Tag : demographic

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165: Get Better Results From Your Facebook Advertising

I talk to auctioneers who don’t see Facebook as a vital marketing tool, because it hasn’t worked for them. After asking a few questions, it’s clear why their Facebook campaigns have reaped subpar results: they’re advertising to the wrong people.

“I posted the auction on my Facebook.”

While it probably doesn’t hurt for you to share your auction with your Facebook friends, few people on your friends list are potential buyers or even referrers to potential buyers. Also, Facebook doesn’t show your posts to all of your friends, anyway—only the ones who interact most with your content.

“I did a Facebook post on my business page.”

This is a baby step forward, but it makes several incorrect assumptions.

  1. Those who like your Facebook page are likely buyers.
  2. People who liked your page in the past because of a specific auction or asset are interested in others.
  3. Facebook shows your business post to more than 10% of your page likes.

For more successful campaigns, you will most likely need to post multiple paid ads. Each will have its own headline and copy, its own photo(s) or video, and it’s own audience. Here are some audiences my auction clients use to see fantastic results from their Facebook ads.

Locals (general public nearest the auction or asset location)

Most real estate—especially farm real estate—sells to someone local. The same holds true for estate sale assets. Facebook allows you to circle your advertising around a specific address. If you know the neighbors or locals won’t be buyers, Facebook also allows you to exclude specific geography.

Current or recent visitors

If you’re selling something to tourists—vacation real estate or boats, for instance—you can target people in a geographic area that don’t live there but are currently visiting. You can also target those who just left that area.

Demographic selectors

Facebook gives you scores of options from net worth and household income to pastimes and priorities. You can pull people who like specific brands, who work in specific trades, who speak specific languages, or who collect specific items. You can also exclude any of the selectors, like recent home buyers (who probably won’t respond to your real estate ad).

Fans of publications

Don’t want to pay to advertise in expensive publications? Can’t make an early deadline? Does the magazine publish after the auction? Does the publisher allow only the advertisers who use their online bidding platform? Then target people who have liked or mentioned the publication. That won’t equal the total circulation, but it’s a lot better than nothing. Not all publications are available, but the current selection comes in handy for a number of asset categories.

Business executives

Whether you’re selling commercial real estate or business liquidations, you can target people based on their executive status. That goes for positions like president, vice president, CEO and others; but it also works for business owners and founders. You can also target executive and management positions in educational institutions and government offices. Facebook won’t grant you 100% saturation, but even a fraction is a good start.

Brokers, investors, and management professionals

Because you can target specific job titles, you can appeal to those who would benefit by bringing you real estate buyers. You can also select Facebook users who attach to the national associations for REALTORS, home builders, and mortgage lenders. For you commercial real estate pros, yes: you can select CCIM members, too. You can also target the investor class to supplement your end-user campaign.

Past bidders and lookalikes

Upload your list of past bidders’s email addresses or mobile numbers, and Facebook will allow you to serve ads to those it can match. You can take that one step further, and let Facebook find you people who look demographically just like your past bidders. This is a free service from Facebook. You pay only for the ads, not the matching.

Email subscribers and lookalikes

Likewise, you can match up to 50% of your email subscribers and direct ads to them. This allows you to reinforce your email and/or direct mail campaign with Facebook promotion, giving potential buyers more interactions with the asset and its headlines. Facebook can build a lookalike audience from these folks, too—again at no charge for the matching, just the ads.

Website visitors and lookalikes

After you install a free bit of code on your website, you can advertise to people who visited any page of your website. So, if you’re selling an asset similar to one you’ve recently sold; you can advertise to people who visited that former auction’s page. Using the lookalike audience tool, you can serve ads to people who look demographically like the people who visited that page. Taking that one step further, you can run (1) reminder ads for the auction at hand to people who already investigated it and/or (2) ads to a lookalike audience of people who’ve already visited this auction’s page.


