Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Thinking and Fishing Like a Notary Marketing Genius

Your marketing strategy will make or break your notary business, so it's critical that you learn how to think strategically.  

You've got to perfect that aim and throw with all your might at the biggest target you can hit with the least amount of ammo.  

Your notary business depends on it!  

Make a list of each sector of the population you want to serve.  

Each of those will be a target.  

Don't try to hit them all at once!  You can't make a good dent that way.  

Think about fishing in a barrel full of hungry fish.

When getting your business started, that's where you want to aim first--the barrel...where a bunch of bored, hungry fish have been rounded up. 

In a situation like this, you'd be able to buy a $5 cane pole, a few worms, and every time you drop in a fat squiggly worm, it's darn near guaranteed that you can pull out fish after fish for very little money.  Heck, you don't even need the cane pole--just the bait, a friendly smile, and you can hook them with that! 

Suppose Your Target is Senior Citizens


What if you want to reach senior citizens to offer your notary services?  

What will your marketing strategy be? 

How can you reach the most seniors (all at one time) with your time and resources?

To many of my readers, this is a no-brainer--but for others, perhaps like yourself, you have never had to think like a business owner and build your own marketing strategies.  You have never had wear the hat of a Notary Marketing Genius.  However, now that you're depending on your own marketing to put bread on the table, you've got to think quick and build a client list. 

Perhaps this will help to oil the marketing cogs and you'll soon see the marketing brain machine grind out a few light bulb moments.  Then, you'll understand how to go fishing for the clients you need.

Are these the best strategies for reaching senior citizens?

  • Sending emails to all the parents of boys on your son’s baseball team
  • Handing out fliers at a car wash? 
  • Contacting your local Big Brother / Big Sister organization and ask to put your card on a bulletin board?  


NO!  

Those are terrible strategies for reaching senior citizens.  

Well...let me back up and say that you might  connect with a senior by accident while aiming at those targets, but none of the methods above will reach seniors in bunches so you can concentrate your marketing efforts and get the most bang for your buck.

So, how could you reach seniors? 

Think about where senior citizens gather! 

  • Most churches have a program for seniors where they congregate.  You would be surprised how receptive those church gathering attendees are!
  • Naturally,  you could watch the local newspaper and community calendars for expos at which seniors will be targeted—maybe even get a booth. 
  • You should always go to Senior Citizen Day at the county fairs nearby and hand out your cards!
  • And, what about going to restaurant cafeterias on the days that seniors get a discount, just going from table to table to drop your card and tell them you’re a mobile notary in the area.


The best technique ever for senior citizens...

Coupons!  Seniors love coupons!

Always add a coupon to your senior citizen marketing -- for instance, the best with seniors (in my opinion) are $1 off,  $3 off, $5 off or whatever amount you prefer.  Put boldly stated coupons on your marketing materials and business cards that you give to senior citizens!  

Be sure to make them colorful and easy to read with an expiration date of at least a year away because seniors NEVER throw coupons away!!

Hopefully, sharing this strategy with you will help you to develop the skills you need to think and fish like a savvy notary marketing genius. 

Until next time...my best to you, 

Brenda Stone

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New Texas Notary Guidance: Those Aren't Your Notary Monkeys. Period.

JOIN THE NNN EMAIL LIST!


The other day, I received this question from a new notary:

"A guy needs help with a statement about his income.

Would you please look at what I have written for him and see what you think?"

I didn't think about it.

And, I didn't look at it.

That's neither your circus and nor your monkey.

It's important to know your limits...what you can and cannot do.  Not knowing this can get you de-commissioned, sued, and fined.

I told my new friend that he could only complete a proper Texas notarial certificate.

