Real Estate Call Capture – Shifting Your Focus Back to Your Clients

The real estate business was designed to assist potential home buyers in purchasing their home. Whether they are first-time buyers or seasoned home owners, real estate agents are still the best option to help people find the property they need – but the business of real estate has changed dramatically over the years.

In the real estate industry’s infancy and beyond there was always a lot of leg work involved. Agents worked from offices but rarely spent much time there. A majority of the day was spent showing homes to buyers; often late in the evening or on weekends. Clients were obtained by walk in traffic, by the use of flyers and newspaper advertising, by cold calling and door knocking.  While some things have remained the same, there is much that has changed.

These days, the introduction of technology has advanced the industry and improved the marketing methods used by real estate agents. Real estate call capture technology is rapidly becoming the leading method of marketing and sales for real estate. Like most significant advances in business, call capture is a simple but highly effective technology that allows the agent to shift their focus to the most important things in their business – their clients.

A real estate call capture system gives the agent a unique toll free number which includes unlimited extensions that can be put on advertisements, signs, websites, and newspapers listings. Call capture technology is completely virtual and requires no installation of hardware or software. The concept is simple, yet the benefits are staggering.

The impact that real estate call capture technology has had on the industry is quickly becoming apparent. With its use, agents have increased their revenue and number of leads. Every lead is automatically tracked and followed up on, so potential buyers and sellers are never overlooked, no matter how busy the agent may be. Every time someone calls, the information is passed on to the agent regardless if the caller is calling from a land line, mobile or blocked number. This definitely benefits the agent as they don’t have to worry about people not leaving messages or leaving inadequate contact information. Hits on websites can easily be transferred into leads by directing them to the call capture system which then can be converted into sales.

With the call capture system generating, capturing and updating the agent on all leads that are coming in, they can spend more time nurturing the those leads and their clients that they are already working with.

There are many extras included with most real estate call capture systems as well. They provide the agent with access to a wide variety of sales and marketing tools, such as newsletter systems, marketing campaigns, and advertising systems. The various extensions that can be added can also be assigned to certain ad types. Agents know if the person is calling in regards to an ad they read in a newspaper, online advertising, a magazine, or on a sign rider. This assists in determining what type of advertising is working best, making it possible to allocate money and resources to the most effective ads.  By using the advertising tracking abilities of a call capture system, an agent can free up valuable time and resources that can be better spent on only the best advertising and on taking care of their clients and their needs.

There are benefits to the home buyer as well. Because of the fact that most real estate agents spend a majority of their time away from their office, it can be difficult to contact them. Messages can be left and calls missed. A hopeful buyer may miss out on the opportunity of purchasing a home because they couldn’t reach their agent, and the agent may miss out on a sale and commission. The call capture system can forward a client’s call to the office, home, cell phone, or any other phone number of the agent’s choosing. This ensures that the agent can be reached at any time. The result is that the clients feel as if they are receiving personal service and a client is more inclined to work with an agent who can offer them personal, quick, and efficient service.

Being able to service clients more efficiently is the key to obtaining more sales, establishing good customer relations and excellent word-of-mouth advertising. Agents can now spend more time listening to what their clients need rather than having to spend so much time trying to find ways to generate more leads and manage their advertising. Having to focus energy on creating flyers and ads is time consuming and can also be counter-productive to what the agent is trying to achieve.

This call capture technology is drawing more and more interest towards the real estate business. There is definitely huge potential to make money in the real estate industry, and by using up to date programs such as call capture, money can be made more quickly and with less initial cost. Real estate agents who use the call capture system report that it has changed their way of doing business significantly and that it makes them feel more comfortable and confident in their jobs.  It is expected that, like web sites and cell phones, call capture will soon be a standard tool of the real estate industry.

The 4 Types of Real Estate Investor Financing

Throughout my real estate investing career, I’ve spent many dozens of hours speaking with lenders and potential financiers of my deals. With all the different types of loans and equity financing products available to investors these days, it’s important to have a good understanding of the benefits and the drawbacks of each, so you can choose the most appropriate financing option for your particular need(s).

