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Sensuality in Real Estate

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I’ve Avoided The Topic…

I’ve thought about writing this for a while and didn’t have the guts until now.  Mostly for fear of people misinterpreting my words – but here it is hopefully to stimulate some good conversation.

Sex Sells

Everyone knows sex sells – provocative images of men and women can attract business but the question will always remain:  Is it the right type of business?

I can’t speak for men out there but can surely speak for many women when I say, who doesn’t like to wake up in the morning and feel beautiful and sexy? – who doesn’t like that self-esteem that comes with feeling sexy?

In real estate, many use sex-appeal to their advantage.  In Miami it is so common to see properties and their agents being described as SEXY – “that sexy interior space overlooking the ocean”….  But is there a fine line between sex appeal and a true professional business?

We see it in desperate housewives where ultra-sexy Edie Britt is known to sleep with her clients when visiting properties or even Sex in The City where Samantha Jones seduces her Realtor in a pricey NY loft.

Sex Appeal in Real Estate

I’ve never been the one to use sex appeal in my favor; it’s just not my style.  On the contrary, when I’m working with husband and wife I make sure to dress “unsexy” (if there’s such a thing) so that the wife feels comfortable with me.  I go out of my way to be down to earth and demonstrate my architectural expertise and my knowledge of real estate.  But lately, I have been in extremely uncomfortable situations where I come home to discuss it with Rick to see what our next step will be.    Recently I negotiated a deal with a good looking man where I could feel a strange tension but the business relationship always remained professional – when the deal closed he said to me “You are a hot looking woman and didn’t want to tell you and make me uncomfortable so I waited until the transaction was completed to tell you”.  (WHAT?  “Hot looking woman” has become a joke in my house now).

Are you prepared?

I am so thankful that I work with my husband because every time I’ve been in a similar situation, I pass the client over to him.  But I wonder about others in the industry and how they handle these tensions.   There’s also the question of safety and the amount of creeps out there that we need to watch out for.  There are horror stories about stalkers and women being violated while showing properties.

My purpose with this article is to make you think of safety first, of the way we portray ourselves and our properties and the way we handle sexual issues that may come our way.  I’m not saying using sensuality is wrong either; but if you use it, you better be ready to deal with what it brings.

I found a site called Realtor Safety 911 that gives all kinds of helpful information as well as points out scenarios some of us may have never even considered.  Some of you are too sexy for your own good (yes that’s a joke) – so please have a plan, and use common sense – know that you can become easy prey if you are not smart.

Ines is all Miami, all the time. A Miami Beach Realtor® with Majestic properties, Ines authors Miamism.com, PrimeMiamiBeach.com, and MiamismPix.com and is always on communication's leading edge. She goes out of her way to engage and be engaged, often using Mojitos to keep the mood light and give everything she does a Miami flavor. You can find her goofing off or instigating trouble at Twitter, Flickr, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Mack

    September 29, 2008 at 10:37 am

    Ines, I have to be thankful that clients appreciate my mind and my knowledge because my body sure won’t pay the bills.

  2. Elaine Reese

    September 29, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Ines, all I could do is chuckle as I read your article. I know I really shouldn’t chuckle because it’s a serious subject, but this hasn’t been a problem for me. Of course, maybe I wish it were! Like Mack said, if I relied on my body to pay the bills then my home would be one of those in foreclosure. 😉

    Seriously, for the pretty younger women, they need to be very careful as you mention, and not send the wrong message with their photos or body language. Even us older women need to use caution as we can be viewed as ‘easy targets’. I took an all day safety course a couple years ago at the Board, where we actually got to hit and punch in a way that didn’t take brute strength. It was a good confidence builder.

  3. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Mack – you don’t have to be HOT to be sexy btw – keep using your brain though…..if that works for you 😉

    Elaine – don’t chuckle – you are a great looking woman and you are right about the “targets” no matter the age. I’m glad to hear about the safety course you took, those are definitely empowering and more than that, they give an awareness that is necessary in our business. Stay safe!

