Real estate is not just about making sales. It’s about helping people.
And sometimes it’s that people element that kinks the marketing procedure.
Sometimes people want what they want, whether it’s useful or not. (I mean, how else would knitted beard-hats ever have become a thing??)
Real estate is not immune to these kinks. Or at least, it shouldn’t be.
Sometimes business decisions can’t be about financially effective or time-efficient. Sometimes, our decisions are straight-up based on what makes the client happy. And really, that is its own kind of effective, isn’t it? That’s a result I want, and results cost. That’s why I use these three ineffective tools anyway:
3 Ineffective Tools I may Use Anyway
- Open Houses
I have never, ever yielded a sale as a result of an open house. Most agents in rural areas haven’t, and it’s why many agents prefer not to do the open house. It makes developers and clients happy though, to see that we, the agent, are putting our time and dime in this game. We’re on their side, and it shows. So, we do Open Houses, at the seller’s request. Better yet, we offer an online open house.
Yes, I dare to paint Kijiji with the brush of inefficiency – for selling homes. Kijiji is a meeting place for bargain hunters, and they expect to haggle. I don’t expect a kijiji bargain hunter to pay market value for a property. My goal is to get my seller top dollar. Most every message I have ever received through Kijiji ads has been a waste of time. But. Clients, having had success selling everything from DVDs to fishing boats, insist their ad be placed on this site. It may not yield leads, but it will yield a happy client. So we do the kijiji thing. Upon request. Better yet, we offer to put our listings on multiple websites that are specific to real estate so that the buyer who is actually searching for homes will definitely come across our listings. We even pay extra to have our listings be featured on key real estate related websites. You know, the ones that actually attract buyers that are shopping for property?
- Newspaper Ads
You’re not really that surprised I label newspaper ads as inefficient, are you? I mean, the last time you wanted to buy a house, where did you look? I have a hunch that the newspaper was not the first place. Again, newspaper ads may be a fine place for job ads or event announcements, but not so great for generating leads for a home sale. People just don’t look there when they’re house hunting. They get an agent, or look on MLS. Most sellers understand this. However, we do feature our listings in the local property guide which is targeted especially to buyers and potential buyers interested in real estate. I see people of all ages enjoying flipping through this glossy magazine.
These methods may be ineffective in producing leads or sales, but they’re pretty effective at pleasing clients. In the end, Real Estate is about people. Invest a little time and money into your client’s happiness, and you’ll find even ineffective can become worthwhile.
We all face obstacles.
A controlling parent, a cheating colleague, lying clients, or a bullying boss.
When you’re in it, especially if stress and difficulty come from multiple sides, it can feel like the most miserable isolation. But the truth is that none of us is alone. We all struggle.
So what do you do when the pressure becomes relentless and you start to feel like you’re drowning in negativity?
You don’t drown in water by being in it. You drown in water by staying in it.
-Edwin Louis Cole
Many years ago, I was in just such a place – drenched in deep, extreme negativity. The enormous personal stress resulted in my losing 50lbs in a month. I couldn’t eat – my body wouldn’t allow it. My insides felt shaky – like I’d swallowed a phone stuck on vibrate. And all I could think about was the very difficult circumstance that was turning my heart inside out.
Then something happened that changed my life.
A friend noticed and did something. She saw what a mess I was and how it was damaging my body.
“You need to go to a doctor!” she said.
I insisted that I didn’t – that I could handle it. She insisted more though, and made me go. She drove me to the doctor’s office. She sat with me in the room. She forced me to get help.
And it rescued me.
Most of the stress and difficulty we face in our work and relationships isn’t that extreme. But it’s critical to recognize when we’re maxed out on stress and negativity, and to take action before we make things worse – for others and for ourselves.
How to Recharge in the Face of Obstacles
Be Your Own Friend
I was lucky that time to have a friend not only notice, but then help me initiate change.
We can’t wait for a masked hero to arrive though. Most of the time we have to be our own friend, noticing that we are a mess and that something has to give.
Give Yourself Permission
I don’t know why we find it so hard to give ourselves permission to be wounded; to feel hurt. I’ve got news for you: humans hurt, hearts break, and we’re not robots who can flick a switch to make it all stop.
Healing can only happen when we realize we need it.
Needing help does not mean you’re weak. In fact, it’s what’s going to strengthen you. Admitting your wounds is itself an act of strength and the next step to progress – no guilt required. Give yourself permission to need help.
There is a time to take a break. When you’re slammed from all different sides, it’s tough to pull out a smile. We have to recognize when our bodies, emotions, thoughts need a break.
