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MICHIGAN EDITION

6 Habits of HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE AGENTS THINKING OF LISTING? Nine Ways to Get Ready

COVER STORY

KYLE GEENEN

5 Fresh New Approaches to CONTENT MARKETING KEEPING IN TOUCH—How to Stay in Your Clients' Lives for the Long Haul


MICHIGAN EDITION

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KYLE GEENEN

CONTENTS 4) 5 FRESH NEW APPROACHES TO CONTENT MARKETING 13) KEEPING IN TOUCH— HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

19) 6 HABITS OF HIGHLY PRODUCTIVE AGENTS 22) THINKING OF LISTING? NINE WAYS TO GET READY

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5 Fresh New Approaches to Content Marketing A couple of weeks ago we were conducting a workshop when we were asked two excellent questions about content marketing:

• People

don’t want to hear from a roofing company every day. So how do you produce fresh and interesting content for social media that goes beyond your core services and yet ties back to your business?

• Can

you extend your social media presence and content to include personal things (like your hobbies) and how does that affect your overall business image?

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The workshop attendee who asked the first question was right. Almost no one wants to hear from any company every day… especially if all the content is about products and services…and yes, even if they’re giving helpful tips and information. Does that mean you should stop producing excellent daily content related to your business? No, of course not! Content is created for two reasons. First, to provide knowledge, expertise and even entertainment to your ideal customers in order to achieve top of mind awareness as an authority in your industry. And second, to produce SEO-rich results that keep you at the top of search engines. You must strike a

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balance between the two, and try to include content that draws people in by being super interesting and entertaining….and yes, sometimes personal. To help answer those content questions above, here are five different types of content (beyond the traditional stuff) that can give your brand a fresh, unique and balanced approach:

1. PHILANTHROPIC Your community efforts say a lot about who you are, and people will make an extra effort to do business with you as a result of this connection. We’ve consulted business owners who are very hesitant to promote these efforts because they don’t want it to seem as though they are exploiting the charities and organizations—and most especially because they don’t do it for the promotional aspects. They do it to give back. I ask you to keep this in mind. Nonprofit and charitable organizations very often have small marketing budgets. Not only do they rely on outside marketing forces to promote their initiatives, they would likely be forced to close their doors without that support. That means that when someone with a strong brand and presence promotes them, it’s a highly trusted and personal connection, and you can’t buy that kind of support. In other words, they not only need you to promote them, they want you to promote them. But your instincts are correct. It’s not about you. So just make sure your entire content focuses on the organization you’re helping, what they do for the community and how Top Agent Magazine

others can join in the cause. Then it becomes a huge win for all.

2. HOBBIES You bungee jumped from four of the tallest bridges in the U.S. In your spare time, you go fly fishing. You love playing chef and use only locally grown, organic foods. Your friends are always begging you to go to Vegas with your card shark talents. You’ve done mission work in Africa and would like to start your own group. You almost played professional baseball. You have an insane talent for gardening design or bass guitar. Your family works at a soup kitchen once a month. Ok…you get the picture. And two more words. Reality TV. People are interesting…and people are interested in interesting people. We remember others based on these unique traits. And most of all, people love the story behind the face. Don’t be afraid to share your hobbies. Quite often, it’s the first thing that will personally connect you to a prospect.

3. CREATIVE CONNECTION This one is perhaps our favorite. While we can’t imagine seeing something come across our news feed from a landscaping company every day, imagine this for a moment. What are we always told to remember in this hectic world? Stop and smell the roses, right? So what if…a landscaping company posted a beautiful flower each day, just to remind you to ‘stop and smell the roses’. And at the bottom of that photo (small print), you included

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the type of flower and type of environment needed to make it flourish (moist soil, full sun, etc.). And then, of course, watermarked it with your logo….and a title like, “Sam’s Daily Reminder: It’s Time to Stop & Smell the Roses”. You could even include some great, thought-provoking quotes. It has the personal connection (Sam), the business connection (flowers & logo watermark) and a cool creative connector (pause the meetings and paperwork to take a moment and appreciate life by noticing this beautiful flower). This is a great idea for staying ‘top of mind’ and connecting business with the kind of creative messaging people wouldn’t mind seeing every day.

