and the agents and each other, not just working at the same office."

Building off those connections and a desire to do good, RE/MAX Capital City's reputation for giving back to the communities it serves has grown with Austin. For years, RE/MAX Capital City worked with Children's Miracle Network, the nationwide RE/MAX charity, but about eight years ago decided to turn its attention to local organizations, donating, initially, to Hope Alliance, a shelter in Williamson County.

"We promised $25,000 a year for five years, and we surpassed that goal," Meyer says, "and it allowed them to secure other types of grants and loans and other types of funding. They're doing amazing now."

In the last two years, RE/MAX Capital City has also opened up charity options to its agents with a new initiative called "Bottomless Charity." Any nonprofit agents want to work with; the company will help facilitate donations. Overall, Meyer estimates that RE/MAX Capital City now donates to 10-15 charities every quarter.

A YEAR OF CHANGE

The end of any year always brings with it some reminiscing. For RE/MAX Capital City, that means looking back on the adoption of a brand-new tech platform, of taking advantage of everything the DeltaNET has to offer, and, perhaps most importantly, of continuing to provide the best opportunities and most comprehensive support system for real estate agents in the greater Austin area.

Guidance and support are at the crux of everything RE/MAX Capital City does, and now, as the calendar flips, optimism is high for what's next. More tech, more agents working with Delta Media Group, and an expanded commercial division, which began early in 2021, are all on the docket for 2022.

"I look to the future of this evolving and ever-improving company, knowing we have great things to come due to our dedication and willingness to progress, to keep a positive mentality and open-mindedness throughout," says Osborne. "With a reputation built on integrity and professionalism, our unique group of highly successful REALTORS® has laid the foundation for continued success at RE/MAX Capital City."


To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

December
6

More businesses are talking about "values," but what does that really mean?

To an individual, "values" are most often seen in value judgments. These are statements about life that can't be proven or disproven in ordinary ways. They disclose what the person making the statement considers important but aren't necessarily held by other people.

For example, many would agree with the statement, "All people have inherent dignity and worth." That statement might be considered part of their desire to embody a given value, say respect or compassion. Values can be boiled down to one word, but they always require interpretation.

What does all this mean when it comes to your life as a real estate agent?

In short, virtually every brand "says" it has values, but not all values are created equal. It's not enough to simply write down a value statement or publicize it on your website. You also have to make decisions about what those values mean, how they affect your priorities, and how they get rewarded.

Let's explore how it all adds up — and what it means for the people who count on you.

To Make a Difference to Your Customers, Values Must Be Reinforced and Rewarded

Let's take a common example many of us have experienced inside and outside the business world.

Growing up, lots of kids are encouraged to value learning. But learning can be a messy process, and it often involves making mistakes along the way. If you aren't comfortable with mistakes, it's very hard to come to grips with starting off in any new endeavor since you always start from scratch.

If the same child who was told to value "learning" is punished or yelled at every time they make less than an A+ grade, they will quickly realize learning isn't the goal. It isn't what's valued. What's really valued in that situation is grades, as the difference between word and action shows.

Something similar happens in businesses every day!

For example, lots of businesses claim to value creative thinking. But creativity requires risks, not all of which will pay. If those risks are discouraged, the conflict between word and action opens up. People will get wise and stop taking risks to be creative – or else they will move on.

The smaller your group, the easier it is to make sure your words, actions, and objectives all align with your stated values. Indeed, it's easiest when you're doing it for yourself! But the lesson is this: To adopt a value, you need a concrete idea of exactly how it will affect your day-to-day work.

That's what allows you to know your values in action when you see them.

To Make Values Tangible, Understand How They Will Influence Your Priorities

Here's an example that crops up in the lives of many new real estate agents.

In the beginning, most agents need to focus on finding leads, and they don't want to lose a single one. They quickly conclude that they want to stand out for their customer service — "being there for customers no matter what." This is a statement of values. It could be simplified to responsiveness.

An agent who values responsiveness is therefore making a choice of priorities. They might interrupt another work-related task in order to return a call. Taking things further, they might also choose to return a call earlier in the morning or later at night than they otherwise would.

All these activities would be in keeping with the value of responsiveness. But it's critical to recognize some values-driven behavior can be self-defeating. Agents who find themselves returning texts at all hours of day and night to be responsive could burn out at the same time.

