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Are You Ready To Become A Celebrity In Your Local Market?
Oliver Graf is delighted to have Mike Bjorkman on his latest “In The Know” episode to discuss 10 tips on how to become a celebrity in your market.
In this video Oliver and Mike take you through how to leverage your success to celebrity status through local press, podcast, events and more.
10 Tips On How To Become A Celebrity In Your Market – In The Know With Oliver Graf ft. Mike Bjorkman video timeline:
0:34 Mike tells us how he became a top team at HomeSmart nationwide (and how it started)
3:55 How he became the big name “Celebrity Realtor” (before he even had listings)
5:15 why do mega open houses
7:26 Mike talks about his podcast
7:37 Using unique advertising and USPs
11:15 How events and speaking can leaverage your biz
13:25 Mike tells us about how giving to charities has promoted his brand
17:20 How to get the local press to cover you
19:40 What he did to get a local TV show
19:45 Mike gives a shout out to Tami his business partner
21:51 Talking about “interrupt pattern” (The Labcoat Agents)
23:26 Mike talks about his Ninja strategy to get to the top
30:17 How Mike ties it all together with social media
31:27 Talks about the Ninja Facebook strategy
33:40 The apparel branding strategy
36:08 Branding vans and trucks
38:51 Sam (Big Block Co-founder) and Marcel make a surprise appearance
Read the full transcript of: “10 Tips On How To Become A Celebrity In Your Market”
Oliver Graf: Just recently won the award for top team in the nation at HomeSmart.
One thing that you’ve done really well and become really successful at is owning his market and being the name in his market. I just wanted to find out a little bit more about how did you do that? He’s going to share some of his strategies that he used to become the number one team in not only his market, but the entire company nationwide.
Oliver Graf: I’m really excited today, to be up here in Beverly Hills with a mega-producer, Mike Bjorkman. Been in the business a long time, since he was 19 years old, and really has a lot of insight on how you can take over your local market and become the local celebrity. Looking forward to getting this started. Let’s kick it off.
Really excited to be sitting here today with Mike Bjorkman, one of the top teams in the nation for HomeSmart. If not the top team-
Mike Bjorkman: Number one.
First, we’re going to have a couple drinks of our Coronas.
Mike Bjorkman: Cheers, buddy.
Oliver Graf: We’re here at the Montage, in Beverly Hills. Let’s jump right in.
Mike Bjorkman: I’m ready.
Oliver Graf: Why don’t we start with how did it start for you, back when you were first starting out? And then how you took it to where it is today.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah, as I look back, it goes in sections, right? I’ve been in since ’91 now. Let’s call it 26 years. I think, as an agent, when I was new in the business, I was barely 19 years old, right? Who do we know at that age? Just high school kids. Our friends, right?
Oliver Graf: Right.
Mike Bjorkman: Which is cool-
Oliver Graf: Not a lot of people buying houses yet.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. Either not a lot, or when I went to high school, I liked to have a lot of fun, and I wasn’t known as a professional. I was known as the keg stand guy. The guy that would go to Lake Havasu and party for days. When the time came, honestly, my friends avoided me. They said, “Look. We love partying with you, but we don’t trust you to sell us a house. You don’t know crap. You’ve only been in the business x amount of days, basically.
But surprisingly, I was really cool with that. I go, You know what? You’re right. I really don’t know nothing, so fair enough. What I had to do was I had to go back to what I call “the basics, right? Expireds, for-sale-by-owners, open houses, and geographical farming.
I remember that I was dying for a listing, and I was just a couple of weeks in the business, and I couldn’t get a listing, obviously. So I asked my neighbor, Can I put a sign up in your yard? He was like, Well, sure. I guess. If I can get my money, I’d actually sell it.
I remember the day the sign went in the yard, the phone started ringing. I was like, Sure enough. Holy crap. I was getting buyer leads, right? I actually got a seller lead that first day. I said, Well, this is super important that I really concentrate on farming, because this works. Right?
Oliver Graf: You saw it happen almost instantly.
Mike Bjorkman: It was that day, and the interesting thing was, we didn’t have internet back then. The only cell phone I had was a fake one, and I’d just be in pictures with it, right? The reality was, is I had to go back to the basics, and I had to focus, and really study how to blow up the neighborhood.
Back then, I went to Craig Proctor. Went to Mike Ferry. I did everything I could. I was what you call a seminar whore. I learned everything I could. I learned everything I could. Craig Proctor taught me a lot about open houses, and how to really blow them up. We actually pioneered, I think, the first mega open house, right? Back then, the signs were five to ten signs, and I was the first agent to really put 50 out. Sometimes up to 100, as I was able to afford them.
I learned a lot about geographical farming, and pretty soon, I was the celebrity in the neighborhood. Everybody looked up to me. Everybody came to me for advice. All I was doing was advertising other people’s listings. Other people’s solds. I was doing a-
Oliver Graf: You would do an open house, and just leverage it to the max.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. It wouldn’t even be my listing. No way. I didn’t have a listing. So I’d just use other people’s listings and do the open house. Similar to what they do today, with our low inventory.
But pretty soon, I just realized, Look. The more you stand out, the more people know your name. I honestly think I coined that old phrase household name. I was always looking for new and innovative ways to be different than everybody else.
