How to Demonstrate Your Expertise by Blogging on These 4 Categories

At the end of this post is an exercise you can download to brainstorm a year’s worth of weekly blog posts in 10 minutes.

I remember the first day after I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.  It was the day I started working with my dad in the commercial real estate industry.  I knew nothing beyond what I picked up from growing up with two parents in real estate.  I didn’t have a license.  I didn’t have business cards.  I was as green as they come.  All I wanted to do was hide in my office.

Photo from istockphoto.com

Photo from istockphoto.com

I remember having the nagging thought:  ”Who would want to work with you when they could work with your dad?”  It took me two years to get over that self-doubt.

It is one thing to gain self-confidence, and that takes time.  Your industry also needs to gain confidence in you.  You need to become known as an expert in your field.  I like to talk about this as dominant market presence.  Are you, your company, or your product the first thing that pops into potential clients’ or customers’ minds?

Additionally, if you still haven’t bought the idea that you should be blogging or need help setting up and launching your blog, read this post on the subject.

I believe a blog is the quickest way to gain this dominant market presence.  You can become known as an expert, gain dominant market presence, and cultivate the next generation of clients and customers by blogging in these 4 categories.

Blog on These 4 Categories

  1. Deal Stories – Stories are an incredible way to engage with your audience.  They often allow you to connect with your readers on an emotional level.  This invites your readers into your post and keeps them there.  Stories of real situations are also valuable to your potential future clients.  Plus, stories allow you to demonstrate your expertise without tooting your own horn.  Your deal stories should include these 3 sections:
    1. Situation – Give the context of what was going on.  Why were you hired?  What challenges was your client facing?  Giving the context allows your readers to relate.
    2. Steps – What did you do to solve your clients problems?  What did you do to help maximize your client’s best interests?  Share what happened, but be careful not to sound like a commercial.
    3. Solution – Here is where you describe the results.  This is the culmination of the story.  If done well, the reader will have a better understanding of the service or product you provide and how that product or service can benefit them.
  2. News – Blogging about the news demonstrates that you are in-the-know about what is happening in your industry.  However, the news can be boring.  You do not want to just regurgitate what your readers are hearing from other sources.  If a certain news topic is becoming a topic of conversation at the water cooler, you should blog about it.  Demonstrate your expertise and experience by giving your take.  A word of caution:  only blog about a news topic if it is applicable to your industry.
  3. Market trends – This topic can also be boring so be careful.  I would not blog about market trends more than once a quarter.  However, demonstrating that you are aware of market trends is important.  For some of your readers, this information will be valuable.  It puts you in the position to become a trusted resource for timely information.
  4. 101 Topics – In Commercial Real Estate, every successful investor did their first deal at some point.  Donald Trump did not come out of the womb as an expert.  He had to learn.  By blogging about the basics of your industry, you have the opportunity to educate the next generation of players in your industry.  In the next 20 years, we are about to see the biggest transfer of wealth in the history of the world.  By educating the next generation of your future clients, who do you think will be top-of-mind when the next generation has a need for your product or service for the first time?  You will!

A huge hurdle for many beginning bloggers is the anxiety of knowing what to blog about.  As a bonus to this post, I have included a simple exercise I use with my coaching clients.  In 10 minutes, you can brainstorm these 4 categories and produce a year’s worth of blog topics.

Knowing what you will blog about for the entire next year is like a warm blanket.  This single exercise could lead to your success in building a powerful blog that increases your presence, solidifies you as an expert, and cultivates the next generation of your future clients.

Question: What are you doing to ensure the success of your presence campaign in 2014? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download Your Free Exercise

How to Systematically Pursue Your Former Clients in These 6 Steps

At the end of this post, you can download a worksheet that will help you put these 6 steps into instant application.

As the father of 3 young kids, I’m always finding things in the couch.  Ninja sword.  Costume jewelry.  Goldfish (the snack).  I never know what I’m going to find when I place my hand between the cushions.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Then there is the wonderful experience that comes with winter.  You put on your coat for the first time since last year and find a $20 in the pocket.  I love that feeling.  Found money.