Choosing Values that Move Your Business Forward

Start the process of deciding on values by listing them out. Then, underneath each one, list the specific actions the value would motivate you to take. What commitments are implied by this value? What will you do when one value is in conflict with another? Which, if any, is your "highest" value?

In this way, you can incorporate your values into your business. When your values resonate with those of your ideal customer, upholding them will draw the right people to you. After all, your "brand," in real estate or any industry, isn't just what you say about yourself.

It's also what others think and say about you, online and off.

As you communicate and demonstrate your values, the kind of customers you want to work with will be inspired to maintain a long-term relationship with you. They will also be more likely than they otherwise would be to share their positive experiences with others, sending you more referrals.

Thus, by making a few decisions about what matters to you, you can energize your entire career.

December
6

I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you that, at Delta Media Group®, we learned a lot this year. We learned that deer will go out of their way to climb onto an expressway and jump in front of your car even in broad daylight (maybe only I learned that). We learned that working remotely really does work, but it's not for everyone. We learned that when big hedge funds are involved, the stock market looks a lot like a casino. Lastly, and most importantly, as far as this article is concerned, we learned that simplicity is one of the most important elements when it comes to making something that people want to use.

I don't mean to make things simple at the cost of functionality. It's more about knowing how your clients will use whatever it is that you're building so that you can know what functionality to put right in front of them, and what can be tucked into the background. It's also about recognizing — and, in some cases, eliminating — any unnecessary steps in a process. There's little more frustrating than performing the same task repeatedly, being asked the same question as part of the process of completing that task, and answering it the same way every time. The easy remedy is to just use that answer automatically so that, in 99 out of 100 tries, it's already correct, and the user gets to skip a step. For that 1 out of 100 anomaly, there just needs to be some alternative way to change that answer in that single case.

This has all been pretty abstract so far, so let's look at some specific applications. In the DeltaNET®, it's possible for an admin to customize what buttons appear on the landing pages and Welcome page for their agents. If you can predict the most common actions, your agents take when logging in, you can add the necessary buttons to develop a workflow there that will take them where they need to go in the least amount of time. For example, let's say that the thing your agents do most when logging into the DeltaNET is add a customer and send them a "Happy to be Working With You" e-card. You can put an Add Customer button at the top of their Welcome page, so that's the first thing they see when they log in. They need only click it and enter their customer's information. You can put a Send e-card button right next to it that will take them straight into Creative StudioTM so that they just need to choose their template and click send. The button that links to Creative Studio could even take them to a page that's already filtering the templates to those in the category of e-cards they're most likely to want to use.

The same principle can be applied to every landing page in the DeltaNET. If users are usually looking to create or modify their custom pages when they click on the Website tab, why not give them a button right on top that takes them straight there? If they're generally interested in adding a blog article every time they click on Marketing, give them a shortcut there. You get the idea.

The other side of that coin is to avoid presenting a lot of extra buttons and options that the majority of users won't be interested in using. Of course, you still want those things to be available, but putting them right at the same level as "Add Customer" is going to add clutter, distraction, and sometimes even confusion. Fortunately, the DeltaNET allows you to make something called a Tile Collection. It basically allows you to put a button on the Welcome page that simply opens a modal that contains other tiles. With this, you can put your Add Customer, Send e-card, Send Email buttons on the Welcome page, then have a single, additional button labeled something like "Advanced Features" or simply "More...". Clicking on that would then pop up a window that contains tiles to the other equally valuable but lesser-used features. This allows you to cater to the power users while keeping it simple for everyone else. The easier you can make it, and the fewer distractions and extra options the user needs to read through to get to what they want, the more everyone will use it. This, in turn, leads to more agents sticking around for the tools that make it easier for them to run their business.

This really translates to the public website side of things as well. At Delta Media Group, we have ongoing projects to assess the usability of various features of the public websites that are shared throughout the system. However, especially when it comes to the individual sales associate websites, there's a lot you can do to make it a more friendly experience for clients that are coming to your website to search for properties. Nobody knows your clients and your market better than you do. As a real estate sales associate, you're the expert there. So why not use that expertise to drive your clients' experience on your website? Your quick search stays front and center for those users that know what, or where, they're looking and want to jump straight into the results. For those that might not be so sure, you could put links to common searches right on your homepage or in your top navigation. Maybe there are some popular school districts or subdivisions in your area. You could put obvious links to search results pages for those areas right on your homepage. You can even go a step further by creating dedicated landing pages for those areas. This has the added benefit of setting your website apart (for those clients and search engines) by adding some valuable, unique, market-specific content to it. You can put a search results section right on that page as well. That presents customers with a single page of dedicated listings in the area they want that gives them information and highlights about that area as well as a display of all of the available properties there.

