Happy New Year! Here’s to 2008 being the year for taking your business and personal life to their highest level. The need for people to connect and exchange goods and services has been one of civilization’s ongoing themes. Now, the need for people to get on the internet and search for real estate information is going to increase exponentially. The big question is, not how technology will advance the real estate industry, but rather how will you use it.2008 poses many challenges for the real estate industry and its irrevocable relationship with the internet. How are you positioned to garner your share of targeted real estate leads and marketing potential of the internet? Are you investing in old traditional training techniques of sending out post cards, fancy listing presentation displays and a clever tag line? You already know that marketing to your sphere of influence and past clients is essential. But what other business systems have you implemented for seller or buyer leads?How are you spending your education dollars and time? Now is the time to take action.Search engine optimization and online lead generation is a competitive game, and it is growing more competitive by the day. You’ve read the articles, watched it on the news and read all the press releases. The biggest companies in real estate are investing the lion share of their resources to the internet. No more old traditional training, old school marketing or ideas. Major corporations are dumping money into their internet business in order to compete in the networked society we live in. What are you doing now to further your education and online real estate lead generation business? That’s your challenge in 2008 and beyond.As I’ve stated before, you can still create a very successful online real estate lead-generation business. However, these days are numbered.The Web is big, but it’s a finite resource. Well, more accurately said, cyberspace is infinite, but people will only dig so deep. Real estate Web sites that capture the top spots in the search engines are garnering high quality leads and massive lists of interested buyers and sellers. But, as more and more big-brand companies compete and figure out how to grab high ranking search engine positions, they will slowly but surely elbow out the little guy. It’s the nature of an industry to be “open” to early adopters at the beginning and then slowly close to only those that can afford the great investment of time and money needed to stay competitive. As more and more buyers and sellers use the Internet for real estate research, the “evening and weekend traditional real estate agent marketing model” is fast becoming extinct.If you want to stay competitive in the period ahead, you will need to grab a piece of the Internet action, and now is the time to establish your foothold. You CAN still create a successful real estate online lead-generating business. You CAN still get top spots in the search engines. It’s not too late, but I guarantee if you wait, it soon will be.More and more, I get calls from companies selling real estate leads. They notice I’m everywhere on the internet. My sites rank very high organically for specific real estate search terms and cpc. I also own the right spots on other real estate portals that drive targeted traffic to my listings, my sites and yes…..generate high quality, exclusive leads.I just received a call from a company selling real estate leads. As published in my book, Internet Real Estate Agent: A Guide To Dominating Internet Real Estate Leads and Marketing, there are specific questions you must ask to avoid wasting money and time. After going back and forth with the skilled sales rep., I was able to hone down the basics of how the program works.Here’s how their lead program works:1. A person is watching television, listening to the radio or sees a banner ad online. The add is asking the person to call a phone number to learn about a real estate tax advantage and commission rebate back to them if they buy or sell real estate.2. Pay $60 a month for a zip code.3. Pay 19% referral fee at closing (this gets split between the “lead company” and the customer at closing).4. Here’s the kicker….the leads are given to 7 other agents as well.This real estate sales lead business model isn’t new and many companies have a slight variation to it. Personally, I would never buy leads from this business model. I prefer to create my own exclusive lead systems.Here’s some of the pitfalls with the real estate lead business model you’re being sold.1. Leads coming from TV, Print, radio or the internet that rely on some form of incentive offer are usually very low quality leads. One of the incentive offers is a “commission rebate program”. Need I say more?2. Why pay a monthly fee so you can compete for the lead? Why not get EXCLUSIVE leads that are not incentive leads. You can’t do every lead program on earth, so pick and chose how you spend your money and time.3. I have a hard time paying a referral fee to someone when I’m competing with other agents, given a low quality lead and there’s no personal relationship. That’s not a referral, it’s a lead. No relationship, no history and no commitment from the potential customer to use me. I like paying referral fees to agents that have personal relationships with their real clients. When I get a referral call from another agent, they know the person being referred to me and I get the client. That’s a real referral and qualifies for that big referral fee.4. There are so many ways to generate leads. You should pick and chose the best ways to spend your time and money.After reading Internet Real Estate Agent, you won’t fall prey to poor Internet business models. You may make a mistake or two–I do from time to time when trying something new–but, these mistakes are quickly remedied. You will understand exactly how to improve your real estate website, what to know before buying a real estate website, advanced concepts for Google AdWords, how to market your listings online for more leads, the changing Broker/Agent model and much more. Discover how to set up your own internet real estate lead generation machine. Don’t be dependent on any one company for leads. Get educated and become independent!The book will guide you through a tremendous amount of information and facts, not hype, regarding Internet real estate lead generation and Internet marketing. It’s the lowest cost real estate training and education you will ever spend. It’s all about internet real estate lead and marketing. Keep this book by your side and use it as a trusted reference guide. Start working on your Web site, and then move onto the other areas of online lead generation and Internet marketing. Once you have your online real estate lead-generation business set up, it really will run 24 X 7, by putting the right message in front of the right people, at the right time.Agents and Brokers already know they need to market to past clients and their sphere, but it only gets you so far. They also know the urgent need to embrace the internet. The value of traditional farming techniques is diminishing. The fact is, everyone is mailing something; everyone is doing longer open houses; and everyone is getting into the real estate business. But, hardly anyone is doing online advertising. Even fewer are doing it right. In fact, most agents and brokers attempting to do online lead generation and property marketing are doing it totally wrong. Don’t waste money and time by buying leads from a company that sells false dreams of Internet riches. Take control of your business lead systems and start implementing your plan today.Here’s a short sample from the book:Marketing Your Listings for LeadsThe majority of this book has been on creating a real business Web site, driving quality traffic to your Web site, and converting that traffic into leads. Now let’s focus on how to create more business by marketing your listing online. You’ve worked long and hard to get the listing, now let’s leverage that listing to create more business. For most of the homes I’ve sold, the buyers began by viewing the pictures and details online and then contacted me about a private showing. If you market the property correctly, you will get leads. Using the list of marketing resources below, I average over 2,500 targeted property views for each listing. I get highly qualified internet buyer and seller leads when marketing a property online. Think about that for a second. Online, people are searching for a specific home, in a specific area, in a specific school district, in a certain price range, etc….and my listings are showing up. That’s a ton of quality traffic almost all of it was free.I just read the other day about a Director of Technology who serves on a major MLS board who said the traditional business model of getting leads from holding open houses is almost dead. People are using the Internet for research, and they are contacting an agent long before they enter the house. Based on my personal experience, I agree with this assessment. Having spent many Sunday’s working at open houses, I find it very rare for someone to walk through the door and say “I don’t have an agent.”The following list of ideas will put you in a position to actually make more money from each listing you have. If you don’t have any listings or are new to real estate, I suggest approaching an agent in your office that has a listing and ask if you can do some Internet advertising for him or her. Just be sure to abide by any local MLS rules you have…So here’s to 2008 and enriching your level of internet real estate education and business income.Happy New Year, Cheers!