Finally, you can segment almost all of these lists by any of the other lists. You can also take any of these lists and sort it further by age, wealth, gender, geography, language, and much more. And you can save the lists for future use.

While there are groups or lists of people you can’t find on Facebook, there are a lot of specific audiences readily available to make your auction advertising more effective and efficient. Not all buyers are on Facebook; but there are more buyers there on any given day than in newsprint, magazines, or any TV channel. The specificity to which you can market on Facebook is unprecedented and unparalleled.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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122: The Right Mailing List for the Job

Direct mail typically accounts for almost 60% of my company’s billable work, and a bunch of mailing lists pass through my inbox every week. (My preferred mail house currently averages about 30,000 pieces of mail per business day.) Because of this experience, I regularly get asked where to find lists of buyers and sellers.

Usually I get a request like, “Where do I find people who want to buy [insert asset here]?” There is no such list of people with intentions. There are, however, multiple resources for lists of people who categorically are more likely to be interested in specific assets or services. I’ve narrowed them down to seven categories. Below, you’ll find a brief description of each category and then a flow chart to help you determine which is right for your situation.

Chamber of Commerce

Chambers of Commerce are typically looking for new infusions of income and are open to new members, even those from outside the community.

Pros: gets you in front of local movers & shakers, business people, and referral agents

Cons: usually only give addresses on labels (which can’t be automated and don’t receive USPS discounts); usually takes longer to obtain than electronic lists

Business SIC Codes

Big brother knows what companies do according to tax records and other public information. If you’re selling items with commercial value, it’s fairly easy to find similar businesses to the assets’ current user.

Pros: connects you with targeted prospects; lists arrive electronically and usually can be reused for little or no list cost; geographic targeting ranges from hyper-local to national

Cons: no guarantee that the piece will get past gate keeper to decision maker; mailing typically to a company, not a person; dependent on company accurately reporting their industry specialty

Trade Publication Subscribers

This can be industry-specific publications on the state, regional, or national level or generic business publications in a small geographic area. Regularly, because of publication dates and deadlines, advertising in these print publications isn’t feasible. However, many publications offer rental of their subscriber list.

Pros: gets you in front of niche buyers or local investors & referral agents; often come with surveyed demographics

Cons: can be very expensive, if available at all; often come as labels, which cost you postage and automated addressing

Every Door Direct Mail

The United States Postal Service (USPS) allows you to saturate neighborhoods like no other media with reduced postage costs.

Pros: concentrated geographic coverage, lower postage

Cons: can be slower than first class if not circumvented with secondary services; printing and mailing quantities can be higher to cover geographic area and USPS size minimums

Interest-Based Publication Subscribers

Collectors and people with similar interests often read niche publications. Regularly, because of publication dates and deadlines, advertising in these print publications isn’t feasible. However, many publications offer rental of their subscriber list.

Pros: gets you in front of niche buyers and highly-qualified prospects; often come with surveyed demographics

Cons: can be very expensive, if available at all; often come as labels, which cost you postage and automated addressing

Demographic Consumers

Thanks to public records, you can find people from a wide variety of demographic selectors, including some lists related to hobbies or interests.

Pros: connects you with targeted prospects; lists arrive electronically and usually can be reused for little or no list cost; geographic targeting ranges from hyper-local to national

Cons: prices can vary greatly, according to specificity of selectors

In-House Contacts

Auction, contact management, and database software allow you to capture past clients. Some of that software allows you to query specific indicators such as geography, spend level, etc.

Pros: typically free to use; offers pre-qualified prospects based on past interest; electronic nature allows for electronic use and USPS presorted discounts

Cons: requires maintenance (content input) and constant updating; not as exhaustive as purchased lists in that the selection is only from past interactions, not the community at large.

Mailing List Flow Chart

Stock image of mail boxes purchased from iStockPhoto.com.