Of course, given today’s credit situation, options are not only more limited than they were a couple years ago, but the definition of a “good deal” from a lender has changed as well. When I first started looking at financing for single family houses, I passed on a couple potential options that in hindsight were pretty good given today’s tight credit market; so it’s important to not only understand the types of financing that’s out there, but also which types are most prevalent and most easy to come by.

The point of this article is to define the four most common types of financing available to real estate investors; while there are, of course, more than four ways of financing real estate investments, most are a derivative — or combination — of the four we will discuss here.

1. Traditional Financing

This type of loan is generally done through a mortgage broker or bank, and the lender may be a large banking institution or a quasi-government institution (Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, etc). The requirements to qualify for a loan are based strictly on the borrower’s current financial situation — credit score, income, assets, and debt. If you don’t have good credit, reasonable income, and a low debt-to-income ratio (i.e., you earn a lot compared to your monthly obligations), you likely won’t qualify for traditional financing.

Benefits: The benefits of traditional financing are low-interest rates (generally), low loan costs (or points), and long loan durations (generally at least 30 years). If you can qualify for traditional financing, it’s a great choice.

Drawbacks: There are a few drawbacks to traditional financing for investors, some major:

  • The biggest drawback to tradition financing is what I stated above — it’s difficult to qualify these days. Just a year or two ago, you could have qualified under a “sub-prime” variation of traditional lending, where income and credit were less of an issue; but given the sub-prime meltdown (many of these borrowers defaulting on their loans), these sub-prime options have gone away. So, unless you have good credit, income, and small debt, you’re better off not even bothering with trying to get traditional financing these days.
  • Traditional lenders generally require that at least 20% be put down as a down payment. While this isn’t always true, investor loans with less than 20% down can be tough to find via traditional lending these days.
  • As an investor, it can be difficult to deal with traditional lenders who don’t necessarily understand your business. For example, a house I closed on last week with traditional financing almost fell-through because the lender wouldn’t provide the funds until the hot water heater in the investment property was working. As an investor, it’s common that I’ll buy houses with broken hot water heaters (among other things), and I can’t generally expect the seller to fix this for me, especially when my seller’s are usually banks. In this case, I had to fix the hot water heater before I even owned the house, which is not something I want to do on a regular basis.
  • Traditional lenders take their time when it comes to appraisals and pushing loans through their process. It’s best to allow for at least 21 days between contract acceptance and close. As an investor, you often want to incent the seller to accept your offer by offering to close quickly; with traditional lending, that can often be impossible.
  • If the lender will be financing through Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae (and most will), there will be a limit to the number of loans you can have at one time. Currently, that limit is either 4 or 10 loans (depending on whether it’s Freddie or Fannie), so if you plan to be an active investor going after more than 5 or 10 properties simultaneously, you’ll run into this problem with traditional lending at some point.
  • There are no traditional loans that will cover the cost of rehab in the loan. If you plan to buy a $100K property and spend $30K in rehab costs, that $30K will have to come out of your pocket; the lender won’t put that money into the loan.

2. Portfolio/Investor Lending

Some smaller banks will lend their own money (as opposed to getting the money from Freddie, Fannie, or some other large institution). These banks generally have the ability to make their own lending criteria, and don’t necessarily have to go just on the borrower’s financial situation. For example, a couple of the portfolio lenders I’ve spoken with will use a combination of the borrower’s financial situation and the actual investment being pursued.

Because some portfolio lenders (also called “investment lenders”) have the expertise to actually evaluate investment deals, if they are confident that the investment is solid, they will be a bit less concerned about the borrower defaulting on the loan, because they have already verified that the property value will cover the balance of the loan. That said, portfolio lenders aren’t in the business of investing in real estate, so they aren’t hoping for the borrower to default; given that, they do care that the borrower has at least decent credit, good income and/or cash reserves. While I haven’t been able to qualify for traditional financing on my own due to my lack of income, portfolio lenders tend to be very excited about working with me because of my good credit and cash reserves.