When we are in a bad mental state, we’re probably not the most effective in our work and relationships anyway. We need to invest in our own well being with the gift of a rest.
Let It Look Different
Know that your rest and recharge time doesn’t have to look like sunbathing on a beach in Cancun.
It doesn’t have to be two weeks long. Do and be what refreshes you.
For some, it’s going to be retreating to a cabin with a stack of romance novels. Or others it looks like camping out in a recliner for a few days, refusing to cook or clean, so their body can heal.
Recently, I took a break to recharge, and spent that time attending classes, learning online, brainstorming my brand positioning, and product development. That – especially the brand positioning and marketing – is what revives my motivation. It refreshes my confidence in my abilities to excel, and fires me up to work with renewed gusto.
What refreshes you will be different than what works for others and that’s okay.
I’m curious – how to you recharge when facing obstacles?
What is Virtual Staging?
Virtual Staging is the use of software to stage the photos of a home. The key to doing this well is to have good quality photos to begin with and then have a skilled Stager do the decorating.
When would you use Virtual Staging?
Virtual staging would only be done in a VACANT HOUSE.
What is the benefit of Virtual Staging?
- NO added costs to hire a stager
- NO added cost to get content insurance for furniture
- NO damaged walls from moving furniture in and out
- No risk of furniture being stolen or vandalized
- Increased perception of value
- Buyer is able to picture what the space is to be used for
See the difference in the following examples:
This first photo is an odd room. The window does not appear to belong to a specific room. We cannot see what is behind the wall. Can you see how these two options help clarify the use of this space?
Where did all the open houses go?
Open house attendance has decreased and there’s a good reason why.
Once upon a time when buyers would want to view the inside of the home they would contact the listing agent and the listing agent would meet him at the property and show them the house.
Today, if you see a for sale sign, you Google the address and you can see what the house looks like inside through the online listing.
I am noticing more and more that people will disqualify homes based on what they see on the Internet. Therefore, I believe it is critical that a home be displayed with excellence.
If your home is a masterpiece then it should be presented as such.
The Floor Plan
How many times have you looked at a listing online and wondered what the floor plan was like? Do you find yourself trying to piece together the floor plan as you go through the photos? How would you like it if when you looked at a listing you would get a quick overview of each floor in a traditional top-down perspective? Better yet, what if those rooms were labeled?
The Dollhouse View
Wouldn’t it be nice to know how the different floors relate to each other? What’s directly below the master bedroom? Imagine if you could see a dollhouse view like this when you viewed a listing.
Or like this. This incomparable Dollhouse View gives a completely unique sense for the place. See all floors at once!
The Walkthrough- A Five Star Experience*****
Wouldnt it be great if you could be inside this photo an look up and see the ceiling and light fixtures or look down and get a good look at the flooring? Would you like to turn around to see whether that is the entrance behind you or the kitchen? Click on this photo to see what you will find. But come back after for the closing message. I have got exciting news to share!
*This home is not for sale. It is a sample.
All 3 in 1
A 3-D showcase is an online experience that lets homebuyers move through a property and see it from any angle, as if they were there.
Tina Plett/Eniko Crozier of Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate came back from the National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo with a new tool called The Matterport. With this tool, we can display our listings as a 360° Virtual Tour, as a floor plan image as well as in a Dollhouse View.
Can you see the benefit of using this tool when listing?
Most showings happen online. The internet is the open house of today.
MATTERPORT 3D IS THE MOST REALISTIC, IMMERSIVE WAY TO EXPERIENCE A PROPERTY ONLINE.
If you haven’t read Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I’ll give you a quick primer on who Tom Sawyer is. Basically, he’s imaginative, making everything fancy and “high faluting”. He touches even the simplest things with an air of magic.
And had he grown up and built a house, this would be it.
Tom never outgrew his boyish love of playful surprises, and crafted a giant tree house for him and his family in a way never-before seen.
Only he could send vaulted ceilings soaring high over grand rooms while the space below possessed a palpable warmth. It is at once spacious and cozy, sharp yet comfortable. It’s the kind of grand home where a sophisticated adult can host parties. The kind of cozy family cottage where children climb trees, scrape knees, and collect a life time of memories. Perhaps even build a raft.
I’m sure Tom would have driven his wife crazy with his all-consuming dedication to detail.
He madly experimented with architecture, creating unexpected angles in surprising places. The bath and shower are not merely an appliance in Tom’s imaginings, no. They are an opportunity to create a sprawling spa beneath a tall window and steeply angled wall, amidst elegant slate tiles.
