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Marte Cliff, freelance real estate copywriter

Marte Cliff

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The Real Estate Marketing Help Ezine Archives

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Please feel free to use the real estate marketing tips and ideas you'll find here in your own newsletters. You can incorporate them into handouts to give to buyers or sellers, or use them in your real estate sales meetings. If you use the entire article, please do include my contact information, and please do write and let me know how you used them.

How to Gain Client Trust

Are you a Secret Agent?

Are you still using empty words?

Promote yourself and your listings at the same time

Do you make these mistakes in letter writing?

Do nice guys really finish last?

Are Real Estate Prices Dropping in Your Market?

Do You Document Conversations?

20% of the agents do 80% of the business. Here's another way for you to belong to that top 20%

You do realize you're not selling houses, don't you?

Why are You Special?

A Rant from the Real Estate Buyer's Side

How to Write a Classified Ad

Give Thanks and Get Busy!

The Marketing Plan I Promised

How To Stay in Touch With Customers at Holiday Time

Don't waste the next two weeks!

How is your Voice?

Truth in Advertising Works Best

Proofread first - Send it Second

You are your own best Real Estate Marketing tool

How to write an effective real estate prospecting letter

In Real Estate Marketing, Look Back to go Forward

Do You Have a Personal Brochure?

Make Yourself Valuable to the Marketplace

How to Prepare Sellers for a Downturn in the Market

How to Hold on to Expired Listings

Keep Your Silent Salesmen Looking Good!

Press Releases: The Best Advertising You Never Bought

Address your client's biggest concerns

Write Effective Prospecting Letters

Change is the Lifeblood of Real Estate

Is This Growing Niche for You?

How to Start the New Year with Positive Action

Are You Sending Prospects to the Correct Web Page?

How to Make a Professional First Impression

Where to Find Clients When the Market is Down

Are you Making this Expensive Marketing Error?

7 Steps to a Good Business Letter

Are you a Secret Agent?

Dear Friend,

How many people in your community know that you happen to be a top-notch real estate sales person? Everyone? Half of them? Hardly anyone?

If you said everyone, that's good. You can start working on making sure they don't forget it. But if you said hardly anyone, then you need to get to work.

I understand why it might be difficult for you.

When I first started it was extremely difficult. I had to first get over my early up-bringing. You, too, may have been raised with all those admonitions about not bragging, not calling attention to yourself, and on and on.

If so, there's only one thing I can say: "Get over it!"

You may also be bashful about admitting that you're in sales. Get over that too. Remember that you provide a valuable service to both buyers and sellers. Take pride in what you're doing!

I know, real estate people rank right up there at the top of the list of "least trusted" professionals. It's a stigma you have to overcome by showing YOUR customers and clients that you are honest, reliable, and trustworthy. But you can do that.

First you have to stop being a "Secret Agent" to people in your market. I'll give you tips for that in just a minute, but first...

Are you prepared to triple your income by making a few small changes in your marketing habits?

If so, you need my new e-book: Getting Clients.

In Getting Clients, you'll find: How to market yourself; How to market your listings; AND How to choose and create a niche market - so you'll enjoy your work so much, you'll be anxious to get to work each day.

Click here see how this book can supercharge your career!

That said, here's the first step to avoid being a "Secret Agent"
Put your photo on your business card.
Then, hand out at least 10 cards every single day. Give one to the checker in the grocery store, the man who fills your gas tank, the dry cleaner, the waitress who serves you lunch (but only if you leave a decent tip), the clerk at the hardware store, and of course every potential customer or client who walks into your office.

Give your cards to everyone, even if you've given them one in the past. People lose things, you know.

Next, any time you go to a meeting of any kind, take and hand out your cards. You may assume that everyone there knows what you do, but you may be wrong. If you hand them a card, they'll know for sure.

You don't have to be pushy about it. Just mention that you're willing to help with some project or would like to know more about something they said. Invite people to call you for a good reason, and hand them your card.

Finally, put your picture on all your print advertising. That includes newspapers, homes magazines, and farming letters. Put it on your web site too!

Why is your picture so important?

