Changing Your Mindset
Monday Marketing Report
By: Roy Meyer, Appraiser Marketing Machine
As we enter the 2nd quarter of 2012 I thought this would be the perfect time to look back and highlight a few of the key marketing points provided since the beginning of the year.
For many of you that I've heard back from that have taken action over the past several months as well as those whom I've personally worked with during this 1st quarter you've already seen an increase in the amount of non-lender work you're receiving.
However, for the majority of appraisers still on the sidelines this will serve as a quick recap and reminder of how you can still get in the game and begin to market for and capture your share of the abundance of non-lender work available to appraisers today.
So you've heard it over and over again from countless people that in order to change your business model or at a minimum add volume to your existing business you need to go after estate work, tax work, divorce work, bankruptcy work and other niche appraisal work. So knowing full well there's an abundance of non-lender work available why is it that so few appraisers make little if any effort to go after it? And why is it that a majority of appraisers who do make an effort typically fail?
I believe the key piece that nearly every appraiser overlooks as I first did is "Mind Set". As you've heard before you can't continue to do and think the same things and expect different results in your business. So if you want different results you have to re-set your mind and start thinking and acting differently.
Unfortunately, all too often appraisers are simply unwilling to get out of their comfort zone or current "mind set" by learning and taking the necessary steps to make a difference in their business. And for most of us including myself initially who've tried and failed with marketing in the past this is usually a result of not having a proper plan in place, expecting results overnight, giving up to easily and not being fully "committed" to the process where marketing becomes an integral part of your everyday business.
For the appraisers willing to get out of their comfort zone and get in the proper "mind set" by learning how to market their business, putting a proper plan in place and being fully committed to the process they can expect to jump from being one of the 96% of appraisers receiving just 20% of all referral and non-lender work to being one of the 4% of appraisers cashing in on over 80% of all referral and non-lender work.
So assuming you have the right "mind set" and willingness to step out of your comfort zone here's a brief recap of some of the key marketing points covered during the 1st quarter of this year each of which you can review in greater detail in the Buzz Archives:
• CMS / Build Your List - Your list literally forms the foundation of your referral business and allows you to differentiate yourself by developing personal relationships and establishing yourself as the local expert. Remember we're in a relationship business and nearly 80% of all individuals make their decision on an appraiser from either personal knowledge or by referral.
Your list is a living, breathing, powerful asset that will grow your business allowing you to rely less on outside marketing efforts. Having no client list means you have no market share of the majority of referral work. As you continue to build your list make sure you follow-up as it takes an average of 8-10 contacts before your list begins to trust you enough to send you their referral work.
In order to follow-up you need to have a Contact Management/Follow-up system in place whether it be AWeber, Constant Contact, Office Auto-Pilot or IContact just to name a few. The key is to find and use a system that you understand and will actually use! Having a follow-up system in place is critical to nearly every form of marketing you'll do and will be the lifeline of your referral and non-lender business.
• Direct Mail - This is such a powerful tool and can function almost like a business faucet when done properly. Unfortunately, most appraisers who attempt direct mail send out a onetime bulk piece equivalent to cold calling, get little or no response and then give up. A much better method is to drip 4-5 mailings over a short period of time to a smaller target audience which will greatly increase your response rates.
Consider sending out a combination of mailings including postcards with tracking numbers and QR codes, greeting cards some of which might include gifts depending on the potential of the target, video cards and even out of the box mailings such as money bags, pill bottles and mini garbage cans (more on that in an upcoming article) to really capture one's attention and increase your response rate. When measuring your direct mail ROI remember to factor in the "lifetime value of a new client" in your overall cost calculations.
Another critical mistake appraisers make is they don't follow-up with existing clients that they've worked so hard to get. Remember it's much easier to hold on to an existing client than to obtain a new one so make sure you're nurturing those existing relationships. Using thank-you cards, video cards and gift cards are a great way to show your appreciation for their business and insure they remain your client. Every referral you receive should be followed up with a thank-you card and even a gift card if possible.
Also consider sending out birthday and anniversary cards to your client base to really solidify your position with them. Finally, your whole direct mail system should be personalized but also fully automated right down to the stuffing, stamping and sending of your cards and campaigns. There are plenty of "list" providers available and most direct mail companies also include both list services as well as customization services for your mailings.
• Speaking - If you're looking to build a solid foundation of referrals one of the best ways I've found is through speaking engagements. Speaking will identify you as the local expert in your area and easily set you apart from your competition. There are any number of events and opportunities for appraisers to speak at however I've found my biggest source of referrals for estate work, bankruptcy work and divorce work typically come from realtors who have a loyal data base that trust their recommendations which is why I focus most of my speaking efforts at real estate and broker offices.
Most brokers love having appraisers speak at their sales meetings as realtor attendance often increases by 25% or more when realtors know an appraiser will be speaking at their meeting. You can choose any number of appraisal topics to talk about however most often realtors will have more questions for you than you'll have time to answer so stay until the entire sales meeting is over to make sure you answer everyone's questions and take full advantage of the networking opportunity.
I regularly speak at real estate offices over and over again to set myself up as the local expert, build my list, get testimonial videos from those in attendance (especially the broker/manager) and continue to build my referral base. Make sure you follow-up every speaking engagement with a thank-you card to the managing broker thanking them for the opportunity.
* Tip...Always follow-up every speaking engagement with a video card thanking the managing broker for the opportunity which is a more powerful and quicker way to build and strengthen those relationships.
• Networking - Visibility + Credibility = Profitability. Very few appraisers make any attempt at networking however for the few willing to put in the time and effort there is little to stand in their way of establishing themselves as the local "go to" appraiser.