Standing in the kitchen, you find yourself in the very heart of the grand cabin. Rustic wood cabinets and black metal handles ground the room in the cozy, rustic feel of a tree house. Even the light fixtures slink long and low, adorned with carved leaves as though hanging like vines.
Tom left no detail unexplored. Like a skilled artist, he crafted surprising angles in unexpected places. The heavy, rich wood doors. Even arched windows.
And finally, perhaps as his own personal cove in which to read endlessly, he added a loft in his bedroom, the perfect place to tuck away his library and office. And, as he climbed the tree house ladder rungs to his hideaway, he doubtless relived childhood memories of his adventures with Huck.
So where would he build such a grand tree house?
At the end of a wooded lane, of course, where woods lay ripe for his own children to explore and invent their own adventures.
(Tour Tom’s house here.)
Photo taken by Eniko Crozier
The Benefits of Using a Real Estate Photographer
When there are so many options for buyers to choose from and so little buyers to go around, what can help attract a buyer’s attention to your home? Proper real estate photography, that’s what!!!
Fact: Most home buyers today start their home shopping online. There are many websites to view homes on, from public ones like MLS to local site like MH&H to the realtor’s own website. As a seller, it is important for you that your home looks it’s best in every picture. When a realtor takes photos of the seller’s home with their cellphone, the pics are often too dark or too grainy for the potential buyer to connect with your home. This can cause them to completely skip over your home and choose to book a showing with the competition instead!
A seller needs a photographer that can connect with their home. One that can hilight all the benefits of living there, without distorting them. Whether it’s the special features or the little extras inside the home itself, the beautiful gardens & landscaping outside, or the outbuildings. A good photographer not only sees but feels those little subtleties in each property that makes it unique and special to any other property that is for sale. They recognize these features and focus on them to help make your property stand out above the rest!
With proper photos, when a potential buyer views your home online, they are drawn in because the photos help connect them to the property. Now they are booking that showing at your home, instead of skipping over it in favour of your competition!
Real Estate Photographer and Real Estate Professional
Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
They say word of mouth is the best source of new clients. I’ve said it too. And it’s true… to a point. But here’s the thing. Everyone gets referrals. Even the most unreliable, unprofessional business person will occasionally satisfy a client. Those satisfied clients will gladly recommend them, because their experience was pleasant. Try this – put out a call on Facebook or Twitter for a professional they’d recommend. (It will be more interesting if you experiment with a trade or industry where you know some of the professionals and their reputations.) You’ll get all kinds of names. The funny thing is, you won’t know any more about those businesses than before you asked. You’ll still need to look them up, do your research, and make a decision. As a business person, how will referrals set you apart then?
Let me share a story. I recently hosted an open house in Niverville, when this young couple came in. We had never met, but as soon as they slapped eyes on me, they said, “You’re Tina!”
It’s a weird feeling when people do that by the way. For a half second I feel like I might be in trouble. I said something clever like, “Yeah…?” and tried not to look too confused.
She smiled and continued, “You sold the house adjacent to our back yard. We see your name and face everywhere – and you blog too!” They were complete and total strangers, and are not on my list of Facebook friends. I wondered how they’d seen my blog posts. She said a friend of hers had shared a post on her Facebook page. “Do you remember the subject?” I asked.
“Yup – For Those Who Smoke After” she smirked.
At this point her husband piped up, “What?”
“I’ll tell you after…” she leaned over to him, and winked at me before continuing, “In one of the last posts you talked about working with crazy people”
The husband joined in, “I’ve seen your ads in the Property Guide. It seems like your advertising is more… upper class.” I thought about a recent ad I’d put out that had this picture of a shrub mooning a neighbor. The caption read, “Time to Move?” I wondered if he had seen it.
“Ah, thanks. It looks professional because I hire professionals to help me with my marketing.”
This couple was considering hiring me before we ever met, and it was not because someone referred them. It was because of what they’d seen in my marketing, and on my site. And this happens all the time. People come over from China and choose me. When I ask other clients – complete strangers who hired me out of the blue, “How did you get my name?”, they often answer, “I did a Google search.”
Here’s the deal – whether or not people are given recommendations, 68% research real estate agents online. When your potential client arrives at your site – and they will come – what will they find? What they hope to find is who you are. They don’t care about salesy photos and impersonal how-to tips. Tips, tricks and hacks can be found anywhere. They want to know about YOU. Are you trustworthy. Are you successful. Are you professional. Are you real. Will you treat them with respect. And they want to find this out online.
The most overlooked source of referrals is a real estate agent’s website. Most don’t have one, and of those who do, few blog. Nearly three quarters of potential clients research agents online. You need to be as personable and friendly and professional there as you would be in person.
