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List ’em Right, Dog!



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It’s a Dog Eat Dog World Out There

I had a buyer in town for the last three days looking at homes. She’s pretty motivated so we saw all 25-ish homes she honed in on online. We did see some very nice ones and found a few for her to bring her other half to see next week, but many of the listings were dogs. Hopefully the four legged dogs out there won’t be offended by this characterization.

But seriously, talk about overpriced, under-staged garbage listings. Dirty, cluttered, poorly maintained homes with prices that are extremely optimistic made up about a third of the inventory we looked at. And that doesn’t even count the four listings that we could not get access to for various reasons, including a newly installed tenant, a seller who doesn’t return showing request calls, a busted pipe, and a fire in the bedroom. The worst part of the whole ordeal was the unrealistic picture that the listing agents painted with their descriptions and photos on the MLS and other marketing media. Wonderful! Beautiful! Don’t Pass This One By! Do they really think they can trick someone in to buying this junk?

Your Listings Reflect Your Brand – Are They Saying ‘Woof’?

I was not the only one who was disappointed though. My client was also miffed, and she stated that she felt like our time was being wasted because of misrepresented listings. We drove many miles out of our way to see some of these homes only to find that they did not measure up, either the description was not realistic or, in some cases, the photos were taken in 1992 and don’t even closely resemble the house in its current, pre-foreclosure state. My client and I discussed the fact that one or two of them may be a good fit for a certain kind of buyer, but that the advertisement did nothing to target the people who might be interested.

The most interesting thing she said – and this was unsolicited and un-prompted – is really worth mulling over. After a couple of bad showings in a row that happened to have the same familiar real estate sign in front of it, she turned and said to me ‘This XYZ Real Estate company is not very professional, is it?’ And when we pulled up to another home with the same sign out front she said ‘Uh oh, this should be fun.’

So she left from her visit with a very bad impression of a certain Brand, based solely on their listings that she was looking at.  I say brand because these homes were not, in fact, even listed with the same company. They were listed by several different offices which happened to be the same franchise. A franchise that, until recently, had a reputation of hiring only the most experienced agents. What happened to that? Did they lose track of their goals and loosen their standards in order to compete? Is this new strategy working for them? I’m guessing not, but I could be wrong.

Are You a Mangy Mutt or a Purebred?

Your listing inventory is a reflection of your business and, like it or not, buyers and sellers and agents judge your professionalism based on the listings you take and how you market them. Are you using this to your advantage? What do your listings say about you, your business and your brand?

Lisa sells residential real estate in the Pocono Mountains of Northeastern PA, and authors The Poconos Real Estate Blog. Being a strong believer in community participation, she currently serves as President of a 1700 home Property Owners' Association and Secretary of the Board of the local REALTOR Association for 2009. Her most challenging and fulfilling role, though, is that of Mom to two teenage girls, and her main hope for them is that they learn to appreciate the abundant joys of a life lived with a positive attitude. You can connect with Lisa on Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn.

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  1. BawldGuy

    October 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    What you’ve described is a living poster of why the public holds real estate agents in such distain. How smart do you have to be to figure some of this stuff out?

  2. Steve Simon

    October 6, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    Mangy Mutts need love too:)
    If a property is badly priced most often it can be assessed as such without a visit.
    I think the amazing thing about your post is this:
    You showed 25 homes in three days (that is a years labor in my mind).
    Sanderson must be likeable, cause the buyer stayed with you for all that time you were showing her “curs”.
    Just my thoughts, God I am glad i don’t have to anything I don’t want to in order to survive (played 18 this morning) 🙂

  3. Pam Buda

    October 6, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Great post–when I tour poorly prepared listings I get grumpy. I also get peeved when I see bad grammar and spelling on MLS copy (never mind bad photography or non-existent photos). Is it too much trouble for an agent to proof-read their copy blocks before uploading a listing? Or run a spell-check?

    One of my favorites was for a $3,900,000 vineyard listing in the wine country of Sonoma County, California where I am based. The agent had about 2 sentences of copy and had mis-spelled vineyard, “vinyard”. I don’t care if it was a $200,000 condo, is it too much to ask to double-check what you post?

  4. Linsey

    October 6, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Not only does it make the listing agent look like they are blowing smoke in their descriptions, they are missing their target market.

    This weekend I showed a home that was a ‘cosmetic fixer’. It also said ‘renovations needed’. Interesting because I didn’t see a kitchen or baths that needed ‘renovations’. I didn’t see a kitchen or baths AT ALL. There were no kitchen cabinets, so counters, no fixtures, no interior doors, no sinks – well you get the picture. My client was looking for a ‘fixer’ not a full construction project. Why not direct the marketing to the audience that this home would appeal to most – like buyers with construction background?