Just how a well-structured and intuitive DeltaNET helps with agent adoption and retention, a user-friendly and intuitive website leads to better client adoption and retention. Your expertise in the markets you know gives you an edge over all the big portal sites by allowing you to make a website and real estate search experience that really caters to those interested in your market. If you can provide those clients with the superior experience, they'll keep coming to your site. They may even tell their friends, thereby driving more traffic and leads to you. It's all about providing the best and easiest experience.

Let's face it, the reason people are lined up around the block for the small, locally owned, one-room restaurant instead of heading to the nearest big chain restaurant is because that local place does it the best. The best food and the best experience. In real estate, you can't do much about the "food," but you can provide the best experience, and that's what's going to get them to come to you instead of the portal sites.

At Delta Media Group, we're taking these ideas to heart. It's good to be driven by the feedback of the vocal, power users that make up the minority of the user base. But while that feedback is very valuable, if that's all you look at, you can lose sight of keeping it simple in favor of adding the newest great idea. The key is in adding those features without distracting from the simplicity that the other 99% want and need to run their business every day. The DeltaNET needs to remain as robust and powerful as ever, and we will always endeavor for it to be your one-stop shop for all of the tools and resources you need to run your real estate business. However, right on the surface for day-to-day use, the things that you need most, and most often, will stay right in your face so that you don't need to go looking for them or go through a dozen clicks, pages, or windows to use them. This year, we learned about "easy," and that's a lesson we're going to keep with us from here on out. We hope you do the same.


To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

December
2

Your sphere of influence should be one of your greatest assets for generating leads as a real estate agent, but only if you make the effort to maintain and utilize it. Thanks to online marketing and social media, your sphere of influence can now expand much further than it would have in the past. That's in addition to your more traditional sphere of influence, which of course includes friends, family, and everyone that you connect with in your community. By utilizing your sphere of influence and taking advantage of the tools available to make your life easier, you can generate a steady, sustainable supply of fresh, highly qualified leads as a real estate agent.

How to Define Your Sphere of Influence

Your sphere of influence starts with the people you know best but should also expand far beyond that group. Think about all of the people who you interact within your community: small business owners, community organizations, volunteer groups, sports leagues, places of worship, service providers, former colleagues, other parents from your children's school, and any other group that you connect with on a regular basis.

Now, add in your online sphere of influence, which reaches beyond the communities where you work and live. There are people you connect with through your social media, real estate website, the content that you create, and the leads generated by your online marketing. When you add it all up, your sphere of influence likely extends much further than you'd guess at first glance.

Consistency Counts with Your Sphere of Influence

It's a mistake to think of your sphere of influence as a "set it and forget it" source of leads. Instead, think of it as something that you consistently have to maintain and nurture in order to generate the best results. The more effort that you put into building and maintaining relationships with the people in your sphere, the more business you can expect to generate. That means reaching out at the right times, being a trusted source of advice, connecting on a personal level, and being as consistent as possible with maintaining relationships.

Use Your Real Estate CRM to Segment Leads and Plan Your Outreach

Utilizing your sphere of influence is much easier when you have the right tools for the job, and your real estate CRM is at the top of that list. Use your CRM to organize your contacts, keep track of vital information about each connection, segment your leads, and ensure that you're reaching out to the right people at the right time. Take advantage of tools like drip email campaigns and AI-driven newsletters to stay in touch while lightening your workload, thanks to automation.

Stay Active and Engaged on Social Media

Naturally, your social media presence is one of your best tools for growing and nurturing your sphere of influence online. Social media marketing can help you build new connections, and engaging with your social connections is key to generating leads from your sphere of influence. When you share content, get involved with the conversation that it generates. Join social media groups where you can share your real estate expertise, and build connections with your community. Be mindful of how you interact with people, show genuine interest in their needs, answer questions, and be helpful.

