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September 29, 2011

Posted by mattdollinger in Uncategorized.
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@atproperties chooses real estate veteran to head Lincoln Park office – chicagotribune.com http://ow.ly/6IwuM


Good article from @MarketingSherpa: PPC April 12, 2011

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Good article from @MarketingSherpa: PPC Campaign: Marketer learns to deliver 75% increase in sales http://ow.ly/4yz65

One of the best simple sets of Social Me April 9, 2011

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One of the best simple sets of Social Media Icons for free and commercial use allowed SoftIcons.com http://ow.ly/4wRiT

Advertising vs. Marketing (Part 2) Know your Clients to Know the Difference July 1, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Cool Technology, Customer Sevice, Industry Misconceptions.
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This is a follow up to my original post “You’re NOT Marketing… How to STOP Advertising and Start Marketing!”. This Utterz talks more about HOW to incorporate the knowledge of your target audience into your efforts to create true MARKETING campaigns instead of Advertising.

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You’re NOT Marketing… How to STOP Advertising and Start Marketing? June 30, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Customer Sevice, Great other Sites and Blogs, Industry Misconceptions, Using This Technology.
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So, I’m driving down the road today and had to take a picture of this. Why? Because it reminded me of how so many companies (not just real estate companies) approach their marketing efforts… Even more so, it made me think about how many people, (and industries), don’t know the difference between ADVERTISING and MARKETING.

Are you investing in Real Estate MARKETING or Real Estate ADVERTISING?

Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.

Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.

Quick Test – Based on the definitions above, categorize the following real estate “marketing” efforts:

  • Just Listed Postcards – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Email Drip Campaigns – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Direct Mail Campaigns – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Online Banner Ads – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Farming a Neighborhood – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • FSBO’s and Expireds – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Informercials – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Grocery Carts ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Cold Calls – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)
  • Agent Websites – ___ (Advertising) ___ (Marketing)

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Here’s a newsflash though… ALL OF THESE ARE FORMS OF ADVERTISING BUT DON’T HAVE TO BE!

So, how could we turn some of these “Advertising” efforts into “Marketing” campaign?

Just Listed Postcard to renters featuring a property suited for First Time Buyers – Marketing

Email Campaigns focusing on things to do in your town, or information specific to their buying needs

Direct Mail Campaigns focusing on the psychographics of your database (See Understanding Your Clients Post Here)

Farming a Neighborhood and sending them to a website like the one of my past agents developed www.510werie.com

FSBO’s and Expireds can benefit from the information and help you can provide to them (80% of them will sign with a Realtor, 70% will sign with the first Realtor they talk to, and they’ll probably use you on the buy side if they like you and feel you helped them)

And the list goes on…

It’s time to innovate, and bring yourself and emotion into the equation. By reading, living, and incorporating the true definition of MARKETING listed above, you will be taking the first steps forward into a new level of business.

Matt Dollinger

Google Alerts – Managing your Identity, Favorites, and Your Competition June 23, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Cool Technology, Google Gadgets, Great other Sites and Blogs, Using This Technology.
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Ok… Maybe I’m a Junkie, but I can’t write enough great things about Google.

So let’s say… hypothetically of course… that you like reading about all of the following things:

  • Real Estate Market Statistics
  • The latest technology for your Blackberry
  • Social Networking Media Developments
  • Indie Rock Bands playing in Chicago
  • Great Grilling Recipes
  • Barack Obama
  • Matt Dollinger I mean whatever your social identity is.

Wanna know when there’s a GREAT article written, blog post, update or anything else on these topics? Try Google Reader and it’s delivered comprehensively to your email account daily, weekly or monthly FOR FREE. Easier than using Google Reader (and for different purposes), Google Alerts give you a simple way to monitor sports scores, the political campaign, your Social Identity, and research the competition.

Below are two videos that will show you EVERYTHING you need to know about setting up Google Alerts, Keywords, and delivery methods. Enjoy!

Matt Dollinger

Basic Using of Google Alerts

Using Google Alerts as Your Virtual Research Assistant

Fear and the Art of Real Estate Success June 20, 2008

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The Only Thing We Have To Fear… Is Fear Itself

On March 4, 1933 Franklin D. Roosevelt faced a country in fear, in depression and receited one of the most eloquent speeches in Presidential history. Entering the Presidency in the middle of the Great Depression, Roosevelt inherited 13,000,000 unemployed and almost every bank in our Nation closed. In his first “hundred days,” he proposed, and Congress enacted, a sweeping program to bring recovery to business and agriculture, relief to the unemployed and to those in danger of losing farms and homes… sound familiar?