We had a bunch of agents in our neighborhood that really … They owned the neighborhood, and I just said, I’ve got to get better. I’ve got to do better things. The better giveaways. The tchotchkes. More frequent updates. That kind of stuff, and-
Oliver Graf: More touches.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. Honestly, I owned the neighborhood. It only took me 90 days to get my first couple of listings, and then six months to a year … I owned it. I just started expanding a little bit, here, and there, and there. Before you knew it, I was selling four or five houses a month just from my farm.
Oliver Graf: What would you say … because if a mega open house is the way that broke the door open for you, how often were you doing them? Why don’t you run me through just a 60 second overview of what one would look like?
Mike Bjorkman: What one would look like? I’d schedule an open house for a Sunday. I’d start Monday. I’d make the flyers, get them done. Back then, we’d take pictures and glue them on the flyers, because we didn’t have that type … Great God, I’m old, right?
Oliver Graf: You had the photocopy machine.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. Exactly. Then I would door knock the entire neighborhood. Then I go even outside of the neighborhood to the local condos, apartment buildings, and say, Hey, are you looking to buy? So I’d door knock a lot.
That was my two or three days ahead of time. Then I’d get on the phone, and I’d just start calling … Back then, I don’t know if you remember. I don’t know if you’re even old enough to remember. But the title companies actually had all of the people’s phone numbers. Having phone numbers was normal back then. So we just started cold calling. I’d just say, Hey, it’s Mike Bjorkman. I’m having an open house at 123 Cherry Street. I’d like to invite you.
I did all the giveaways. I did the drawings, and You come over, if you get there before 12:00, I’ll give you a free bottle of wine. I just used really innovative ways to get people there. Then I’d have my friends and relatives … Not relatives, necessarily, but my friends … My sphere. I would tell them, Hey, come by. Just for fun.
Oliver Graf: Just come by.
Mike Bjorkman: Just for fun, come by.
Oliver Graf: Basically, you’re circle dialing to get people there.
Mike Bjorkman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Oliver Graf: How many calls are you making on the average mega open house?
Mike Bjorkman: Well, back then I was a big Mike Ferry guy, right? I had to make 100 calls a day, period. I had the pennies in the jar trick, and that’s what I did. Then I’d do that, then I’d go door knocking. That’s what I loved about summertime. I’d be door knocking until 9:00 at night sometimes.
Oliver Graf: Love that. Tip one: mega open houses. It’s a great way to start. It’s a great way to kick the door in on the neighborhood and announce that you’re here. If you’re doing that … what? Every weekend, pretty much?
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. I was on my own, and I had a lot of bills. I started looking around at the real estate agents’ lifestyles: Mercedes, big homes. I’m like, I have to have that.” Right?
Oliver Graf: I’ve got to get in on that.
Mike Bjorkman: I’ve got to get in on some of that. Can we plug my podcast at all in this?
Oliver Graf: Sure, of course.
Mike Bjorkman: RealEstateMarketingShow.com. Some of the other things that I did was expireds and for-sale-by-owners. I really leveraged those for listing leads, as well. If you guys want to get on that, listen to … There’s two hours of open house training. Hour of expireds. Two hours of for-sale-by-owners. There’s tons of that. But that all-
Oliver Graf: Yeah. It’s well worth the listen. Definitely.
Mike Bjorkman: It’ll break this all down for them. Let’s put it that way.
Oliver Graf: Perfect. Number two, let’s talk about some unique selling propositions. Because I know you’re really big on standing out and being different, which I think is very important if you’re going to separate yourself from the pack.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah, no. Absolutely. Again, running in that Craig Proctor circle back in the early days, unique selling propositions were huge. And unique marketing, for that matter. He’s the one that taught me a man out standing in his field, with pictures of you in the field, and then a suitcase, and a tie. That kind of stuff.
But really, it was the I’ll sell your home in 90 days or it’s free. If I don’t sell your home in 30 days, I’ll pay you.
Oliver Graf: I’ll buy it.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. One of the biggest things that worked for me, that he taught me, was quick, over-the-phone market evaluation. Because back then, it started where people were not wanting necessarily for you to come there, but a quick over-the-phone? Yeah. They liked that, right?
Oliver Graf: I can do that. Right.
Mike Bjorkman: Then we moved into the free computerized, because back then, most agents couldn’t use the computer, but I got on the DOS MLS. They usually dropped off just paper comps, and I’d-
Oliver Graf: The book. Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: I used a lot of the computerized, electronic, all the modern things. I learned fast that a lot of people really liked that high-technology. I was young, aggressive, and I used …
Your unique value propositions … I really found out, Wow. Those really work quick. I had people that called me to sell their house, and I’d go, Why would you call me to sell your house? Who referred you? Oh, well, I saw that you said you’ll sell my home in 90 days, or it’s free. I’d like to hear more about that. To this day, we still use that. It still gets phone calls.
We did summer, winter, fall, and spring promotions. We’re having a spring special right now. If you list your home during the month of spring, you won’t have to pay for your escrow. We’ll pay for your home warranty, your termite, and your upfront home inspection, all that kind of stuff.
Then another good one was If you buy this house from me, we’ll buy yours. That made my phone ring. People didn’t understand. What? You’ll buy my house, if I buy that house?
