Are you tired of relying on real estate agent referrals for your livelihood? It doesn't have to be that way. It shouldn't be that way … there are other ways. In fact, my entire business was built without ever soliciting an agent. You can do the same.
Donuts and coffee
We are told that the key to mortgage success is simple; get the most agents. Grab the donuts, the coffee and pound the pavement kid.
Don't get me wrong, that model works and drives many a top producers. It is not for everyone though. Despite what your manager says, you can win without soliciting agents.
Our goal, and the goal of this column, is liberation and empowerment. You can be free from the weekly smile and dial session you hate so much because you are empowered with the ability to generate the lead before the agent does. The result is a new paradigm where the tables have turned.
If you want to take the lead, you need to think differently. You need to think consumer-direct. The process starts online obviously. Developing an online brand requires patience and work, but the benefits are real.
It's not hard if you understand the basics. You need a platform to educate your target audience. You need a platform to promote yourself and build authority. You also need to seek out your audience on their turf so you can engage.
Building the brand
Your blog serves as the hub. This is the platform you use to educate, teach, build authority and cast your net.
Customers and agents alike are searching for answers. Sometimes, they are searching for you by name even. What will they see? Expertise? Knowledge? Will they see value? Your Web site is a direct reflection of you, your ability and your authority.
I can hear the excuses building already … I don't know how to design a Web site … I'm not a good writer.
Fine, continue your agent boot-licking. These tasks are not hard. There are dozens of simple Web site builders and sites to outsource the design on the cheap. There is no excuse for letting the creation process stump you. My nephew can build a Web site and he's nine! He may be able to build a Web site, but you know what he can't do? He can't convey how PMI works. He can't describe the appraisal process or guide a homebuyer though downpayment options. He can't, but you can.
If you write it, they will come
Make no mistake, the lead machine is fueled by content—smart, compelling and informative content. You have to provide value and educate. If you are not willing to write or pay someone to write, then explore video, presentations, whatever. Content is more than words on paper, it takes many forms.
How much time and effort do you spend answering the same questions repeatedly? You are a living, breathing content goldmine! Why not tap into that experience and turn those answers into content? You can use your answers for posts, e-mail, video or social engagement.
Write it, film it, e-mail it, draw it … send up smoke signals for all who care and create clever content consistently.
Optimize your content
The traffic and leads will come just by creating the content, but you want the floodgates to open right? You want enhanced performance. You want to turn your plain content into optimized content.
1. Don't waste your first five seconds: More than 80 percent of readers only read the headline. Let that soak in. It's imperative that you nail your headline and opening, because if you don't, most readers will cruise right on by. You have FIVE seconds to grab their attention, so use it wisely.
2. Write for the readers: Always write for the reader first, but never forget about the search engines. Study the basics of on-page SEO and use them in every single post.
3. Promote your content: Write and publish is not the formula. Write, publish and promote is the formula! Promote your content appropriately and do it frequently with a social media scheduling tool.
4. Include a call to action: We write because we want leads. Make the conversion process easy with a clear call to action in every piece of content you produce.
You wrote it, you optimized it and the leads are starting to flow, but they are fleeting and don't stick. You have a conversion issue.
You just hung up with a lead. You go to work for them. What do you think the lead does?
They GOOGLE you. What will they find? They may find nothing or they will find a carefully crafted narrative of your design. Your lead generation site needs a conversion compliment, you need a name site.
Keep it simple, focus on accomplishments. Collect reviews and testimonials. Consider it your online business card and an effective way to shape your brand and narrative. That's not all you need though, you want to own that top 10 in Google. You need social media too.
You need to prove you're a human, a really awesome human who is stellar at your job. Your brand messaging needs to consistently appear everywhere: LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Zillow, Trulia, Pinterest. Use the free tools that the social media gods have provided. Shape your narrative, shape your brand, and be consistent across multiple channels. Be found.
This is your legacy, your brand and your paycheck … so own it. Stop relying on agents for your livelihood and start taking the lead.
Jonathan Blackwell is chief engagement officer for BoldCopy.net. Jonathan may be reached by phone at (404) 551-3845 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.