Your previous clients are like the couch cushions and the $20 long forgotten in a winter coat.  We neglect them.  Then every so often, we lower our hands between the cushions.  I submit that you intentionally pursue these past clients.

You can re-engage your former clients by following these 6 steps.

6 Steps to Re-engage Your Past Clients

  1. Make a list – As in, make a list of all your former or inactive clients.
  2. Scrub the list – You can choose who you would like to work with.  Pursue only the clients that you’d like to work with again.
  3. Prepare – Do your homework.  Be informed.  Have they won an award recently?  Did their daughter get married?  Run a google search.  Check out their LinkedIn profile.
  4. Call 2 a week on Friday afternoons – Call 2 on the list every week.  Do it on a Friday afternoon when the week is winding down.  Make it a habit.  If you would do this every week all year, then you would contact about 100 people that have already done business with you.  These are former clients who have hired you before and actually pulled the trigger on a deal.
  5. Have something of value for them – Don’t just call them to check in.  Maximize this opportunity by having something of value to offer them.  Maybe a building sold by one of their properties and you have comp info for them.  Maybe it has been 3 years since anyone evaluated their portfolio.  Offer to do it for them.
  6. Close for the meeting – Keep in mind the you have an existing relationship.  You should know if they love to golf or would rather sit down for a quick cup of coffee.  Use that information to your advantage and be strategic.  But don’t forget to close for the meeting.  Nothing is more effective than getting face to face.

Question: So what are you going to do now? I challenge you to make your list and then do three things: first, schedule a task on your calendar for every Friday; second, send this article to a friend whom you know needs to read it; and third, tell me when you are done by leaving a comment below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download Free Worksheet

 

How to Find Your Specialty by Answering 3 Questions

At the end of this post, I will share with you how to download a free worksheet of the exercise I describe in this post. It will allow you to visually see where your sweet spot lies.

I am continually surprised by Commercial Real Estate brokers who lack a specialty.  All top performers in CRE have a specialty.  Yet, those mired in mediocrity refuse to hone in on what they can be awesome at doing.  In fact, business owners of all kinds often have this problem.

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Image courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

I had a call last week with one of our advisors on the East Coast.  He was traditionally a specialist in hospitality.  Because of some changes in his life, he needed to shift his specialty to something he could practice locally.  His question was what should he specialize in.  What would you tell him?

Many of my coaching clients face this question as well.  It doesn’t matter if you are new to the business or you are mid-career.  Making this decision correctly will have a profound impact on your career.  Not only can it determine the amount of income you can make, but it can determine if you will like going to work every morning.

A CRE broker, or any business owner or salesperson, can find his/her sweet spot by answering 3 questions.

Three Questions to Find Your Specialty/Sweet Spot

1.  What do you like?

You should always start here.  What product type do you like?  What would you own if you could?  For me, I love multi-family.  I love to broker these deals.  I own this property type.  I understand it.  I don’t like industrial properties.  They don’t fit my eye.  I don’t enjoy being in industrial parks.  It just isn’t my thing.

You need to answer for yourself – what are my favorite 3 product types?  Write them down.

2.  What are you good at?

This is completely different than what you like.  Consider what you are good at.  Do you enjoy intense underwriting and analysis?  If so, multi-family might be your thing?  Do you enjoy fast paced prospecting and deal making?  If so, then maybe Single Tenant Net Lease (STNL) is your thing?  Maybe you love evaluating how the business aspect of hospitality properties and convenient stores impact value?

Again, list what product types fit your skill set.  Write them down.

3.  Where is the market velocity?

I did this exercise in 2009.  The market had dried up everywhere.  My business was suffering.  I looked around and saw that Dollar Stores were still trading at a rapid rate.  That was the only market velocity I saw anywhere in Kentucky.

Now I already told you that I love multi-family and it fits my skill set.  But no apartments were selling.  If I would have chosen apartments as the object of my prospecting campaign, I would have failed.  Instead, I began focusing on Dollar Stores.  It was a great move, and I learned to love that product type.

Look around your market.  Where is the transactional velocity?  Write those down as well.

Now look at your lists.  Where the answers to the three questions overlap is where you should specialize.  This is your sweet spot.

