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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

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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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?

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nostalgia

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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