Lead generation is a constant topic in our industry. The traditional model still technically works, but only if you define “works” as a less than 1% conversion rate for the contacts you make. Plus, you’re usually starting from zero with these leads. You are building your entire relationship from scratch. They know you want their business, just as you know they want to buy or sell. Yes, it frequently turns into a longer term relationship, but it’s a lot of work getting there.
Networking events and organizations can be better, but frequently are not. If you’re going to use them, try applying my six step networking process to make it effective. Networking is work too, and your goal should be a long-term relationship that benefits all parties.
The problem with most lead generation strategies like the two listed is that they aren’t unique. I don’t mind cold calling and responding to internet leads, but I don’t like the conversion rates. Even if you triple the “normal” rate, you’re maybe up to 3%. Networking using traditional methods is great, but every formal networking group already has a real estate agent, don’t they?
Beyond low conversion rates, I have a problem with how some of these tactics make me feel. My personality clashes with things that feel like used car style tactics. “Who do you know that’s planning on buying or selling real estate in the next 30 days” sounds a lot like “what can I do to get you in this car today” to me. Judge me as you like, it’s just my hang up.
Thankfully, I have found a long term lead generation strategy that allows me to kick off new relationships by immediately delivering value to potential clients. I also have the option to offer that value to anyone I believe could be a great future client or referral partner. I don’t have to wait for a response from a lead source or marketing campaign.
A little over a year ago, I started a simple podcast that highlights the accomplishments of people in my community. I cover three different areas in our city; entrepreneurs, charities, and people I believe have an interesting story. As you can guess, it’s a pretty broad brush. I’ll never have a shortage of potential guests or subjects for the show.
Before you write it off as something that’s not viable for you, here’s how it’s working for me. In the last year, I’ve interviewed 37 people for my podcast. Out of those 37 people, 4 have become clients, 2 with closed business in the last 3 months and 2 working toward it in the next 6 months. 4 out of 37 doesn’t seem like much, but that’s a 10.8% conversion rate for a subset of people that I never had to “pitch” real estate to!
How many times have you had a team leader or coach tell you to “deliver value” or give “an item of value” to prospects? We mail football schedules, farm neighborhoods with pens, flyers, and whatever else we can come up with that might be valuable to people. In reality, though, none of those items are truly valuable. What is valuable is offering a business owner or professional an opportunity to spend 30-40 minutes talking about their story; either personally or their business, then helping them distribute it throughout your community.
Here’s a fantastic example of the impact something this simple can make. I met a couple that were considering a move, but weren’t really committed to it. Mrs. Buyer is a special education teacher in a local school, so I asked her to record a show with me to give people a “behind the scenes” look at what a special ed teacher does every day. We sat down and just talked in my office for 30 minutes about how she got into the field, what she likes about it, what the challenges are, and what she’d like people to know more about. Very easy. I published it in February. It got 100 or so downloads/listens in a month or so.
About 3 months after our podcast session Mrs. Buyer and her family closed on their next home with me. They point of trust that was established immediately was that I have their interests first. That started before they got serious about a home. Another 3 months passed and this client’s trust was reinforced more. One evening as I was driving home from showings, I received this text:
“ I am at a ‘meet the teacher’ at PHS and a mom told me that she listened to my podcast and that has helped ease her worry about her son having a new teacher! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be on your podcast! [T]hen she got tears in her eyes. No joke. I almost started crying. ”
There’s no football schedule or pen that can compare to being the catalyst for a connection between a teacher and special needs student’s parent. I can honestly say I had tears in my eyes during that text exchange. No commission check can compare to that feeling. As a side benefit, I guarantee have a completely loyal client who is a champion for my business in our community. That's the type of connection that builds long term trust.
This kind of impact is simple to make with your own podcast. You get to choose who you speak to, so if you want to target successful local business owners for your real estate business, why not interview them for your show? I’ve sat down with 37 influential people in my community over the last year simply because I’m asking for an appointment to help share their story. I’ve used the old cliche “be interested to be interesting” before, and it still holds true.
I’ve also found a podcast can help stimulate referral behaviors with previous clients. Let’s face it, even with a great experience, you’ll have past clients who just aren’t active referral partners. If you have a past client that’s in a great position to refer you but it isn’t happening yet, schedule them for a show and let them tell their story. They’ll remember the value of you trying to help them make an impact in what’s important to them, whether it’s a business, charity, or cause that’s important to them.
That’s only a couple examples of the impact you can make. Bottom line is this; you can use a simple local podcast to get in front of potential clients you’d normally not have a shot at. It’s cheap, easy, and effective if you stick with it.