Now I want you to do two things:

  1. Regardless of what industry you are in, what benefits would you realize by finding your sweet spot and being known as the expert in your specialty? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

  2. You have a friend that needs to find their sweet spot. I challenge you to email this post to them so they can do this simple exercise. It could change the trajectory of their career.

To download a free worksheet that will allow you to work this exercise and visually find your sweet spot, click the button below.

Download Your Free Worksheet

 

How to Overcome the 4 Fears of Blogging – and Launch!

I previously wrote a post on the 8 Reasons Why You Should Blog. This post is the follow-up.
You may have heard the question, “When is the best time to plant a tree?”  The answer is 100 years ago.  The second best time?  Today!

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com

This is the mindset I encourage you to have when considering whether or not you will start your blog. I don’t know if you’ve noticed in your life, but fear will hold you back. I remember the fear I felt when I enlisted in the Marine Corps.  I told my dad before I left that I wanted to go to Parris Island and be the best Marine in my company.  After 10 days on the island, I wrote him a letter.  It told him that I just wanted to survive. Fear holds you back.  It causes you to pause – to hesitate.  Fear can prevent you from doing something great.  Fear is not your friend. You can launch your blog by overcoming these 4 fears.

Overcoming the 4 Fears of Blogging

1.  Who is my audience?

Good question.  Who is your audience?  It isn’t going to be the same as mine – or anyone else’s.  Ask yourself who your ideal client or prospect is.  That is the who you are writing to.  Frankly, I need to remind myself more about this. I was listening to an interview a couple of weeks ago.  The topic was profiling your ideal client or customer.  Do you know how they think?  Do you know their buying habits?  What they like?  How much money they make?  Single or married? Go through an exercise of  answering all of these questions.  Once you are done, name your ideal client.  I call mine Bob.  Now write to Bob. Clarity on this question will allow you to push through the fear.

2.  How do I set it up?

This is really what help me back from starting.  How do I do it?  There are so many blogging platforms.  How will you choose?  I’m going to make this super easier for you, and I’m going to tell you what to do.

    1. Use the wordpress.org platform – Many platforms exist, but this is the one the pro’s use.  It is what I use.  It is the absolute bomb.  It is free.  The absolute best resource to learn how to use WordPress is - http://www.wp101.com/.  It will have you rolling in no-time.
    2. Pick a web host – This is not free, but it is cheap.  There are even more of these to choose from.  Use Bluehost (affiliate link), and here is why.
      • Their support is awesome!  My site got hacked, and they helped me get it back up in no time.  And I don’t have a clue how to do this website stuff.  They have helped me at 2 in the morning.  And they speak great English.
      • In my one year with them, I’ve never had an outage.
      • They don’t allow porn.  This may not be a big deal to you, but it is to me.  And as they generally use shared serves, I love the idea that my site doesn’t “live” next to that stuff.  I love that.
    3. Pick a premium theme – If you are going to do this, then make it look excellent.  A premium them will look like a million bucks.  These can cost anywhere from $50 – $200, but it is a one time fee.  The look of your site augments your brand, so don’t go cheap on me here.  Here are some choices for you to cut through the clutter.
      • Woo Themes - I’ve never used these, but I’ve heard many recommend them.  They have many to choose from, and it will cost you about $100.
      • Standard Theme – I have used this theme and was a big fan.  It will run you $39.  And brokers are cheap, so I might suggest you start here.
      • Elegant Themes – You can get access to all 86 of their themes for just $39, and they are beautiful.  I do think they are on the feminine side, but that’s just me.
      • Get Noticed Theme - This is the one I use.  It is on the expensive side for themes ($197), but I love it.  If you are starting, you may wait until you know you will do this for the long haul before you spend this kind of jack.
    4. Watch this screencast – This is the best tutorial I’ve seen on how to put all of this together.  You can be up and writing your first post in 20 minutes – literally.  Just watch this video and follow along.  This is exactly how I did it.

3.  What do I write about?

This is a post all unto itself, and I will write it soon.  But take it from me, this is so much easier than I thought.  Once you have an outlet for your thoughts, it is like you start thinking differently.  I see potential blog posts in just about everything.  I even have friends that feed me ideas now (thanks David!). I do have a brainstorming exercise that I use to generate post ideas.  I will share this in a subsequent post.  But for now, don’t let this stop you from starting.