  4. Chuck G

    September 29, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    What’s all the fuss? Bruiser can’t help it if he was born such a handsome bulldog 🙂

  5. Bob

    September 29, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    I used to work with a very hot female agent who frequently got phone calls from prospective male buyers wanting to see property. One was very specific about seeing two properties – both vacant, but both very different to the point that is didnt make much sense.

    She asked me to go with her to show the properties. We got to the 1st property and he was already there. She parked a few houses down and across the street. I stayed in the car. She went to use the lockbox, then told him she left the key in the car. I got out of the car and told her, “You forgot your key”. As soon as he realized she was not alone, he told her he wasn’t interested in seeing the property and left in a hurry.

    Trust your gut and don’t take chances.

  6. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Hey Chuck – Bruiser is a handsome bulldog, isn’t he? 😉

    Bob – that’s exactly what I’m talking about – I’m so glad your colleague was smart to take you along and hope many other agents think of their safety, have a plan and most importantly…..”trust their instincts” – TY

  7. Kim Wood

    September 29, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    You hit on a topic that is so *right on*, Ines! Some agents that feel the need to wear the short skirts, unbuttoned blouse, (ok… to be fair… unbutton shirt exposing some chest hair) to try to sell Real Estate are just asking for possible trouble.

    Sex appeal type dress does not belong in the workplace, regardless of where you do business. And I could go into sexual harassment abuse of purpose along the same lines, but I shouldn’t open that can of worms on your blog 🙂

    Dress and act professionally – or take it elsewhere. For safety, for reputation, for professionalism.

    Way to take on the topic!

  8. Elaine Hanson

    September 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    Thank goodness I haven’t had this problem — Uncomfortable!

    Putting oneself out there in a suggestive or, in this case, almost unclothed image just screams of unprofessionalism. I work in a very casual community — jeans, nice casual clothes are okay for photos, but I wouldn’t even think of that type of shot. Serious buyers with serious money look for better professional judgement.

    I would like to point out that predators don’t just look for pretty. They look for weak, easy and desperate. Prescreen and be careful!!!

  9. James Bridges

    September 29, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Great points on this one. This ad actuallly ran in the area in which I operate. There was quite a big deal about it from being “not professional” and what not, but she generated some serious phone calls off of it (unfortunately I don’t know the number). It also probably helped that many of the radio stations picked up the ad as well and called her about it. So it brought buzz, but not sure about the closings.

    I definitely think it’s a fine line on what you choose to market for. Having a powerful marketing message that brings you the type of business you want day in and day out, is a more sound approach than the shock value that brings you just a burst of interest.

  10. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Kim – what’s interesting about “appropriate dress code” is that there is a huge disparity for different parts of the country. Showing multi-million dollar properties with nice jeans and a t-shirt is normal and acceptable in Miami where I know if may not quite go in Seattle.

    The other aspect that can be poorly interpreted is what defines sex appeal and what doesn’t. I know the graphic can also be an extreme, but what about those “sexy waterfront high-rises” in South Beach? – How about those vacant listings we show on a regular basis to people we think we know.

    Elaine – you hit it!

    predators don’t just look for pretty. They look for weak, easy and desperate. Prescreen and be careful!!!

    James – I would be curious to know what type of business it brought this agent. Did she waste her time with guys setting appointments to check her out – did wives avoid her at all costs? Did people take her seriously? It would be interesting to get her marketing perspective.

  11. Heather Elias

    September 29, 2008 at 3:07 pm

    Ines…agree with you that this was a post that needed to be written. It’s fantastic that you have Rick, bringing him along or handing clients off to him. I wish I had that! I never wear a skirt suit to a client meeting; am probably making a distinct effort to be ‘unsexy’ too. I’ve had a male client stop me in the middle of a listing presentation to ask if I was married; a good friend of mine that is a Realtor (and a very attractive blonde) had someone tell her once that she didn’t get their listing because his wife thought she was ‘too pretty.’…Always a good idea to be wary in situations with new clients.