Oliver Graf: How does a program like that work? Because I’m sure you get the What’s the catch? response to some of these.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. It’s super simple. For that particular one is, I’ll buy your house. We’ll put it on the market as a traditional sale for 90 days. If it doesn’t work, minus 10% for closing cost. Minus 10% convenient fee. I’ll buy it at eight cents on the dollar. And you get 80%. Even today, Zillow has found out, OpenDoor, they’ve found out that a lot of people want to take those offers.
Nine times out of ten, somebody would say, I don’t want to do that. Then one time, it actually happened, to where I had to call my investor friend up and say, “Hey, I need you to buy this house.”
Oliver Graf: Like right now.
Mike Bjorkman: I couldn’t afford that! Right? I couldn’t even get a hard money loan back then. So-
Oliver Graf: Right. That’s something that you can offer just by working with an investor, right? You don’t necessarily need to do that yourself. You can line up with an investor in your local market, and you can offer that same pitch. Hey, if it doesn’t sell. I’ll buy it. By I’ll buy it, I mean my partner will buy it.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah, it’s funny how people have this fear of their home not selling. It’s really weird. We’re so accustomed to homes blowing off the market in two seconds nowadays. But in a declining or stable market, which a lot of these agents haven’t seen, to have a home on the market for six months is normal. To have it on the market for a year could be normal, too. All of our listing agreements? They’re all a year. That was just normal back then, right? I mean sometimes it takes six months. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: We’re spoiled in this market, since about 2011, when it bounced back. That’s a long time. A lot of us have forgotten what a crappy market’s like. Or even a stable market. The inventory … In our area, we’re supposed to be somewhere around 1,200-1,500, and we’ve been floating at 300-400 for five years, which is ridiculous.
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: And our town’s doubled in size since the time of a stable market. So it’s pretty unbelievable to watch.
Oliver Graf: It’s moving fast.
Mike Bjorkman: It sure is.
Oliver Graf: Yeah, it’s moving fast. The next thing I’ve got here on the old yellow pad is events and speaking. Oh, let’s actually do those separately, because-
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. You’re absolutely right.
Oliver Graf: I think there’s events that you can go to, and just see-and-be-seen. Then there’s speaking opportunities that you can get.
Mike Bjorkman: Right.
Oliver Graf: Why don’t we touch on the events first? What sort of events should you be looking for?
Mike Bjorkman: The thing I did first, and nobody does it, and that’s probably the thing that hurts you the most as an agent, especially if you’re trying to … Any time you’re speaking at an event, you’re an authority, right?
Oliver Graf: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Mike Bjorkman: It doesn’t matter what you’re doing. I can’t remember who taught me. It might have been … I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. But I started doing first-time home buyer seminars. Right? When you do that, it makes you an authority, and I had a pretty good attorney, pretty good CPA, and I had the vendors. They really helped advertise and bump those up. I studied first-time home buyers so much at the time, that I was the authority.
Then I would submit that for free to the newspapers. They started printing half-page ads. Mike Bjorkman, local power realtor, is doing first-time home buyers seminars. Then we would teach people how to buy foreclosures. Then we would teach people … Short-sells were … after the earthquake in ’94. I was really big in that … short-sells. So I’d have short-sell seminars.
I was like, Wow, man. People would line up to talk to me afterwards. I was out there humping it in 100-degree heat, just sweating balls, and then I’m sitting … Now I’m in a hotel room on a Friday night, and people are buying me drinks, lined up to talk to me.
Oliver Graf: Running from the back of the room.
Mike Bjorkman: So I’m like, Dude. You know what? Being a celebrity is kind of cool. People want to line up and talk to you. That’s … I mean, who gets that, right? All these different seminars is really how I found out speaking is powerful, right? It’s a really big deal.
Oliver Graf: Where would you say … For a local realtor, where would they want to start for getting into see-and-be-seen type of events?
Mike Bjorkman: Well, I firmly believe you should go to two to four events a week. If you don’t want to work 15 hour days? Fine. Go to the beach until 2:00 or 3:00, right? It doesn’t matter. Then afterwards, go to your Chamber event.
Then, I started getting into non-profits and charity. I would want to volunteer at all times. Roll up my sleeves. Get dirty with them. I bought a moving van for the charities to use. That was a super huge hit, and that made me an instant celebrity, to have a moving van driving around … a huge billboard.
Oliver Graf: We’re going to get to that. That’s the closer.
Mike Bjorkman: Okay. Awesome. Then we had … It was just hanging out with good people, and going to the events, and hanging out with politicians and business owners. The Chamber, that was the best thing. I should probably point out, most agents go, I don’t want to go to a Chamber mixer, because there’s 48 agents and four people.
Well, the first time I went to a Chamber event, I was actually dragged there by my at-the-time fiancee. She goes, You have to go to these. This is where all of the business people are. I’m like, I don’t want to be all mucky-mucky … whatever. I put on a suit and did it.
I knew a couple of people at the Chamber mixer, and they said, Hey, so-and-so wants to talk to you. Or so-and-so would come up to me and say they want to talk about buying or selling a home. I’m always very blunt. You know me. I said, Why would you call me when these people have been in this Chamber forever? Well … And I’m like, Ah. Just like high school. Little cliques and drama mamas.