4. EXPERIENCES This one is similar to hobbies from the personal aspect, but instead of something that identifies us like our hobbies, our experiences are random happenings that can have great interest and meaning to our audience. Whether you have a unique experience buying a new car or a fateful conversation with a stranger in the airport, if you feel it ties into a life lesson or business lesson you’d like to share, by all means do. The lesson is to keep your radar up 24/7. Any experiences you have which relate to your

ideal customer are an opportunity to connect beyond the business world. And when we do that, we become a part of the family.

5. INFLUENCERS “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”. You’ve probably heard that saying, and the same is true whether you are a teenager or a business owner. Maybe you’ve learned a lot of your business knowledge from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Warren Buffet…or you like to quote Benjamin Franklin. Perhaps you have some mentors you’d like to recognize and tell why they’re important to you. Sharing the people and things that influence us is what makes us human. No matter how successful your business, you didn’t get there alone. People and circumstances shaped you along the way. Recognizing others for their contribution in our lives, large or small, is important in staying connected and grounded. We hope these five types of content help you to put a fresh spin on what you share with your audience, whether personal or professional. We believe you must have the combination of both to build an incredible brand.

Tonya Eberhart is the Branding Agent to Business Stars and founder of BrandFace®, LLC. Michael Carr is America’s Top Selling Real Estate Auctioneer & BrandFace® partner. Together, they focus on personal branding and marketing designed to help real estate professionals become the face of their business & a star in their market. BrandFace® for Real Estate Professionals is a book, professional speaking series and an exclusive workshop for agents, and is currently active in 18 U.S. states, Canada and New Zealand. For more information, visit www.BrandFaceRealEstate.com. 6

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KYLE GEENEN Top Agent Magazine

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By the end of his first year with Coldwell Banker in the lakeshore community of Holland, Michigan, Kyle Geenen had hired an assistant and developed a reputation for being the young, go-getter marketing guru. He did it by being himself. Had he remained in the job he took fresh out of college, however, he might have stifled his true nature. And he’d still be utterly bored. “Before real estate, I got my college degree in accounting and worked in public accounting for three years,” he says. “I know some people enjoy 8 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

it, but it wasn’t for me.” But during those three, monotonous years, Kyle discovered something. “One thing I was really good at was selling things like QuickBooks software to people I knew in the accounting field!” he says. “I learned I had a knack for sales and working with people.” Meanwhile, he and his wife learned they were expecting their first child. “I knew I needed a change and by force of nature I ended up meeting the top broker in Holland, Top Agent Magazine


“I wake up and I’m excited to meet with people because I’m helping them. I also enjoy the challenge in the fact that things are always changing and we always have something new to learn.” Jack Bouman,” says Kyle. “Jack may say this to everyone, but he told me I’d be good in real estate.” In Kyle’s case, Jack’s prediction was accurate. In 2013, Kyle joined a prominent Coldwell Banker Schmidt Top Agent Magazine

Family of Companies branch and started making a difference in the real estate market with the towns where he was born and raised. Kyle brought fresh perspectives to the region. “I knew I was young, but I Copyright Top Agent Magazine9


used that to my advantage,” says Kyle. He noticed that many agents didn’t know social media, especially Facebook and Instagram; by taking advantage of social media, he built his personal brand. “I want to keep doing things differently and stay on the cutting edge,” he says. “I even bought a drone right away and started doing drone photography. I have my pilot’s license so it was an easy fit.” Drone photos and video – which at the time had yet to become popular among agents – added a new dimension to Kyle’s offerings. “Pretty soon I labeled Copyright Top Agent Magazine 10

myself the ‘drone agent.’” Kyle would post drone videos on social media to promote his listings. “In meetings with sellers, I highlighted the fact that their home would stand out. They loved the idea of having their home shown differently.” To better serve all areas within an hour of his office in Holland, plus lakefront properties within two hours north and south of Holland, Kyle recently expanded his team with two buyers’ agents; collectively, the team wants to become one of the best in the area. “That doesn’t just mean in terms Top Agent Magazine


of production,” Kyle insists. “I want us to make an impact, maybe creating some development opportunities to serve the community.” He wants to use his expertise to give back while growing his team. Kyle currently serves on several nonprofit boards and plans to inspire not only his team, but his entire office, to get more involved. “Last year, we raised $29,000 between 50 agents in a Toys for Tots drive and gave out 1,488 new toys, he says.” As a father of two young sons, after all, Kyle finds great joy in helping other families. Top Agent Magazine

Sometimes, real estate doesn’t feel like a job to Kyle. “I wake up and I’m excited to meet with people because I’m helping them. I also enjoy the challenge in the fact that things are always changing and we always have something new to learn.” From changes in the mortgage world or taxes, to maximizing opportunities for real estate investment clients, Kyle enjoys educating himself and the people around him. “I’ve been providing training and I look forward to contributing more and more each year to make a difference both in our business and our community,” he says. Copyright Top Agent Magazine 11


To learn more about KYLE GEENEN, visit geenenhomes.com, email kyle@geenenhomes.com or call 616.403.0909 www.