So how do you go about producing your own show? I’ve written out an overview of what steps it takes to make it happen. I found a similar overview when I started my show and then just searched for the appropriate resources. This overview doesn’t delve into every detail, but if you want to jump right in, it will guide you along. I’m working on a very detailed guide that walks you through everything step by step.
So, take a look at these 11 steps and think about it. It’s easier than you think. If you’re curious to know more, just drop me an email at Scott@altiores.com. I’d be happy to answer questions or help out.
11 Steps to Create Your Podcast
Pick your topic.
First and foremost, make it non-real estate. The point of this project is to reach people that you aren’t connected to and establish your voice in the community, not to advertise your real estate business. The connection you are trying to make is primarily with your guests. The topic of your show should have two important components; first it should be of widespread local interest to the area you serve. Second, it should be something you are interested in. If it’s boring to you, it will be difficult to motivate yourself to do the research or continue producing the content.
Don’t worry that you won’t get to talk real estate with your guests, you will. Either before or during your recording time, they’ll ask about what you do and why you started podcasting. Here’s what you can tell them. “I’m a local real estate agent and I love our town/city. I thought this would be a great way to help others see how fantastic it is.” Those don’t need to be your exact words, but keep the idea the same.
Pick your name
Keep it short and easy to remember! Ideally, the name should tell a bit about the stories you’re telling, but ultimately, it should be easy to remember. You’ll be telling people about the show and if they can’t remember what to search for online, they’ll have a hard time finding it. For example, the name of my show is “KC Greats.” It’s simple and easy to remember, plus it tells you that you’ll be hearing something about Kansas City that is great. Very basic.
Acquire your equipment
The great thing about a podcast is that you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to get things started. In a quiet environment, you can record using nothing but your smart phone. If you’re not sure you’ll enjoy the process, start there. If you want a little better quality, you can record to your laptop with an inexpensive microphone. Unless you know that you’ll continue for some time, I wouldn’t spend a great deal of money on equipment. Clarity of your recording is important, but you don’t need to have professional grade sound.
If you’re just giving this a trial run, simply start with your iPhone or Android smartphone. Both have native audio recording apps you can use. I’ve found it very easy to use Evernote to do this as well. Just add a new audio note, set the phone between the two of you and record. I’ve actually had to resort to this as a backup one time when my primary recorder failed mid-interview, so it’s good to know how to do it.
Choose a host
Wait, don’t you already know who will be hosting this show? Yes, but wrong type of host. You’ll need a server to “host” the audio files of your shows. You’ll want to get your show on to iTunes, Google Play, and your favorite podcast apps, and they get your show files from your host. There are multiple options at different price points available. Soundcloud is a very reliable service no matter what level you produce content, plus they have a free option if you’re just starting out.
You’ll also want to learn how to connect your show to iTunes at this point. Your host will have specific instructions on how to copy the name of your RSS feed and submit it to different services to make the connection. If you’re just trying this out for a few shows to see if you like it, don’t even worry about this right now.
Create an Introduction
Most podcasts will at least have a musical lead-in before the content begins. As you’re beginning, it’s simplest to start each interview with a simple introduction of your guest, then you don’t have to record and edit a separate introduction as well.
For a musical intro, you’ll want to purchase a clip of “royalty free” music. You can buy clips of generic music that include a mechanical license, which allows you to make changes to the music to use it in your production. A cursory internet search will find hundreds of different sites to buy music and the price per track starts around $10 and goes up from there. Don’t just pull something from your iTunes library and cut it down to the right length. You’ll be breaking copyright laws and that’s not the best way to begin.
You’ll also need some type of audio editing software to make your introduction and edit the programs later. I’ve never used anything but Audacity, a freeware audio editing program. There are tons of great YouTube tutorials on how to use the program. You don’t have to understand every single function, just the basics of how to cut and fade audio clips.
This is the easiest part. As a matter of fact, here’s the exact email I send to potential guests. I send this cold to people I’ve never met, usually to an email address I found on their company website.
I host a local podcast here in Kansas City called KC Greats. My focus is to tell cool stories of people doing great things right here in KC. I think your story of XXXX XXXXX would be perfect for it.
The show isn't sponsored or monetized, nor do I promote my "day job" on it, so you don't have to worry about being associated with anything you don't support. I also don't do politics on it. I've included a playlist below in case you'd like to check it out to see if it's a fit for you.
Please let me know if you're curious to chat, or if you have any questions at all.