Use Real Estate Content to Share Your Expertise

Your real estate content is a great way to grow your sphere of influence, provide valuable advice, demonstrate your expertise, build trust, and help convert leads that come from your sphere of influence. Whether you create real estate blog posts, video content, or a mix of both, make sure that you're sharing your content where your sphere of influence can see it.

Showcase Your Social Proof

Even people you already know may need a little extra push to trust you with their real estate needs, and integration of social proof is the perfect way to provide it. Make sure that you're asking clients for online reviews and testimonials after they've used your real estate services. Showcase those testimonials on your real estate website and your social media pages.

Do Some Good, Old Fashioned Networking in Your Community

Near the beginning, we mentioned some of the many groups within your local community that may be part of your sphere of influence. Getting out and networking in person is a dependable way to maintain your connection with those groups while bringing new people into your sphere of influence.

Your Sphere of Influence Is Always a Work in Progress

If there's one thing to remember, it's that utilizing your sphere of influence is a constant process. Investing consistent effort and utilizing the right tools to make your life easier will allow you to maximize the lead generation potential of your sphere of influence.

December
1

Meet Abbey Parsons.

A North Dakota native and University of Utah alum, Parsons' journey toward finding a professional home within the real estate industry has been one filled with ups, downs, trials, tribulations, and even a few pirouettes. Parsons was once a professional ballet dancer, you see. And a hotel manager for Marriott. But while she's donned plenty of metaphorical hats throughout the years, something clicked in 2013 when, two years after initially moving to Spokane, Washington, Parsons joined Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.

Working with her clients to help them find their forever homes also helped Parsons feel at home herself, settling into a career that's become more than simply successful. One of Coldwell Banker Tomlinson's top-producing sales associates, Parsons has established herself as a go-to real estate partner, relishing the opportunity to make lifelong business and personal connections. How does she keep those connections flourishing, though? Even after a transaction is completed?

Simple. She uses every tool available to her — including everything Delta Media Group® has to offer.

Utilizing DeltaNET 6 is part of Parsons' daily routine, starting each day with a quick look at her CRM and client database. By taking advantage of all the tech Delta provides, Parsons has leaned into time-saving automations and taken her engagement to the next level with out-of-the-box marketing that's gotten visible results. Parsons took some time to speak with Real Estate Marketing & Technology, sharing how she uses the DeltaNET and her best tricks for getting the most out of your real estate tech.

What initially drew you to use the DeltaNET as your CRM?

I was [originally] going to go all-in on DeltaNET because it's included [with CB Tomlinson], and I don't have to pay anything. But it has everything that I need. I know lots of CRMs. I like to do research, and every CRM has its flaws; one's not perfect. [And] when I started selling, I knew the value of [DeltaNET] because I trained on that...so I went all in, and I started with my past clients, putting them in there, putting them on the Market Watches, putting them on the monthly market reports. And then, as I started to get more leads, I made it a priority, every Thursday, I updated my database, and I was disciplined about that.

How did you start, and how do you continue to organize all your clients and leads within the DeltaNET?

I probably started with like 30, honestly. It wasn't very big because my past clients, if they sold their house and left, I didn't really have them anymore. So I started... and I think now I have somewhere like 500 or so, just growing it. And, honestly, I'm still getting used to it, like using it daily, and I started by organizing my homepage. Like, what do I want to see first when I log in because that was something that I would log in and I would get distracted. I'd be like, 'Oh, shiny thing. Cool. Let's click on that.' So I made it so that my customer list is the first thing I see when I log in so that I can see who I need to follow up with that day.

What are some of the DeltaNET features that stand out to you? What do you find sparks the most interest and engagement with clients?

All these different coaching programs, they say the same thing, 'You have to have a system, you have to have a program, you have to send a Market Watch.' It's not even an option anymore. All of your clients want to know what their home is worth on a monthly, quarterly, whatever it is basis. You have to automate that. And so, that's a big one because there are, of course, competitors to DMG, but what I love about the DeltaNET is that I don't have to go out and search for all these tools. I just log in, and it's there in one place. I don't have to pay for it [either], and it's automated. So, I don't have to go out and look for all those individual different tools. They're all right there for me.

As a one-stop CRM, how much time does using the DeltaNET open up in your schedule?