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g n i p Kee h c u in To

HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS’ LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

One sign of a great real estate agent is there long list of loyal client following. Part of achieving a great referral base is being a great realtor during the transaction. But, that’s only half of the work. To truly be your client’s realtor for life and keep them coming back to you as well as referring others to you, you have to stay in their lives past the transaction. Keeping in touch with your past clients can be one of the most important parts of your business, and one that many realtors tend to push to the wayside. Do you stay in your client’s lives, or do you disappear? People refer people that they feel they know well and that they trust, people they consider friends. However, earning and keeping your client’s trust involves maintaining a delicate balance with how much you contact them. Experts recommend reaching out to your clients at least quarterly. But, it’s not just about how often you stay in touch. You also need to be mindful about how you are reaching out to them. Here are some tips on how to keep in touch with your clients for the long haul: Top Agent Magazine

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INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL CONTACT One of the best ways to keep in touch with your clients is to simply give them a call every once in a while. Follow up and see how your clients are doing. Offer them assistance if they need it. Personalized contact helps to ensure that you remain as important to your clients long after the sale as you were during the transaction. Giving your clients a call on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays also makes for a great personal touch. Of course, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Stopping by to say hello can be a great way to keep in contact. An even better way to catch up and maintain that friendship is to set up a lunch or coffee date with past clients. Giving individual clients your undivided attention goes a long way towards maintaining that bond you formed during the transaction and earning your client’s loyalty and trust. Interactions like this make a lasting impression on your clients. Of course, many busy REALTORS® may not have time to follow up with every client oneon-one. A great way to still give personal attention to your clients without meeting each and every one for lunch is to throw a client appreciation party. This allows you to get in some face-to-face time with each client and make sure they all get your undivided attention and quality time to catch up with you, even if it’s only for a short time. Now, if you have a lot of past clients, this can be difficult to manage during one party. One way to get around the numbers problem is to organize smaller events based on client’s inter-

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ests. Instead of throwing one giant party, host a pool party for the families with kids or a wine and cheese get together for single clients. Hosting special events like these ones goes a long way towards keeping your contact with past clients more personalized and setting you apart from those businesses that simply send them a calendar once a year.

PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS One way that many REALTORSÂŽ keep in touch with their clients is by sending them newsletters. This form of contact can be a double-edged sword. You want to make sure you provide them with useful information that reminds them of your value as a real estate professional. Otherwise your communication will amount to nothing more than spam, and clients will think of you less as a trusted friend and more as a nuisance salesperson. Clients react much more positively to communication containing information that is pertinent to their lives. Update your clients on what is going on in their local community and housing market. Demonstrate your knowledge about the community and the things that are important to your clients. Include information about local cultural events, community news, housing statistics, information on the mortgage market, home maintenance advice, home design tips, and anything else that your clients will find personally useful. Your clients will always be interested in value.

SEND CLIENTS MEMORABLE AND PERSONAL CARDS Sending your clients cards related to important events in their lives and letting them know that you remember those events and care will go a long way towards building and maintaining a close personal relationship with them. You want to make sure your cards stand out, though. Sending popular holiday cards can be a mistake, as they will most likely get lost amongst all of your clients other holiday cards and will be quickly forgotten. Instead send something more personal such as: HOME ANNIVERSARY CARDS: Send cards to each client on the anniversary of the closing of their home.

CONGRATULATORY CARDS: Remember important events such as wedding anniversaries, graduations, new babies, etc.

SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CARDS: Instead of just sending your typical birthday card, add something special to yours that will stand out. Include a $1 scratch off ticket or a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. Make sure to include a handwritten personal note. Top Agent Magazine

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GIVE CLIENTS AN UNUSUAL GIFT Make sure the gifts you send your past clients stand out. Send your past clients an odd gift at the beginning of the year or on a holiday. Think outside the box and send things like funny magnets, customized mugs, a personalized piece of wall décor, and other fun and unusual items. A great way to make your gift stand out even more is to include a funny note with it that will catch their attention as well as make them think of you. For example, one cute idea is to send clients a bag of popcorn with the note, “Real estate is popping, give me a call.” You could send a bag of goldfish with a note attached that says, “I’m fishing for your referrals.” Get creative and have a little fun with it, your clients will notice and remember you for it.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

Social networking sites make staying in contact with past clients in a more informal and friendly basis much easier. Connect with your past clients on Facebook. This will help you stay up to date on the important things happening in your pact clients’ lives. In return, it provides you a great platform for keeping those past clients up to date with what is going on in your business as well as keep in contact in a more informal manner. Use Facebook to remind past clients to check their basement after a heavy rain or that they can contact you for help during tax time. 16

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You can even organize your contacts on Facebook into customized lists such as “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. This will help you better manage your Facebook contacts. This will also allow you to view specific news feeds based on these lists and send messages to a particular list of contacts. Don’t forget about the many other social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn either. Utilize this technology to drive personal contact with your clients.

STAY ORGANIZED

No matter how you choose to keep in contact with past clients, make sure to be consistent. Consistency will help you stay organized and diligent about reaching out to your past clients regularly. A tool used by many real estate professionals to stay organized is a customer relationship management solution. Whether you use one that is online or a computer software program, this will help you stay organized when managing your contacts and allow you to set notifications to alert you when you need to contact certain clients, send out gifts, plan a client appreciation event, and many other things throughout the year. Staying organized and consistent in your contact with past clients will help you continue to build and manage your referral base, as well as open the door to repeat and referral business. Top Agent Magazine

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6 Habits of Highly Productive Agents In a business that can be constant chaos, you’re constantly on the go and dealing with things as they hit you. It can be difficult to take a second and regroup. But there is a better and smarter way to work. If you take the time to create some better habits, in the end, you may end up being more productive. If you want to make better use of your time, as well as have more focus, here’s some habits that you’re going to want to pick up - all common to top-producing agents.

1. Learn how to prioritize Although it might be your instinct to get some of the boring work out of the way first, things Top Agent Magazine

that actually generate income (or are time-sensitive!) should be the first thing you focus on when you start your day. Lists are your friend! Make a list of things you want to accomplish for the day, the week, and even the month. Always list them in the order of priority. If things get cut off when you run out of time at the end of the day, at least it’ll be the things that are not as important or time sensitive. As with anyone, your time is your most valuable commodity and should be used wisely. When you make your list, you can even schedule tasks as if they were a meeting, giving yourself a little time goal to beat, as 19


well. Treat your time with the same respect you would a colleague’s or client’s and don’t ever waste it. As with anyone, your time is your most valuable commodity and should be used wisely. When you make your list you can even schedule tasks as if they were a meeting, giving yourself a little time goal to beat, as well. Treat your time with the same respect you would a colleague’s or client’s, and don’t ever waste it.

to accomplish it? Write it out and then incorporate that into your prioritized ‘to do’ list. You’ll be amazed at how driven you become to reach that goal when you actually write it out with clarity. And, the sense of accomplishment you get upon completing it will carry over to the next day. It’s important to remember to be specific. Once you get into the habit of meeting your goals, exceeding them won’t be far behind.

2. Remove distractions

when you need to focus This is especially hard when you’re a Realtor®. Most are constantly connected to their phones. But, unnecessary distractions can get you off schedule and make you lose your focus instantly. If you can, turn your phone off for the half hour it takes to do a task. Interruptions make everything take twice as long, especially when you take that text and then decide to check Facebook for a second. We all do it! Complete your task, then take ten minutes to respond to all texts and messages before you start up the next thing on your list. You can even schedule those ‘text backs’ into your schedule. A concentrated effort is always more effective than going back and forth between things.

3. Set daily goals This is so key. What do you want to accomplish for the day and what do you need to do 20

4. Don’t make excuses There’s that old saying, “The buck stops here”. Well, take it to heart. This is your business and you are responsible for doing everything you can to make it successful. Sure, there are reasons for why you didn’t get a listing or why your business is slow, but what are you doing to change things and make them better? Successful Realtors® work harder and come up with innovaTop Agent Magazine


tive ways to stand out when times are tough. They don’t look for excuses, they look for solutions.