Fear was not an option for FDR. Having battled to use his legs after being stricken with poliomyelitis, the challenge of facing a Nation at its knees was simply another battle.

Today we face issues ourselves. Homes, Jobs, and a fluctuating economy strike at the heart of each of us, and for those of us in the Real Estate profession it is our turn to overcome this fear. Fear is not simply an emotion, it is a debilitator, it is a paralyzation, it is a disease that can only be overcome by action.

And so I urge those of you with the strength to stand up against this fear to combat with the tools you have amongst you. Educate your clients. Arm youself with knowledge. Embrace new technology. You are the solution… not the disease, and rather than pointing fingers and throwing blame assist in rectifying the problem. Action will combat your fear. Knowledge will rise you above. Education will move you forward.

The Utterz below was recorded after talking with a friend, facing unemployment, and struggling to rise above the Fear.

Matt Dollinger
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Understanding Your Client and Creating a Long Term Experience June 16, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Customer Sevice, Great other Sites and Blogs, Industry Misconceptions.
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So, what do you actually KNOW about your clients and referral sources?  You probably know the following demographic information:

  1. 1.  Where they live.
  2. 2.  What they do for a living.
  3. 3.  What their general income looks like.
  4. 4.  Their race, sex, and family status.
  5. 5.  Possibly their educational level.

But the question becomes, “Does this truly make them people,  or are these just demographic factors that we often draw assumptions from?”  I think this is a huge difference between knowing your clients’ Demographics and their Psychographics… and I believe that the Psychographics are what we really need to know.

What’s the difference between the two?  According toWikipedia

Demographics – refer to selected population characteristics as used in government, marketing or opinion research, or the demographic profiles used in such research. Commonly-used demographics include race, age, income, disabilities, mobility (in terms of travel time to work or number of vehicles available), educational attainment, home ownership, employment status, and even location.

* Psychographics– are any attributes relating to personality, values, attitudes, interests, or lifestyles. They are also called IAO variables (for Interests, Attitudes, and Opinions).

I made my first post this morning on www.Utterz.com(this site is incredibly cool.  Audio-blogging) talking about how I am working with my agents to develop marketing campaigns geared around creating a Long Term Customer Experience throughout the course of the relationship… not just the transaction.  Where this is pretty Real Estate specific, I believe that it could easily be incorporated into any business that depends on the word or mouth advertising or referrals of clients. 

–> If you’re interested in putting together a long term email campaign for your clients like this, listen to my Utterz post here:  http://tinyurl.com/5hqztl

I think that the important thing to focus on when developing this type of email campaign to your clients is your target, or “Top Ten” list.  These are your “Top Ten” client and referral sources that you would like to  clone into ALL future business.  These might not be your most expensive clients, or most likely to buy tomorrow, but they are people you enjoy working with, respect you as a professional, and think highly of the service you provide.  Below are the steps I recommend you take to develop this campaign:

1.  Send the email below to your “Top Ten” list of clients and contacts

To get a copy of the Psychographic Variable Introduction Email click here http://tinyurl.com/5d2qmg

2.  Follow up with a phone call afterwards to go through the fact finding questions with them.

To get a copy of the Psychographic Variable Questions for clients click here http://tinyurl.com/6s3z2r

3.  Review the answers that you get from your “Top Ten” and find the 6 degrees of separation between them.  The typical shared interests will usually be food, drink, family, travel, fun, etc.  These will determine the “Personal” content of your campaign.

4.  Print out a 12 month calendar and determine what your campaign will look like over the next year.  (i.e. July might be an Al Fresco dining recommendation, August could be day/weekend trips before school starts).

5.  Determine what “Professional” elements you are going to include in the campaign. (i.e. market data, links to articles of interest, etc.)

6. Put these elements together into a short (2 – 3) paragraph email with a couple of hyperlinks together for your database to review.  (1 paragraph intro, 1 paragraph personal, 1 paragraph professional).  The idea is that even though the campaign’s content is based on what those MOST IMPORTANT TO YOUR BUSINESS would find valuable, it will probably appeal to a much broader database. 

Our goal is that our clients and contacts will:

*Find it VALUABLEenough to pass onto their personal sphere of influence

*Brand us as a local community EXPERT, and increase communication between us

*Open the lines for referrals, because referrals are a Two Sided Business

*Take the first steps in becoming a LOVEMARK to our clients, and not just a brand

Ask yourself this question.  “When you’re driving down the street and see a For Sale sign from your company that isn’t your listing, don’t you feel just a little proud of that?  Don’t you feel that because you have contributed to that company, that the agent’s success for that property is partially yours?”