4.  How do I find the time?

You have the time.  In fact, you have the same 168 hours a week that everyone else does.  You will spend those hours exactly how you choose to. Personally, I watch less TV.  It may be something different for you that has to go.  I encourage you to consider what you are doing during your non-productive hours.  Those hours when you aren’t producing. When I struggle with this area, I reconnect with my why.  I remind myself about the many benefits of blogging – how this site can go before me and grease the wheels of the sales process.  Connect with your why, and it will drive away the fear.  

Question: So what is holding you back from launching your blog? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download the PDF of this post

Survey: Please Help Me Choose My Book Cover

I am very excited to announce that I am almost finished with my first ebook.  In the coming weeks, I will make it available here at BoBarron.com.

Right now, however, you can play a role in helping me choose my book cover.

Below is a simple survey with four choices.  Please take 15 seconds and let me know which one you prefer.  I would be so grateful!

All you need to do is click on the cover you prefer and click the button at the bottom.  Thanks so much!

Why You – Yes You – Should Blog: These 8 Reasons

I’ve had this conversation with many of the groups that I’ve spoken to.  I have encouraged those I coach to blog.  If you have ever wondered if you should blog, this post is for you.  Note:  A free PDF version of this post is available to download at the end of this post.

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto

Some of you have probably heard of Jeffrey Gitomer.  He’s an author and speaker regarding sales.  Almost all of you have heard of Roger Staubach.  He is a Heisman Trophy winner for the Naval Academy. He was a Super Bowl MVP for the Dallas Cowboys.  He also started a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate company – the Staubach Company – which sold to Jones Lang LaSalle for $612 million in 2011.

One day, Jeffrey Gitomer walked into Roger Staubach’s office in Dallas without an appointment.  He just walked in and asked to see Roger.  As you might expect, the gatekeeper was not giving him access.

Then something remarkable happened.  Roger heard Gitomer’s name from his office.  He came racing down the hall and escorted Gitomer back to his office.  Why on earth was Roger Staubach that interested in meeting with Jeffrey Gitomer?  How could Gitomer succeed in just walking in and getting a meeting?

Jeffrey Gitomer wrote (maybe he still does) a syndicated column on sales that appeared in many newspapers at the time.  Staubach was a fan.  When Rodger the Dodger heard Gitomer’s name – he had to meet him.

Blogging can produce the same results for you.  Specifically, you should blog for the following 8 reasons.

8 Reasons Why You Should Blog

  1. Visibility

Who Else Wants to Sell More Property Faster?

If you want to really maximize your income in commercial real estate, this could be one of the most important posts that you read this year.  But first – a story.

iStock_000003195421Large

I remember when airbags in vehicles became widely accepted and used.  It was the late 80′s.  That made me about 11 years old.  I remember being fascinated with them.  How did they work?  How could they pop out that fast?

By the mid 90′s, however, airbags were a standard feature of all cars.  At their onset, airbags were a selling feature.  They provided such added safety during collisions.  But once they were standard, that dynamic changed.  You would never buy a car because it had an airbag.  You would hesitate to buy a car without it.

Last week, I wrote a post on the three P’s of real estate:

  1. Put up a sign
  2. Put it online
  3. Pray

The three P’s are the airbags of Commercial Real Estate – or all real estate for that matter.  This list of 3 is what anyone and everyone does.  It is a commoditized feature set.  It is the opposite of a differentiator.

You may have heard of the Broker Continuum – Finding, Winning, and Fulfilling Business.  What I am referencing in this post is moving a listing or assignment from being won to fulfillment.

So here are the steps that top performers execute with extreme discipline when they win a listing.  This is proactive marketing.