Benefits: As mentioned, the major benefit of portfolio lending is that (sometimes) the financial requirements on the borrower can be relaxed a bit, allowing borrowers with less than stellar credit or low income to qualify for loans. Here are some other benefits:

  • Some portfolio lenders will offer “rehab loans” that will roll the rehab costs into the loan, essentially allowing the investor to cover the entire cost of the rehab through the loan (with a down-payment based on the full amount).
  • Portfolio loans often require less than 20% down payment, and 90% LTV is not uncommon.
  • Portfolio lenders will verify that the investment the borrower wants to make is a sound one. This provides an extra layer of checks and balances to the investor about whether the deal they are pursuing is a good one. For new investors, this can be a very good thing!
  • Portfolio lenders are often used to dealing with investors, and can many times close loans in 7-10 days, especially with investors who they are familiar with and trust.

Drawbacks: Of course, there are drawbacks to portfolio loans as well:

  • Some portfolio loans are short-term — even as low as 6-12 months. If you get short-term financing, you need to either be confident that you can turn around and sell the property in that amount of time, or you need to be confident that you can refinance to get out of the loan prior to its expiration.
  • Portfolio loans generally have higher interest rates and “points” (loan costs) associated with them. It’s not uncommon for portfolio loans to run from 9-14% interest and 2-5% of the total loan in up-front fees (2-5 points).
  • Portfolio lenders may seriously scrutinize your deals, and if you are trying to make a deal where the value is obvious to you but not your lender, you may find yourself in a situation where they won’t give you the money.
  • Because portfolio lenders often care about the deal as much as the borrower, they often want to see that the borrower has real estate experience. If you go to a lender with no experience, you might find yourself paying higher rates, more points, or having to provide additional personal guarantees. That said, once you prove yourself to the lender by selling a couple houses and repaying a couple loans, things will get a lot easier.

3. Hard Money

Hard money is so-called because the loan is provided more against the hard asset (in this case Real Estate) than it is against the borrower. Hard money lenders are often wealthy business people (either investors themselves, or professionals such as doctors and lawyers who are looking for a good return on their saved cash).

Hard money lenders often don’t care about the financial situation of the borrower, as long as they are confident that the loan is being used to finance a great deal. If the deal is great — and the borrower has the experience to execute — hard money lenders will often lend to those with poor credit, no income, and even high debt. That said, the worse the financial situation of the borrower, the better the deal needs to be.

Benefits: The obvious benefit of hard money is that even if you have a very poor financial situation, you may be able to a loan. Again, the loan is more against the deal than it is against the deal-maker. And, hard money lenders can often make quick lending decisions, providing turn-around times of just a couple days on loans when necessary. Also, hard money lenders — because they are lending their own money — have the option to finance up to 100% of the deal, if they think it makes sense.

Drawbacks: As you can imagine, hard money isn’t always the magic bullet for investors with bad finances. Because hard money is often a last resort for borrowers who can’t qualify for other types of loans, hard money lenders will often impose very high costs on their loans. Interest rates upwards of 15% are not uncommon, and the upfront fees can often total 7-10% of the entire loan amount (7-10 points). This makes hard money very expensive, and unless the deal is fantastic, hard money can easily eat much of your profit before the deal is even made.

4. Equity Investments

Equity Investment is just a fancy name for “partner.” An equity investor will lend you money in return for some fixed percentage of the investment and profit. A common scenario is that an equity investor will front all the money for a deal, but do none of the work. The borrower will do 100% of the work, and then at the end, the lender and the borrower will split the profit 50/50. Sometimes the equity investor will be involved in the actual deal, and oftentimes the split isn’t 50/50, but the gist of the equity investment is the same — a partner injects money to get a portion of the profits.

Benefits: The biggest benefit to an equity partner is that there are no “requirements” that the borrower needs to fulfill to get the loan. If the partner chooses to invest and take (generally) equal or greater risk than the borrower, they can do so. Oftentimes, the equity investor is a friend or family member, and the deal is more a partnership in the eyes of both parties, as opposed to a lender/borrower relationship.