Because people will stick the card in their pocket and then possibly toss it in a desk drawer. They won't memorize your name, but if you've been especially pleasant to them, the next time they come across that card they'll see your face and get a good feeling. And the next time they or a friend needs an agent they'll remember that card in the drawer with the name of that nice person they met six months ago.

I'm no expert on psychology, but there seems to be some benefit to a familiar face. When people feel like they "know" you because they've seen your picture often, they are pre-disposed to like you. That's why having your picture on print advertising is important.

When I was still selling - and using this practice - people would stop me in the grocery store to say hello. They didn't know me personally, but felt like they did, so they'd ask a question about real estate or comment on the market. I met a lot of new people that way.

And it lasts. I've been away from real estate for almost two years, but just a few days ago a woman in the grocery store looked at me and said "I know! You're Marte!" Of course she wanted to know about the real estate market and I had to tell her I don't do that any more.

Get Involved

I highly recommend getting involved in the community. Volunteer for something visible. It gets your name and face in front of people in a positive light, so it's good for business. It's also good for the community that gives you your living, and best of all - it makes you feel good!

Give added value

Any time you do a little extra for a customer or client, they remember you positively.

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Are you still using empty words?

Dear Friend,

I hope not. By now you've read my report on creating real estate ads with appeal, so I hope your brain is spinning with ways to improve your own ads. When you do, you'll stand head and shoulders above the crowd.

This week-end I picked up copies of the "grocery store flyers" produced by our three local real estate companies. You know what I saw? Boring, empty words. Many of them a waste of space. Some were misspelled. Some made no sense. And all three flyers looked alike in terms of ad copy. They were all filled with "empty words."

Think about it, the word "beautiful" means something different to each of us. How about "wonderful, lovely, cute, large, huge and great?" All these words do is take up space.

I think back to a conversation I overheard in my office one day. The agent was describing a property to a buyer and said that it had "beautiful trees." The woman replied "The only beautiful tree is a dead one." So you see, we each have a different point of view.

Replacing those empty words with picture-provoking descriptions does take a bit of extra work, especially when space is limited. But you can do it!

Begin now to reahab your ads

You may be thinking "How?" so let's rebuild an ad right now.

Here's what I saw in one ad:

Log home with everything!! Great Master suite. Gorgeous lighting and flooring. 4 bed 2.5 bath. Great shop. $450,000.

If that painted a picture for you, your imagination is much better than mine!

Now, bearing in mind that I have not seen this house, so the details may be way off, let's fix the darned thing!

After a hectic day, retreat to a master suite complete with its own dressing and sitting rooms. Crystal chandeliers grace the dining room, great room, and entry way while their light glows off polished hardwood floors. Hand-hewn 10" log walls keep you warm in winter and cool in summer. The 4-bay shop includes a half-bath, over 15' of wall to ceiling shelving plus 30' of work counters. Situated in the middle of ten treed acres only 1/2 mile from a State Highway. $450,000

Now, doesn't that sound more like a house that might be worth the price?

Some buyers will be turned off by crystal and hardwood - but those are the buyers who would be turned off and disappointed in person, so that's a good thing. It will save you time and gasoline.

Yes, it took more words. And if your sellers insist on newspaper advertising the cost would be prohibitive. If I had to cut and slash this ad for a newspaper I'd probably say:

Log home on 10 A., crystal chandeliers, hardwood floors, 4 br, 2.5 ba, 4-bay shop.

That would be inadequate, but would at least begin to paint a better picture than "great" and "gorgeous" did! And it will create the same effect in terms of bringing you only those buyers who love crystal and hardwood!

One more tip - Get a recorder!

Some of your best advertising ideas will come while you've got your hands on a steering wheel, so get a hand-held recorder and put it on your car seat. As soon as an idea hits you, record it. It may need polishing, but at least it won't get lost.

If you're ready to create your niche...

...You need my new e-book: Getting Clients. Click here to see why you need to create your niche, and how it will help you to:
  • attract more and better clients
  • spend less time to make more money
  • enjoy your real estate career

After all, you're one in a million Realtors working in the U.S. today. You need to take steps to become THE one in a million that your favorite customers and clients seek out!

Until next time, I wish you more sales and faster closings,


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Promote yourself and your listings at the same time

Dear Friend,

What's the first thing you do to promote a new listing?

