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By Michael Krisa

RISMEDIA, May 2, 2008-Stuart Sutton of Prudential Texas Realty is a top agent in his area and an accomplished master at the art of Internet marketing. In a recent interview, Sutton shared some of the classic mistakes agents make with their websites and how to avoid them.

krisa_michael.jpgMichael Krisa: What system did you implement to make money from your online presence?

Stuart Sutton: What’s funny is that a lot of people think, “The Internet, Internet, Internet is different, different, different, and we have to do something that nobody else has done and we’ve got to change because…” Well, that’s not really the case. If you really boil it down to simplistics, we follow three rules offline, and we should follow those rules online as well.

The first one is we want to attract prospects. The second, those prospects need to engage. Third, we have to follow up.

Now, something as simple as a sign in the yard when they drive by, guess what? The sign attracted them. They have to pick up the phone and make that phone call or engage.

Third, we follow up. If we don’t follow up, nothing happens. The same thing has to happen online. They have to be attracted, they have to engage, and then we follow up.

The mistake most real estate agents make is just putting a website up and expecting people to come, engage and e-mail them and say, “Hey, sell me one of these houses.” That’s not the way it works.

It’s the same concept as offline. You’ve got to attract them. Then they have to be attracted enough, and there’s got to be enough service and enough information to motivate them to engage. So then, you can do what you do best: follow up.

The better we follow up, the better the chance we have of doing business with somebody. So, we’ve got to accomplish that online. And that’s why we built a system, because we couldn’t find it.

The very simple concept of “how does the consumer respond” and “why do they respond” can be used online just like-before the Internet existed-we used it offline. We’ve got to stick with those same principles.

MK: You’ve used this word “engage” a few times. What do you mean by opportunities to engage?

SS: The consumer has to give us information. If we don’t have an e-mail address, if we don’t have a phone number, we can’t follow up.

The two simplest examples, and maybe still the most effective, are providing them with a home valuation-finding out what the homes are selling for in their neighborhood. If they want to know that, if they want information on that, they need to engage. They need to give us their e-mail address and information about their home, where they live, whatever the case is, so that we can provide that information to them.

Once we’ve provided that information, we’ve provided a service. When you provide a service to someone, you’re building a bond-whether you know it or not. You’re creating an obligation because you’ve done something for them.

And the other, obviously, is to provide houses and information about homes for sale. The bottom line is the consumer can get information anywhere. They don’t have to have us to get information about houses. The Internet can do that for them.

We’ve got to provide a service that is valuable enough to consumers that they will engage in our website; then we can follow up.

MK: So, what you’re saying is, from a consumer’s perspective, the website has to get them excited. If I’m a buyer or a seller, it’s going to be information pertinent to me about the area that I’m moving into-schools, special reports-about how to sell my home?

SS: But it’s got to be something compelling enough that I’m saying, “Hey, I’m interested in this.” And then there’s an exchange. “I’m going to give you my e-mail address or phone number to get this information that you have to offer.”

Michael Krisa, aka “That Interview Guy,” has been a practicing real estate professional since 1989. For the past four years, he has hosted his own syndicated interview series featuring some of the best and brightest people in real estate today. He can be reached at