Different personality styles, and I’ve always studied personality styles, and I can adapt and get along with anybody. Whether you’re super-rich and snooty. Whether you’re homeless. Whether you’re just normal, cool, fancy-schmancy. It doesn’t matter.
That’s what I think one of my specialties was, is I studied Tony Alessandra back in the early ’90s, and I was just able to work a room. I learned quickly, you don’t just walk into a room. You take it over.
Oliver Graf: Why don’t you talk about how you’re able to leverage those events for business, and how you can go in and take over the room?
Mike Bjorkman: I’ll try to find out who’s going to them, who’s going to be sponsoring them. You get a feel for who’s there, but when I walk into the room, I scan the room quickly. I’ll say, I don’t know that person. I don’t know that person. I need to get to know this person better. So I’ll pick … an event, if it’s a three-hour Chamber mixer, say from 6:00-9:00, or whatever, I’ll pick four or five people that I absolutely have to pull off to the side, buy them a drink, get to know them intimately, and make damn sure that I have their cell phone number, and I’ve connected with them on social media before I leave.
Oliver Graf: I think one of the biggest takeaways I just took from what you said is the importance of actually rolling your sleeves up. Because I don’t think it’s really about the donations. I don’t know that the donations are really going to-
Mike Bjorkman: It’s really not.
Oliver Graf: get you in the door any further than-
Mike Bjorkman: It’s the relationships.
Oliver Graf: putting money [inaudible 00:15:52]. Right? But when you roll up your sleeves, and you’re willing to get dirty, and you’re willing to go out there and put in the work? That’s when the relationships deepen, and that’s when you’re able to leverage it. It’s a true win-win, right? The charity wins because they get manpower. They get resources. They get donations. And you win because you get exposure, and you get relationships. Like you said, you get to be the big boss at the front of the room, when everyone else is in there giving you the stink-eye.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. I mean, I have cuts and bruises on, but that nice tuxedo covers them pretty well.
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: That’s the way it is. My wife is a great example. She’s putting together this year’s Boys’ and Girls’ Club auction. Honestly, getting checks isn’t that hard. There’s big corporations, companies, and generous individuals that’ll write pretty big checks. However, the manpower is a big deal.
What I found out early on, too, because I had no money, per se, when I very first started rolling up my sleeves, but that’s when you build relationships with people with a lot of money. People that truly care about these organizations, they do roll up their sleeves with you, and you bond with them, and spend a lot of time with them. It’s amazing how much attention the media will actually give you, if you one of the boots on the ground kind of people.
I was always there, front page of the paper, cleaning up this, doing that, helping that, rescuing cats out of trees. All the bullshit. [inaudible 00:17:16]. Just the way it was, man. I think that’s a really big deal. Getting on the front page of all the magazines. Having them write stories about you all the time. I was a ham, too.
Oliver Graf: I think that’s something you’ve done a really good job of, is really getting your face out there in print. Would you say that that’s because of all the things that you’re leveraging? Or what would you say is the strategy there?
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. That’s a huge strategy. There’s always the guy that is the professional. Back in the day, I’ll give you an example. I was very strategic. There was the photographer of the local paper. I’d say, “Where’s the reporter?” I’d meet the reporter, and I’d say, “Hey, listen. I want to do weekly articles for you.”
They’re dying for content. Everybody’s dying for content, right? So I would write all of the articles about the market, what’s going on. They would print that for free. Hey, do you mind if you put my headshot in there? That’d help out a little bit more, I think. Get some attention. Oh, sure. There it is.”
You know, it’s Fourth of July. We’re having a big thing, and it’s a real big home shopping thing. How about if I wrote an article about that, and we put that on the front page. Then it just started snowballing from there. Then the better relationships you have with the media, the more they want you.
I hate to say it, but right now, we’re in a spot, [Tami 00:18:33] and I, where the media fights over us. If we do a full-page ad somewhere, or they write a full-page article, now the next one calls us and says, We want to do it, too. Then the next one calls. Well, if you’re in those two magazines, you’ve got to be in our magazine.
Oliver Graf: Right.
Mike Bjorkman: Then after a while, they just call you, and they say, Hey, we need you for this. We need you for that. No problem. We need you to show up at this event. We need you to help promote the event.
Oliver Graf: They’re probably doing that because they know that you make it easy for them. They know that you bring massive value. If you can make it easy and bring value to these publications, you’re like a unicorn, right? They’re looking for a good story that’s easy to publish, and if you can provide that for them, I think you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
Mike Bjorkman: Yep. All that stuff, it just snowballed into, eventually, our TV show. Once you’ve got your own TV show, and that kind of content, and-
Oliver Graf: Man, you’re hitting the points right on the money, here. Why don’t we roll right into the TV show? You leveraged … Tell me what you mean by TV show? Or being on TV?
Mike Bjorkman: When I first met Tami, she had … You’ve heard the story, but the-
Oliver Graf: Tami is Mike’s business partner, team leader, better half, so shout out to Tami. What’s up?
Mike Bjorkman: Not my wife. My business partner.
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: But yeah, she had a TV show, and I was like, That’s kind of bitchin‘, right? We were talking one night at an auction, and she said … Or I said, I think, to her, How about a real estate segment. People love buying homes. It’s really important to talk about it. She was like, Yeah.