You put the information in MLS, of course. Then you probably put it on your web page. If you've signed up for Mouse House Tours, you get busy uploading your photos and all those detailed descriptions that will excite internet buyers and light up your phone lines or fill your in-box with inquiries.

What's next? A practice that will promote your listing - and will promote you at the same time.

I'm talking about "just listed" cards.

Right after you get the internet chores done, go to your City or County records and get the names and addresses of residents surrounding your new listing.

Depending upon location you can choose anywhere from 2 to 20 people in the immediate vicinity. Then prepare a "just listed" card, complete with photo. They're easy to print from your own computer if you have a program such as Publisher.

You don't need to state the price, just the address.

Your card should read something like:

"Your neighbors at 123 Main Street have
entrusted me with the marketing of their home.
If you have friends or family who would like
to live near you, please have them contact me at
XXX-XXX for full details."

Your card will be seen as a service to the community, while positioning you as a Realtor who is on the ball, doing the best job possible for your listing clients.

Keep selling yourself after the house is sold.

After the house is sold, send another card. Use the photo again, but this time with a "Just sold" banner across it. This card can read something like:

"You have new neighbors!
The house at 123 Main just
sold, and it stirred up a lot of
interest in your neighborhood.
If you are considering selling soon,
please contact me at XXX-XXXX, so I
can contact all those buyers who missed
out on 123 Main."

Do be prepared if there is a misunderstanding. During my 19 years in real estate I used this method religiously, and twice had to do some heavy explaining when people saw the card and believed I was advertising their house.

You'd think that with a photo on the front of the card there would be no questions, but the human capacity for misunderstanding is great!

Remember to add your own photo next to your signature, and say please ask for [your name.]

Until next time, I wish you more and bigger commissions - and faster closings!

Yours for prosperity,

Marte Cliff
P.S. If you're ready to jumpstart your career by creating a niche and an advertising plan tailored just for you, be sure to get my new e-book: Getting Clients. You can find out more about it at

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Do you make these mistakes in letter writing?

People will accept your ideas much more
readily if you tell them Benjamin Franklin
said it first.
David H. Comins

Dear Friend,

Benjamin Franklin must have said what I'm about to tell you, for he surely knew it. These mistakes would have destroyed his abilities as a statesman.

Here's the first mistake: Beginning your letter with "I" or "We."

When you begin with "I," your reader may or may not read on. If you're writing to your Mom, she probably will. Especially if you're saying "I love you." But if you're writing to a stranger they're apt to think "So what - do I care?" and toss you to the round file.

Instead, try to begin your letter with "You" or "Your." You'll instantly get your reader's attention and interest, because:
It appears to be a personal message
It conveys your interest in the reader

After all, it deals with your reader's favorite subject

No, you can't always begin with the word "You." But you can begin with some kind of compliment or congratulatory message. You can also begin by thanking them for something. If those won't fit, begin with a comment about a subject you know will interest them. A statement they're sure to agree with is always a safe way to begin.

For instance, right now in our County, a statement about outrageous property valuations would probably get every property owner nodding in agreement.

When you begin your letter with a show of interest in the reader or the reader's business or concerns, you set the tone for cooperation. And that is why you're writing, isn't it?

Gee, it just occurred to me that this may be the reason people talk so negatively about Christmas letters. The poor writer is just trying to catch her friends up on the year's activities, but it comes across as "Me, me, me." These are especially annoying if you've had a tough year and your friend is bragging about a new gazillion dollar mansion or an impending 4 month vacation in Tahiti.

You might want to put this advice to use in personal correspondence as well.

But back to business.

The second mistake: Writing to "Dear Sir."

Sometimes you have no choice, but if you really want to get results from your letter, do your darndest to find out the name of the person you're addressing. And make sure you spell it correctly. If you're absolutely stuck and can't find the name, remember that not all executives are men - better use "Dear Sir or Madam" in place of the old "Dear Sir."

If you're writing to a company you should also take the time to know something about them, so you can make a relevant comment about what they do. Don't assume from the business name, because they can be misleading. Type the name into Google and take a few minutes for research.

Remember that your letters are representing you, and when you write to a stranger they're the only means for that person to form an opinion of you. Take the time to compose a letter that accurately represents the exceptional person you are and shows that you're interested in them.