Just cut and paste the email, changing the details to fit your show. Obviously, if you haven’t got any shows yet, you’ll want to delete the part about the playlist. I use the subject line of “Potential Podcast Interview” and just send the email. There is zero risk to it and you’ll be surprised at the types of people that will agree to talk with you.
You’ll need about an hour to record with your guest. Make it simple for them by going to their location. When they ask what you need, just tell them you need a semi-quiet environment, like a typical office or conference room. Perfect is the enemy of good. You’re not trying to get studio quality sound, so don’t worry too much about it.
Before your interview, take at least an hour and research your guest. Make short notes for yourself about businesses, projects, and important topics you might want to talk about. If you’re focusing on a specific city, like I do, it makes starting the conversation easy. I typically start with some form of “are you a Kansas City native?” If they answer yes, I encourage them to tell us a little about where they grew up in the area. If it’s no, then I simply ask what first brought them here.
Before you start the conversation, you’ll want to remind your guest of a couple things. First, if they’re new to this too, remind them that it’s digital recording, so if they don’t like something they’ve said, they can just start the answer over and you’ll edit it out. No big deal. Reassure them that you’ll remove any long pauses if they’re thinking over an answer for a bit of time. Your goal is to make them look good and sound smart by doing so.
Also, remind your guest that this is just a conversation about their story. Tell them the major topics you researched and ask them if those are okay to talk about and if they have any other specific projects or causes they’d like to highlight. If it’s important to them, it’s important to you! At the end of the interview, I like to ask about their “hidden gems” for our city; places that are special to them that they think other people should know about. This can be anything, and the answer doesn’t have to be obscure. Just let them tell us about what they like and why.
After you’ve captured your interview audio, you’ll need to edit. In addition to adding your intro music to the show, you may want to add an outro at the end of it. You’ll record this during your editing process and summarize the show, ask your listeners to review or share the show, and close it out until next time. Like everything you’re doing, keep it simple. If you feel your show audio is good enough, don’t even do an outro at first. Just work on getting in front of people.
Remember, you’ll need to go through the show and edit out any answers your guest wanted to re-do and take out long pauses in the action. These are very easy, because you’re just cutting out extra. Once you’re getting good at editing, you’ll be able to cut out filler words you or a guest uses, such as uh, umm, and the like.
The audio file is the primary item you’ll want to produce, but you’ll need to support it with a graphic that has each show’s title as well. This way when you post the link to the show to social media sites, people will see the picture with that show’s info in a well presented format.
Simple is the key, right? I use Canva, a free design program, to create my show graphics. Here’s an example. I’d recommend using something similar. Go to Pixabay or a similar free photo site and search your city’s name. If you can find a simple skyline picture or something similarly recognizable, use that. If your city is smaller and you can’t find something like that, just search on the site for your state instead and find a nice, generic pic.
Once you have downloaded your picture, upload it to Canva and drop in a heading and subtitle to create your show graphic. After the first one is created, you can just change the episdoe information as needed.
Upload to your Host
This is also a very easy step. Once your file is created, you’ll want to save it to your host. Soundcloud for example, has a simple “Upload” button at the top of the screen. After that, you select your file, add a title and your graphic, then let it upload. Depending on the size of the file, it’s usually done and ready to share in 5-10 minutes.
Finally, you want to get the word out about the show. Find and copy the link for the show from your host, then immediately email it directly to your guest. Thank them for being on the show, remind them they’re welcome to share it however they want and let them know you’ll be publicizing it on your social media channels the next few days.
After that, take the time to post the link to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and whatever other social network you use. If your team or real estate business has a blog, you might want to use that too. Tag the guest or their business on every post you make if possible. You want them to see that you’re working to promote their story.
After a few days, if you have a significant number of downloads or listens, make a call to the guest and share that with them. They always like to know how it goes. If you want to continue to follow up with them, wait until the 1 or 3 month point and contact them again to tell them how many listens they’ve had. If it’s someone you really hit it off with, ask them if you can buy them a coffee or a drink to say “thanks” for the show. Get together and continue the relationship.
If you focus specifically on highlighting non-profits or charitable causes in your area, you’ll start to be invited to their annual galas and fundraising events now. These are fantastic ways to meet more people, find more guests, and keep growing your visibility in the community.
Is it work? Definitely. However, it can really be a fun project. I’ve never had such an easy time getting past gatekeepers to people I’d like to connect with. Plus, I believe I’m really doing a good thing for my community. Many of the people I interview are people doing very good things for our city and spreading the word about their causes can really help them make a bigger impact.
If you’re curious about starting your own podcast, let me know! Scott@altiores.com. I’m working to get a full course put together that walks you through in extreme detail how to start and publish a podcast.