I hope you enjoy the transcript of today’s podcast featuring Nicole Mickel. You can follow Nicole on Instagram at @iorlandorealestate or you can reach out to her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/NicoleMickle
Welcome to the Business as Unusual show! Today I have a special guest, Nicole Mickle. Nicole is an Orlando based REALTOR who has 20 years experience in the business. What sets Nicole apart from the pack is her ability to stand out, her strong personal brand and her awesome authentic personality. In a previous episode of my podcast, I mentioned Nicole as an agent to watch on Instagram. She has been mentioned in far more prominent places than my little old podcast as one of the best Instagram users in the Real Estate world. There is no wonder why I am so excited to share my interview with her now. She is about to drop some major tips for using Instagram no matter what industry you are in. So hang on to those headphones ya’ll because this is an episode you are not going to want to miss!
By the way, today’s episode is brought to you by Social Media Marketing World 2018. If there is only one marketing conference you attend in 2018, hands down it should be Social Media Marketing World. This is is the premier conference for businesses, marketers and social media peeps you want to take their social media to the next level. I have been attending via the virtual ticket since the get-go but last year blew my socks off when I attended live! I will be there in the flesh in February 2018, will you? Learn more about all the ticketing options including the virtual ticket at stellar247.media/smmw18
Alright, let’s dig into today’s show! (You can listen to the episode at http://stellar247.media/nicolepod)
Kelly: You guys, I am so excited today because I have a very special guest. We have Nicole Mickle who, I actually mentioned in a recent podcast episode when I talked about real estate agents who are killing it on social media. Nicole is the main queen bee, in my understanding … not just my understanding. What I think, who is awesome on Instagram. Let’s welcome Nicole.
Nicole is a real estate agent out of Orlando. Nicole, you know what, instead of reading your bio, I think it’d be best if you give us the details. Tell us a little bit about what got you into the industry? How long have you been doing it? Let’s start with you telling us that.
Nicole: Hello everyone. The reason why I got into the industry was, I always thought that banking/finance would be my dream job. Then I graduated from college and came home, it was like, “I don’t know if this is going to work.” I did a segueway, went into becoming a mortgage broker and was like, “Oh my gosh. This is the best job ever.” Then went into title closing a little bit. Then the whole fallout happened. Everything went to hell.
From there, I had made quite a few connections. Had connected with title companies and lawyers that was the bulk of my business that I had a referral base coming from them. From the attorney’s side, it was short sale season. They were like, “Hey, we have a ton of stuff we need backlog, organized.” That’s what I’m known for because I’m OCD queen. I got them organized and they’re like, “Hey, just for legalities, you’ve been in the business for quite a long time.” Which is now at a point of 21 years. “We need you to get your real estate license.” I was never intending to be a real estate agent. My thought process is, let me just do my task and get it completed. I was like, “Okay, if I make a mistake and say something, I won’t mess up with the lawyers.” That was the basic premise of me getting my real estate license. Then it turned into, “Hey, can you be my realtor?” I was like, “I’m not supposed to do that but okay I’ll do it.” Then it went into short sales are diminishing. Now going into more of a traditional market. How am I gonna go ahead and do this thing a little differently, but do it in a way that I want do real estate? That’s how I became a real estate agent.
I started to research different mediums that could potentially help me grow my business without going to the same group of referral sources that I had through my mortgage years because they already had realtors they had relationships with. I didn’t want to make it murky. I think it helped me to think outside of the box. That’s when certain things started to come in play with online. I was getting some success from little things I was doing from content. Then it was like, “I wanna do something fun.” [crosstalk 00:03:07]
Kelly: I like that, by the way, because you talk about … You’ve been in the industry a long time, since obviously the 2008 crash, which I remember because I was working in new home sales back then. That was when I got back into marketing. You progressed into it. You said something really key, and that was that you wanted to do something different. You wanted to do something fun. I think a lot of new real estate agents come into the market and they can’t necessarily have that huge referral base because there are existing agents who already have those relationships. You’re talking about doing something different. You’re looking at different mediums. Tell us a little bit about what that fun ended up turning into for you.
Nicole: Fun turned into Instagram. I had an Instagram for a little bit. My best friend and I, we’ve always been into design. We would have all these fake different houses in our head, like Barbie and Ken would be back in the day. For us, it was interior design. She would have ideas and she was like, “Oh my gosh, I want you to see this picture.” Back before these different platforms of Pinterest or Instagram, we would have texting back and forth of photos from Houzz. When Houzz didn’t really have a platform that you could have an idea book or save anything, Instagram was pretty awesome. We would get on there and she would show me different pages. Then I started thinking about it, I said, “How could I integrate this into my real estate business? Because potentially, this may work. I don’t know.” I said, whatever, I’ll just have fun doing it.
