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What Do a Real Estate Agent and a Locksmith Have in Common?

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Online Reviews Real Estate Agents
Image courtesy of Lola Dalle


Survey Says…

A recent study released by market research firm, Opinion Research Corporation, reveals that 61% of surveyed consumers are browsing for online reviews of companies and services before making final purchase decisions.  This doesn’t come as a huge surprise for me, since I am one consumer who tends to research heavily before making a decision… sometimes too much.  It often sends me down a rabbit-hole exploring review sites in order to make sure that I am absolutely sure I am making the right choice.  I recently came to the conclusion that this is even more true for services used ‘once in a blue moon’.

Searching for a Locksmith.

I needed a locksmith to do a very specific type of job… an ignition replacement.  Obviously, I don’t call locksmiths very often… and have no loyalty to any particular “brand”.  I naturally did a Google search for “locksmiths” in my area.  At the top of the results were quite a few local business directories such as Yahoo Local and CitySearch.  AAA Locksmith is now staring me in the face, along with A&A Locksmith, ABC Locksmith, and a few dozen more on page one.  What I also noticed was the reviews column.  Who to call?  Well AAA had 0 reviews and grayed out stars, yet A&A had 4 out of 5 stars and 3 reviews.  needless to say I couldn’t resist seeing what my neighbors had to say.  I ultimately skipped the no-review listing and went for the stars.  And I also ended up choosing a great Locksmith (they were, but who knows without a comparison?).

Wow, Reviews are More Important Than I Thought.

It occurred to me later that the types of businesses that could really benefit from online consumer reviews are the ones that rely very little on repeat business.  How often do we hire plumbers, roofers, a locksmith, or a real estate agent?  How much more important is it to hire a reputable agent than it would be to research a locksmith?

Although IncredibleAgent.com started out as a blog platform vendor, it seems it’s purpose has become real estate agent ranking and reviews (#1 in SERPS for real estate agent reviews)… But the activity on places like Yelp.com and Citysearch is heavy, and the growth of these up-and-coming household names is nothing to ignore. What would you conclude when reading this page as a consumer?

The Next Generation of Word-of-Mouth.

This is the new-school of good ‘ol fashioned word-of-mouth.  No longer do we totally rely on Aunt Patti’s recommendation for an Agent.  How objective is her opinion, really?  She may have had a good experience, but how will she really know the consistency of this level of service.  I would rather look into a half-dozen detailed reviews and let that weigh in on my decision in addition to Aunt Patti’s.  This of course is very disruptive news for an agent so used to the friend of a friend marketing word-of-mouth approach.  Creating customer evangelists is important, and the power of an online review can have the same effect over and over again.

Rather than debate on which is more important, online or “real-life” testimonials, we can focus on enhancing the online side while also maintaining the traditional method of obtaining valuable word-of-mouth referrals… it’s great service and relationships any way you slice it.

Reviewer Motives.

But to motivate a client to not only pass out your card to their friends and family, but to also log in to Yelp.com and write a positive recommendation, may take an extra bit of effort.  When I have a terrible experience with a service provider, my first thought is: “How can I stop their reign of terror…  I’m going to write a scathing review and make sure everyone knows… they will be sorry… oh yes mwa ha ha ha ha!” But for some reason, after a pleasant experience I think: “That was great, I really hope they do well, Let’s go to that new restaurant I’m starving!”  Am I alone in this thinking?

A Diamond is Forever.

So, to motivate a happy client to write a good online testimonial, simply ask.  Shoot an email out with a link to your page on the third-party review site.  Make it really easy for them.  You might even send a snail mail (It’s back by the way) thank-you card with gentle request and a gift-card.  You want that review.  A 5 star review, like a diamond, is forever and very valuable.  And like a diamond, crushing a bad review is next to impossible without the proper methods.

For more on the subject check out the fanatics at The Society for Word of Mouth.

Writer for national real estate opinion column AgentGenius.com, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Glenn fm Naples

    July 15, 2008 at 5:54 am

    Carson – positive testimonials have always been a good way to get business. We might post them on our websites – but how many really have their clients post on the Internet? Probably not many, but at least your post may start a trend for some of us.

  2. Matt Wilkins

    July 15, 2008 at 5:58 am

    I partialy agree with you ideas. I think the reason why past clients or prospects do not come back or refer business is our lack of contact so our name is in front of their face.

    I send a monthly email newletter to everyone in my contact list (past clicnets, current clients, prospects) and find it has been very effective in keeping people “know” that I am around and read yto provide them the real estate services they need.

  3. Frank Jewett

    July 15, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Many consumers don’t trust online recommendations because there are a lot of shills on the internet. Knowing the person doing the recommending is important for establishing the credibility of the recommendation.

  4. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 15, 2008 at 8:00 am

    While I think a glowing review on the internet can make the difference if all other considerations are equal – its certainly not the end all be all. Internet customers are becoming fairly savvy and recognize the ease of manipulation and bogus reviews by friends (or enemies). If you can get legit glowing reviews by shooting out a 1 time email to clients, great. But I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.

  5. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 8:24 am

    Having glowing reviews looks much better than not having any at all though. As a consumer myself, I am much more likely to do business with someone who has something going on in the way of third party reviews or testimonials and I would guess that “most” consumer’s are still much like me (even if the reviews we are reading are not real). It wouldn’t take long for someone who had a bunch of really good bogus reviews to get some really bad “real” ones if they are not as good as those reviews say they are.

  6. Carson Coots

    July 15, 2008 at 3:54 pm

    Glenn – Thanks, I just hope that when put into practice it is not like pulling teeth to get them to create an account and actually write one up.

    Matt, I think your method is very effective… it is a great way to 2nd-degree word of mouth flowing. The online reviews help you gain a level of credibility with people outside of that sphere.

    Frank – I agree, there are a lot of posers out there, but 10 out of 10 reviewers being shills is very hard to believe… If the page contains a nice cross-section of realistic reviews, it may be more believable to the reader… and the method I proposed would create real-life testimonials that are public and archived on third-party sites. Would an on-site testimonial be any more believable? Who would publish a bad review of their service on their own website? At least 3rd party sites appear to be unfiltered. I am not suggesting it is a better substitute… only a supplement.

    Jennifer – I’m hoping a little email would be enough to at least plant a seed… No begging would be in order. But if you have problems like this guy-> https://www.incredibleagents.org/ It might be a good idea to start diluting those negatives with some good feedback. He lost a lot of sleep making that crazy website.

    Holly – I agree. A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape. – Proverbs 19:5

  7. Paula Henry

    July 15, 2008 at 9:16 pm

    Carson – I use Angie’s List when searching for specific services, for this very reason – I can see the reviews, how many satisfied clients and their ranking.

  8. Bob Locksmith

    August 5, 2010 at 10:07 am

    The trouble with these reviews on Google local business listings is they are too easy to fabricate

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Business Marketing

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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