The 5 Steps of Proactive Marketing

  1. Profile the ideal buyer/customer – This is a best practice of all salespeople.  What does your ideal buyer look like?  The same applies to a piece of property for sale.  What are the top 3 best uses of that property?  Build your profile and give it a name.  Not only will this clarify the next steps, but it a great way to educate your client and demonstrate your expertise.
  2. Build a list – Once you have the profile of the ideal buyer, build a list of those prospects.  This is just like building a database for your prospecting efforts.
  3. Pursue the list
    • Direct mail – Post card use is a dying tactic, but it is so effective.  Send the ideal buyers on your list something in the mail – a post card or something else.  The mail is a cost-effective way to hit everyone on your list quickly.
    • Email Blast – I am amazed that every advisor or salesperson doesn’t have an account with iContact, MailChimp, or something like it.  You can email your list through these services and almost guarantee it will hit their inbox.  Most importantly, you can see who actually opened the email.  You can see how many times they opened it.  You can see if they clicked on a link, downloaded a package, etc.  These services are super affordable, by the way.
    • Phone Call – Use your email blast analytics to triage who to call.  If someone opened the email more than once or clicked on a link…top of the call list.
  4. Engage the Brokerage Community
    • Contact brokers with similar listings – Advisors don’t do this enough.  Make sure that all brokers who have similar listings know about yours.  Then ensure them that if they bring you a buyer who didn’t like the other listing, you will be happy to share your fee.
    • Host a broker forum – Broker forums are a lot of work to put together.  However, they produce results.  They offer the opportunity to put deals together.  They proactively encourage cooperation.  They build relationships and trust.  All of these are huge wins for your business.
    • Email blast – Don’t forget to blast the brokerage community.  Follow up with them the same way you would the ideal buyer.  The single best way to access the largest buyer pool is through the brokerage community.  Turn your competitors into your de facto agents.
  5. Utilize online ads – I’m not going to unpack this, but look into Google AdWords.  These give you the ability to buy ads that only show up to the demographic you specify.  You can seriously target your ideal profile.  This is cheap and potentially very effective.

I ask you to do two things with this information.  First, apply it to your business.  Build a system and then execute.  

Second, share with theBarronBlog community what else you do to proactively market your listings. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

7 Steps to Unleashing Crowdsourcing by Utilizing Testimonials

My wife drives a Toyota Sienna.  Do you know why?  It is because a couple of her friends do.  My family is going on vacation next month.  Do you know how we came up with Disney World?  We asked our friends on Facebook what they recommended.  This is what crowdsourcing is.  By definition, it is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people.

Courtesy of iStock Photo

Courtesy of iStock Photo

Crowdsourcing is not a new phenomenon, but it has never had more power.  Social media has brought the world to you laptop screen.  You can access more content and opinions – and quicker – than you ever could before.  People are making decisions this way.  You probably did today.

Did you know that over 80% of all due diligence starts with a Google search?  Do you know how many people trust a recommendation from a “friend”?  90%!  Do you know how many people are positively influenced by a Facebook ‘Like’ button from someone they don’t even know?  70%!  That number astounds me.

By contrast, only 19% of people now trust traditional advertising.  I’m talking about print, TV, or radio.  Do you know why?  Because the game has changed.  No one wants to hear you toot your own horn anymore.  They want to know about real people who have actually used your product or service.  They want a testimonial.

I plan on writing more in the coming months about the power of crowdsourcing and how you can maximize its advantages.  But today, I want to give you 7 steps to harvest testimonials.  There are a dozen ways to repurpose them once you have them.  First, though, you have to get them.