It was honestly a hobby that I had zero intentions on until I started to get three likes on a picture. I’m like, “These people do not even know me. Who the hell are these people liking my photos?” That’s crazy. I know a lot of people will tell you, the gurus, that you’re not supposed to keep all this stuff on there. The old stuff. But what I wanted to do is show people, when I started to have some success with it, you can go to the beginning of my Instagram and it shows you my 20 likes. Those same photos from day one are on there. I don’t wanna delete them because I want people to see it. I like to share, and that’s just who I am.
The photos started to progress. I use it more as a visible journal for myself. Almost as if you would write into a journal, it was a visual one for me because that was one of the key components that, okay, I’m really tired of doing real work stuff so let me get a book. It was, get my Instagram and share some photos. That’s what happened. From there, I maybe was going to show a house in a new home community and then I would take a picture of it. What’s so funny is, at the time I started that Instagram, I really wasn’t selling higher end homes at all. I was selling $50,000 condos.
Kelly: Right, because you were doing a lot of short sales.
Nicole: I was doing short sales at the time. You’re talking about yucky homes, dirty homes, moldy homes.
Kelly: You know on Instagram, those homes.
Nicole: Yeah. I don’t wanna go the angle of rental right now. What I did was a lot of research because that’s what I’m known for, research queen, organize queen. I went ahead and I would go out to the new home builders because with me having the economics degree, I knew that supply and demand, something was shifting in our market in Orlando. I started to see all these new home developments. I was just nosy. I’m like, “Let me go ahead and see what the hell they’re selling.” I would meet with the agents and the inside sales team. I was like, “Who’s the designer of this? Oh my God, I love these pillows.” It just start to move in a different direction. I started to share some of the photos, like, “Oh my God, I love this house.” I would text it to my friend and she’s like, “You should put that on your Instagram.” I’m like, “Yeah, whatever.”
I put it on the Instagram, I would get likes. Then somebody else had told me, they said, “Hey, do you hashtag on your Instagram?” A younger person. I’m like, “Hashtag?”
Kelly: What’s a hashtag?
Nicole: What in the world is a “hashtag”? I’m going back and I’m looking at the research and I’m like, “Wait a minute. Let me put interior design.” Then it started to come. Then I start becoming addicted to it. Then I would have conversations with people. People would DM me. Then I probably had less than a thousand followers at the point I got my big sale, $600,000.
Nicole: I remember that-
Kelly: I know in Orlando, that’s huge.
Nicole: Yeah. Our average price point at per Realtor.com, so they say, is $190,000. I would probably say 240 is really probably like a three-bedroom, two bath home kinda concept. That’s in the suburbs. That is not metro Orlando.
Nicole: For that type of price point, I thought it was fake, of course. It was 8:00 and I’m dropping off my son at school. I see this email. I’m in this car line and it started, “Hey, I saw your Instagram, we were trying to relocate to Orlando.” I’m like, “Okay, yeah, whatever.” Then it’s like, “Okay. We would like to go ahead and meet with you. I saw some of your photos on Instagram. I’m going to send you an email if possible, but I wanted to make sure this was the right contact information. Today is a snow day, we are in Virginia. We want to go ahead and connect.” I’m like, “Is this lady serious?” I have the email right now. She is one of my close friends because I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I called her and asked her, I was like, “You know you’re my best sell.” A year later. She said, “Nicole, I had no idea.” That was just the way that she went ahead and found me. The way Instagram worked previously was way better before the whole-
Kelly: Because it was chronological and everything.
Nicole: Correct. She googled me. She googled Orlando real estate and that’s how she found me on that hashtag. That’s how good Instagram was before. It’s still challenging but when those algorithms change, I constantly have to keep up with it. She found me off of Orlando Real Estate. She saw my photos from New Home Design. She knew she wanted new construction. She was like, “Oh my Gosh. All of the different communities you had, I definitely wanna go ahead and connect with you.” That’s how we started the whole project. It was more of a look book for her. She looked at me as a magazine of what she was looking for. Then once we connected offline, because I’m a huge proponent of being offline. Yeah, you can communicate online I think, but sometimes people stay online too long that they lose that real touch to it and relationship that they can gather.