Drawbacks: There are two drawbacks to equity partnership:

  • Equity partners are generally entitled to a piece of the profits, maybe even 50% or more. While the investor doesn’t generally need to pay anything upfront (or even any interest on the money), they will have to fork over a large percentage of the profits to the partner. This can mean even smaller profit than if the investor went with hard money or some other type of high-interest loan.
  • Equity partners may want to play an active role in the investment. While this can be a good thing if the partner is experienced and has the same vision as the investor, when that’s not the case, this can be a recipe for disaster.

5 Ways Business Value Statements Impact Business

DEFINE THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUES BY WHICH YOU WILL RUN YOUR BUSINESS

Okay – so now that you are here, you know that:

  • Your Business Mission Statement provides a path to understand the business vision in line with its values; defining your business’ purpose and primary objectives
  • Your Business Vision Statement defines both the purpose and values of your business and can encourage you to achieve defined objectives, even if they are objectives that stretch you, knowing that the vision is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound).
  • Your Vision Statement also defines your business’ reason, in terms of your business’ values.
  • These statements have a direct influence on your business’ bottom-line and success.

Business Values are guiding beliefs about how YOU want things done.

Value Statements: You demonstrate and represent your values in action in your personal and work behaviors, decision-making, and interpersonal interaction.

Here are a few value statements:

  • Marketing is a constant, learning process.
  • Maintaining outstanding customer relationships is key.
  • Operate with integrity and accountability.
  • Give back and support participation in the community activities that empower others.
  • Provide quality and thoughtful services
  • Showing improvement, innovative actions, credibility, and honesty.
  • Enjoy your business, achieve your vision!

Consolidate the common values by which your business will be operated.

Example of value statement: In conducting our business, we will realize our vision by performing our affairs so that our actions provide confirmation of the high value we place on:

INTEGRITY: by dealing honestly with our clients, staff, vendors and community.

RESPONSIBILITY: by considering the environment in which we do business, community views and the common good.

PROFITABILITY: by being aware that an appropriate level of profit is necessary to maintain our business and allow our values to continue to be observed.

VALUE: by providing quality products/services that deliver value for money.

Once your Business Value Statement has been defined, these values will impact every piece of your business.

How can the values you identify have an impact on your business?

1. Value Statements provide boundaries on how your business successes will be achieved. Business objectives and goals are grounded in the established values.

2. You and your staff demonstrate and model the values in action in personal work behaviors, decision-making, contribution, and interpersonal communication, to ensure a value-based, shared culture.

3. Your Business Values will help establish priorities in your daily work life.

4. Values will guide decisions that are made.

5. When hiring and promoting others – their outlook and actions will need to be congruent with these values.

The work and art of a successful business includes planning – And, that is where a business coach comes in to help you put this together. Because success is a piece of art.

19 Reasons to Start a Real Estate Investing Syndication Business Now

Before I started my multi-million dollar, real estate investing syndication business a half decade ago, I was part of corporate America. In fact, I was the number #2 sales person for Research in Motion. I developed and oversaw strategic alliances with some of the top consulting firms in the world including Accenture, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte Consulting and EDS.

Now, I am very grateful to RIM for giving me the amazing opportunity to work under two of the world’s most prominent self-made technology billionaire CEOs. However, I grew tired of wearing the “suit.” I didn’t want to continue spending 60 to 80 hours a week working. I wanted the ability to start a business that would meet the following 19 criteria.

19 Reasons to Start a Real Estate Investing Syndication Business Now

1. Spend just a few hours a day or week at work. With just 10 hours of effort into his first deal, my client, Robert Beagle closed his first real estate syndication deal and made over $61,000 in profits as a syndicator!

2. Be your own boss. This means you’re working to make yourself rich – not someone else.

3. Wake up when you want to. Remember, you are your own boss. No one can tell you (except maybe your spouse) that you can’t sleep until noon.

4. Not have to travel every week. I’ve transacted more than $14 million dollars in deals across 5 markets in North America without any airport hassles.

