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Brokers can earn more by caring more and not just blogging about it

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Brokers perpetually seeking improvement

Recently, I wrote about J. Crew CEO Mickey Drexler as an exemplary leader that real estate professionals can learn a great deal from. He is meticulous, connected, and perpetually seeks improvement.

Yes, CEO behavior can teach brokers how to improve, and those same lessons can be learned at the independent agent level, but it is up to the brokers to lead and set precedent in an organization.

Should brokers act more like retailers?

Real estate is one of the most scattered industries in America- put a million independent contractors in a room and ask them who their boss is, who they serve and what their biggest obstacles are, to see what I mean. After finishing the real estate exam, agents hang their licenses, usually going for a recognized brand, and when they become unhappy, they join a boutique and eventually take the broker’s exam and set up their own shop. This is a common course for agents to take. But imagine if a broker were to set a better example, to touch every part of the process and behave more like a retailer?

I was told a story of a new agent whose broker flew to town and zipped through the office. The new agent had never met his broker and was enthusiastic to get to shake his hand. The broker ran through the office, used the bathroom, waved hi to all and left. The agent had so many questions and was excited that he met THE broker. He became disillusioned when the broker never came back to visit and never answered his calls or questions. This is a common tale.

Brokers, are you tapped in to the pulse of your company? Not just “we have X number of agents aged 40-50 and a retention rate of X%,” but “Joe loves selling homes on the golf course and his daughter is in college studying marketing, how can I be a better resource about golf course living, help him transact more, and maybe I should get to know his kid so we have new talent in the pipeline?”

How Gov. Bush led

Love him or hate him, when George W. Bush was the Governor of Texas, he didn’t start his day locked in his private office, he went to the basement of the capitol where his staff worked and one by one, he stopped by every office and knew their names, their stories and their needs. He treated them like family, even behind closed doors- it was never a PR stunt. I hear rumors that he did the same at the White House. Brokers, do you know your agents like family?

Disney executives test the product

Disney executives are all required to spend days at their sites riding rides, standing in line, buying food, getting pictures taken with characters, and experiencing it first hand. Their fastest way to improve customer experience is to go through it themselves, not as an executive who is called “sir” and moved to the front of the line, but as a cargo short wearing vacationer.

Brokers, do you experience your transactions first hand?

Do you send emails in to the office from a fake account to see how their response is? Do you personally call agents’ cell phones from anonymous numbers and see how many minutes, hours or days go by before a return call? Do you stop by your listings and your agents’ listings and check that the sign still has the proper riders and that the lockbox is where the MLS says it is? Do you go to your agents’ independent websites and see if there is any brokerage branding and that they are compliant? Do you visit their blogs to see if they’re wasting time blogging about “how agents should Twitter 101” instead of market reports or locally relevant information? Are you going through the designation courses yourself to know what they do or don’t offer so you can guide your agents toward what is right for their career? Are you checking out what your brokerage’s website looks like on a smartphone a year after it is launched to see if anything is broken? Are you a trusted resource for your agents that they can directly call or do they have to talk to your gatekeeper?

Or are you one of those brokers who is just blogging all the time about “raising the bar” then doing nothing to raise your own?

This seems like common sense, but apparently it is not for all. It’s simple math- by being a better broker, your agents will earn more, thus will you, but slacking off as most brokers do, or focusing on Twitter and your next internet fame endeavor as a rising number do, you’re a disservice to your agents, clients and yourself.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Gary Waters

    January 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Brokers, do you experience your transactions first hand?…seems like a pretty devious approach to the business. Knowing your people, training your people…makes for a team that does not require babysitting techniques like this!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible; if your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

7 ways Instagram Stories get people pumped about your brand

(MARKETING) Instagram stories are widely used, so why shouldn’t marketers get in on the Insta-story action?

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Instagram

Instagram Stories long ago surpassed Snapchat at it’s photo-sharing joy, and has found to be a great place to build brand awareness and build your customer base.

Here are a few ways that you can use stories to get people excited about your brand, products, and service.