She invited me on the show. It was a big hit. I got the content. I got to snip the footage. I got to promote it all over the place, that I was on the TV show. Then created, maintained the relationship strategically throughout the station and the community, and then when her co-host quit, I naturally just filled right in.
Then we took it totally to the next level. I was known as the local celebrity realtor, but now I’m known as the TV show guy. But that was cool. That was to bring on all of the non-profits. Anything that happened in our town, they wanted to come on TV to talk about it and promote it, right?
So now, we’re dealing with the biggest owners, mucky-muckies, decision makers, interviewing them three to five times a day. Which was spectacular for not only content, but rubbing elbows with the right people. That’s what it’s all about.
Looking back from the little open houses to a TV show, and everything that strategically was done in place along the road. It’s kind of nice. I’d like to teach everybody how to do it, because it took me 20 years, but now I have all the secrets.
Oliver Graf: Now you’ve got it down.
Mike Bjorkman: I could take somebody from nobody to rock star in maybe three to five years.
Oliver Graf: That’s just leveraging all of these steps, one after another, to build upon your name and your brand.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. It’s being super aware of what the hell you’re doing. You just can’t go hang out in the corner of the room. You just can’t be a bystander. You have to be the guy that takes charge and somehow, someway, gets on stage.
Oliver Graf: Yeah, I think that’s really important. Getting on stage. I’ve got a total side-step here, but a cool story about, at the last Mastermind event, we were at Closing Table, speaking of doing what you’ve got to do to get on stage …
A friend of ours, Tristan, runs Lab Coat Agents, and he’s putting on a big event for real estate professionals. Probably have 500 people there. One of the members of the group really wanted to be in on the stage for a speaking spot. He was trying to figure out how to do it. So he ended up buying a Louisville Slugger, bringing that to the event, totally unannounced. Rolled in mid-session with the Louisville Slugger over his back. Dropped it on the table, and all it said on it was, I want five minutes of your time to talk about getting on stage at Lab Coat. By the way, I bring the wood. And just dropped it on his desk.
Mike Bjorkman: That was awesome.
Oliver Graf: And lo and behold, it worked, and now he’s going to be speaking on stage at the Lab Coat event, so-
Mike Bjorkman: That’s another great example, too, if you’re going to talk about Tristan and Lab Coats. At the time I joined that Facebook page, there might have been 50,000-60,000 people, right? Now it’s 90,000. But I, same thing as always, very strategically wanted to get to know Tristan, for business and just for education and learning, everything. You heard who I was talking to before we came up on this … and now we’re like this. We talk all the time. Every day.
Strategically, if you’re a vendor, or an agent, or somebody who wants to get on a stage … and I will be speaking at Lab Coat, which I never would have been able to do if I didn’t strategically go to the top.
Oliver Graf: One thing that I’m picking up on as we’re talking through this, and I really want to touch on this, because I think it’s hugely important, is the way that you’ve always gone right to the top. You’ve been strategic about who you go after. How are you going after them, and what is the Mike Bjorkman process?
Mike Bjorkman: It’s a really good question. I just learned a long time ago that whoever owns the restaurant can do more for you. Whoever owns the car dealership can do more for you. When I say do more … for instance, if you wanted to buy a car right now … It doesn’t matter what it is. I know the owner of every dealership. I can call them or text them and say, Look, Oliver’s a good friend of mine. He needs to buy a Mercedes. Make sure he doesn’t get jacked. I’m going to introduce you guys. Put you on a group text. All that kind of thing.
If I went to a normal car salesman, what could he do? A, he can’t get me a good deal. I’m going to have to go running around through all these closers. B, I’m not a big deal. I could sit in financing for two or three hours, right? I mean, if you’ve ever been through that.
See he knows people he could refer you to, but the owner of the restaurant, the business, the corporation … They’re the dad of the business, right? Every employee, every manager, at some point goes to the boss and says, Hey, I’m thinking about buying a house. Or I’m thinking of selling a house.
They try to be as intimate as possible with their boss, because they always have an agenda. Promotions, and expanding their business. If the boss trusts you, every single person below ends up as a client. It’s amazing how many times that-
Oliver Graf: That’s a great tip. I want you to say that again. Because if the boss knows you and trusts you, the entire organization becomes a client.
Mike Bjorkman: Absolutely. We always use FORD: family, occupation, recreation, dreams. Right? Those are the things we talk about. Then we pull out things that … For instance, the guy at the restaurant the other night. I said, What do you like to do, man? Let’s talk about FORD. He goes, I love to golf. I said, No shit. I’m a member of Valencia Country Club. He’s like, No way! Are you really? Could you take me? I’m like, Yeah. And I’ll buy drinks.
Oliver Graf: Of course.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. It might cost me $200-300 for the day. Get the guy liquored up. Take him to a really nice golf course. We’ll be friends for life. You golf for four hours, what do you know about a guy? You either know that you hate him or love him. That’s it.
Oliver Graf: Yeah, that’s a great way to pre-qualify your friends.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah. You cannot possibly not be super tight with anyone you golf with for four hours. That’s just one-on-one, individual, good quality bonding time. Yeah, I’ll take this guy out.
For instance, he’s the boss of how many people? 20 people that work at a restaurant, at least?