What I love about it is you can say, 'Okay, if a lead comes in, it looks like this, do this with it.' And so it automatically happens. There still is, for sure, some human interaction that needs to happen, but if I'm on an appointment or if I can't [work] right that second, at least they're getting a response, and then I can follow up with them later. So, that's what I do like. Like I'm going to do an online lead today, and I'm going to be flying [later]. And I'm like, 'It's fine,' because I know that if I'm in the air, if I'm in that half-hour where I don't have service, they're still going to be followed up with. Otherwise, I might not have placed that ad today. I might wait and then think, 'Oh, what's the perfect day for me to do a lead?' Well, that's not a good business practice, to put your life on hold so you can do a lead form. So it definitely gives me peace of mind that people are being communicated with, but it's not necessarily me having to do it all the time.

Knowing when and how to follow up with clients can sometimes be a challenge. How much does the DeltaNET help with that, and how have you used automation to your advantage on that front?

One thing that I started doing just a couple of weeks ago is to go in and see who's interacted with my website or the emails in the previous week or two, depending on how long it's been. And I see who's active. Oh, they opened that. They clicked on that. They opened their Market Watch; they clicked on it. They wanted to know more. So that person is subliminally saying, 'I want more information.' And so those are the ones that I focus on, talking to those people, communicating with them saying, 'Hey, how's it going? How's your family? What did you think about that Market Watch?' It allows me to see what they're doing and that they are somewhat interested. So I started doing that to start warming up those people, [and] that's how I'm prioritizing who I contact.

With such a focus on technology, particularly over the last two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, what features in the DeltaNET have proven to be a game-changer for you?

I thought QR codes were gone. I mean, I was like, 'That is such a thing in the past, you have to have an app.' Then COVID happened, and every menu in the world is a QR code, and everybody's camera automatically does it now. So, I said, 'I want to create a QR code' and [our marketing team was] like, 'Oh, it's already [in the DeltaNET]. So I started combining that with direct mail, and I started farming out of state owners during COVID.

I thought, if they're thinking about selling, maybe this is the time, and I want to be in front of them because I want listings. So I started mailing to them and then putting the QR code on there that says, 'If you want to know what's going on in your neighborhood, sign up for the Market Watch.' And they'd scan it, and then it would take them to the Market Watch where they could fill out their information. Or I did a specific zip code, and I did a blog post on zip code 99212, what's going on in that specific zip code, and then I made the QR code point to that blog post, so then there was a video and some stats. So I combined today's technology with the old technology of mailing, and about half of my business this year is from out-of-state owners. It worked. I mean, it definitely works.

DeltaNET 6 is easily customizable to fit every agent's specific needs. In what ways have you used customization to make using the platform easier?

One thing that stops agents sometimes is they're like, 'Oh, well, I want it to look like this, instead of like that.' And so what really helped me is knowing that the homepage is customizable; you can edit the tiles. Knowing that you can customize it to be exactly what you want to see was a game-changer for me because I wanted to see my people first. I didn't want to land on the landing page and then try to find which tab it is. So, that really helped me. Knowing that it is customizable, I think, is important because so many people get stuck in the mindset of 'Doesn't look exactly how I want it to look. So I'm just not going to do it.' So I think that's big.

Delta Media Group offers plenty of support to make sure clients get the most out of the DeltaNET, do you use anything specific to spark your ideas and creativity?

I love Tech Tuesdays because I learn something, or I just go to the YouTube channel, and I type in, like, QR codes where I just wanted to learn myself. And so I used Tech Tuesday and the YouTube channel a lot to just learn some more about the tools.

With a fully customizable website that highlights your personal brand, how have you used that platform to jumpstart your business, and how did Delta Media Group help?

It's good not to have to fumble around. I started in 2013, and I built my website with [another] creator that was terrible. I was trying to deal with code and like, 'What am I doing?' And I didn't want to pay somebody. [With Delta, you're] able to be an agent and have this website set up; you don't have to do anything to it. It's just there, and it's like your backbone, and you can direct people to it. You can work on your blog. There are so many different angles you can work. Having that puts you at another level. When you get your license, you already have a website. It's already done. Instead of having to create it and reinvent the wheel and say, 'What website are you using and how much does it cost?' and paying for the IDX feed and just that headache, not having to do that as a new agent is huge.

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