Of course, if you don't want to write your own letters, you can call on me, and I'll take the time!

If you're writing to potential clients or future employers, along with a letter you'll need a personal brochure, bio sheet, or resume'. Those are "all about you" and convey the information that others want to know after they've decided to consider you as an employee or a vendor.

Sometimes, writing those documents is beyond difficult - especially if you were raised with that old admonition: "Don't brag!" But if you're after a new job or new customers, you have to let them know why you're the best choice. That's when you need a copywriter to convey your many talents.

If you're in that position, drop me a note at: We'll set up a time to talk and I'll help you decide what documents you need to further your goals.

Yours for success,


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Do nice guys really finish last?

"We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that."

- Charlie Chaplin (in The Great Dictator)

Dear Friend,

I'm going to go out on a limb here for a minute and admit to you that I believe what Charlie Chaplin said. I think we DO all want to help one another. It's just that some of us get taught wrong for some reason. Or else we've run into one too many other people who were taught wrong and we got hurt.

But down deep, I think we want to help and feel good when we do. We want to be nice.

And now, the news is out that being nice not only makes us feel good, it's good for our finances and careers as well.

I just read a great report about malpractice suits that said doctors who are nice don't get sued. The report went on to say that in almost every malpractice suit, part of the complaint was that the doctor was rude, or "Wasn't even nice to me."

While I haven't seen any reports, I'd venture to guess that lawsuits against Realtors follow the same pattern. Think about it. Who makes you mad enough to want to get even? People who "Aren't even nice to you."

So no... nice guys do NOT finish last. Nice guys finish first, for the simple reason that nearly everyone who comes in contact with a nice person wants to be nice in return.

When you treat your customers well and show them that you're interested in them and have their best interests at heart -even if you make an occasional mistake - they want to help you in return. That's where you get referrals and repeat business. That's where you get the word of mouth advertising that money can't buy.

I'm sure you were already nice, but now you don't have to worry about "finishing last." Go out there and be as nice as you want, knowing that you will "finish first!"

Yours for better closings, more often,


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Are Real Estate Prices Dropping in Your Market?

Dear Friend,

For months now we've been reading about the real estate bubble and how it was about to pop. In our market it appears to be happening. Perhaps it hasn't popped, but it has started a slow leak. The trouble is, more buyers than sellers have noticed.

Prices are still high, but business has fallen off by more than half since this time last year.

... and THAT is something the sellers notice. Friends who sold last year tell them how little time it took and what high prices they got. They can't figure out what's wrong, but many of them know they need to blame someone.

Who do they blame? Their real estate agent, of course.

When the market drops, you as an agent are left with the unenviable task of explaining it to the sellers and trying to hold on to your listings. Not an easy task when you need to convince them that a lower price is necessary.

Now more than ever you'll need to have your facts and figures ready. Print out the sold statistics, and do a thorough market analysis for each of your listings. Show them that they aren't the only ones suffering and that no agent can control market trends. It's tempting to just go hide, but you can't do that unless you're willing to let your clients move on to another agent.

Instead, stay in touch, let them know what's going on, and show them ways to give their house more appeal than the dozen others that are their competition. If you haven't discussed staging, this is the time.

People are touchy about their homes and their lifestyle, so I always dreaded having to tell people to clean the house and do little things to make their houses presentable. It seemed like they should know without being told, but some didn't. If you've been selling for long, I'm sure you've run into the same problem.

I managed to avoid having to insult some people by giving them a checklist to read and use. You might find that useful too, so I've posted one for you on my website. You can find it here. Feel free to copy it - and of course add to it if you like.

We can't create buyers who aren't there, but we can help our own clients get an edge over their competition.

Before I sign off for the week, I have to share something wonderful I've discovered. You may already know about it, but I didn't until last week. It's Google Desktop.

Filing is not one of my virtues. I work at it, but seem to forget what I called things or where I put them. With Google Desktop I can just ask, and my files get found. It searches all my files, including e-mails I've saved. This free tool has saved me countless hours of searching already. If you don't have it, and if your organization is no better than mine, go get it! You'll find it at

Yours for bigger commission checks, more often,


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Do you document conversations?

Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie.
William Shakespeare

Dear Friend,

Yesterday I was making some updates to my Land Buyer's Survival Guide e-book and was reminded of a situation that shouldn't have happened a few years ago. And that led me to today's question, and Shakespeare's quote.

Let me tell you what happened:

A couple fell in love with a log cabin in the woods that was served by solar power. They wanted "real" electricity so did the research to find that it would cost about $10,000 to bring to the property. The power company warned them that first they would have to have easements from the owners of property the lines would cross.

So far so good. Their agent found only one parcel that would need an easement. It was owned by the 4 heirs of the gentleman who used to camp there years ago. They had never seen the property so she took pictures and drew maps to send. She then contacted each of them and they verbally agreed to sign the easement.

Still so far so good. The power company got busy and sent the paperwork out. But the buyers wanted to close immediately. Their agent advised them to wait, but when they insisted she didn't resist much. After all, the sooner the closing the sooner the commission check landed in her hot little hand.

After the closing the trouble started. One of those heirs was married to an attorney and the attorney didn't like the wording on the easement. The agent made dozens of phone calls trying to appease this man and change his mind. The buyers made phone calls. The former owner made phone calls. Even the neighbor made phone calls. No way.

The situation devoured days and weeks of work and worry before the buyers gave up and resigned themselves to living with solar power for the time being. Finally, about two years later they were able to reach an agreement - one that involved money changing hands - and they got the easement.

So what does this have to do with documentation?

Even though these buyers knew that they had been advised not to close, when trouble hit they were mad. They wanted revenge, and who was closest? Their Realtor, of course!

Luckily, they had been "noisy" customers who took over the whole office, so everyone there knew the whole situation. When their attorney started getting statements from everyone in the office he knew that they had been advised against closing and had insisted, so the matter was dropped.

But... if their agent had written notes about those conversations in their file - and if she had insisted on them signing a statement about it - she would not have been in a state of panic from the time they hollered "Sue" until they dropped it.

Just as buyers know they have no recourse over a leaky roof when they signed a property condition report that clearly disclosed it, they would have known that this was their problem, and theirs alone.

Just in case you're wondering - no, I wasn't the agent, but she was a good friend. And I did learn from her mistake and become more careful to document things from then on.

A simple task that would have taken 3 or 4 minutes each time the agent conversed with her clients would have saved her weeks of lost productivity, so keep a notepad handy. Document your conversations, and when they involve a question that could later turn into a problem, transfer your notes to the transaction file.

And by all means, if your buyers or sellers insist on doing something you think is risky, type it out and make them sign a statement that they acted against your advice! It may sound cold on your part, but the friendliest customers and clients can turn into raging beasts when something goes wrong.

Until next week, sell plenty, but stay safe!

Yours for success,


P.S. The Land Buyer's Survival Guide was written for consumers, but if you happen to be a new agent - or new to selling raw land - it can help keep you out of court. Learn why here.

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You do realize you're not selling houses, don't you?

You can get anything you want in life if you
help enough other people get what they want.

Zig Ziglar

Dear Friend,

You're a Realtor, so it's natural to think you're selling houses. But you're not. Not really.

You have two kinds of buyers. One set wants a home, the other wants an investment property. But does either one really want a house?

No. That's the outward symbol, but they really want what that house will do for them and how it will allow them to live and to feel about themselves and their lives.

The "homebuyers" want a place where they'll feel secure - an anchor in an uncertain world. They may want certain amenities, a certain amount of space, or a specific location, but what they really want is the feeling they'll get by owning that home.

For some it's the freedom and solitude of a home in the middle of 100 acres. For others it's the security of many neighbors close by. For yet others it's the prestige of living in a certain neighborhood in a certain kind of house.

No house will appeal to every potential buyer, so advertising to the masses is counter-productive. Before you write your next ad, think carefully about the person who will want to live in that particular house. Then write the ad to appeal to that person's base emotions.

If you can think of a friend or family member who would love it, put a firm picture of them in your mind and write your ad directly to them. Stress the features and benefits that would send them directly to the phone to call you for an appointment.

Otherwise, take the time to dream up the person or family for that house - then write to them.

I've listed many houses that I would not personally want to live in. In those cases I had to stretch my imagination, or talk to someone who would like to live there. But it really is worth the effort.

