If it’s true that “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak,” just think what it does for real estate clients! Sue Eller of Dilbeck Real Estate in La Canada, Calif. has an inkling.
While she’s easy going and quick to laugh, there is one way to rile her up: Tell her there’s no time to be creative in real estate. “That’s really not true. Those of you who are creative know that you can’t help yourself.” Eller is, above all else, creative.
A graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston and a 22-year veteran of the television industry (as a music editor), Eller finds subtle ways to allow her creative side to sneak into her business side. She believes that music “elicits emotions, and buying a house is emotional.” Because of this, she carefully chooses each piece of music used in her videos and even what is played at her open houses.
This creativity is carried over into her marketing as well. Eller’s Facebook page is entitled “Real Estate and All that Jazz,” she produces and edits all of the videos on her website, and she is hooked on the marketing capabilities of Pinterest, which she calls “a visual Facebook.”
“I have a creative head and I like to take artsy pictures of my listings.” Those photos aren’t your standard here’s the-front-of-the-house variety, either. She finds interesting architectural aspects and turns them loose on Pinterest – such as her board full of amazing photos of nothing but doors.
“I incorporate still shots into my videos and I always use a professional photographer.” How is Pinterest working for her real estate business? Although she hasn’t yet seen many leads from it, she sees the potential and realizes that, as in all social marketing campaigns, she needs to put more time into it.
Facebook remains Eller’s favorite social marketing platform because it allows her to develop an “affinity marketing program. I want the process to be about understanding one another on a different level other than just real estate. I want to work with people who I want to be around. Facebook allows me to leverage that. For instance, if you have 100 creative people in your Facebook world and you post stuff that interests them, they share it. Pretty soon, those 100 people turn into 200, 300 – the potential to reach like-minded people is enormous.”
Although Sue became a Realtor® in 2006, she added her first staff members during the past year. She has a buyer’s agent – fellow musician and Berklee grad Kari Carson – and a client liaison, graphic designer, assistant and general go-to-for-pretty-much-everything guy, Matt Letcher. Together, Eller’s Sellers are set to produce over $10 million worth of real estate transactions this year.
Since half of Eller’s business is by referral, she understands the importance of follow-up to achieve client retention. Her system begins at the beginning of the listing period when she has a professional artist do a watercolor of the home for the sellers. She uses a digital file of that painting to integrate into her marketing campaign, and the painting is given to the seller as their closing gift.
Married to Bob Yousefian, previous city councilman and former mayor of Glendale, California, Eller has absorbed an almost encyclopedic knowledge of city zoning laws and ordinances – items that come in handy when dealing with real estate clients. “I can speak to zoning issues to this day even though my husband is no longer involved in politics.”
One aspect of Eller’s real estate business that may surprise many agents is her fondness for holding open houses. “It’s funny, I do a lot of social networking, Facebook and the like, but since I’m best in face-to-face situations, I’m really good at open house conversions.” That’s followed up with a thank-you note: “you know, handwritten and put in an envelope that the post office delivers.” Old fashioned? You’d be surprised how this simple courtesy touches her clients. “Nobody writes letters anymore,” so what may be considered old fashioned to some is refreshingly different to her potential clients.
When asked what she feels it takes to become a successful real estate agent, Eller sums it up in one sentence: “Stop marketing and start being social.”
She pauses, and asks if she can add something from a sign she keeps prominently posted at her desk: “It’s sometimes frightening to trust my intuition, but it is always disastrous not to.”