In my last post, I talked about SellingSaskatoon.com. This time, I caught up with the man behind it, Cam Bird, for an in depth Q&A session – to talk about marketing, selling homes, and everything in between.
So without further ado…let’s get started!
Point2: What would you consider your most valuable online marketing initiative? (Blog, Video, Website, Syndicate Listings, etc)
Cam: I wish I had more time to blog to enhance the site even further and increase traffic counts. As you know Blogging with “fresh” content pushes your site to top of the charts in the search engines. However, I am guilty of not doing that very often but I am in the market to hire that out (under investigation now to sub that out). The best thing we have done is the video of our listings whereby we either use a little flip camera and do our own thing, or on the larger more elaborate homes we have hired that out and found a great photographer that does exceptional work.
Point2 is to be commended for the quality of the pictures that get posted at amazing speeds. The syndicate listing program is very beneficial as I constantly get people visiting my site through the extensive radio and TV advertising I do, and for those that have accepted me in handshake agreements – I guarantee their listings get tons of exposure via this form of advertising so why not syndicate with most of your colleagues?? In fact, just today I had another inquiry from someone who is asking me questions from the IDX program she had signed up for and is asking about one of my handshake agent’s listings… so everyone benefits from the system… the consumer, the seller and the agents involved.
Point2: Which online marketing activities do you find produce the best results?
Cam: My best results for online marketing is the lead generation that is built into my Point2 site. People who visit the site and enter their names get emailed automatically each home that matches their criteria…. I then get these emails from the customer thanking me for keeping them so well informed. The letters that are created and sent automatically are great and well worded so I just thank them for their business and sell them the house they have emailed me that they want to see… its all good.
Point2: What percentage of your business do you think is generated by your online marketing activities?
Cam: Considering I have not held a Public Open House or ran an ad in newsprint for the past 4 -5 years, I would say that 100% of my business is derived from online activities. Again I touch about the need to drive people to my site via the radio and TV ads, but when they get there they do get the help they are looking for… at the end of the day it spins off into buyers who have come to the site.
Point2: How much time do you spend on SEO and/or social networking?
Cam: Other than Facebooking and spending social time on there I don’t get a lot of business on Facebook. We do post our listings on Facebook (my son who works with me does this)… however, there is plenty of opportunity to promote the site and do more things on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc that we can all and should all be on. It’s the time factor to be everywhere that makes it difficult to do all this… show and list homes and have somewhat of a social life… it’s tough to get the perfect blend in lifestyle, however, the site has allowed me to make more money and when its time to take a break… it’s a good one.
Point2: Do you keep accurate traffic data of your online marketing initiatives?
Cam: This is just something that we stumbled across within Point2 – the availability to see where all you’re your leads are coming from and what works and what doesn’t. I find this now to be a great way to source my business and do the proper investing to get the best ROI.
Point2: We all struggle to balance the time between being out in the field and finding time to update our website/blog/engage in social media/marketing. What tips would you give to those looking to find a balance between all of these?
Cam: That’s a great question… If anyone reading this has a great answer – would love to hear from them. In the event that I arrive at an appointment early (which seldom happens), I will use my Blackberry and go online and do some little posts just to keep in peoples faces. I do believe too much is bad, as overkill on Facebook can be hard on one’s reputation. The little status updates that say, “Up at 7am sipping on coffee having a left over donut,” are a waste of time for me to even read, and I find them very annoying. So I don’t want to be one of those that give every breath I take as part of my day and post it on Facebook.
Point2: In terms of the conditions of the real estate industry (especially in the United States), what would you say is the most vital thing a real estate professional can do to ensure success during unstable economic conditions?
Cam: We here in Saskatchewan feel we are in an incubator and have been doing very well economically versus other parts of the world, with our rich resources we are fortunate to have. I have great friends to the south of me in the USA, and for the most part those that stay the course and stay focused on the issues at hand learn to deal with real estate the way it unfolds. We, as REALTORS, did not create the market place but we get to deal with it, and it’s important for us as REALTORS to not take it personally when prices dip below what people paid for the home. There are people still buying homes in the most depressed locations throughout the US, and it all depends on proper pricing.
In 1991, our market was in turmoil and I had to resort to wining and dining bankers. I began to work that angle but one has to adapt and stay updated on the Short sales, and learn the way to win them and get the short sale for their Buyers… that, I understand is quite a technique to pull that off – and for those who have taken the time to read this, and are having problems learning the proper way, ask others in your market on the do’s and don’ts of a short sale. There are still the same number of houses and people… they all need a place to live, so either an investor is going to be buying them and renting them back to the people who have lost them, or the end user – the owner occupier will be buying them. Everything will sell given enough time to sell!! The Point2 lead generation and drip mail programs are a huge factor to keeping in front of people and showing them you are there to help them buy or sell.
Moral of the story –stick with it, those of us who do come through will be that much better off when things do turn around and they will turn around!
Point2: Where do you see the real estate industry in the next 5-10 years?
Cam: Newspapers will be used to put in your canary cage – they are a thing of the past. I always tell sellers there was a time and a place for a telex machine. When I started in 1985, I had to have the ‘Vendors’ as they were called back than to send me a telex saying that they would take the price or whatever the case, and that little ticker tape type of paper formed part of the offer. In 1986, was the first time I had witnessed a fax machine -so my question to the seller is how many telex machines do you think were sold once the fax machine was created? Not many.
The purpose of my point is the same scenario for the newspaper – it is a dying business yet they wont truly admit it. I have not ran an print ad for 4-5 years, and yet am doing just fine selling my 100+ ends per year here in my market. How? Its so easy that everyone who has cash has a computer and shops online – that simple! We will have to continue to adjust and rely on improving technology to keep ahead of the times or stay up with the times, but do I feel that the REALTOR is going to dry up like a leaf and blow away? ABSOLULTLEY NOT! Buying a home is the largest single investment anyone makes in their entire life, to attempt to buy a home without the services of a REALTOR makes no sense. After all, its usually the Seller who pays the fees so why would anyone want to be a buyer and do this on their own? Makes no sense to me, so it always has been and always will be a people business – but for those not willing to adapt to the new technology, sorry to say but I will be taking your business away from you in a matter of time! All the Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin… plus whatever lies ahead, we had better adapt and accept it – as it is coming, so either adapt or get off the bus.
Point2: Lastly, just for fun… Favorite new home feature? New home ‘style’ and why?
Cam: To save some face, by the time I get this to you and out to the agents my “like” will be old news, so better keep with basics. The technology of being able to adjust the temperature of your home from a cell phone and turn on your surround sound from a cell amazes me… but like I stated, that is old news. I will wait for the robot to be sitting there with my rum and coke when I get home, and I can just dictate to it to do my blogging for me!! My dream home will be backing a golf course in Phoenix, but for style and plans, as long as I can still swing a golf club I will be a happy camper!
Do you have a website you want to show off? Or maybe some useful marketing tips you would like to share with the real estate community? Let us know!