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How Far Will You Go?

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How Far?


Should We Limit Ourselves?

How far will you go for your client? With all the talk about hyper-local blogging and expertise, should we limit ourselves to only representing clients within our hyper-local area? Generally, we do not! Most of our local boards serve a fairly wide area, and we can show homes within in 50 mile radius; some local MLS’s serve a farther reaching area.

Although I am not convinced I should stay within my hyper-local area, I do have enough common sense to not wander into an area I know nothing about. I do have my limits! Why would I go to the farthest edge of our county to an area which is foreign to me? Not knowing the peculiarities of a particular city is enough to keep me inside the city limits where I do know or can get the information my client needs to make a good decision.

So Far Out of Bounds…

Apparently, not every agent feels compelled to stay within the boundaries served by their MLS. Twice this week, I have had calls from agents who are representing clients outside of their local board’s MLS area. I’m talking a three hour round trip to show homes you can not get MLS data on, which means you can’t possibly offer comparable data for your client.

Agent #1 – I am not the listing agent on the property you are asking about. Your client apparently has been searching my IDX for homes and my name is there. Sorry, I can’t give you any information about the home.

Agent #2 – I appreciate these are dear friends, but do you know the road behind this home will soon be widen to four lanes. What do you mean you don’t know what a short sale is? The best thing you could do for your dear friends is refer them to an agent in the area.

In the past few months I have had agents call me and ask for comparable stats so they can write an offer on a home they have not seen. No kidding!

C’mon people, do you know the meaning of agency or your fiduciary responsibility to your client?

Paula is team leader for The "Home to Indy" Team in Indianapolis . She is passionate about education and client care and believes an empowered client is better prepared to make good decisions for themselves. You'll find her online at Agent Genius,Twitter and sharing her insights about her local real estate market at Home To Indy.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Vance Shutes

    September 3, 2008 at 9:48 am

    Paula,

    Spot on! Nothing can replace local knowledge. Buyers typically don’t like the “deer in the headlights” look from an agent when posed with local-knowledge questions, such as “Where’s the nearest grocery store?” or “Where’s the best sledding hill for the kids?” (for those of us in the north country!). Our best fiduciary to our clients is to refer them to an outstanding local agent for their searches outside of our “home base” area, and we can develop fabulous friendships with those outstanding local agents via our work in hyper-local blogging.

  2. Todd

    September 3, 2008 at 10:14 am

    If someone asks about a home outside the self imposed 50 mile radius limit, couldn’t you just send them the Zillow URL for the house? Even if you don’t end up being part of the transaction, at least one Consumer thinks you are helpful ( Re: Mr. Shaws post from eariler https://agentgenius.com/?p=4141 )

  3. Matt Wilkins

    September 3, 2008 at 10:39 am

    I couldn’t agree more. Clients notice and appreciate when you know things like HOA amenities, the different floorplans that were built, and other area specific information. When I first started inthe business i had a few deals that were outside my market area and all were very stressfull experiences. I now give all potential clients who want to look outside my market area the oppurtunity to be referred to a local expert.

  4. Ginger Wilcox

    September 3, 2008 at 11:52 am

    I turned down a referral for a potential client today for the purchase of a home within my MLS and really only about 10 miles away, but in a neighborhood I don’t know at all and don’t work. I too have worked outside my area of expertise in the past and it is just not worth it. I can’t represent my clients fairly and I don’t want to harm my reputation or future referrals by not doing my absolute best. I believe it is better to refer them on to someone else than do a less than stellar job.

  5. Elaine Reese

    September 3, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Here’s a couple “clues” that an agent is too far afield:

    * If your keypad doesn’t work in the lockbox and you need the listing agent to let you in, it might be time to refer it out.

    * If you don’t read the local newspapers to keep up on new developments, highways, Walmarts, etc, it might be time to refer it out.

    * If you need to program your car’s GPS system to GET you to the property, it might be time to refer it out.

    My apologies to Jeff Foxworthy.

  6. Teresa Boardman

    September 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I pay attention to boundaries but it is about time and gasoline. I hurt my business and limit my opportunities if I spend too much time in my car. I live in a densely populated urban area and unless it is for friends, family or past clients I pretty much stay within 5 miles of my homes, mostly within 2 miles. When I need to go outside the boundaries to help someone, I do so with no hesitation

  7. Jay Thompson

    September 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    In my MLS area, it’s roughly 100 miles from the SE corner to the NW corner. With about 5 million people and 50,000 listings in between those points. There is NO WAY I can give buyers the support they need across that area.

    We’ll go further for listings than we will for buyers. With proper research and discussions with the seller, we fell we can effectively market a listing that’s a little far. We do keep in mind though that we need to be available for potential showings from “stumble upons” or the proverbial “I love this house but my agent is too busy to show it to me” call. So we can’t go too far out for listings.