Texas notaries never draft a statement for a client. That's acting as if you have been trained in legal matters.  Drafting documents or doing the following can carry stiff penalties including losing your commission.  Remember that the document portion above the notary certificate just isn't our monkey.
  • We don't help write documents.  
  • Do not help signers to fill in blanks. If they can't complete any blanks in a document, you must decline to notarize the document. 
  • Notaries must not suggest that a client needs a certain type of document or that they do not have the correct document.
  • Notaries do not write statements to verify something that a client did, then seal and sign it.
  • Notaries never sign a notarial certificate when it is the notary's signature on the document that must be notarized. 

The Document:   It's definitely not our circus!  

Documents are the client's business.

We don't read them carefully--we only look at them for completeness and to get enough information to log in our notary journals.

Don't write on them without direct supervision from an authority. (For instance, don't change the signer's name, or mark out an absent signer's name in the document proper.)

Notary's Monkeys 

Here are your monkeys...notice none of them indicate writing documents for clients.  Your circus includes this:

  • Identifying Clients
  • Completing a Proper Certificate
  • Ensuring that the person before you is mentioned in the notary certificate and that no absent signers are.
  • Following the Steps of a Proper Notarial Act (If you do not know them, my steps for performing a notarial act are at the bottom of this article.)



What if the Notary Certificate is Missing?


Many notary experts say not to pick a certificate for a client, and that you must let the client pick.

However, those same authorities allow notaries to say for certificates of acknowledgment "This is usually on a deed."  or for jurats "This is usually found on a sworn statement."

The best thing to do is to show them samples of your notary certificates.

You may download a copy of my personal Texas notary certificates here but be sure to read the cautionary statement below.

//End of article; more about the subject appears below.//

------------------------

Read more in Nine Tips about Notary Certificates.

Bookmark and refer to this page  often where the Texas Secretary of State's educational links are listed.

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Texas Notary Certificate Caution:  Please read


The other day, someone said that I might be practicing law by making my certificates available for you. So, if you think I am giving you "legal advice," for the love of Pete, please don't download my certificates!   By all means, go here and use the samples from the Texas Secretary of State that I used to make my own.  You can also make your own, or you can purchase them, or go to the National Notary Association's site and look up your own state's notary certificates.

 You'll notice that my certificates are harmonious with most recordable documents you may have seen.  I don't fancy them up with check boxes and clutter or extra writing outside of the one-inch margin around the page.



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How I Notarize Step-by-step 

By Brenda Stone

I could have put it in first person rather than speaking to you.  But it sounds ridiculous, so I didn't.  Just know that these aren't legal advisories, only my notes on how I notarize.  

• Start a journal entry and collect necessary information about the signer and the document.

• ID the signer. Usually this means you will review the signer’s ID documentation. Alternatively, the signer may be introduced to you by someone you know personally (and knows the signer). Or, you can notarize for a signer who you know well without requiring ID documentation.
• Quickly scan the document for completeness and to collect information for your journal entry.
• If there are blanks, ask the signer to complete them.
• Note whether there is a notarial certificate. If there isn’t a certificate attached to the document, show the signer samples of certificates allowed by Texas law. The signer must pick one. Attach the chosen certificate to the document.
• Conduct the required verbal and/or signing ceremony.


  • Certificates of Acknowledgment - You do NOT have to see the document signed.  Your verbal ceremony will be similar to:  Do you acknowledge this is your signature and you have signed it for genuine purposes and intent?
  • Jurat - You MUST see the signer execute the document.  Your verbal ceremony will be similar to:  Do you swear or affirm that your statements above are truthful?  If yes,  please sign the document to signify so.

• Complete the certificate accurately.
• Affix your seal (stamp) and signature.



 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Protect your Pets from Firework Noise on the 4th of July 2017!

Enjoy your fireworks, notary friends, but please contain your precious pets in a safe quiet place away from the noise.  

They will bolt when they hear the noise.  





Want a beta version of my Where to Get Started Guide for Texas Notaries?  See this article.    
Available for 5 days here

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Beginnings of a Texas Notary's "How to Get Started Guide"

Many of your questions like "How do I get started now that I have my commission?" are answered in this little six-page guide.

It isn't very long, but it will help you get where you need to be a little bit faster.