5. Be deliberate

about everything you do When you’re making your list, it helps to have a goal in mind for even the smallest task. If you’re calling past clients to touch base, have a specific reason why you’re calling. Are you letting them know some market news? Thanking them for a referral? When you’re meeting a referral partner for lunch, have a goal in mind for what the outcome of that meeting will be as well. Yes it’s good to socialize and build relationships, but if you have a reason, make sure it isn’t put off until the final moments, when things are wrapping up. Always having a purpose in mind will also help you prioritize your list better.

6. Always look for ways to

get out of your comfort zone Yes, you are prioritizing what is most important or urgent to your business, but it’s also important to make an effort to break out Top Agent Magazine

of your routine as much as you’re comfortable doing. Trying out new things or taking some time to learn about new and innovative real estate techniques and technology, can have an energizing effect on your business. Not only might they lead to things that make you more productive, but it keeps you sharp and engaged. And, ultimately keeping yourself at the top of your game is what it’s all about. 21


Thinking of Listing? Nine Ways to Get Ready The less time a home spends on the market, the more likely it is to sell at or above list price. That’s why our Top Agents recommend getting a property ready for marketing well before listing. Anyone who is even just starting to think about listing will benefit from some basic upkeep and pre-staging work. Even if you decide now is not the time to list, you’ll enjoy these simple improvements around the home. With the right local resources, most pre-listing preparations take less than a week and will make the formal staging process simpler for all involved. Ask Top Agents in your area for referrals of local pros to hire. Once you’ve selected your Top Agent, keep yourself open to his or her opinion on other TLC to help decrease your home’s market time. 1. Inspection: The last thing a seller or buyer wants is a surprise at

inspection. That’s why a complete inspection before listing is so valuable. Many necessary fixes, such as minor roof or appliance repairs, can be discovered and repaired in less than a week. If inspection uncovers a major issue, any Top Agent will tell you that this knowledge is power; disclosing and expecting to take responsibility will increase buyers’ trust without affecting market time. 2. De-Clutter: Take a little time to pack away surplus furniture items and

extra knick-knacks, papers, books or occasional-use items throughout your house. Remember this may require boxing away video game supplies or packing up comfy throw pillows and blankets. Move these items temporarily into closets, the garage or attic with the assumption of possibly renting a storage unit just before listing. 3. Paint: Whole-house painting is likely not necessary, but consider touching

up baseboard moldings and doorways and open wall spaces in high-use areas 22

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such as bathrooms, the office, family room and indoor recreation spaces. Also consider a little varnish on the front door or banister. 4. Artwork and Decor: Take a neutral look at your décor. Better yet, ask a

Top Agent to do so. Buyers should be able to picture themselves living in your home. While your Top Agent may not advise you to appear generic, you’ll likely need to thin out any shrine-like displays to family, hobbies or cultural interests.

5. Deep-Clean Housekeeping: After you’ve de-cluttered and touched up

the paint, request a deep cleaning from your housekeeping service and weekly cleanings thereafter. Make sure they pay attention to details like dusting or vacuuming window treatments and lampshades or wiping smudges off door jams and baseboard moldings. 6. Carpets and Rugs: Bring in the pros, but don’t just clean the carpets.

Because the cleaners will be moving furniture anyway, ask them stretch and tighten any buckled areas of carpeting. Doing so now saves the trouble of having to credit your buyer for this following final walk-through. Also consider removing small area rugs to let the beauty of your hardwood floors shine.

7. Look at the Loo: Buyers may not notice a brand-new toilet seat, but they

will turn up their noses at the one with the broken hinges. Freshly replaced toilet seats, faucets or doorknobs in heavily trafficked bathrooms can go a long way in first impressions.

8. “Mow & Blow”: Consider buyers as guests you want to feel welcome

as they ascend the front walk. If you don’t already have one, hire a weekly gardening service to keep up with the mowing, weeding, pruning and basic maintenance outside so you can focus on other things. 9. Staging: Once you’ve selected a staging professional for the finishing

touches, ask them and your Top Agent for final recommendations on day-today upkeep, storage options and what-to-do (or what not to do) while your house is on the market. Top Agent Magazine

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