71: Getting the Right Clients On Board

Jetliner SeatsI’m writing this post on what will probably be my last jet flight out of the Lynchburg airport. To kick off 2011 on an efficient foot, Delta will be withdrawing its regional jet service from Atlanta, leaving Region 2000 citizens with the choice of US Airways prop service to Charlotte, private jet charter, or a long drive to a Virginia or North Carolina city with an interstate exit.

Even with 80% average occupancy on it’s 2010 flights, Delta hasn’t turned a profit here since 2008, when it operated at 62% average occupancy.† In an effort to offer Delta a package that would keep flights connecting ATL and LYH, Lynchburg city officials brought in airline industry consultant Mike Boyd. Boyd told them the problem was not how many passengers were on the planes but what type of passengers were on the plane.†† In a small city with multiple college campuses, our jets fill early with lower fares, instead of higher-margin last minute purchases typically purchased by business travelers. (Boyd suggests that Delta embargo availability of a number of seats until the last two weeks before departure to regain the higher-margin fares.)††

I can’t fault Delta. As I track productivity and profitability for biplane, I excuse myself from specific accounts, refer work to competitors or peers, and selectively change pricing structures.

Not all clients are created equal, even if they can keep you equally busy. Most of us want high-margin, headache-free work; the challenge is how to attract that work.

Part of that is branding—answering the questions, “What public personae are we projecting? And what kind of business does that attract?” You will have an uphill battle attracting premium clients with subpar marketing or high volume liquidators with a mom-and-pop feel to your collateral.

Part of that is taking the time to measure efficiency, review profitability, and quantify intangible aspects of your work. You might be surprised where you’re most efficiently generating revenue. Then there’s the question I asked during a recent consultation: “How much do you need the money that comes with that headache?”

Part of that is a brave self-control to shew away a bird in the hand to make room for one or two in the bush. A good, indirect way to sift prospects is changing your price points and/or terms of transaction. Sometimes, I just explain to now-former clients or prospects that biplane is not a good fit for them. It’s better to have a difficult conversation on the front end of a poor fit than on the post-game evaluation. (I’ve learned that one the hard way.)

So, where’s your sweet spot? For some it’s in high risk/reward problem solving; for others it’s in predictable efficiency.

And with whom are you working when you’re in your wheel house? It might be a demographic group, a personality type, or infrastructure.

From where do these good fits come to you? Answering this question will give you a good start on where you can go to find more clients like them.

Successful, popular brands—name plates like Apple & BOSE, CNN & FoxNews, MINI & Jeep—don’t appeal to the blank masses. They implement specific brand strategies to duplicate their happy customers. Do you?

[footer]†Bryan Gentry, “Delta to discontinue service from Lynchburg airport,” October 27, 2010, Lynchburg News & Advance
††Bryan Gentry, “Consultant: Lynchburg airport could keep Delta,” November 12, 2010 Lynchburg News & Advance[/footer]

I’m really glad God doesn’t take just the easier cases, those with wills more pliable than mine. I’m thankful his invitation isn’t segmented to a specific people group.

The hard part for me is extending that patient, unbiased, consistent grace to others. So often, I prefer to associate with those who agree with my theology, those whose journeys are closest to my own, those whose needs fit into my available time and resource windows—the people who I’d look forward to having on my street in heaven.

But, as Andy Stanley wrote, “Grace is inviting to the unrighteous and threatening to the self-righteous.” When ugly feelings brew inside me over certain people, I am convicted by this litmus test and have to ask myself if I’m starting to take credit for any transformation Christ has accomplished in me.

[footer]Stock image used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2010.[/footer]


It’s Not Who You Know

Mafia MenWe’ve all heard, “It’s not what you know but who you know.” In my life and career that has proven true time and again, and I’ve been on the fortunate end of that equation. But recently, that idiom has grown nuanced for me in—of all places—a movie theater.

Thanks to our town having a second-run (“dollar”) theater, I got to watch this summer’s A-Team movie four times before it left the big screen. I’m not normally an action movie guy, but I’m hoping whichever sibling drew my name for Christmas this year gets me the ensuing DVD. There are too many quotable lines to count, but one of the most practical lines came from “Face.” In military prison, living large with luxury amenities, he reveals the secret of his success.