Usually, the answer is YES.  And just like that situation, we want to make our clients and contacts feel part of our business, feel like contributors to YOUR success, and most importantly… special.

The thing to remember here is that this is target marketing.  We are not trying to be all things to all people… we are attempting to truly understand and deliever information to those that effect our business most positively.  On top of that, I believe you’ll probably feel much more confident (See Become the Jame Bond of Real Estate Post) in your communication with clients when you provide something of value to them. 

Matt Dollinger


Become the James Bond of Real Estate – 20 Ways to Boost your Confidence June 13, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Cool Technology, Customer Sevice, Great other Sites and Blogs, Industry Misconceptions, Using This Technology.
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“He who has confidence in himself will gain the confidence of others.” – Leib Lazarow

So what do James Bond and the most successful Real Estate agents that I know have in common that so many others lack?  It’s simple really… they all have an unbelievable amount of confidence.

Seriously though.  Would James ever face a time sensitive situation with SPECTRE, the end of the world at hand, and face whatever beautiful damsel was with him, (personal favorite was Honey Ryder ‘aka Ursula Andress’ from Dr. No), only to say, “Ummm… yeah… I don’t really know how to handle this.  Let me call Q and figure this out.”

HELL NO!  James would have done his research, know EVERYTHING about whatever Hans Blofeld was threatening with, disarm-blow-up-stop it, order a martini, and end up sailing into the sunset with gorgeous woman in tow.

My point is that James, like many other admirable people in business, film, etc. has confidence, true confidence.  Confidence isn’t bought, or scripted, or sold to clients… confidence is learned, earned and projected through knowledge.  In real estate, it is one of those almost emotional intangibles that allows one agent to differentiate themselves from others in their field… and to go against common belief from some, it does not come from an expensive suit and a foreign car.

To Me, ( and this is only my opinion) confidence in real estate comes from the following:

*Market Knowledge

  1. What does the currently inventory look like, new developments, projected developments, etc.
  2. What is the average market time in the area for SOLD properties and what is the average market time for UNSOLD properties.
  3. Asking price, selling price, # of price reductions, etc.
  4. Appreciation rates year over year and trends

*Neighborhood Information

  1. What school districts are in a particular neighborhood, what are their scores/rankings, who would your client contact to enroll their children.
  2. Parks, restaurants, nightlife, etc.
  3. Shopping, grocery, fire department, police, post office, crime rate, projected commercial development
  4. Public transportation, commute time, etc.

*Current Financing Opportunities

  1. Current traditional loan rates and requirements
  2. FHA possibilities, knowledge of process, requirements
  3. New/Changing State Legislation
  4. Declining Market requirements
  5. City Tax Smart Programs and Other Bond Programs  

Short Sale, Foreclosure, and Pre-Foreclosure Homes

  1. Benefits/Cautions of purchasing one of these homes
  2. Understanding of the short sale and foreclosure process including paperwork
  3. Why these homes might not be a bargain

(Good, Honest, Researched) Answers to some of the most common questions

  1. Why should I buy a home right now and not in 1 year when home prices have declined?
  2. What is FHA financing and why should I consider this?  Isn’t this only for low income?
  3. Am I going to make money on this home when I go to sell?
  4. Can’t we go in 100K under asking price and see what we can get?
  5. What’s your role as a Realtor/Why should I work with you?

If an agent can answer even 60% of these questions I think that they should have a pretty hefty amount of confidence in the Marketplace.  Maybe not to the level of Mr. Bond himself, but allot better than a majority of their competition.  Where would someone go to find this information? 

  • Pricing –
  • My all time favorite program available to most Realtors is Agent Metrics.  www.terradatum.com  Check to see if they have an agreement with your association or if you have to pay for the program.  Either way, it’s worth your time to gather a good understanding of this program and blow the competition away.  Ave. Sales Price, DOM, Inventory, and Absorption rates in both chart and graphical format.  Enough to make a numbers nerd like me salivate.  (CAUTION)  STAY AWAY FROM NATIONAL REPORTS LIKE THE S&P CASE SCHILLER REPORT.  READ MY POST HERE TO READ MY THOUGHTS ON NATIONAL REPORTS.



  • Current Financing Opportunities –
  • My feelings are that if your current mortgage broker isn’t taking it upon themself to help educate you on the different options, programs and rates out there, you need to work with another broker.  It’s not enough to say, “I have a mortgage broker for that.”  YOU need to know what the programs are, how they work, and what you could recommend to your clients. 
  • Fannie Mae has an unbelievable amount of information on their website regarding programs and insight into the industry 
  • Freddie Mac also has much of the same information.  Stay with the big boys as far as information unless you have a trusted local lender.


