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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

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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Business Marketing

Stand out with video as part of your resume (but be careful)

(MARKETING) This new tool helps you stand out in the job market, as video now dominates – so it’s possible to use this to your advantage (with caution).

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job market video

In the midst of a pandemic, people are finding themselves thrust back into the job market sooner than expected due to mass company layoffs or underemployment as a freelancer. Fields are oversaturated and jobs are sparse so it can be hard to stand out in today’s job market.

Although standing out in the job market is hardly a new problem, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t use some new and creative solutions. One company, VCV.ME has designed a tool to help you get creative and stand out from your competition.

VCV.ME turns your traditional resume into a video à la Instagram stories.

The process is simple. You answer a few questions and upload a video of yourself then the tool will provide you with a sharable link.

VCV Founder and CEO, Arik Akverdian, believes that video is the future saying, “Video will represent 80% of all internet traffic by 2021 according to Cisco, and according to eMarketer 94.1% of millennial internet users were streaming digital video in 2019. With growing demand for video social media such as TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram stories, and others, we’re bringing the short video format to the job market.”

There are some obvious limitations to using this tool in your job hunt.

First, not all employers will take videos as part of an application both for technical and legal reasons.

On the technical side, many automated tracking systems are not designed to filter that kind of file, so there may not even be an opportunity to showcase it. That’s not to say there aren’t some work-arounds. Many job applications will have a place for applicants to link to their portfolio or websites. An alternate option for this tool could be to place the video introduction on your website.

Another problem with the tool is how it exposes candidates and hiring managers to bias.

As more companies work to remove bias from their hiring practices and hire more diverse candidates, a video intro just won’t fly. Some companies have removed names and even alma maters from their applicants in order to make more unbiased hiring decisions. A video introduction would expose many characteristics that people have conscious and subconscious biases towards such as race, gender, age, and ethnicity.

Although VCV.ME’s intentions are to help candidates stand out in the job market, it’s worth questioning whether they would be standing out for the right reasons, so tread carefully.

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Business Marketing

Why should you take Facebook’s ‘Summer of Support’ courses

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Every company can use a little marketing advice, well Facebook has partnered with big companies to give you some free digital marketing courses.

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marketing courses

Our world has turned into a place of upheaval and unrest and we are continuously surrounded by more and more evidence of it. One thing that the majority of us are constantly seeing is announcements from companies. Some of those are about closing hours, but others are more helpful. As they all attempt to get used to this new world that COVID-19 has created we begin to see some different tactics. Some are only politically motivated, but others are more focused on helping out their communities.

Earlier this week Facebook announced that they will be putting on a six-week digital marketing education series. This series will be an extensive collection of videos with a full in depth set of courses that will cover a large amount of topics. The company has put together a cast of renowned entrepreneurs for the presenters as well.

The topics will be done in themed weeks starting on June 24th, and running through the month of July. They include categories such “The Changing World” & “Resilience”. Focusing primarily on the world that is here and now, with recommendations on how to adapt to it. With this world in a constant state of flux the push for adapting to change and staying in front of the tide is crucial for a small business.

The next two courses will be going forward with discussing “Reinvention” & “Re-Emergence”. Encouraging struggling companies to take a serious look at their potential for moving forward, or changing the things that they can to stay more on top of their client base. They also plan on attacking the confusing world that we will have when things get closer to normal.

The last two weeks are focused on community and customer care, which is actually their names as well: “Customers & Commerce” & “Community”. These will help develop a sense of how your business affects your community and the impact you have on it. Keeping that in mind you can then develop a plan for how you want your community to see you and shape things within it.

These courses are all set up for free and open to anyone. With a completely online set up with their new “Summer of Support” mini-site they are prepped to reach millions of people. They’ve organized this with a range of partners as well: Dell, PayPal, American Express, & Small Business Roundtable. A helping hand for people who wouldn’t currently be able to source things like this.

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