Pamela Dittmer McKuen is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in homes, lifestyle, and travel. Read her work at AlltheWritePlaces.com
Lights, Camera, Sale
Broker-owner Shannon Register launched her Houston-area brokerage with a focus on technology and education—and a state-of-the-art production studio.
October 1, 2011
Shannon Register, ABR, e-PRO
Broker-Owner, Register Real Estate Advisors, Spring, Texas
www.rrea.com; www.rrea.com/blog; www.rrea.tv
A brief history: Started in real estate sales in 2008; opened brokerage in January 2011
2011 gross sales through Aug.: $4.6 million on 35 transaction sides
2011 projected sales (projected): $20 million on about 95 transaction sides
Number of offices: 1
Number of sales associates: 15+
CREATING AN ONLINE PRESENCE
I got my real estate license in 2008 because my husband, Matt, was selling land owned by his family’s manufacturing company and I would handle the transactions. Eventually he sold the company. As long as I had the license, I decided to give the business a try. Starting my real estate career during the worst Houston market in a generation, I was forced to think differently. Technology was not something I knew much about, but I believed it could help me become extremely successful. I studied through many late nights to develop an online marketing strategy.
Matt, who is an entrepreneur and a turnaround guy, helped build my Web site, where I began blogging on real estate topics. It took six months of posting every day to become credible enough with the search engines to gain respectable traffic. When it did, the Web site was generating up to 10 times more leads than my buyers’ agent or I could handle. Unfortunately, as an agent, there’s no efficient way to refer a significant number of leads to other agents. I needed my own brokerage to control all of my leads.
MOVING INTO VIDEO
In January I opened Register Real Estate Advisors with a business model that is technology-heavy and education-focused. We lease 3,500 square feet in a new strip center and have built out raw space. Video blogging was getting big, but we didn’t want our videos done with an iPhone and a shaky hand, like so many we’ve seen. We added a production studio to create our own radio, television, and video programming. The studio has a green screen, Teleprompter, five-microphone mixer board, and four built-in HD cameras. We can record or broadcast live. We’ve produced almost 200 listing, marketing, and educational videos for our YouTube channel, and they’re the same quality you’d see on your local news.
A huge benefit from video is the shortened sales cycle. I used to have to prove myself to prospective sellers and get them to trust me. Now they’ve seen me on video so many times, they feel they know me. Buyers view videos to narrow their searches instead of driving around for days.
SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE
I teach my agents how to build their online business. They make listing videos for their own sites, which are subsites of the RREA site, and they make video posts to the RREA company blog. It’s a great recruiting tool. They want to learn this. They know they need it, especially in this economy, but they don’t know how to go about it. Sometimes it takes a little coaxing to get someone in front of a camera, but we help them. We give classes on how to stand and how to project their voice.
As for public education, we have more than 130 videos on our YouTube channel and 1,500 blog posts on topics such as remodeling trends and how to improve your curb appeal. The RREA Blog, as we call it, was named “Best Real Estate Blog in Texas” by the Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M University. We also give out a free e-book, “The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate in a Down Economy.”
TYING IT ALL TOGETHER
About 80 percent of our business comes from the Internet. The rest comes mostly from yard signs. We still use some traditional marketing methods, but we’re making them interactive. For example, all of our direct mail, business cards, and signs have digital watermarks or QR codes. When those marks and codes are scanned with a smartphone, they lead to a related video. We measure how many people respond and what they respond to, which you can’t do with the older methods.
We’re constantly looking at the newest technologies and figuring out how we can use them to serve our clients. We’re experimenting with Facebook apps, mobile IDX search apps, microtargeted online advertising, and much more. Everything we do is designed to drive people to the Web site, which is our hook for relevant traffic and lead conversion.
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