Remember, you can't use nasty words like "family," so you have to be creative. You can do it! But if you get stuck, call on me and I'll help.

The investors want a return on their money. They're looking for houses they can rent for a positive cash flow or houses they can fix up and re-sell at a profit.

They want to feel like astute investors. When all is said and done, they want to feel like they earned a good return on both their money and their time spent - and that they were smart to buy that house.

Don't insult this group by proclaiming "Investment property" about a rental priced at $125,000 and earning $400 a month in rent. Don't try to tell them that a major fixer priced the same as a remodeled house is a good investment. Either would be a bad advertisement for you as a Realtor and would do nothing to sell the houses.

Instead, keep a list of investors and call them the minute a "real" opportunity comes along. If it's a good value, and if you've maintained your list, you probably won't have to spend a dime on advertising.

Next time you sit down to write an ad, remember: You're not selling a house, you're selling it's benefits.

Yours for bigger closings, more often,

Marte Cliff

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20% of the agents do 80% of the business.
Here's another way for you to belong to that top 20%.

Dear Friend,

Realtors in many areas of the country are about to enter the doldrums. Often that time between Thanksgiving and Christmas offers few, if any, new customers and clients.

People are busy making holiday preparations, and most do not want to move during the holidays. Many won't list because they're too busy to keep their homes in showing condition or they don't want holiday guests disturbed by showings. So... it's a slow time.

This year, use that time to do something no one else is doing: Create a handout that offers real value to your customers.

This will take some research. So now, while you have extra time, is the time to tackle it. The activity will help you avoid the blues, and as a bonus, you'll have a fresh marketing piece to start the New Year.

Here's how to start:

First list the community events that happen annually. Call the appropriate entities and get this year's dates for each event. Write a small blurb about each one, telling visitors and new residents why they'd like to attend. Note the addresses if appropriate.

List them according to date.

Next, take a tour of your community and note the names and addresses of recreational facilities. The gym, the shooting range, the bowling alley, the movie theaters, etc. If you have a horse boarding stable or a marina, list those too. Put down everything that comes in the category of "fun," along with a little note about what is offered.

Never mind that people like me wouldn't put a gym in that category. Other people disagree!

Now sort and list them in some logical manner.

Next get two copies of a good map of the community and start marking each of these facilities on one of them. Seeing them all marked in will give you a sense of how to proceed. Can you put names on the map, or will you have to use numbers because they're too close together?

If so, number them, and place the corresponding numbers on the map. If the events have specific locations, give them numbers add them to the map too.

Be sure to put your office location on the map... perhaps with a bright red star!

Reserve a space for your ad, making sure that it showcases the benefit of choosing you. Since you will have to spend some money to print these brochures, choose a few other businesses who offer services to visitors and approach them about placing an ad along with yours. Think about motels and restaurants in particular, because you'll be mailing these brochures to new customers coming in from other communities.

Once finished, you can offer copies of this handout to gas stations, motels, and restaurants as a service to their customers - so that any person who arrives in town without having chosen a Realtor will learn about you first.

If you've gotten on a roll by now and want to really give value to new residents, make a second handout to give at closings. List the services that new residents might need. Think about day care, alternative schools, dog boarding facilities, car repair services, carpet cleaners, hairdresers, barbers, dentists, doctors, and of course the library.

Then put them on the map.

If you don't want to bear the cost alone, you should have no trouble getting some of these service businesses to kick in for printing in exchange for a nice block ad on this map. They might even be willing to give you discount coupons to give as additional gifts at closing.

On this second handout, also list the phone numbers that new residents might need. City and county offices, power companies, the schools, etc.

And of course, in large bold print, list the fact that this brochure is presented compliments of... YOU.

This project will admittedly take some hours to complete. But you'll stand out from the crowd for giving something of value with no guarantee of something in return - and that's a powerful reputation builder.

So this winter, instead of getting blue when business slows, get busy. And get ready for your extra efforts to put you in that top 20%!

Yours for bigger commission checks - more often,


P.S. For more ways to kick your career into high gear, read my e-book: Getting Clients.

Learn why becoming an expert in your niche will bring you more clients, more free time, and more job satisfaction. Then learn how to do it! You can read about this valuable tool at

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