5. The ability to run almost everything from a laptop and phone. Within 5 weeks, my client Michelle Agar syndicated her first group of 5 investment properties in Edmonton, Alberta, earning her $269,000 in profits!

6. Earn an exponential income. When you syndicate your investing business, you generate a GREATER FREQUENCY of profit. Why? Because, syndicating your real estate investing business will enable you to systematize your business so deal making becomes a recurring cycle. This means you will have a repeatable business model that grows geometrically.

7. Dress how you want. Since real estate investing syndication allows you to work from your home office, you can work in your pajamas if you wanted to!

8. Live a virtually tax-deductible life. Having a real estate investment business will give you the greatest personal, business and real estate tax advantages.

9. Do what you want, whenever you want. Again, you are the boss!

10. Never be held down to a time schedule. You can work as hard as you want for as long or as little as you want.

11. No need to write up an extensive business plan. Thanks to real estate investing syndication, Tom Cooke and Claudette Diaz now have $330,000 in private money at their disposal. They generated $19,026 in profits from the first deal they completed within their first 27 days of becoming syndicators. They have built a buyer’s list of over 500 investors, and set up a syndication business in another city they’ve never visited before!

12. Have an abundance of customers wherever your business goes. For example, if you joined my real estate investing syndication network, you’d connect with a pre-existing network of more investors in 7 countries on 5 continents who want to help investors like you joint venture on investing deals on an ongoing basis.

13. Your business won’t be tied to economic cycles. Many real estate investors are now saying that the real estate investing market is dead. Why? Because they can’t find deals. They aren’t attracting buyers. They can’t get their hands on enough available cash to fund deals. Banks are not loaning money to them. However, if you change your business model to one of real estate syndication, then you’ll get direct access to all the cash you’ll need. You’ll attract buyers and close more deals – no matter the economy.

14. Produce MORE WEALTH in a short period of time. Remember, my business syndicated over 3 million dollars in profits in just 93 days.

15. Get personally involved with little risk. When you syndicate your business, you become a major player in the market without risking any of your own capital. You, as the real estate syndicator, put the deal together and receive a significant share of the profits (between 20% and 50%) without having to invest your own money. This allows you to concentrate on multiple deals at one time.

16. Get started without any previous industry experience. My client portfolio includes teenage college students, a retired track & field coach, accountants, medical doctors, attorneys, a professional opera singer, sales executives, marketing executives, engineers and regular hard-working moms and dads who came aboard with full-time jobs. Do you think they had previous experience syndicating real estate? No.

17. There is NO office politics. You don’t have to worry about anyone else, but you!

18. Have more family time. When you syndicate your business, you get more done in less time. And, you generate profits faster. This means you have more time and freedom to spend with your family, doing the things you absolutely love to do.

19. Ultimately, build a business that is focused on helping people while you rapidly build a 6-, 7- and 8-figure investment empire. We’ve proven that it can happen.

So, don’t you think that it’s time to start a real estate investing syndication business, and make money quickly during this “Perfect Real Estate Storm” of opportunity?

Semi Truck Financing – Some Alternatives For People With Bad Credit

In the past financing a commercial vehicle required decent credit and a CDL. As many people in the industry are finding out these days are long gone. With the economy in it’s current condition credit has tightened up considerably. And in the trucking markets it has tightened up even more. Captive financing companies who’s purpose is to finance the trucks their parent companies manufacture are having a hard time these days. So what’s a semi truck driver to do? Here are some ideas that might help you out if your in the market to finance a commercial truck (semi trucks and dump trucks primarily).

First thing to consider is contacting smaller dealers that offer in house financing. These dealers will carry their own paper, meaning they decide for themselves whether they want to approve a customer or not. Typically a dealer submits their customer to their financing source who than in turn approves or declines them. Be sure you ask the dealer whether they fund in house or submit to an outside underwriter. If they do fund the transaction themselves be upfront about your current credit situation. Common reasons for bad credit is divorce, illness, loss of truck or contract, etc. These are normal and do not necessary reflect bad “credit character”. It’s also important to sell you good points. Having strong contacts in your area of expertise gives confidence to the dealer that you have the ability to pay. If the dealer can become comfortable that you will make the payments despite what has happened in the past you stand a good possibility of getting financed.