7 Steps to Getting Testimonials

  1. Make a list of your top client relationships – This is obvious, but you first need to list those clients from whom you would like a testimonial.  Consider who was in love with the service or product your provided.  Consider who has the most clout.  Who are those people who you have done business with who can sway the most people in your direction?  Write them down.
  2. It doesn’t matter how dated the client relationships are – Don’t be concerned if these clients go back years in the past.  It doesn’t matter as much when you provided value, but that you did.
  3. Write the testimonial for them – Typically, you are going to send an email request.  For the first one or two, write the testimonial for them.  It should read, “I’m writing to respectfully request that you write a couple of sentences as a testimonial for the service I provided.  I’m looking for something like this…”  Spoon feed it to them.  Then let them know that if what you wrote is accurate, you are happy to use it as their words – with their blessing.  This is the quickest path to obtaining a testimonial.
  4. Use peer pressure – Once you have your first one or two, introduce peer pressure.  You can accomplish this by including the testimonials you have already received as examples of what you are looking for.  This demonstrates that others are providing these testimonials.  Peer pressure can then kick-in encouraging them to follow suit.
  5. Engage their competitive nature – By providing testimonials you have already received as examples in your email request, you will engage their competitive nature.  Your client is likely to want to give you a testimonial that out-does the ones you have already received.  Over time, this can really work in your favor.
  6. Make it easy – I have a coaching client who has collected recommendation letters for years.  He has a book of them.  It is very impressive.  It also took a ton of work to accomplish.  I’m not saying this is a bad idea because it is not.  I am saying that you will have more success more quickly if you keep it simple.  Use email.  Ask for a couple of sentences.  Provide examples.  Make it as easy for them as possible.  You are interrupting them with your request.  The simpler it is, the more you will get.
  7. Systematize – To this point, I’m suggesting you look to the past for your testimonials.  Once you’ve accomplished that, then systematize the process.  Make it a part of your business to seek a testimonial from every new client you do business with.  Over time, you will develop a stable of clients that scream from the mountain tops how awesome you are.  Remember that 70% of people trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know!

I’d be so grateful if you would add to my list by using the comments section below.  What have I left off?  How have you put the power of testimonials to work in your business?

April’s Top Posts from theBarronBlog

In case you missed them, here are the top posts from April on the topics of Next Practices in Life, Business, and Commercial Real Estate.

I do want to invite you to subscribe to this blog just to the right of what you are reading now.  This will make it so easy for you to get my new posts without having to remember to check my site.  And I will never violate your privacy!

 

April’s Top Posts:

 

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

Make the dang call! via iStockphotot.com

The Anatomy of a Cold Call - While I don’t believe in scripts, I do believe in crafting your opening statement before you call.  Most salespeople have the most problems with how they start the call.  ”Uh, hi.  My name is Bo Barron and I’m with ABC Co.  Uh….how’s it going?”  Terrible!    Read more…

 

 

 

WallpaperWizard-502021866

The first face to face!

The 5 Steps of the Initial Meeting - With some experience and some great coaching, I learned a better way.  Remember, if you are following my system, this initial meeting should be short.  Actually, you told the prospect that it would be short.  If you connect and the prospect starts asking questions – great.  You may be there 2 hours.  However, you told them short.  Prepare for short as you are making an impression as someone with integrity…or not.  Read more…

 

 

 

It is go time!  What do you do?

It is go time! What do you do?

The Winning Presentation - You have now landed a meeting to make a listing presentation (or whatever presentation applies to you).  You have worked through the entire prospecting process to get to this point.  Your put in the work becoming a market specialist.  Building a database.  Sending letters.  Making cold calls.  Conducting the needs analysis.  It has all led to this moment.  You sit in front of the prospect.  The business is there for the taking.  You have the privilege of potentially improving the life of the person in front of you.  What do you do?  Read more…

 

Bo Barron Speaking

Bo Barron Speaking

Why Do We Fall? [Video] -This week I had the privilege of traveling to Salisbury, MD to visit SVN Miller Commercial.  This group is the Sperry Van Ness 2012 Firm of the Year.  They are a study in how to build a team with incredible culture.  They like each other.  They have tradition.  They have camaraderie.  They absolutely dominate their market.

I had the pleasure of training their entire company primarily on prospecting.  At the end of our afternoon together, Brent Miller played this video.  I was so moved that I wanted to share it with you.

  Read more…

 

iStockPhoto

iStockPhoto

Clarity Series – Prospecting – Summary & Conclusion – When I was 15, my dad hired me to clean out a concrete drainage ditch.  That ditch ran behind the houses of a street he had developed.  We agreed on a price and I started digging.  I soon discovered that I could hire my friends at a rate higher than minimum wage.  I made all the income when I did the work.  I made half that amount when they did the work.  Read more…

Thank you so much for reading.  Towards the end of May, I will be introducing another Clarity Series on Presence.  As always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Question:  What is the single most important activity that drives your business?  I challenge you to articulate and explain your answer in the comments below.