  12. Dan Connolly

    September 29, 2008 at 3:45 pm

    I will probably get flamed for this but I have noticed over the years that the good looking agents seem to do more business than the ugly ones. It’s obviously not universally true (thank God), but I think some of the clients think if they have to spend time with someone why not make it someone who is “easy on the eyes”? I seem to sell more to women than men and think that “chemistry” is a factor some of the time.

    But even though that is true, I have always thought that it was dangerous for women to put their pictures on signs or advertising. I know the people who do it, think that people want to know who they are doing business with, but the chance of uncovering a wierdo just wouldn’t be worth it to me.

  13. Missy Caulk

    September 29, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    …I can only wish….LOL

    Yea, I teach my team and learned a long time ago to dress to make people feel comfortable. Since you said this is a real ad, all I can say is “she is looking for love in all the wrong places.” That’s a song I love. IMO it is best to speak more to the wife than the husband to avoid the wife getting jealous. Not my problem, but someone in my household is hot.

  14. Kim Wood

    September 29, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    Ines – Different dress code is true for different parts of country, I’d agree. However using “sex appeal” in dress isn’t acceptable anywhere. I think you agree with that as well.

  15. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Heather – it’s a shame isn’t it? I’m glad you are aware and hopefully you’ll be able to depend on a male colleague to help you in difficult situations.

    Dan – that would be a difficult theory to prove but it would certainly be interesting. How many people choose a Realtor because of their looks? too funny. I’ve had bad experiences because of my marketing and my photo has always been with my husband…..it’s something to think about just because we are so easily accessible.

    Missy – shut up!! you cannot wish – you and your daughter are beautiful women. That’s actually an interesting strategy (I use it as well). So who’s HOT?

    Kim – absolutely, there’s a right time and wrong time for sexy attire – AGREED!

  16. Jay Valento - Long Beach CA real estate

    September 29, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    It was a billboard in Long Beach. The agent got a lot of publicity from it…from news print to local television. Perhaps it is showing the beach lifestyle you can live….lol.

  17. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Jay – I still think it would have been more effective if she would have had a milk mustache….just saying.

  18. Jay Valento - Long Beach CA real estate

    September 29, 2008 at 7:50 pm

    Ines – I think she would be up for that…and is an active Realtor here in town. I would be happy to get a commercial for milk too…can you work that out for me. I will make it unique…I will set in our Red Wagon and drink the milk.

  19. Jason Sandquist

    September 29, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Such a ‘SEXY’ article… Had to throw it out there

  20. Loren Nason

    September 29, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    I remember that billboard quite well.

    I think this is better marketing though
    https://www.futureofrealestatetechnology.com/marketing/real-estate-marketing-version-69/

  21. ines

    September 29, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    OMG Jason, you are too much!

    Loren – that woman is Wacked! and the comment from Lani about the cutouts is priceless

  22. Laurie Manny

    October 1, 2008 at 12:34 am

    The agents name is Wendy. Her broker fired her. The community ostracized her. She did just fine while the market was good, don’t know how she is doing now. It was a lot of drama and every blonde female agent was asked “Was that you” by a lot of very small minded people with no manners.

  23. Mike Armstrong

    October 1, 2008 at 6:02 am

    Realtor Safety 911 is one of my favorite websites, it provides very useful self defense tips for realtors.

  24. ines

    October 1, 2008 at 7:28 am

    Thanks Laurie – I don’t know about the broker firing her – that’s a bit extreme. But I do think it’s all about thinking of the consequences when you do an add like that…..like how people will approach you and how you will be regarded. Plus….If I had any business at all in Long Beach….it would all go to you and you know that 😉

  25. Mariana Wagner

    October 1, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Dear Hot Looking Woman,
    I, too, am lucky that I work with my husband. Both single people and couples tend to be put at ease by knowing that “we” are there to help them, and it helps deter creeps. I just have to make sure that other agents that we work with are safe. Thank you for the 911 Link.