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: Maybe some of them can’t afford to buy a house, but who cares? But this dude, it’s his job to go around and meet, strategically meet, the richest people in our town. He even told me, he was like, Yeah, I’ve been working on that couple over there for a while. He was like, Dude, they’re buying $40 shots, and they’re on their third one. They don’t care. They ordered two meals each. He’s all, Their bills going to be $400-500. I want to hang out with those people. I’m like, See. That’s what I do, too.
Then, so he gets to be friends with them. They just talk casually. So what do you doing? Oh, we’re thinking about putting our house on the market. No doubt! Do you know Mike Bjorkman? Well, I’ve heard of him. Well, he’s a great guy.
Oliver Graf: Oh, you’ve got to meet Mike. He’s my boy.
Mike Bjorkman: Yep.
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: That’s how it works. Every day I’m intentionally creating those stars to align.
Oliver Graf: Being strategic, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. I think you’ve got to have long vision. It’s not about just coming in. It’s not a smash-and-grab. It’s really about building your reputation up over time, and doing it in a way where you’re adding value, and gaining trust, and building credibility.
That’s when the phone starts ringing, right? Once you become friends with the boss, or you make those connections of leaders in the community, and leaders in different charities, then all of a sudden, you’ve got all of these people that know you, like you, trust you, and want to refer you business.
Mike Bjorkman: It’s amazing, when I walk into a room, or walk into a golf tournament, or something, and make a really big deal out of it, there’s a lot of people who look and say, Oh, hey. Mike’s here. Then there’s always that one person that walks into the room that people flow to. I want to be that guy at all times.
So I, again strategically, I’ll scan. I’ll wink. Wave. This. That. Hey! To where they all start coming at once. To where there will be a crowd around me at all times, no matter what I’m doing. Whether it’s at a restaurant. Whether I walk into a charity event or a golf tournament. I just do that on purpose, because I feel like if I do that, then other people will say, Who’s that? I want to meet him, too. I want to be around him, too. Then they’ll say-
Oliver Graf: It’s like the old Studio 54 effect, right? They put up the velvet rope, and you can’t … The big crowd is outside the velvet rope, and everybody wants to get inside to see what’s going on.
Mike Bjorkman: Perfect example. Perfect example. That’s why … and I always tell people, It takes money to spend money. I took my kid to a private school that I think at the end of the day was $2,000 a month. People were like, I am not spending $2,000 a month to have my kid at a private school. I said, Watch what I’m doing.
Let’s add this up: $24,000 a year. I pulled $250,000 a year out of that mofo. That’s just … The country club-
Oliver Graf: That’s great return on investment.
Mike Bjorkman: The country club, let’s say it’s $1,000-$1,500 a month, depending if I go or not, but at the end of the day, $250,000 a year comes out of the country club, right? The same thing happened with the boat club. I pulled out … So it takes a little bit of money to make money. I’m not afraid-
Oliver Graf: I think that’s a big mental shift, because I think a lot of people have a block about paying those types of … those fees on certain things. Another perfect example is, a friend ours, he only flies first class. He looks at it like that’s his opportunity for networking. He flies first class because he wants to be talking to the other people that fly first class-
Mike Bjorkman: That’s so good!
Oliver Graf: and he wants to get to know them, right?
Mike Bjorkman: Right.
Oliver Graf: If you look at it in terms of the amount of commissions that you can pull out. I mean, you’re spending $24K a year to make $250K. I mean, that’s a no-brainer. That’s a lot better than the best advertising campaigns you’re going to be running.
Mike Bjorkman: I’ll give you an amazing example of that. I’m a super airplane snob. Dude … barely could get to San Francisco, when I went there last week, without dying on South-freaking-west. If it’s over an hour, my rule is I fly first class. So I do, right? But I’m strategic about that. Who’s that? Who’s that? Who’s that?
I’ve met a lot of people. I was going to Dallas one time for a RAO conference. Sitting next to a guy, and just started chit-chatting. He’s going to Dallas. Who lives there? Start talking to him. He ended up being one of my very biggest RAO accounts. He was a executive at Bank of America, and we bonded for two-and-a-half hours, and at the end of the day, again, I got hooked up with the asset managers.
I don’t know … A lot of people don’t remember that recession, but it was pretty rough. To get through 2009, ’10, and ’11, that one account probably brought me a couple hundred grand a year.
Oliver Graf: Social is the next point. Tying it all together with social. You’re just filming the things that you’re already doing. You’re filming the speaking engagements. You’re taking pictures shaking hands. You’re getting with the celebrity in the room, and getting a picture with them.
Mike Bjorkman: Oh, I so have done that!
Oliver Graf: Right?
Mike Bjorkman: It’s hard to do that, but I do it. You’ll see me tomorrow with some of the bigwigs speaking here. I’ll be like, Hey, get in the picture with me. I’ll be out there on … I have, on Instagram, looking all badass. Hey, I’m hanging out with so-and-so. Whether … Perception’s everything.
Oliver Graf: I think you said that perfectly. Don’t be afraid to be awesome. He was out there, doing his thing in Antarctica, or Alaska, or wherever you were, flying around. He picked up clients out of that, because of that. People are going to see what you’re doing, and the people who don’t relate are going to reject it and move on, and that’s okay, but the people that do relate, and do resonate with you … And do appreciate what you’re doing, those are the people that are going to fall more in line with you and what you’re doing. That’s when you start getting the phone calls from those things.