We just had some conversations like two girlfriends chit-chatting. I understood what she was looking for. We came down. I wanted to do a more detailed with her because she didn’t know this area. She knew three areas that she wanted. We hit those areas, went under contract and she closed. Unbelievably excited. We hang out quite a bit. I went to her daughter’s graduation because I helped connect her with the school that she’s with where her daughter graduated from. That was all a part it too. For me, it’s just a lot of fun connecting those dots. You never know who’s watching you. It was just that much more of an engaging factor for me to want to continue to do it.
Kelly: I love how you said that you set up … I look through your Instagram all the time because I follow you. It really is like a magazine. You say it looks like a magazine. I think that’s such a great way of putting it because you share a lot of … It’s like perception is reality. She saw these high end photos. You might not have been selling high end at the time, but she saw that. You were the high end photo girl, you must know. I love how you do … If anyone goes and checks out, Nicole is at “IOrlandoRealEstate”. Check out her profile and just scroll down. It does feel like that high end, interior design or real estate magazine because you do have the core of it is that interior stuff, but you also showcase Orlando, yourself, you have some personal stuff in there. It’s a really great mix that lends itself to that idea of a magazine.
Nicole: Correct. I didn’t look at it like that until people started to tell me that because it was more of just me engaging with something that was more artistic. I like to sketch and design, but of course, I’m real estate. I don’t have time to sketch and paint like I used to. This is a way for me to have an artistic medium to connect with myself as well as share my thoughts and what my vision was on things. Then when people would meet with me, I would say, “Hey, what are you looking for?” It was almost like a catalog in my brain. I knew exactly where to take them because even if they hadn’t connected on the Instagram, some of my clients who may be out of the realm of “Oh, I don’t do social media.” It’s a great way to engage with them, not just selling them a home. Because certain things that you can’t articulate when you’re trying to say, “I want an open floor plan.” You may say, “I don’t want a cookie cutter house.” It’s just the way we translate words. I think when you put the photos into play, it makes them engage differently.
Kelly: Absolutely. Would you say that when you meet with clients, even if they haven’t looked at your Instagram and you’re in that discovery stage, do you show them your Instagram as like, “Is this what you’re thinking?”
Nicole: Yes. I use that Instagram for multiple purposes. I use it for listing appointments. I use it for buyers as well.
Kelly: I think it’s also pretty cool that you go around to all these builders and stuff. I would assume that that makes you understand the market really well. When someone does say something like, “This is what I’m looking for.” You’ve already been out there taking photos, meeting people. You have a really strong idea of what everyone out there is offering and where.
Nicole: Correct. I get offline so a lot of pocket listings are generated through those builders to me. It creates another level of marketing that people don’t really understand because they think of, “That online stuff doesn’t work.” These are some of my best referral sources because they met me online. Or they met me offline and then I brought their businesses online. Partnerships are growing with this and going in different directions of what I thought it would become. I like how it’s evolving. When people look at me just as a real estate agent, and they talk about how things are growing. For me, success is a little different for everybody else I know. A lot of the coaches and things, they pump us with these numbers that they want us to have, but for me, it’s more of a life, work, play balance and buy for me.
Kelly: I’m with you on that. I like that.
Nicole: Yeah. I’m not trying to be this numbers person, but what I am getting is people who really value what I can present to them, and I can connect and use who I am to benefit them as well. In the midst of it, I’m connecting with some awesome people that want to build my business, and I love building theirs because I see something that maybe you don’t see because you’re not going and looking at these other builders all day, I am. I can highlight those nuggets of what they’re sharing or what they don’t even know that they possess because it’s something that’s like the crown jewel in comparison to some of the other builders. It’s more of a give and take at this point.
Back to Instagram, before I forget. A lot of people think, when they talk about the millennial statistics and things like that, they always say, “My client isn’t on there.” What’s happening is, I’m finding for myself, their kids are on there. I have younger kids who reach out to me who are looking to be in real estate or they just … You know, the whole craze of HGTV or Real Estate Wars or whatever. They’re interested in it. What they’re doing is referring me to their parents.
Kelly: That’s great. Yeah. I’m the same way. I was born in ’81 so I’m like one of those weird non-millennial, kinda millennials. When my dad moved to Denver, he moved into a house that I … He had a real estate agent, but he moved into the house that I picked out for him. I actually referred him to the real estate agent that helped him. I totally can vouch for that. It’s so true. We like to help our parents out so they don’t end up in some ugly old person house.
Nicole: Exactly because my mom, she’s 76 now, but you wouldn’t know it. She’s on my Twitter feed. She’s on my Facebook. I’m like, “Ma. Chill out.”
