Business Plan 2007: Blog For Leads
Teresa Boardman is back! Last week we were in the trenches with her, examining the challenges of embracing the technological side of real estate. Today we gain some perspective on why business blogging needs to be a big part of your marketing strategy for 2007. Enjoy!
It is that time of the year again. Well, actually it was that time of year last month; time to complete my business plan for 2007. I figure out how much money I want to make, and then I figure out how many transactions I need to accomplish my financial goals. The transactions are then broken down into buyers or sellers, and then I figure how many appointments will be needed each month to meet the goals. After I have my numbers I start planning the tasks that I will need to complete during the year that will generate the number of appointments I will need. My budget plan is generated at the same time.
I break my activities down into a schedule with weekly and monthly goals. I am not quite to the point where every day is scheduled but I do some time blocking each day so that I can complete the most important 20% of my tasks, the tasks that will result in revenue. A few years ago some of the 20% would have included cold calling, today it includes writing blog posts, because last year I added my blog to my business plan, with goals and a budget.
My goals included Technorati ratings, and number of hits per day. I also set a goal of having at least 3 transactions with people that I met through my blog. I am happy to report that by October I made my goal and currently have two buyers under contract that I met through my blog, that will buy homes in the next four to six weeks. I have also had two listing appointments with people that contacted me via email after reading my blog this month.
I would not allow myself to use time during my business day to write a blog if it were not part of my business plan. To justify the time expenditure it has to be an activity that produces revenue, or in some way part of another business or personal goal. If the blog did not help my business I would continue with them but would call it a hobby, and post less frequently.
Some would say that a blog is not a tool for lead generation. I would argue that if the goal is to use a blog to meet people, some of those people will become clients, if they know where to find you and if you have given them something of value, in the form of information. My business is built around my database and my goal is to get as many people in my database as I can and actually meet them or have contact with them. People are more likely to do business with people that they know, so my goal is to meet people and get to know them, and let them get to know me.
To accomplish my goals for my blog I have to keep my content focused on real estate and on St. Paul, MN, which is not easy to do. Part of the reason that I am here on Jim's blog is because I do have a lot to say that is outside the scope of my blog. Sometimes I even like to write blog posts about blogging, or about some of the big issues facing the real estate industry. The audience that I am trying to attract to my blog are not as interested in these topics as I am. Most of my readers come in through search engines, using phrases like "condos in St. Paul, or "St. Paul home prices". I try to use my blog to demonstrate that I have experience, expertise and that I really do know my market area. I track key words and search terms through Hit Tail, and then write more on the subject and re-use the key words to help keep my content focused. The content can be focused with out being boring, by adding humor, pictures and having posts that are off topic. The process is somewhat intimidating when I consider the potential for antagonizing people, or boring them.
If anyone says that blogs do not generate business, I am here to tell you that my experience has been very different. As the number of visits to my blog increases so does the number of people who contact me with real estate related questions and needs. There is a need for consumer content on the internet. Since real estate is a local business, blogs are a great way to provide unique local content that home buyers and home sellers can not easily find elsewhere. The most popular content I have is the monthly break down of home sales and prices by neighborhood. The content can not be found of the web sites of major real estate companies or national real estate web sites.
I have met some wonderful people through my blog including other bloggers, and am thrilled when I get comments from my peers around the country. The people I have met that have become clients are my "A" type clients, but not everyone I meet on the internet is a good prospect, they are no better or worse than the people I meet through open houses. Last July I worked with a couple that had spent the winter in France. We communicated via email all winter. By the time they arrived in Minnesota we all felt like we had known each other for a long time. Relationships can be built in cyberspace and those relationships are just as valid as the relationships we built with people that we meet in person.
My internet presence and relationship building strategies are not embraced by the local experts in the real estate industry. My support system in this endeavor is mostly in cyberspace where I meet like-minded individuals who are trying to accomplish the same goals. We are all figuring it out as we go. For other, more mainstream types of prospecting, which are encouraged by people in the know, there are numbers and metrics. For my blog, I have to learn my numbers as I go, and listen to some experts who tell me that what I am doing is not a practical way to get appointments and win business.
Thank you Teresa. We love having you 'on the vine'.
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