  26. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 1, 2008 at 8:00 am

    ooops – just looked at #23 and it was supposed to be “when you do an AD like that”….but I’m sure you guys got that

    Mariana – you crack me up every single time! 🙂 you are right about those creeps within our industry, we can’t just think that all Realtors are sane. TG for our husbands in the business…..makes our lives so much easier.

  27. Paula Henry

    October 1, 2008 at 8:11 am

    Ines – Hot or not, we need to be careful when we are out there showing homes to people we don’t know. Okay – so I do wish I could pull it off, but I’m really way past that 🙂 Honestly, I would never choose an agent who promotes herself in this manner.

  28. Ines Hegedus-Garcia

    October 1, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Mike – self defense training is something EVERYONE should take (from a single class to a series) – it’s empowering and can get you out of a problem – whether you are a Realtor or not.

    Paula – I personally wouldn’t knock her for doing it, it’s her call and although not my style, she has every right to portray herself as she wants. I had a scare with a pervert who found me on-line and there was even an FBI investigation….I can laugh about it now, but I can tell you how scary it was at the time, and how vulnerable I felt.

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Business Marketing

The secret to crafting consistently high-converting emails?

(BUSINESS 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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Business Marketing

Restaurant chains are using COVID to masquerade as indie food pop ups

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese appear on delivery apps under aliases. Is this a shifty marketing scheme or a legitimate practice?

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chuck e cheese pizza

Restaurants have pivoted hard to stay alive during dine-in shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some are selling grocery items like eggs, flour, and yeast (check out the pantry section at the Brewtorium!) while others have created meal kits so families can cook up their restaurant favorites at home.

Meanwhile, a few large chains have been busted for re-branding their kitchens to sell more meals. A reddit user in Philadelphia reported that they ordered pizza from Pasqually’s Pizza & Wings thinking it was a local business they had yet to try, only to learn it shared a kitchen with Chuck E. Cheese. As it turns out, Pasqually is a member of Munch’s Make Believe Band, the terrifying mascot band led by murine bad body Chuck E. Cheese. Pasqually is the confusingly human drummer (and Italian pizza chef?), joined by lead canine guitarist Jasper T. Jowls, sweetheart chicken Helen Henny on the tambourine and vocals, and the dinosaur? Closet monster? D-list muppet? Mr. Munch on the keys.

Though this inter-species band should be disturbing enough for us all to rethink our childhood memories of Chuck E. Cheese (let’s be honest, Disney World should be the only place allowed to have adults parading around in giant mouse costumes) what’s more upsetting is the competition it creates with locally owned restaurants. In West Philadelphia, there is another restaurant called Pasqually’s Pizza.

Chuck E. Cheese is not the only restaurant re-branding to save their hides. Applebee’s has launched a “brand extension” called Neighborhood Wings. Customers can order larger quantities of wings (up to 60!) from Neighborhood Wings, but not Applebee’s. You know, for all of the large parties people have been hosting lately (thanks COVID-19).

This restaurant run-around is further evidence of the noise created by third party delivery apps. GrubHub, Postmates, and others have been criticized for taking huge commissions from already low-margin restaurants, and providing little added value to profitability and industry worker wages. Using these platforms as a means to build shell restaurants for large national chains is just another example of third party apps doing a disservice to both its clients and customers.

Of course, Applebee’s and Chuck E. Cheese are franchises. If one wanted to go out on a limb for these brands, it could be argued that they are indeed ‘local’ businesses if their owners are local franchisees. The third party apps are simply another platform for businesses to gain a competitive edge against one another within a specific customer segment. Furthermore, consumers should hold themselves accountable for their patronage choices and doing their due diligence when investigating new pizza and wings options.

Nonetheless, it behooves all of us in this pandemic to get to know our neighbors, and build relationships with the small businesses that are the lifeblood of a community. Restaurants exist thanks to local customers. Try placing your order directly on their website, or give them a call. I am a restaurant worker, and I truly am happy to take your order.

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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grubhub site

If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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