Second on the list is looking for dealers that advertise for customers that are credit challenged. You can find these dealers in publications such as Truck Paper or online. The most important thing about this approach is that you call the prospective dealer and ask to speak to a sales manager. Again, be up front about your situation. Tell him about your credit. A sales or finance manager will be able to determine whether you a candidate or not.The salesman might be too eager to get you in the door to give you an honest answer.

The third option is to contact independent financing companies to see if your a fit. Once again, honesty pays. Be up front about your credit but also sell your good points. Like working with the smaller dealers who offer financing, independent financing companies make the decisions themselves and can be swayed if there are strong factors in your favor. As the owner of one of these financing companies we look at the ability to pay on the part of the customer as well as any additional collateral that the customer has. With this information we can get around almost any credit issue. Another finance company might look at years in the business or upcoming contracts to make their decision.

Choosing the Tools for Social Media for Small Business

The initial part of this series explored the need for small businesses to use social media and what were some of the critical steps in the process. Questions were raised to assist the small business owner to focus their efforts in the best way possible to achieve the desired results based upon the overall objectives and goals of the marketing plan. It gave a few tips on how to specifically identify the target audience and where they could be found on social media.

It is possible to compare the selection of the tools for social media to how a farmer selects the tools. First he/she surveys the land to determine the best type of crop to plant. This is similar to the owner reviewing the business website. The website for the small business is very much like the land for the farmer. It must be easy to use, provide content, contains various ways for people to interact with business and other ways to link with the business. As the farmer begins to make a choice of crop or crops to plant, he/she identifies who will be buying the crops. For the owner, it is the identification of the target audience. The farmer then makes the selection of the crop or crops that will produce the greatest results for them and develops a plan or process that will be used to plant the crops. This includes the review of the tools the farmer has on hand and the tools he/she needs to purchase or lease to complete the job of planting. Thus the farmer reviews each of their tools to ensure they are in good condition and able to perform effectively the tasks that need to be accomplished.

As the farmer makes the decisions about crops, the owner has to make the choice of the products or services he/she are going to provide to customers. The owner must review the website and began asking the questions that will assist in making the correct decisions on improvement.

For instance,

  1. How effective has the website been in assisting creating more sales?
  2. What kind of content are we providing that helps prospective customers?
  3. What is on the site that keeps the customer captured in order for them to spend more time looking at other products?
  4. Do I have links to other social media sites?
  5. Do I have a place for them to sign up for something free I am giving them?
  6. What other things can I offer to them to keep them on the site longer or have them buy a product or service?

The implements for the farmer are limited by the type of product they are going to produce and the overall size of the area to be planted. For the owner, the implements for social media are much more varied and are dependent on the target audience and the overall time that a small business owner plans to expand on social media. Presently, the major tools being used include: Facebook, Twitter; LinkedIn; You Tube; and Google+.

While the ones listed above are the most popular and used most often, they are not the only tools that are available for a small business. Some other tools being used are Tumblr, Slideshare, Instagram, Foursquare, Yelp, Pinterest, Gentlemint and Merchant Circle. Each one of these tools provides different formats and reaches different audiences.

So much as the farmer decides on the best tools for planting the crops, small business owners must do the same thing. As we review the popular tools, it is important for you as the small business owner to keep in mind your target audience; also, the amount of time you want to expend in using social media.

Social media tools discussed below have requirements that you create a profile. The profile will differ somewhat between social media platforms. It is important that the owner complete each of the profiles. This becomes the key for people to learn to know about the owner and the services or products that the company provides. Some of the requested information include: name, picture, professional headline, current title, web sites, public profile, summary, specialties, experience, education, interests, groups and associations, skills, personal information, contact settings, and companies.

