I've had several people request that I blog on this for more information. I've offered this advice to many who have asked the questions, "How do I get business?", "How do I get agents to understand what I'm offering?", and "How do I get testimonials?" My answer for all of these is the same.... EMAIL Monthly Newsletters. (If you want to see copies of my newsletters, go to www.RedesigningCharleston.com and visit News, Articles & Links or click the photo below)
Constant Contact is my primary email newsletter source. I'll first explain why I use them and then I'll explain how to write a really good newsletter - one that AGENTS will read! Constant Contact generates a database after your newsletter has been sent that tells you WHO has OPENED the newsletter and WHO has CLICKED THROUGH. It gives you their email addresses, when they opened it and what pages they looked at. To me this is really valuable information. I can track what is actually interesting to them. I know who to later target additional marketing through, etc. After my first newsletter I send (snailmail) a handwritten thank you card with my business card to every single agent who clicked through (around 500). - I've discussed handwritten cards in another blog.
Ok, now you know who to use to help you - how do you write one? I have a simple formula that works. In the opening section I advise something seasonal or local - this month is was spring is here, azaleas are blooming, etc and reminded them that it was time to plant seeds, to assess their gardens (business) - what's working what isn't. Hey, have you thought about STAGING? They are always basically the same questions, phrased around what is timely....
Next paragraph - You want business? You want testimonials? Let other agents do this for you. When I do a good job on a home (which should be everytime, right?) I ask for the quote and mention my newsletter - they may or may not receive and/or open it. I advise that I'm always looking for quotes from agents who are happy with my work. When I use their quote I add photos and the MLS information so the other 1300 agents on my list can take a look at the property. What agent would NOT give you a quote then? Didn't you just tell them you were going to advertise their property FOR FREE? I have no issues getting testimonials. They are lining up to be the quote of the month. Boy can you get some fabulous quotes then! I always add links to before and afters in this section. (I use Kodak Gallery ) This is the highest click through area of your newsletters. AGENTS WANT TO SEE THE BEFORE AND AFTER PHOTOS!
The next two sections are interchangable but they should always include the following: How staging is an excellent marketing tool & What's new in the industry (yours or RE in general) - this month I featured Active Rain. These are both about making THEIR businesses better. Yours will be better if you can make theirs better. Be careful on the self gratification on your newsletters - as with any marketing you do. I always make it a point to remember that I am not desperate for business (which I'm not - that helps) and that karma is always a good thing - in the end it will take care of you.
The very last section is the closing. I always thank everyone for their support and advise that I'm looking forward to talking to more agents & clients. Short & Sweet.... we're done.
Now you want to know what the results are, right? In my first month of newsletter writing (I had what I call snow blindness on my datebook - all the pages were covered in white) I had 10 appts within 20 minutes of the first newsletter being sent. YES, you read that correctly! Now, after 8 months of mailing them I still receive an average of 3-5 jobs off of each one. Other stagers in my area write newsletters too. I don't hear good things about them. I usually get copies from the agents - "hey look what your 'competition' is doing - no compitition for you at all"
Why are mine more successful? I would of course like to think it's me... but I'm sure it's not. Here's what I belive it truely is. My newsletters are consitent. I send them out on the Tuesday or Wednesday of roughly the 15th of every month. NEVER on Mondays - agents are too busy catching up to deal with your silly newsletter. NEVER on Fridays, They have checked out of the office and are working on the upcoming weekend. Thursday might work, but in all honesty I find that statistically speaking my numbers are best on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
I also add points of interest - visually appealing photographs - slideshows - links they want to click on. I keep my newsletter clean. I don't use bold, italics or underlining excessively. Honestly I'm probably over the top in this blog, but I'm trying to link and I don't have a beautiful format to use to create boundries and focal points. I also make the newsletter about them, not me... of couse I'm plugging my business, but I"m showing them how I can make them better, not how they can make me better.
Ok, so there is one more question, right? Where do I get the 1300 email addresses? Well, I'll be completely honest here. I am a licensed RE agent (I only use my license for MLS & lock box keys). This makes my job really easy. Why aren't you a RE agent? It only costs about $300 in most areas and you are given the keys to the kindgom so to speak. It's the kiss of death to list homes or actively work at RE and be a full time professional stager, but why don't you work on your true knowledge of the industry? Consider it continuing education. Besides, the lockbox card is worth it's weight in gold. I never have to have anyone let me into a vacant home. I come and go as I please. I don't go pick up keys, etc.
Ok, now that that rant is over - you can take forever gleaning the information off of the internet. You can take all of the business cards you've gathered from realtor presentations, open houses, etc and create a database for them, etc. If you aren't super busy with work, then you should be doing these things anyway. When you get super busy you won't have time anymore.
If you are interested in getting a $30 credit with Constant Contact, send me an email and I will refer you. When you sign up you will receive a free trial and $30 credit!
I hope I addressed everyone's questions... If you have more, you know where to find me..... I am going to take this moment and insert a shameless plug for my business since one of the services I offer is a monthly newsletter..... If you don't want to read my shameless plug - please just ignore it, don't send nasty grams, I'm warning you about the shameless plug in advance.
Melissa Marro, First Impressions Home Staging & Interior ReDesign, www.StagingAndRedesign.com
Shameless plug inserted here: In the coming weeks, First Impressions (http://www.stagingandredesign.com/ ) will be adding a new membership level to our website allowing stagers and redesigners not certified under the FI banner to be represented on the website. Members will be added to the "Find a design specialist" page with links to their website, contact info etc. They will also be eligible to use our newly designed message boards to interact with those in the industry. Monthly newsletter designed specifically to help enhance and expand business and industry education will be provided to all members who are interested. This is designed for those (clients/agents) looking for stagers and redesigners in their parts of the country. New members will be given logo to use for marketing and link back to FI. Cost of membership is $175/yr. If interested, please contact Melissa Marro @ Melissa@StagingAndRedesign.com
Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging
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For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).