    We don’t have any hard boundaries — they are sort of “fuzzy”. We’ll go where we know and understand the nuances of the neighborhoods. Where it gets tricky is when we get calls like this:

    “Hi, we’re from Canada and we want to buy a home in Phoenix. Will you help us?”
    “Where in Phoenix?”
    “Oh, we have no idea.”

    There are ways to whittle down the area pretty quickly. It’s unrealistic to try to get 6 or 7 agents from different parts of town to collaborate on one client. Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes.

  8. Jill Wente

    September 3, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I am definately boundary driven. I had a potential client call me the other day and ask for recommendation of areas in Houston to look for multi-family homes. I said 1) Houston is the 4th largest city in the US and I would be doing a disservice to attempt to recommend various areas because all I know about some of these areas is how to spell them. I specialize in Northwest Houston and Spring Texas specifically that is enough territory for me to cover. and 2) I only deal in single-family residential homes. I am not familiar nor want to become familiar with the multi-family homes market.

    Its all about not chasing the dollar and focusing on what you know.

  9. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Todd – I sure could and don’t mind assisting agents who bring buyers for my listings or buyers who want to buy my listings.

    I’ve tackled more than my share of newbie agents who needed help and answered questions for both buyers and sellers who were not my clients.

    I will always do what is in the best interest of my client. I just don’t happen to believe representing a client outside of my MLS is in the best interest of my client, since I have no way of determining value, comps, tax data, etc., unless I want to go to the county courthouse for records. (Most of Indiana sales are not online.)

    Just for fun – here’s the Zillow page for one of my listings –

    https://www.zillow.com/homes/map/12583-Saltford-circle_lb/46037_rb/

    Not much help at all! Zillow’s zestimate for this area is $222K-232K. That info doesn’t tell you this home is a short sale, currently priced almost $100,000 less than it was purchased for a few years ago. From the info here, you would guess my listing is overpriced.

    Somehow – I don’t think that is helpful to the buyer or the agent.

  10. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Vance – I will go outside of my local area if I believe I can access enough data to provide my clients. I’m talking local suburbs here! I won’t go outside of my local MLS area, where I don’t have a clue. I have turned down both buyers and sellers who wanted me to list/sell a home in a recreational area where I have never been.

    Matt – I would love to say I know all the details of every neighborhood where I have listed homes. I don’t! We have many neighborhoods with custom homes, where the builder has long since retired and production builders who have gone out of business. With enough data though, I can competently advise my clients. If not, I don’t go there.

  11. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    Ginger – Good for you! If I don’t feel comfortable, I won’t do it either. There are some neighborhoods where you just can’t find decent comps or information. I say, let someone who knows the nuances of those neighborhoods do it. I love our downtown and would love to work there, but the Historic Neighborhoods are completely out of my realm of expertise. Being competent is as much as about knowing what you don’t know as much as it is about what you do know.

    Elaine – LOL!! Jeff would be proud!

    It’s the keypad not working which was the basis of this post. For instance, one of the agents was licensed in Ohio and Indiana, because she lives close to the border. She could just as easily call you in Columbus to let her in one of your listings. But, should she?

    I do love my TomTom, though and use it regularly. It tells me when to turn when I am talking with clients or not paying attention. It really does help on those County Roads, too.

  12. Paula Henry

    September 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Teresa – I find many agents don’t put as high a price on their time as they should. I do go outside of my chosen area also, but NOT outside of my MLS.

    Jay – Maricopa must be the largest county in square miles than any place I have worked. There’s a big difference between listing a home in a Glendale subdivison versus a horse ranch in Cave Creek. Honestly you could list a home in Payson, but would it be wise? Believe me, it’s not 🙂

    I’m with you – I don’t have hard boundaries, except if I don’t have sufficient data to properly represent my clients, that’s the boundary! Like Teresa said, we also have to consider our time and cost of gas.

  13. Elaine Reese

    September 3, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Paula, funny you mention the IN/OH agent. I did have an agent from Dayton do just that. She and clients (family) were sitting in front of my listing and would I please come let them in. I happened to be 25 min away and told her ‘no can do’.

  14. James Bridges

    September 4, 2008 at 6:47 pm

    Paula, yeah it’s reallly too bad how far agents will go. I just don’t think it’s doing the client any service. If you can’t know good streets vs. the bad streets you just shouldn’t do it. I mean, you don’t see the Podiatrist doing Brain Surgery just so he could work in another surgery do you? 🙂

  15. Mana Tulberg

    September 4, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Paula, I am not comfortable working in areas that I am not familiar with either. My county is not a large one, but there are a few area 30-40 miles from home that I know pretty well and have served.

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.

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According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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