Anyone is welcome to use it, but Texas notaries will appreciate it more than others.  This is one of the files we have in our Texas Notary Professionals group.

For the next seven days, you can download this thin guide.  I add to it as I have time to work on it.  Here's the current version right here:


Why just seven days?
Because I hope to have it changed and updated soon and sort of in a final form.

If you want to know about the newest versions as I complete them, you will need to add your email to my list.

So come on!  Join the email list!  YOU WILL NOT GET PESTERED. 

Sign up for regular updates.

Get special offers and free tools.

You can unsubscribe ANY TIME.  Just click here



PS - I NEVER SAID I WAS A WEBMASTER.  If you find that you can't download the Dropbox link that I provided, please send AN EMAIL to Texnotary at gmail.com.  Please don't fuss on Facebook! :) Thanks. Brenda

Friday, June 9, 2017

Interested in Texas eNotarization & Texas Online Notarization?



Are you interested in learning about Texas electronic and online notarization?

Recently, I met with one tech provider who is aware of the Texas group and would like to provide a demo for us.

PLEASE READ: Any Texas notary may complete THIS FORM to be contacted by Brenda Stone about a demo of a tech platform for eNotarization and online notarization updates. If you are a member of the Texas Notary Directory of Professionals, please drop into the Facebook Group and use the priority form (see 6/8 post in our group about this topic.)


Technology Providers and Decision Makers:

You may also use this form! Texas Notaries want to hear from you. Communicate with us.

Notary in another state?

Zombie? Baseball star? Member of Royalty? Use the same form!

Where are you sending your info?

Your information will go to Brenda Stone of https://TexasNotaryProfessionals.org.


This isn't a ruse to get your contact info or to create an MLM scheme as someone recently accused me of.
There's just no other good way to develop a list of notaries who WANT to be informed as I learn.

If you have a better method, email me at TexasNPW@gmail.com!

If I wanted to spam you, there's a good chance I already have your email addresses...I could also hire 10 people from a foreign country for $50 to steal info from other notary databases.

That's not me. Not what this is about.

Thanks, Brenda

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Straight Talk: Does Texas Need More Career Mobile Notaries?

Maybe you are thinking about joining the other 420,000 notaries in Texas.  Perhaps you heard that being a notary was a great way to earn extra money.

You could be right.  But,  I don't think so.  I would not invest right now if I didn't already have a notary commission.

---------------------------------------

IF THIS ARTICLE DOESN'T 
CONVINCE YOU TO 
CONSIDER ANOTHER 
BUSINESS,  CONNECT 
WITH ME AND
200+ TEXAS NOTARIES 
ON FACEBOOK.  
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Things have changed drastically in Texas.  

Because of a new law in Texas (HB 1217), investing in the notary business might never give you a dime of profit in Texas. 

Let's clarify something first.  

Texas notaries exist for the convenience of the State of Texas, meaning notaries are appointed for the convenience of Texans.
Sec. 26. NOTARIES PUBLIC. (a) The Secretary of State shall appoint a convenient number of Notaries Public for the state who shall perform such duties as now are or may be prescribed by law. The qualifications of Notaries Public shall be prescribed by law.
(b) The terms of office of Notaries Public shall be not less than two years nor more than four years as provided by law.
Notaries are public servants to serve at the leisure of the public.  If "the public" wants online notaries, that's where the business goes...because, you see, it's not really a business.  It's laws and rules.

Notaries became critically important because there was an explosion of need for our services in the early 2000s.

ALL NOTARIES should have a PLAN B!

Unfortunately, many career notaries in the U.S.  have lost sight of their positions as public servants.

I say "unfortunately" because we need to be thinking about "WHAT'S NEXT?? What if the notary world as we know it falls after July 2018?"  

Texas notaries, don't wait until you have no business.

Engage.

Be involved.

Texas notaries who came to the game for loan signing work  didn't have the opportunity to be a public servant.  They didn't understand the "servant" part of the deal.  When servants aren't so necessary, they thin out and seek alternative work.