The tool called Facebook is one of the most popular of the tools and is constantly growing. Businesses of all sizes are using this tool. Businesses create fan pages and business pages to promote their business. They ask people to like their pages in order to create greater number of followers. When they post updates people who have asked to get notifications and feeds will get them. This is a way for them to promote their brands, events, and coupons. Before selecting this as the place where you want your business listed as an owner must understand that just posting a page is not sufficient. It requires time to place status updates and respond to updates in a timely manner. It is about the relationship you are creating. Prior to select this tool the owner should check for the demographics of the website to ensure it fits the target audience.

LinkedIn as a tool is one of the most powerful tools for connecting with professionals. It is a tool that allows a person to develop a professional profile, upload a resume and join groups, create groups and follow individuals and companies. It is a good source to find information about a person or company. It is an excellent way to connect to other professionals across the nation and world as well as generate request for introductions to others. It allows a user to maintain a contact list of people they know and trust in business and can use to help connect with others. As with other tools, it must be used professionally and needs to have ongoing maintenance. Interactions are also important in establishing your creditability with this tool.

Twitter is another of the more popular tools in social media. It requires more attention than others because it is more like carrying on several conversations. It is used worldwide and can be considered a micro blogging site. It is a good tool to keep people posted as to what is occurring in your industry and information that as a business should be shared with others. It is a means of connecting with leaders in your industry and finding out their thoughts and how they influence people. As with the other tools, it requires a time commitment to maintain and respond to twits or updates from people.

YouTube is a video sharing social media site that is owned by Google. This site has grown considerably and is now the number two search engine. Business and individuals use this as a means of connecting with people using a visual mode. Studies show that people will watch a short video rather than read a large amount of data. It is also used as an educational platform and provides various types of self-development information. It is a great platform for delivering video-based testimonials, how to guides and commercials promoting products and/or services. As with other tools, a business can subscribe to other users and receive information when new posts are made. Before selecting this medium recognize that new videos will need to be developed and uploaded to be an effective tool.

Google+ (Google Plus) is a relative new tool as far as social media is concerned. It is used by both businesses and individuals. It provides a few more tools to use within the site than some of the others. Some of them include: Circles, Hangouts, Messenger, Instant Upload of Photos, Hashtags, Explore posts, Find People, Events, Find Local Businesses, Create Business Pages and more. The features make it easy for an individual to use. Since it is part of the Google product line one must have a Google Email account to use Google+. As a whole when viewed with the other Google product provides a great arsenal of tools to assist small business become more successful.

The tools we have briefly discussed are some of the most powerful being used presently, but they are only as good as the owner who selects to use them. The owner must remember that as a farmer selects the tools, the owner must do the same that are best for the designed marketing plan. The use of the tools themselves for owner is most important. Once the farmer prepares the field with the right tools and plants the seed, it is now important to water the seeds and plants until it is time to harvest. The owner has prepared his website, selected the social media tools based upon the marketing design, prepared each of the sites with the requested profiles and published each of the sites.

Now as the farmer waters the owner must use the status updates, tweets, messages, videos, slides. Responding to comments is also the way that a owner works with small business to establish the know, like and trust factors. This must be done with consistency overtime. As discussed in the previous article, social media is the developing of relationships with people and that does not happen quickly. Thus it is of utmost importance that a regular schedule be developed and implemented on a weekly basis.

The next segment of the series will review and look at social media sites that are up and coming and sites that are very powerful but have not gained in the overall popularity. As with the others, each has its strengths and weaknesses. Each therefore has different demographics and different targets. The business owner needs to have an understanding in order to select the best tool. A discussion of some of the sites that are better for international use will also be discussed. The subsequent articles will deal with tools to use to make using social media a little easier and ways to measure the return on investment of social media. The final part of the series will discuss other web-based tools that can assist small business become more effective in delivering services and products to customers.

As a owner, take the time to review each of the demographics for the sites. If you do not have a social media site, then select one that fits your demographics. Ask questions, raise concerns, review your goals, and talk to those who are using the sites, and then move forward with your plan.