    Just be honest. I’d rather have 3 well targeted showings than 10 showings with the wrong audience.

  5. Vicki Moore

    October 6, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    You are so right. We laugh about that in my office all the time: “John just listed a new one – you know it’s a piece of crap.” On the other hand, I drove by a listing with a particular agent’s sign out front and thought: Oh, I’ve got to see that one. Carol listed it – it’s got to be good.

    Btw – I had to read your post first just because of that picture!

    Excellent writing. Thanks for the humor.

  6. Lisa Sanderson

    October 6, 2008 at 6:20 pm

    BawldGuy: It ain’t rocket science, that’s fer sure!

    Steve: You’re so awesome.

    Pam: I get pretty frickin’ grumpy too! 😉 And yes thank you for bringing it up, spelling counts. EVERYTHING counts. It’s all a reflection of one’s professionalism & credibility.

    Linsey: YES! Get the *right* people in the door and the property will sell. Easy peasy.

    Vickie: Compliments will get you everywhere! Thanks for reading and for honing in on the point. We do get a reputation based on the kinds of listings we get. And that will affect how consumers see us AND the showing traffic we get from other agents.

  7. Jason Sandquist

    October 6, 2008 at 6:58 pm

    I have been showing homes to Canadian buyers the past couple of days (yes they come to Minnesota too and not just Phoenix), but anyways they were quick to point out the misconception of photos online. These homes were upper bracket and I was a little ashamed, why because most were from my own company that definitely prides itself on being the leader distinctive homes.

  8. Brampton Realtor

    October 6, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I guess that client had a ruff time?
    Oh, i should be shot for that one.

    But on a serious note what you are saying its totaly true.
    Its not about volume of people passing though your open house.
    But a properly targeted market segment.

  9. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    Lisa, I once showed a single guy a house advertised like this. ” gorgeous home, blah, blah, blah.

    We went in and a bar was hanging over the stair banister. It got worse, but this is a blog so won’t post how much worse here.

    When you have been in the business long you learn which agents over price, and over state the condition of the home.

  10. Missy Caulk

    October 6, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    opps bra….

  11. Ben Goheen

    October 6, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Dear fellow agents,
    NEVER, I repeat, NEVER use the phrase “won’t last long” in the description. It’s a curse, your listing will then be on the market much longer then all the competition. I laugh whenever I see this phrase on a sold listing that has 100+ days on the market. I’m sure I can search my MLS right now and find at least 10 examples, so just don’t do it.

    PS – go Vikings!

  12. Helene

    October 7, 2008 at 5:50 am

    I’m Lisa’s buyer and I’m sure glad Steve is not my broker and that she is. 🙂 Since I travel almost 2 hours to get to the area where I am looking, I truly appreciate the fact that Lisa spends all that time with me! I wish the ads were honest so as not to waste my time. I have made 3 trips since June and I am truly disappointed that my search is not over yet. The houses I chose to see looked so good on paper. Unfortunately, so many of them had been miserably misrepresented and an insult to a serious buyer. By “embellishing” your ads you may get me to your listing but after I see the house I realize that I have been duped and don’t ever want to see another one of your listings!

  13. Pocono Real Estate

    October 7, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Hi Lisa,

    My biggest pet peeve is crappy photos on listings, especially when it’s the high end of the price range.

    Another one is when the listing agent doesn’t take the time to make sure they get the directions right. There were TWO mistakes in one the other day and it was a top of the market house. A few years ago we went miles out of our way up in one of the big developments because the roads were renamed and he left out one of the roads.

  14. Lisa Sanderson

    October 7, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Jason: So you’ll be forwarding this article to everyone in your office then? lol

    BR: ‘a properly targeted market segment’ Bingo!

    Missy: You don’t have to go in to detail. I’m sure we all have stories to tell. What I can’t figure out is, what are these people thinking? Ya put your dang bars away if you have ANYONE coming over let alone a potential buyer. 😉

    Ben: Good one. PS-What is this Viking reference?

    Helene: Thanks for being my inspiration and for chiming in here. You are going to have an awesome home in the Pokies very soon. I can feel it!

    Malcolm: Welcome to AG! As you can read from comments here, it is not just the Poconos that has these issues. At least there’s that. 😉

  15. StraightDave

    December 2, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    All: Identification as a foreclosure is a big clue… most effs have lots of stuff ripped out. So, buyer expectations should be in line. It may take 25 “dogs” to find a neat pooch… the price one pays in this market.

    Perhaps, the MLS should have an agents (only) “rate this house” for each listing, or “rate this listing for accuracy.”

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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.



hiring managers interview

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?




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.



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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