Kelly: She’s internet stalking you.
Nicole: Oh yeah. Because she’s in awe of how we can engage online because she’s always been a news media person. She loves news. She said to understand how quickly you can get this information is intriguing to her. She’s also showing me things. She’s screenshotting things and sending it to me and I’m like, “You know you can just tag me in it.” She’s like, “What’s tagging?” I’m teaching her different lingo. It’s funny because I think it’s not just a “millennial”. It’s now going into a gray area that people are losing the capture of people they could possibly be engaging with, and better engaging their time and not have to deal with the [inaudible 00:17:10] as realtors we deal with because we think we need to deal with it.
Kelly: Amen to that. You never know who you’re going to connect with. I talk to people all the time about taking it to the streets, going to networking. People go to networking events, as an example, and they’ll bring all these cards and they’ll shove cards in everyone’s faces and expect everyone that gives them a card to be their next customer. If you’re really smart, you’ll go to a networking event and make connections and then try to help those people because those will be your biggest referral partners. I’ve gotten a lot of business just off referrals from those situations. I imagine it’s a similar concept when were talking about things like Instagram or any kind of medium where instead of thinking so much about “Is the person looking at this video, my next customer?” Think of how the connections are so … It’s a small world, right. Everything’s so interconnected now that it doesn’t have to be the original viewer.
Nicole: Correct. That’s one of the components when you’re talking about the networking events. It’s so funny, when people ask me to go to those, I laugh but I go to them at certain times because I want to benefit that person’s business. I want to go ahead and go because they’ve been good to me. My thing is, I’m not looking for anything. When I post pictures on Instagram, I’m not looking for, “I just posted a picture on Instagram. How much am I going to make off of it?” I think that’s where we go misguided where return on investment because you’re not really truly being fully in the moment and connecting with people. When you connect with someone, and you believe in what their product line is or their branding is, you want to promote them. When I find a great handyman, I have my handyman I can’t even come to my house anymore because he’s now working so much for my clients. My clients have been giving him to other people. I think when you try to focus on giving the value and the value proposition becomes 10 times over than what you think you can go ahead and provide to someone, because someone on the sidelines may be looking exactly for what you are perfect to do for them.
Kelly: It’s somewhat short sided to just look at the end sale and not so many of the other elements that these things bring.
Nicole: Correct. I think the transactional element has been the old way of doing things for so long, Kelly. That people are like, “Hey, this is what you need. You gotta make 50 calls.” Who wants to do that all day long?
Kelly: Nobody. I know I don’t.
Nicole: It’s some people, they get off on it. That was me back in the mortgage industry. I used to call the phone book to get deals and it worked. That’s when the refi boom was in place. It was really an easy way to do it. I think now, people are going more from a different interest angle. They don’t want to go ahead and work with the top one percent person in the real estate industry because maybe their house is not at the right price point to work with, but they want to connect with you on an emotional level to know that you’re gonna be good for them and you’re gonna do right by them. I just go back to treating people like I want to be treated.
Kelly: Amen. The Golden Rule. Gosh, that goes for any industry. You don’t even have to be in real estate. That’s how I live too. I treat other people the way I wanna be treated. Hopefully, that’s good.
Nicole: Absolutely. I know with being a mom I’m on, I call it on program, all the time because how I probably would run my business when I was not a mom was more of the numbers because I come from a business background. As things have evolved, for me, I’m not looking for a transaction. I wanna engage with people who I love and who love me. Bottom line.
Kelly: That’s obviously working for you.
Nicole: Yeah. I think this year things have shifted. People always talk about a shift in the industry, the disrupters. I don’t feel like this disruption can come to me because I’m not working at a business. I’m building a business. It organically is gonna grow. For me, I took about three steps back when I changed brokerages. I said, “What do I want to do differently?” I was in the top whatever. What else is it going to fulfill me? Is it just numbers? Is it just money? Am I happy making that money? For me, I was like, “I need to change some things.” I have. For me, I think it’s going to work a little differently because doors are opening that I never intended to open. That’s when you know it’s right.
Kelly: Absolutely. As we bring it back around, if you will. I want to point out to people, a couple of the key points that I think really stand out that will help anyone, even if they’re not in real estate. Obviously, especially real estate agents. Then when I’m done, I’d love for you to give us your top three solid tips for either Instagram or branding or what have you.
As a recap of the things that I think are super standout here is, what you like, other people like. You’re going to attract your tribe. I know, Nicole, you said you love this interior design. You love those HGTV magazine quality. Because of that, it shows. You put out what you enjoy. You did it as a hobby almost like, “This is what I enjoy.” People who enjoy that as well, followed you to it.