Networking is a process that takes time to build trust before people start seeing you as the expert and are comfortable sending you their referrals. This is the main reason most appraisers do little if any networking because usually the payoff isn't immediate. In the end the more networking you're able to do the more referral and non-lender business you'll be able to obtain.
I still continue to network on a regular basis with local realtors and brokers, local MLS events, real estate investment groups, BNI groups, Chamber of Commerce events, local "MeetUps.com" groups, attorney and receivership events and targeted trade shows and conventions just to name a few.
Try to form 2-5 "quality" connections at every meeting or event vs quantity connections. Then the key is to follow-up! Meeting and making new connections in person is still one of the best ways to market however that meeting someone once most likely will not bring in the business but instead timely and consistent follow-up is the key to successful networking. You'll be amazed that the majority of networking events or opportunity meetings you attend you'll find yourself being the only appraiser in the room which once again will gradually help you become one of the 4% of appraisers cashing in on 80% of all referral and non-lender appraisal work!
• Video Marketing - Get on board now or get left behind. In the near future if you want your business to have a chance at customers finding you on the Internet remember that video is expected to account for half of all online consumer traffic in 2012!
Video is easy and inexpensive to produce and has a high perceived value. Video allows you to obtain new clients with less effort, improve your search engine rankings, provide a better website experience and connect and build trust with your audience more quickly. Videos often rank more quickly and show up on the first page of Google in front of your competitor's websites.
If you're just getting started I'd focus on obtaining as many "testimonial" videos as you can get. By far the videos that bring me the most amount of business are the short 30 second "testimonial" videos I shoot with my flip cam. Testimonial videos are like gold nuggets and I've received countless appraisal orders from people who've based their appraiser decision strictly from viewing my testimonial videos.
*Tip...Offer a $5 or $10 Starbucks card to anyone you've appraised for in the past who will provide you with a positive testimonial video. I just recently spoke at a realtor office for the 4th time in the past two years where I receive a lot of referral work . Of the 50 real estate agents in attendance I asked at the end of my presentation how many would be willing to take the time to provide me with a positive testimonial video in exchange for a $10 Starbuck's Gift Card. Since most of them knew me and had worked with me in the past I received 31 testimonial videos many of whom said they would've provided me a testimonial without the Starbucks incentive. Although it cost me $310 in gift cards for those video testimonials the ROI for those videos will be priceless as they'll easily help me continue to stand out from my competition.
• Mobile Marketing - Every day mobile phones continue to take over functions previously only available on your PC and there are now over 5 billion mobile accounts worldwide. Over 90% of people keep their mobile phones within 3 feet of themselves 24 hours a day. Mobile is the only method of marketing that reaches people on the go.
Start by insuring your website is mobile ready. You can also QR code your website, videos, articles, blog posts and other places you'd like to direct mobile traffic to. You can also integrate most of your marketing efforts as well as your automated follow-up systems with mobile marketing.
• Virtual Assistants - Are you looking to earn more and work less? If you're looking for a real difference maker in your business then learning to utilize Virtual Assistants is a must although in different ways than you might think. Most appraisers are one person shops which limits the growth of their business as well as the amount of work they can take on however using Virtual Assistants allows your business to become scalable and grow to levels one could never achieve on their own.
The primary responsibility of my Virtual Assistants is to help market by business 24/7. I use both full time and part time VA's located both locally and abroad to do research, lead generation, pull and upload lead lists, implement and send out marketing campaigns, upload leads to and manage my direct mail campaigns, video creation and editing, writing articles, blog posting, follow-up and just recently building out my social media influence all of which costs me on average between $2-$5 per hour.
If you're just beginning I'd recommend starting with www.Elance.com for any initial work you may be thinking of outsourcing. Elance is a well established and secure site that is great for posting jobs for short time needs.
As you become more comfortable using VA's in your business you may want to consider signing on with an established VA company such as www.123Employee.com or others to help with many of your day to day marketing needs in which rates typically range from $6-$8 hour.
And if you're really ambitious and have the time you can train and hire your own VA's for as little as $2 hour. The best training I've found should you decide to go this route is www.ReplaceMyself.com where you can learn a tremendous amount about outsourcing for a nominal cost. I don't recommend going down this do-it-yourself route at first though until you've become somewhat familiar in working with VA's.
There truly is an abundance of referral and non-lender work available to appraisers today for the few willing to step out of their comfort zone and take the necessary steps to cash in. Don't be overwhelmed into thinking you have to do all of the things in this article at once to be successful. The key is putting a plan into place and committing to it including starting with and implementing one piece at a time. Quite honestly I could probably survive using any one of these strategies alone however when you combine all of them in your marketing plan you're almost guaranteed to succeed!
I'd recommend you start with putting a Contact Management/Follow-Up system in place which is critical to every other form of marketing you'll do. If you're looking for immediate returns start with Direct Mail and if you're comfortable speaking in front of people schedule speaking events at your local real estate or broker office sales meetings. Make networking part of the fabric of your business and start thinking of ways you can implement video and mobile marketing into your business. As your business begins to grow you can then consider how to use Virtual Assistants to scale your business.
Finally, stay tuned as we head into the 2nd quarter as we'll be covering specifics on how to maximize these strategies as well as other strategies including making your website stand out and convert, driving traffic, social media and much more. Also be on the lookout for some exciting announcements we have planned in the next several weeks which will truly benefit your business.
Wishing you the Best of Success in 2012!
Claim your free online marketing guide at www.AppraiserMarketingMachine.com.
Roy Meyer is an Appraiser, Marketing Consultant and Co-Founder of Appraiser Marketing Machine, a company that specializes in creating steady streams of new clients and referral business for appraisers.