“It’s now who you know. It’s how you know them.”

This is the premise of black mail and organized crime, extramarital affairs and Free Masonry, BALCO employees and undercover police officers. On a warm, fuzzy note, it’s also true of romantic relationships—unless you just heard the death knell of, “I’d like to be [just] friends.”

What does this have to do with marketing?

Consumers are more comfortable transacting with vendors who’ve gained their confidence—local or otherwise. You gain part of that confidence through consistent branding, the sum of advertising and customer interactions that continually reinforce the culture and quality of your services and/or products. Some of the biggest disappointments that we as consumers face is discovering a disconnect with the expectations companies have created in us, like Apple has recently experienced with their iPhone 4 foibles.

Western culture celebrates the brands we love, even wearing or displaying the logos of our favorite companies on our clothes, shopping bags, and Facebook “like” lists. We recommend the products and services we buy and talk around the water cooler about those with creative marketing or cool stories like TOMS Shoes and Zappos.

So, how do you initiate those relationships? And how do you move from initiating those relationships to brand trust or—even better—customer evangelism?

Evaluate and extrapolate from your current client base.
If all you want is more customers in the store, you’ll waste your advertising budgets. So, research the common denominators of who already likes you and recommends you. Discover the kind of people or businesses that best match your culture and proficiencies; then research prospects that are as identical as possible to them.

Codify and celebrate your company culture.
Chick-fil-A and GoDaddy.com have very different brand images; and both have experienced wide-spread success. You get specific mental images when you think “Geico” or “Yankees” or “VH1.” Determine the mood and message of your brand; then build your advertising and transaction environments around them.

Hire some brand police.
Don’t just spend money to fill a media quota; and don’t let advertising leave your office, unless it meticulously matches the rest of your materials and media. The public’s retention of your brand runs parallel to your advertising’s consistency both (1) from one advertising medium to another and (2) between your advertising and your company’s underlying culture.

Keep the hits coming.
Most guys don’t propose on first dates, yet entrepreneurs do it all the time. One of my clients recently lamented that their first mail piece to a certain demographic didn’t generate any significant business. They wanted to get to at least second base on their first date. While that may be possible with some creative marketing or serendipitous matching of their need—at their time of need—and your solutions, you’re probably going to have to take the prospects on multiple visual dates. People may not need your services right away or may need multiple impressions to recognize and remember your message apart from the din of the marketplace.

Get conversational.
Go to the trade and home shows where your clients mingle. Host free seminars or cocktail receptions; take people to lunch or a sporting event. Personalize invoices and/or receipts. Write hand-written notes. Sponsor local fundraiser events or maybe create a float for a parade. Better yet, get behind a non-profit as a corporate partner or spokesperson. Even if you have to hire someone to do it for you, use social media presence to post helpful links and interact with people as humans. Don’t interrupt their Facebook and Twitter streams only for broadcasted announcements; no, jump into show-and-tell like Local Motors does. The more patient and engaged you are, the more interest and/or trust you can capture.

For a lot of this, the payoff seems abstract, if not distant. But I’ve read or witnessed too many success stories to dismiss the value of a brand that’s unique and authentic, creative and engaged. So, discover who you are, and spend your time with folks who like people like you.

Charles Jones said, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today, except for the people you meet and the books you read.” It’s interesting for me to compare where I was spiritually, relationally, emotionally, and experientially five years ago to today’s vistas in those same categories. I’ve met a God I hadn’t known, despite life in a minister’s home. I have more and deeper friendships than I anticipated having at this stage in life. Five years ago this month, Crystal and I were planning our first post-honeymoon vacation to somewhere other than a family gathering. Since then, we’ve traveled to multiple countries and found interests we didn’t know we had. My magazine subscriptions and other non-fiction inhalation has sling-shot me into valuable positions with influence.