Mike Bjorkman: I’ll give you a huge Facebook tip right now, and it works. I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this before.
Oliver Graf: Oh, this is good. Stop the presses.
Mike Bjorkman: It’s really important. I strategically try to friend request or at least follow all the bigwigs, right? I’ll see them doing a life event … Vacations are a huge life event, especially in corporate America. If you’re a LinkedIn person, you get this. They only get two weeks a year of vacation, for the most part. They do something usually pretty badass. Right?
This one guy was at-
Oliver Graf: You’re talking about the corporate ballers.
Mike Bjorkman: The corporate ballers. This corporate baller in our town, he went to Atlantis and stayed in some amazing suite. Made our suites today look like crap. I reached out to him, and I said, Bro, I don’t know what you did to get that suite, but I have to know. I go, “That was the most amazing trip. You actually fulfilled my whole week. I just want to live that through you. He replied back, Hey, I’ve heard of you. Let’s go have lunch.
Oliver Graf: Perfect.
Mike Bjorkman: Boom. Client. But I do that all the time. I reach out and say, That was an amazing trip you took. I really want to know more about that. Because if somebody goes and drops $10,000 on a suite or something, they want to talk about it. They’re not going to go brag about it at the company to their employees.
Oliver Graf: That’s really good. That’s really good.
Mike Bjorkman: But if they feel like you’re on their level, they’re like, Dude, let me tell you. This and this. And then they’re like, Hey, [inaudible 00:32:43].
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Mike Bjorkman: It always happens. So I reach out to people’s life events a lot.
Oliver Graf: I think that’s an interesting perspective, too, because you’re really working social media. You’re not just posting stuff for the sake of posting stuff. I think that there’s a lot of opportunities there, because as people go on these really amazing vacations, they’re definitely posting them so they’re easy to find. When you find those people, and just reach out, Hey, that was a really cool bar that you pulled up to in St. Thomas. I’d love to know where that is, because when I go to St. Thomas one day, I’m going to want to definitely check that out. Then all of a sudden, you’re in rapport.
Mike Bjorkman: I love it. That’s why I try to be so extravagant. Not only am I very spoiled in life, but I try to be extra extravagant so those people do reach out to you. They do, every single time. Holy crap, I’ve been there. Holy crap, I want to go there. Holy crap, holy crap, holy crap, let’s do this together. Let’s … I want to know more. Now you’re on the level with people that you want to be doing business with.
Oliver Graf: Let’s just keep rolling on. I got point number nine, which is schwag and clothes. I think that’s something you do really well. You’ve got a ton of Team Bjorkman gear. Why don’t you tell me a little bit about that. Because I feel like that’s definitely not a step one, right? That’s definitely once you’re a little bit more established.
Mike Bjorkman: That all came back from open houses. Back then, I’d say, Okay, I’m going to buy 500 little pumpkins with my logo on it. Notepads, pens, whatever. People love that crap. People like free stuff.
I learned early, don’t buy things that people will throw away. I started getting into just very basic stuff like beer koozies. Good, neoprene koozies … nobody throws those away. Pens, not so many people throw away. Notepads, people usually keep. Just … key chains, just stuff like that.
Then as I got a little more successful, I’d say, Well … I called it guilt gifts. If I had a really good lead at an open house, I’d say, You know what? Hold on. Pull them back, and say, Here’s a really nice Team Bjorkman wine opener, corkscrew, that kind of stuff.
Or something cool like … Remember, back in the day, they used to have little things you use to stick your pens on your desk. They were oak. Just $10 gifts. But if you buy 50 of them-
Oliver Graf: Make them feel special.
Mike Bjorkman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. When I walked into a listing appointment, I’d say, Here is … Thank you for your time. Here is this … So I called them guilt gifts, right? Like, I can’t kick this guy out of my house. I have to list with him now. He gave me a corkscrew.
Oliver Graf: Yeah. Even if 90% of it got thrown away, that 10% is still people out there marching around with your name and your logo on their hat. On their chest. On their koozies. On their this, their that. It’s an unquantifiable way of branding your name.
Mike Bjorkman: In my Dickies line … In my Dickies line, I call it. [inaudible 00:35:26] Dickies. I love Dickies stuff. I don’t know why. People would say, Oh, I want that. I’d say, No, you don’t. And I’d say that, and they go, Yes, I do. I’d go, If I got that for you, would you really wear it? And they say, Yeah, absolutely.
I’d say at least once or twice a week … People love going on vacation and tagging me. I’ve been tagged in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa where they’re wearing my jackets. All over the world. And they’re tagging me. People at the river, tagging me, with their beer koozies. Yeah! I’m like, That’s so good.
Oliver Graf: There’s no bad situation where someone could be rocking your pen, or a koozie, or a hat, or jacket, that just doesn’t benefit. Just the more of that that you can have out in the streets, the more recognizable you’re going to be.
Mike Bjorkman: Yeah.
Oliver Graf: The very last thing I have, and I think … I know this is killing it for you guys, and I think that it’s … I see some people doing it, but I don’t see anybody doing it the way you guys are doing it, and that’s the vans. The vans and the trucks. Tell me about that. How did that start, and throw some tips out there about getting vans.