Whether they’re coming to your site because of word-of-mouth, or because of Google rankings, potential clients are looking for you. …Are you there?
At a recent Real Estate conference I attended, the speaker told the room full of agents that print advertising is basically useless. Many nodded in agreement. She’s not alone in her assessment – many think print media is in its final days. But something about it didn’t sit right with me. I’m not yet ready to abandon print media. And I’m not alone either.
19% of all US ad spending in 2013 was invested in print media.
Any magazine or newspaper you read will contain print ads by big companies who market with purpose and precision. They know what they’re doing. And they’re investing nearly a fifth of their entire marketing budget on print media.
The funny thing about print marketing is that it doesn’t often yield immediate sales. Why else in the name of all that is frozen would one advertise, you ask? Because not every business action is designed to garner a sale. I love the way James Archer puts it:
“Marketing is food. It’s the regular, sustained nourishment that gets your business where you want it—and keeps it there. You need it throughout the day, every day. Inexperienced companies regard marketing as medicine to be taken when something is wrong. (“Not enough customers? Take some marketing and call me in the morning.”)”
In the cooling local market, I can understand why Real Estate agents might consider advertising a waste. It’s expensive, and does not yield immediate monetary gains – gains sorely needed in slow times.
I agree with Archer, and Peter Drucker and other marketing moguls, that marketing is a long game. The benefits of continued marketing – like creating a customer base, or preventing reputation rot – are well worth the investment.
Even in slow times, (maybe especially then?) I plan to continue my marketing just as I have. I will focus on my local area where I want to do business. Even in print. To exclude print from my marketing plan would exclude an entire demographic. No, I plan to continue to invest in brand building. Slowly and steadily, I’ll continue to build familiarity with my business and what I’m about. People will know, like and trust me before we even meet. And that’s an investment worth making.
How about you? Do you invest in print ads? Why or why not?
As business owners, we expect a lot of our marketing, don’t we? We imagine this perfect, seamless, one-time event that requires no money, no time, and yields astounding results. Perhaps we have watched too many documentaries about how some people managed to somehow bumble into success. Maybe we’ve seen too many blogs and Pinterest posts that showcase all the best moments, and have begun to believe these to represent reality. Or maybe we’re just impatient or cheap.
Whatever it is, business owners seem to treat marketing like a fling instead of a long term relationship. That’s an interesting thought actually. If it were a relationship, what kinds of love letters do you suppose business owners would write to their beloved marketing campaigns? I imagine Miss Marketing Campaign would have many suitors…
Dear, Sweet Marketing Campaign,
After we met at the conference last weekend, I can’t stop thinking about you. In our brief time together, you won my love.
Your mystery intrigues me, and my heart flutters at the thought of your broad reach. I melt in the warmth of your powerful
sales content. I hesitate to confess it, but I am a simple pauper. I offer only my love and the few farthings in my marketing
budget to gain your hand in marriage. Can you see, dear, sweet marketing campaign, how merry our match would be though?
With your infinite supply of free advertising, and my undying affection, I just know we would have all the sales, brand
awareness and consumer loyalty one could ever want! Say yes, my love – and I will forever adore you and your immeasurable,
boundless abilities to get massive results with a single effort, even from these few farthings. There is no other campaign for me.
I need you and you alone.
-Your devoted pauper
Marketing is not some fling, it’s a commitment – a long term, continual investment.
If marketing were a relationship, there would be a whole lot of business owners out on the curb…
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It’s funny how much what we do impacts others, and how easily we can forget that.
This week someone told me how she noticed that, in the latest Property Guide, I had advertised a starter home twice – once in a regular ad, and again on the opposite page as a quarter-page ad. It blew her away because it was a starter home for $115K. She knew how commissions work. She also knew how quarter page ads are generally used for higher-priced properties. That I would feature a starter – twice – spoke volumes to her about the way I really do treat all my clients the same, no matter what price point their house is at.
I don’t mean to say every listing gets a quarter page ad – marketing varies from house to house. But I’m talking about the attitude behind these decisions. I actually work for people, not houses. I do not bow down to price tags. THAT’S what she noticed. And I love that it is noticeable. All the quiet work of operating in integrity, even when it’s hard, is… well, quiet. But those seeds sown do reap a harvest, and it’s rewarding when I get to know about it.
Character is not something we can fake (for long). Our real values and motives are revealed by what we do. Even our smallest, most invisible actions end up revealing our character.
What do your actions tell your clients? Is it different than what you hope to communicate?