The reduction in work won't happen immediately, but it's certainly possible after July 2018.

And, ALL NOTARIES should have a PLAN B!

Many don't realize that that being a notary is a legal function, a commissioned position.  In fact, until the loan signing business came around, people were notaries because they wanted to serve their neighbors, or they worked for lawyers and needed to serve the lawyer's clients.

So, you see, many notaries who have only been commissioned the last ten years have no idea of the meager circumstances they have signed up for.

Maybe notaries became a bit complacent in the last 15 years because during the last quarter of the 1990s and through the 2000s when interest rates were falling...it was raining work for many of those years.
  • Mobile notaries were highly sought after.
  • They provided a highly valued and necessary convenience to citizens.  
  • Mobile signing agents helped citizens and lenders (and title companies) facilitate loan signings.
  • Notaries were paid a fair fee for doing so because their mobile services were desirable.
There were not nearly as many mobile notaries then as there are now!

And, there were tons and tons more loans.  In case you haven't heard,  Freddie Mac projects that there will be half as many refinance loans to be handled as the interest rate rises.

AND, now  yucky snake oil is selling everywhere.

SO, WHEN TEXAS NOTARIES GO ONLINE, will there be room for even MORE Texas notaries?


See what you think... 

As mentioned above, the  Texas Legislature recently passed HB 1217 that allows for enotarization via audio/video (A/V) conferencing. The passage of HB 1217 is said to serve all Texas citizens, especially those who were otherwise not able to have notarial services without due hardship.  And, let's face it, those who testified in favor of passing this law represented the lenders and title companies of Texas.

The focus of HB 1217 sped right past notaries.  

There are about 420,000 Texans who hold notary commissions, but even with that great of a number, I have not heard that a single notary in Texas was consulted about HB 1217.

There's the message notaries need to hear:

Like it or not...it's not about notaries.  
It's about Texas citizens.  

It is believed by  lawmakers and proponents of online notarization that citizens will be able to
  • sign powers of attorney and have them notarized more conveniently,
  • sign wills and have them notarized easier,
  • sign loan documents in the presence of a notary without delay or errors,
  • have convenient access to a notary for any document that must be notarized, and
  • quite importantly, citizens will begin to transition to paperless transactions. 
I didn't say all this would DEFINITELY happen like this OR that it was right.  But, that's why the law was passed.

It's done.

My Advice:  Don't Invest in a Notary Commission to Set Up a Business if you are not already a notary.


You'll probably never make money from having it.

While existing notaries already commissioned in Texas should not go into shock and be frightened out of their wits, be aware that if you are not a notary, this may be the worst time in the history of Texas to try to start a mobile notary business or to become a notary signing agent.

In July 2018, citizens in Texas (actually the entire world) will have access to Texas notaries online.

Online notaries will be able to notarize documents over the internet using A/V technology in the form of a webcam and microphone, plus additional security measures and identification services.

If you still aren't seeing the problem, consider this:


Currently, a mobile notary or signing agent appointment requires travel time between points of service.  Therefore, mobile notaries are needed in all areas of the state.  That's why notaries who were savvy business people and studied competition, laws, and made business plans have done well, even those who came in last year...and, even with there being enough of a supply of notaries to push down loan signing fees.

Online notarization will give citizens access to notaries day or night as long as the citizen has internet access.

Online Notarizations: $5 or $25 each?


Believe me, I understand that it sounds amazing that HB 1217 authorizes notaries or their employers to charge $25 to notarize documents online.  Please understand, however,  there will be a good bit of investment into technology by a lone notary such as myself. I don't know if I can afford it or not.

Alternatively, notaries will have to work under a company like Notarize.com,  for instance, who is certainly loved by it's notary contractors.  However, Notarize.com currently pays Virginia notaries $5 and keeps $20 because Notarize provides the technology to and marketing for the notary.  So, please don't think I'm trying to sew up all the business for me and my established notary friends!  Just know the facts before you invest in a commission.