  • Short Sales/Foreclosures/Pre-foreclosures
  • Check with your local association.  Many are offering GREAT training programs to their membership
  • Sean O’Toole over at Foreclosure Truth has a GREAT forum for answering and asking questions
  • The Inman Blog – search short sales, foreclosures, etc. for leading industry insight
  • The NAR Website has a great section on short sales, how to manage them, etc.

Confidence effects people in many different ways.  Lack of it can paralyze you from doing anything at all including the simplest of prospecting activities, phone calls to your closest of clients, negotiating the proper price of a home, or even talking to clients at an open house.  Knowledge is power, and by becoming empowered, you will always come out on top, and ready to take on the world.  “Shaken not stirred”

Matt Dollinger


“The You Factor”



Starbucks, The 3rd Place, and Creating The Ultimate Customer Experience June 10, 2008

Posted by mattdollinger in Customer Sevice, Hometown Chicago, Industry Misconceptions.
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So I was sitting in Starbucks this morning across the street from one of our offices, meeting with a couple of agents.  In between meetings I approached the manager (Kelly) to see if she might have a couple of minutes to talk.  I told her that I was interested in finding out about the culture, mentality and training program that Starbucks implemented, and she was happy to talk about it.

The reason I chose Starbucks, was because it has always stood out in my mind as one of those “Experience Entrepreneurs”… highly talked about in Joseph Michelli’s book “The Starbucks Experience“.  It never really was about the coffee to me with Starbucks… When I think about Starbucks, I think about Comfy Chairs, Great Smells, Pretty People and WiFi.  To be honest, if the choice is between Starbucks and a local provider, I will always try to support the little guy.  But I digress… and millions of people across the world frequent this franchise on a daily basis.  Below is a detailed account of what I learned in 15 minutes from a Starbucks Manager named Kelly.

“Starbucks Coffee is the #1 purveyor of coffee in the world.  We are here to educate and enhance the best possible customer experience – Howard Schultz

  •  Starbucks goal is to become the Third Place in our daily lives.  (i.e. Home, Work and Starbucks)  “We want to provide all the comforts of your home and office.  You can sit in a nice chair, talk on your phone, look out the window, surf the web… oh, and drink coffee too,” said Kelly.  (Notice she put “drink coffee” last???)
  • “The idea behind customer service here is to make it one that isn’t just good, we want to make it Great.  If people have a BAD experience, they’ll tell 7 people.  If they have an average experience they’ll tell no one.  If they have a GREAT experience, they’ll tell 2-3.  Making it a great experience though, isn’t just about service.  If they have a problem (bad drink, cracked lid, etc.), we want to do everything to make it right, then and there.”
  • “Our entire training process is learning by example.  We have new employees shadow experienced people to learn how to make the drinks, how to talk with customers, how to interact.  You can’t learn that kind of thing from a book.”
  • “We approach everything in our store from a ‘What I would want’ mentality.  The music, the cleanliness, the service… everything has to be what we would want if we came in as a customer.”
  • “When we look at hiring someone we always ask the question, ‘What does coffee mean to you?’  For some people it’s simply a pick me up in the morning.  For me, who never drank coffee before, it was something that brought people together.  It’s a conversation piece, something that opens the doors between people or allows others to simply lose themselves and relax.”
  • “Good attitude, curious into what the customer needs/wants, outgoing, and conversational without overstepping any boundaries.  This type of person is not only an asset to the team, but the customer as well.”


“What’s another company that delivers service like Starbucks?  I ride motorcycles and I would have to say that Harley Davidson does a really good job.  If I’m looking for a part, I can talk with someone that day and know that they’re not only going to call me back, but they’re going to check in with me afterwards to make sure that I got everything I need.” – Kelly

Apple, Starbucks, Harley Davidson… all of these have done everything they can to understand the wants and needs of their customer, while delivering them at a human, interactive level.  Do I think that Kelly probably has an incredible knowledge of beans, roasting processes, and an intricate coffee palate?  Absolutely.  But, I assumed this walking in the door.  What keeps me coming back is the fact that they have inquired, done their homework, and delivered on their promise to become the 3rd place in my life. 

They understand the importance of The Customer Experience and have invested alot of time and money to deliver it.  Even though Dunkin Donuts has better coffee according to Consumer Reports, is about $1 cheaper, and is more convenient, I (along with millions of other consumers) will drive a little further, spend a little more time, and spend a little more money for what is promised by this company from Seattle. 

I’ll take a side of Customer Experience with my Americano please…

Thanks Kelly.  By sticking to the Starbucks “You Factor” you made my experience great… and I’m telling my 2-3 people.

Matt Dollinger