1. Share the story of your business

Showcase the creation of a product or service, or share something (legal and fun) that your team is working on. These behind the scenes productions humanize your brand and can really get people excited about it. Check out what Union Fare does!

2. Preview live broadcasts

Are you doing a Facebook Live or WebEx demonstration? Use Instagram Stories to tease and generate some excitement or pull attendees from one social media platform to the other.

3. Showcase your stuff in action

Whether it’s demonstrating an application, showing off a recipe, or showcasing an outfit, you can use stories to show what the end result of a product is and help them generate ideas on how to use that stuff! Because Instagram Live can be done spontaneously, you can show authentic, non-scripted demonstrations easily.

4. Brag time

When you support a brand, you get excited that you are a part of their wins. Share relevant milestones (subscriber counts, new products, new revenue, new contracts, new products, etc.) with your base. This helps build connection with your base.

5. Countdowns and giveaways

You can use stories to facilitate ways to get people excited about upcoming giveaways or new launches. Unlike static marketing, the use of countdowns can really get people emotionally excited and build anticipation for new products or services. You could also use stories to give special sales or unique giveaways that give a more “exclusive” feeling.

6. “Takeovers” from influencers or partnerships

If you are working with a promoter or influencer, you can have them generate content to send them over to you to use their voice to target your audience. The influencer can send you pictures and videos that you upload yourself, rather than handing over your account username or password (like with Snapchat). This is a great way to work with someone who already has a following that can help you expand your service or product reach.

7. Create unique content

Odds are, especially for smaller businesses and new entrepreneurs, you don’t have a lot of time to invest in production value for other advertising. Instagram Stories with the use of stickers, paintbrush, and text can be a great place for raw, but still polished content that has a one of a kind feel. Familiarize yourself with the tools, and don’t be afraid to get artsy.

Make Instagram work for you

Instagram is constantly adding new features, so make sure you stay tuned for updates and play around with those features often. For example – Instagram stories can rewind or being hashtagged. Or use the eraser brush to do slow teases or product reveals.

Given that users can now bookmark content as well, you can create demonstrations or examples and give your audience a quick reference to your content. Get learning, check out stories, and start building those unique, intimate, and creative engagements with your consumers.

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Business Marketing

Half of all Instagram users buy immediately after seeing an ad

(MARKETING) If you’re advertising on Instagram and yielding no results, read on – it’s a gold mine for *some* types of brands.

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instagram

If you’ve been on Instagram you’ve likely fallen victim to the algorithm’s knack for showing you advertisements for something that seems exactly suited to your tastes. Or, someone you follow on the app tags their post with the name of the brands that make up their cute outfit and you decide to see what else they might offer. I’ve ended up with more than one pair of sneakers this way.

Instagram’s popularity and effectiveness have made it a marketing powerhouse. Over 130 million people look at product tags on the app each month.

Recently, Facebook commissioned a study asking users to explain what their interaction with companies and brands on Instagram was like. A whopping 66% of people said that the used Instagram to interact directly with brands — and 54% of users said they purchased something immediately after seeing an ad in their Instagram feed. Ads that are in the “stories” feature, independent of users’ feeds are especially effective.

After it was acquired by Facebook, Instagram has grown to account for over 19% of the tech-giant’s advertising spending — nearly double what it was in 2018.

Facebook is planning on continuing to capitalize on Instagram. They announced that soon users won’t need to navigate out of their feed to the retailer’s website purchase items, but rather have the ability to buy things in-app.

Instagram will take a cut of these in-app purchases and partner with PayPal to process payments, adding a new revenue stream to the growing platform.

As part of expanding its foray into shopping, Instagram is also partnering with its most popular influencers.

These people will be able to directly sell the products that their sponsors are offering through their accounts, rather than direct them to their sponsor’s account. At the beginning, only major accounts belonging to celebs like Kylie Jenner or Gigi Hadid will have this option, but it seems like after its initial launch more sellers will be to take advantage of the feature.

So, be prepared to have even more sneakers in your future, friends. It looks like those Instagram ads are going to get even more powerful.

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