Mike Bjorkman: It’s kind of interesting. I have two stories. My first story was, I got my moving van. I just copied somebody else, right? Well, that’s a good idea. Move with me, and use my van for free. I got the van. I wrapped it. Within weeks, I realized that, Ugh, I don’t want to give this to clients.
I really bought it for charity, anyways, because I had started getting involved, and I knew, they go, We need vans to move crap around. They have auctions. That’s how all charities … Golf tournaments. They need to move stuff. I found out right away, the clients were running red lights, or there’s yellow paint on my bumpers all the time. The charities just treated them way better.
I went to go buy a billboard in my town, off the freeway. The normal billboard. I didn’t realize that those things were $3,000-$5,000 a month. Fudgesicles, right? A month.
Oliver Graf: That’s no joke.
Mike Bjorkman: Okay, so I paid … I don’t even know. I bought … My van, I still have. I bought in ’07. It’s got 40,000 miles on it, but it cost me a couple grand to wrap it. I said, The more that’s driving around, that’s a driving billboard.
People were going nuts. I see your van everywhere. I see your van everywhere. It just really built the brand. I think on the top, it said, For churches, charity, Chamber … Free. Something like that. It said that across the top. Churches, Chamber, charity … There’s one more. Ack! Anyways …
Everybody was talking about that, so All right. So we bought a second one. Huge pain in the ass, but what happened was, I’d say … Everybody would say, Can I borrow it? I’d say, Yeah. What do I get in exchange? Not like that, of course. It has to be a win-win. That’s how I was ending up at the front tables, with all of my friends. I was getting the VIP parking, and the VIP this, and first at that, and all of that stuff.
It was interesting, when I started my property management company, I said, Let’s go buy another one! It worked for Team Bjorkman, why not do it? Instantly, same exact thing. The company started blowing up. Then I bought a van for the maintenance person to drive around. Then we bought a van … Right now, we’re buying four hybrid Hyundai Sonatas for the staff to wrap and drive around in circles.
Oliver Graf: Nice!
Mike Bjorkman: Because I know, because think about it … hundreds of hundreds of hundreds of people a day get to see this. Why pay $3,000-5,000 a month when you could pay $300-$500 a month?
Oliver Graf: Now we’ve got a German and a Persian guy in [inaudible 00:38:51].
Speaker 3: What’s up?
Speaker 4: Say, what’s up?
Mike Bjorkman: That was so hard. That was so hard to not break …
Oliver Graf: I was waiting for that.
Speaker 4: Did you tell them where you are, already?
Oliver Graf: Yeah.
Crew: Talk about being a celebrity-
Oliver Graf: Where we at right now?
Crew: that’s what they’re talking about.
Speaker 3: Dude. Honestly, ever since we four agents were talking about celebrifying ourselves, this guy’s been doing. From moving trucks before moving trucks were cool, to ridiculous suits before ridiculous suits were cool. [inaudible 00:39:24].
Mike Bjorkman: Go get us some beers! [crosstalk 00:39:27]-
Speaker 3: We’re going to go drink somewhere.
Oliver Graf: And [inaudible 00:39:29] is German, so we’ll get him a translator.
Speaker 4: Fun.
Speaker 3: Ja, ja.
Mike Bjorkman: You guys can’t even speak. You’re just partying together. I love it.
Oliver Graf: We’ve covered a lot of really great points today. A lot of really good strategies on how to become the celebrity in your market. I really want to thank Mike for coming out, because I know your time’s really valuable. So I’ll cheers to that.
Mike Bjorkman: Thanks, brother.
Oliver Graf: I really appreciate all of your insights that you gave today, and I think I’m looking forward to implementing a lot of this stuff in our brokerage, and I hope that you guys found it valuable, as well. Now, you’re in the know.
Oliver Graf: Right?
Thank You Mike Bjorkman For Talking On In The Know On “How To Become A Celebrity In Your Market”
Mike Bjorkman : http://teambjorkman.com/
After three decades in real estate and a lifetime in Santa Clarita, it’s safe to say Mike has become a driving force in this town.
Mike Bjorkman Awards & Recognitions:
• “Lifetime Achievement” Award
• 100 Club since 1991 “Top 1% in the Nation”
• Hall of Fame Member since 2002 (Over 1000 Homes Sold)
• Chairman’s Club Member Since 2002
• Platinum Club Member Since 2000
• Top 10 Since 2000
• Voted Best Realtor by the Daily News
• Voted Best Realtor by Santa Clarita Valley Magazine
10 Tips On How To Become A Celebrity In Your Market – In The Know With Oliver Graf ft. Mike Bjorkman – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t03lUINI9NU&t=315s
Want more In The Know with Oliver Graf? Check out these episodes:
How Development Projects Increase Your Income [In The Know] ft. Andrew Greer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06J-5viASH4&t=97s
Sell 100+ Homes Per Year with These Prospecting Tips – https://youtu.be/W0ZKfxcvLIQ
Ten Commandments of a Real Estate Top producer – https://youtu.be/3rpgfu40Jng
How to Leverage Your Title Rep to Grow Your Business – https://youtu.be/paPmuQp6sAw
OliverGraf.tv – www.OliverGraf.tv
To your success,
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