As a Christian, how I relate to God and his book definitely determines the rate of change in my life. Right now, we’re going through a challenging series at church, called “All In.” The basic premise is that we have as much of God and his supernatural impact on our life journeys as we want. That’s heavy. That means we change only as much as we release to sovereign access.

We can do the ritual gig, punching our spiritual time cards each weekend (or even more often) and living mostly-tidy lives. Or we can fall in love with our eternal groom and watch what that intimacy does to us. It’s scary. I struggle regularly with surrender—in multiple areas and on various levels—to the unseen omni-everything. Thankfully, heaven rewards me with an unexplainable pleasure and presence, when I do surrender. And he’s got a bunch of that for you, too—if you want it.

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7: Prospect Mapping

Mind ReadingIf you’re reading this email, chances are at some point in time you’ve asked me to find a list of people who buy [insert your property here]. “I need all the people who invest in real estate in these towns.” Or: “I need everyone who buys greenhouses in Arizona.”

In this information age, we expect to be able to tap big brother to find out the kinds of people who buy the stuff we want to sell. Like a Minority Report database, there should be a record of people who are thinking about buying our stuff.

Of course, we can’t read peoples’ minds, let alone their intentions—at least not in advance and from a distance. So, we try the next best thing: reach people who already own one of whatever we’re selling. We assume that people who have bought one will want to buy another. Many times, they do. And sometimes, it’s something publicly recorded like a house or a fishing license; and we can grab their addresses.

For specific items, it can be trickier. Who owns the list of people who buy Mazda’s? Mazda, maybe a few of their venture partners. It’s proprietary information. Mazda might trust you to tell you how many people bought which cars and maybe per state or age or gender—if you can find an information officer or public resource to divulge that. Each state’s DMV office may have their citizen’s information but are unable or at least unwilling to share that.

So, what do you do? You have to reach them, or you won’t have auction bidders. And your tested and proven in-house lists don’t have a category for this property.

Find web sites and publications that market to the specific buyer prospect. Take your clues from the seller. What do they read? What web sites do they bookmark or visit often? Where do they interact with other owners, collectors, or enthusiasts? Where and how did they buy it? These offer great marketing leads.

The more specific the demographic, the less often a publication typically publishes—even bimonthly, quarterly, or semi-annually. However, their web sites typically allow for immediate placement. Sometimes, the publications even sell classified listings on their respective web sites. If the sites allow text searching, even better. Some will also insert your direct mail piece or a synthesized page into the publication already going to your prospect. This way, they pay for the postage and the recipient demographic mapping.

It might be worth buying some distinct google adword(s) about specific items [1929 Indian] or real estate features [infinity pool] to grab internet traffic, when there isn’t a related site or one with significant traffic. It takes time to do this, especially when you’ve got a long list of unique items or features; but the best bidders for some items or features are rarely in your home county. Like the online used car site’s commercial demonstrates, there’s a buyer out there for your seller’s lime green Honda Del Sol.

You may have a great direct mail piece you want to distribute, and direct mail response rates remain strong. Sometimes the answer is a purchased mailing list. It doesn’t hurt to supplement your other media with such. Just don’t depend solely on it to find your buyer(s) or to do so with the quantity efficiency of your proprietary lists.

It’s always been unreal to me how followers of Christ mesh. People from different socioeconomic and family backgrounds unite over a common experience and a shared cause. I have friends all over the country that are like family, people whose lives have truly reached into mine, sometimes briefly yet often profoundly—people I met solely through the universal church.

But it’s easy for American Christians to get comfortable with the club, to carry an aura of exclusivity. That tendency fully fledged in one generation could halve the true church. Or worse. Too often, it keeps people from feeling welcome in local assemblies and wanted by God.

For the movement of God to keep moving, we believers have to keep moving—out of our comfort zones and into new environments with new people. God gave us circles of influence—clues, if you will, as to other people to whom he can relate through us individually.

It’s cushy in the circle, but we can make a bigger circle when we take time and energy and courage to venture from it.

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