Kelly: What you like, other people will like. Think of your feed as a magazine, a lifestyle magazine. It’s really about the whole lifestyle, not just one thing.
Kelly: Perception is reality. Right. If you put it out there, people are going to assume that that is you. If you’re putting spam out there, they’re probably gonna assume you’re a spammer. If you’re putting beautiful photos out there, they’re probably gonna assume that you can get them into a beautiful house.
Nicole: Absolutely. I’ve watched a couple Instagrams. It’s so funny because people don’t think, when they engage with me on Instagram, they think “She’s probably not gonna respond back.” I respond back to every person that’s on there. I even call out the spammers. In a jokingly way, but I call them out like, “Hey, a little too much bot on this one. Come on, chill out. Great shot.” All the time. I’m being on the funny side, but I’m being serious too. It’s a lot of times, I’ve noticed that people are doing more selling. If they go ahead and … I always tell people, pull away from that sale piece of it and start sharing what you’re into. It could be your kids. It could be you’re into dogs. I know one agent who has crushed it with dogs only. No experience. Dogs. That connecting factor that’s the thing that you wanna do every day. It sounds cliché, but it’s a serious thing. I always say, take the top three things that you are interested in. Potentially take one of those things but then also tell people who you are as a person. If you’re a bad ass and you drive a Harley, let them know that. That’s your thing on the weekend.
Do some photos with you in the wind. Maybe going to the beach. Those are things that people want to connect with because those are the things they are interested in. Once you have that common thread of engagement, they don’t really care what the hell you sell, they’re buying it.
Kelly: Yeah. I love it. I’m all over this. I’m taking notes. I’m ready to go start my magazine online.
Nicole: Yeah because [inaudible 00:24:35] you’re gonna be great. Sometimes people hear, “I’m great at this or I’m great at sales.” It’s like, “Really, Nicole.” I do put the stories in and that’s what I started originally because a lot of my clients found me online. They never wanted to be photographed. I’m like, “How in the hell am I not gonna have the “Just Sold” sign in front of them?” I said, you know what let me take a different approach. I like design so I started designing the Home Story. I tell their backend story of what they’re into. How we met or how we engaged because sometimes someone needs that little bit of encouragement when they’re going through something. It was a bad time when I got on Instagram. It started to get a little bit better but it wasn’t what it is now. I think a lot of people needed that level of encouragement and know “I can be a homeowner again. I don’t have to lose my home and just be in this rut forever.” And start to build a process. That’s how come I wanted to be a little energizing to people too that came to the page. It just wasn’t like, “Look at this great house that you’ll never have.” It was like, “You can do it too.”
Kelly: That’s great. You’re bringing that fantasy of owning a home back down to reality.
Nicole: Correct. Maybe it’s not 400,000. It’s so funny when I show some of the homes, some of the homes are 200,000. I like taking on those type of clients because sometimes they’re missed. They’re stepped over a little bit or their homes are devalued to me. I’m like, “You know what, I’m not gonna devalue the home. I have a couple ideas of what we can highlight in here. I’m gonna drive the open house crazy.” They’re like, “Nicole, whatever. You can’t do that.” Then when it happens, they’re like, “Where did all these come from?” Because everybody has something that’s positive about them. Everybody has a gift and every home does too.
Kelly: You just have to figure out what it is and highlight it. Right?
Nicole: Find it, highlight it, and roll with it.
Kelly: Awesome. Do you have any advice for a new real estate agent or even an entrepreneur? Someone who’s new to the market and they want to stand out in a sea of other agents, of other entrepreneurs, of the competition. What is your one big final stamp of advice that you can give?
Nicole: What I would tell them to do is study the competition. Study everyone and anything in their market. Highlight the things you think are ridiculous that they do. Regardless if it’s profitable or not. You personally audit them and say, “Oh my gosh, I would never wanna be that sales rep. Oh my God, they’re so obnoxious when they do video.” Write all of those things down and just do the opposite. That’s how you’re gonna stand out.
Kelly: That is a great and easy formula to follow. Nicole, I wanna thank you so much for coming on. It’s been great chatting with you. If you guys wanna learn more about Nicole, you can go to Nicole Mickle, that’s M-I-C-K-L-E, dot com. Nicole Mickle. And of course, everyone go follow her on Instagram @IOrlandoRealEstate. Thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate just chatting with you.
Nicole: Thank you.
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