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"Tech Tools In Any Market!"


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Matthew Ferrara Photo
4/7/06 Interview with Matthew Ferrara

Matthew Ferrara Seminars and TECH HOTLINE
45 Osgood Street
Methuen, MA 01844
Biography

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The Hottest Tech Tools for Agents

  1. Rather than the newest gadgets, the hottest tools are those that provide agents with maximum value-often they are tried-and-true tools such as a laptop and a PDA that agents may be underutilizing.
  2. The class of new tools that are most exciting are wireless tools, from office wireless networking to BlueTooth® tools and cell phones; these lend themselves to entirely new ways of marketing, and, having simplified control systems, they are easy for agents to master.
  3. Features of cell phones that can make life simpler include voice commands (e.g., to dial names or send email)-Samsung is coming out with a model that will transform instant messaging from text to voice; many phones have a recording function that saves taking written notes of a conversation.
  4. On a more sophisticated level, cell phones can be used to search the Web and do email marketing.
Challenges in Using New Tech Tools

  1. Many of the newer tools (e.g., cell phones, Treos, Blackberries, etc.) are no longer centered around a computer interface that is familiar to agents.
  2. A large number of agents continue to maintain computers that are old and have outdated operating systems; they should update and get comfortable with newer equipment with newer operating systems such as XP to make their transition to wireless easier.
  3. An issue that the industry needs to address is that too many agents remain "minimalists" in their technology.
Underutilized Everyday Tools

  1. Although many agents (80%) have acquired laptops, relatively few utilize them during common work tasks such as listings, open houses and closings; agents who fail to make their laptop an integrated part of the real estate process are not getting its full value.
  2. The digital camera is another piece of equipment that is commonly owned (98% of agents have one) but under used; agents take photos and load them into an office computer, but many agents do not post photos liberally on their web sites.
  3. Making the most of technology is mandatory for the industry to declare itself "the experts."
  4. The evolution of tablets may increase computer use outside the office because they have simplified the laptop even more; they have the advantage of being larger than a PDA but smaller than a laptop.
  5. However, the stumbling block is human habit, not difficulty-none of these tools are hard to use; agents need to take time to strategize how tech tools can revolutionize how they do real estate business and then build the tools into their daily activities.
Revolutionary Cool Tools

  1. CellStory.com cross links your cell phone and laptop with your marketing initiatives; the service allows you to snap photos of a property with your phone and have an instant web page set up displaying the shots by the time you get into the house; the process is at once simple and revolutionary.
  2. A similar new product that is free is Microsoft's PhotoStory; it allows you to input photos and add narration and music to create a virtual tour; output options include the Web, your PC or laptop, email, PDA and cell phone.
  3. Wireless marketing is cutting-edge; web pages and drip email are giving way to wireless strategies; sending directly to buyers' cell phones is the future of marketing.
Help from Assistants

  1. Assistants, either in-house or virtual, can play an important role in helping busy agents; however, agents should have an understanding of the assistants' tasks in order to communicate processes knowledgeably to consumers.
  2. Knowing how to do assistants' tasks saves agents from business paralysis should an assistant be unavailable temporarily or leave permanently.
Checking Email Wirelessly

  1. Ferrara advises using whatever wireless tool you are comfortable with (Blackberry, Treo with Palm software, Treo with Windows, Samsung i730, etc.); he uses his regular Motorola flip-screen cell phone.
  2. The significant factor is the email system behind the wireless tools; many of the common email setups such as POP accounts that have to be downloaded, or free online email are not designed for wireless delivery.
  3. Ferrara recommends the powerful email software MS Exchange; instead of handling Exchange in-house, his company outsources to a company that makes it available on the Web where any device can access it.
  4. Distinguish between the device and the email service; focus on using a great service that makes any device more powerful; a good service is likely to adapt to equipment evolution.
  5. Using Exchange facilitates staying in touch with assistants anywhere because it can be used to share databases, folders and calendars; moving information to the Internet is a practical way to centralize operations; outsourcing Exchange is affordable-as low as$20-$25/month/user.
The Pitfall of the Next Important Tech Tool

  1. Agents who are too concerned about finding next "silver bullet" run the risk of never implementing what they already have.
  2. Keep an eye on what is new, but continually question how you can maximize what you already have.
Sources for Tech Tools

  1. Good, high-volume web sites such as Buy.com or EggHead offer competitive prices for things like peripherals, memory, printers and small devices; doing a Froogle search (a price-indexing tool from Google) is an option; use these sources for things that can be returned easily.
  2. Laptops and other larger devices may be available at discounts through affinity services of franchises, the NAR, or other organizations; try to negotiate a deal.
  3. One of the Society's 25 Top Cyber Tools at REcyber.com is "Best Hardware Price Search," useful for comparing prices through PriceWatch.
Recommended Technology Focus for Agents

  1. To be prepared in case the real estate market ever slows down, focus on an integration strategy that uses technology to cut costs; doing this is prudent even is a booming market.
  2. Also develop your tech strategy to save yourself time-the ultimate resource; your use of tech tools should remove things to do in a day, not add things to do; your return on investment in technology should be measured in terms of time and money savings.
Favorite Spots on the Web

  1. Vtext.com is a free resource where Verizon users can create multi-media (photo and sound) messages for cell phones-a cheap and easy way to market; other vendors may have a similar resource.
  2. SitePal.com allows you to create an animated person to speak to visitors on your web site.
  3. The Mercedes Benz site is a powerful illustration of high-tech web marketing for expensive items; the tour guide creates a relationship while walking you through the site.
Contact Information for Matthew Ferrara:

(v) 800-253-2350
(f) 978-688-0055
(e) matthew.ferrara@mfseminars.com
(w)www.mfseminars.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Matthew Ferrara & Company: www.mfseminars.com
Cell phone optimization tools: www.CellStory.com MS PhotoStory
MS Exchange Server: www.microsoft.com/exchange/
High-volume tech stores: www.Buy.com www.EggHead.com
Froogle: www.froogle.google.com
Best Hardware Price Search: Click onto Top 25 e-Tools at REcyber.com
Verizon's Vtext: www.vtext.com
SitePal: www.sitepal.com
Mercedes Benz: www.mbusa.com