Honestly, there are other technology providers, as well.

Notarize is, however, the only one that has developed relationships with notaries, made them feel involved, and they have also reached out to leaders in the notary community.

I'll attempt to talk to more technology providers to learn more after I return from the NNA Conference June 4 - 7, 2017.  Just between us, I like what I have heard about SIGNIX, too...and I know first hand that Pem Guerry from SIGNIX is a southern gentleman, and truly a super nice guy.

Don't Take My Word For It...Get Professional Business Advice.

Go to the Small Business Development Center in your region.  

Talk to someone about whether this is a good investment of your time and money. 


But, if you are going to do it in the face of everything that says not to...


If you DO get your commission and you want to connect with other Texas notaries, you'll find truth with us.

Connect with me and other notaries at the links below!

Brenda Stone

Free membership - list your notary business

Notary News Blog:

Facebook Group for Texas Notaries





Monday, May 22, 2017

Online Notarization Gallops In and Texas Has a New Frontier!

HB 1217 was passed into law today by a vote of the Texas Senate. This means that Texas notaries will be able to perform notarial acts online using audio/video conferencing technology, perhaps as early as July 1, 2018.  Of course, the final stop for this bill is Gov. Abbott's desk in Austin.  Once signed, the bill is law.

Is this good?  

My crystal ball has not been very forthcoming recently because of all the rain we've had here in the Brazos Valley.  So, I can't say exactly what will happen.

What I do know is that Kisha Smith in Virginia, a notary for whom I have high regard, has spoken quite favorably about her experience with remote notarization since the beginning.


Before us is a new Texas frontier!  

Many members of the Facebook group of Texas Notary Professionals  intend to look at this like an unlimited opportunity.   Some are a little bit worried about expressing that in the general discussion area, but I have had several conversations about it offline.

I intend to look at this positively.  I have written several articles on my blog Remote Notary Watch 2017 that said I felt like the passage in Texas of a law like HB 1217 was inevitable.  I am convinced it is better to be part of what is now our future TODAY, than to play at killing Goliath with ten toothpicks.

The lawmakers have spoken.

Others are not convinced this is right.  

I respect them and their convictions.

In either case, through the passage of HB 1217, today's Texas notaries public will be a part of history forever.

Whether the history to be written is one of embracing new technology and pioneering through unknown territory, or doing exactly the opposite quite vigorously, the passage of HB 1217 and what comes next is our story.  That's important to me.  Texas notaries are making history.  

HB 1217 - What does the new law say?

HB 1217 says that the Secretary of State will be in charge of developing the standards with the help of the Texas Department of Information Resources.

Our law is much liked Virginia's law. There are no boundaries on Texas notaries and what they can notarize, as long as they are sitting in Texas and notarizing via  the internet. Originally, HB 1217 would have restricted them to notarize only documents that pertained to Texas properties and citizens. We have no real boundaries now.

The one thing that sets the Texas law that will develop from HB 1217 apart from Virginia's law is that Texas law will require documents that are notarized online to have certificates that state that the notarial act was an online notarization.

Notably, one other interesting item to report is that when performing an online notarization under the new rules of HB 1217, the definition of credible witness changes. In a traditional notarial act, the notary must know a credible witness personally. Under HB 1217, a credible witness may be identified by documentation.

In closing - Don't look for the Grim Reaper of Notaries!

My wish for all who read this would be not to expect the worst.

Whatever your stance, I encourage you to remember that negativity achieves little.  A negative outlook will only benefit your competitors who are positive, energized, and looking forward to what comes next.

Also, please don't become overly concerned with scary statements you may have read  recently that said the passage of this bill is going to send us all straight to the hot place riding in a handbasket.


Texans, please join us. 

If you aren't already a part of the Texas Notary Group on Facebook, join us.  Group members have been informed regularly on issues like this since our inception.

Best, Brenda Stone


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