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The Key, The Lounger and The Guest

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What you see is a stylized version of my room key from the Albuquerque Sheraton. Inside my room was the most amazing lounge chair. This became my home away from home, as I watched the shadows fall on the Sandia Mountains while reading the latest Clive Cussler novel.

Also inside the room was a rather fancy packet explaining all of the wonderful things that the Sheraton had to offer. (The pancakes, incidentally, weren’t all they were cracked up to be.) That packet had nothing to do with my decision to stay at this hotel – I already was there and unpacked by the time I noticed it.

Mea Culpa, Mrs. Castles

This week, I was accused of being a man by one of my fellow Geniuses. To those who may have had doubts, given that I cop to watching Dancing With the Stars (only for Warren Sapp) and The Bachelor (for the endless supply of double entendre-laden comments), I plead guilty.

No, really. I do.

But I can’t sit back and agree with the leap of logic that says that because I am a male, I’m unaware of the emotional impact marketing can have on a person. After all, the only brand of sugar I have purchased in my entire adult life is C&H. (Now that the C&H theme is stuck in your head, you’re welcome. If you don’t know what I’m talking about … oh, never mind. Or ask your parents.)

In fact, as a buyers’ agent it’s the emotional impact that I count on … it may sound tired and apocryphal, but it doesn’t make it less true. Most buyers still make up their mind on a home, positively or negatively, within the first five steps they take in the home.

Impress Us – Quickly!

As such, I would argue that marketing a home needs to be directed in two directions.

  1. Entice my buyer into the home.
  2. Wow them when they walk in the front door.

How can you do that? By providing enough photographs of a property without necessarily showing me every last light socket. Put them together in a virtual tour that highlights the best the property has to offer. (Just in case Kris’ clients are looking in north Phoenix, I used my latest listing that has glass block.)

And speaking of Kris’ clients (and yours, too, for that matter) …

As a listing agent, I don’t really care that your buyer can’t live without cherry cabinets. I do care that your buyer might want Kelly green Corian counter tops as this selection is illegal in 14 forward-thinking states. My listing is my listing and I’m marketing to the wider audience in an effort to attract the narrower band of buyers.

If your buyer’s not interested based on something major such as the above two examples, I’ll have the photographs available to help them come to that realization. If their lack of interest comes from the $2.47 light switch cover with my sellers’ child’s name … there, I’ll just have to hope they can overlook the extreme inconvenience of unscrewing a single screw. Or at least add it to the repair request later.

If We’re There, the Rest is Fluff

Earlier I mentioned the Sheraton … and, quite frankly, I’m expecting a free-night coupon for the sheer amount of advertising given here. (Just not in Albuquerque … lovely town, too damned cold.) And it was with cause – as polished as the information package was … let’s call it, oh I don’t know, a property book) … as polished as that property book was, I already had made my decision. It didn’t matter what the book looked like or even if it existed. They had me at hello, as it were.

I can understand why a buyer might want the book after the close. It’s a keepsake at that point. For that matter, so are the three pens, the four-sizes-too-small robe and the two mini-bottles of shampoo with the Sheraton logo. None of them had the slightest bit to do with my decision to stay on this occasion, but since they were there I was more than happy to avail myself of them.

Who doesn’t like free stuff?

My Listings are Open Virtually All the Time

I find the real value is in making our listings accessible to the throngs of unrepresented, uncommitted, listing agent-shopping, limited service agent-affiliated customers who now threaten to dominate the buyer population

So do I. Except I go looking for them online, where they exist in droves.

Of course, all real estate is local. And having survived traffic in San Diego myself, there just may be enough cars parked on I-15 to equal the number of folks Googling, Zillowing and Truliaing.

Besides, I’m just a man.

Jonathan Dalton is a Realtor with RE/MAX Desert Showcase in Peoria, Arizona and is the author of the All Phoenix Real Estate blog as well as a half-dozen neighborhood sites. His partner, Tobey, is a somewhat rotund beagle who sleeps 21 hours a day.

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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Kelley Koehler

    November 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Dood. Leave my Kelley Green Silestone out of it. Green countertops are cool.

  2. Kris Berg

    November 20, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Jane, you ignorant… Never mind. Points well taken, albeit misguided. I will offer a more thoughtful response when I have finished delivering the signed acceptance by my 9:00 deadline on a home which did indeed enjoy an interactive floor plan, an insanely expensive brochure, a unique URL, professional staging, AND MORE! By the way, all that stuff is essentially on-line, so we are not so different after all.

    By the way, I bet you stole the little bars of soap, didn’t you? 🙂

  3. Jonathan Dalton

    November 21, 2008 at 12:28 am

    Kelley – Ah, Tucson. That’s also the city where I once showed a home with eggplant carpet. Yes. Eggplant. I mean, wow.

    Kris – See, I’m glad you finally came around to my way of thinking. Staging gets people when they walk in the room. The floor plan, the URL, that helps buyers find the place and virtually view the place.

    The brochure … yeah, not so much.

    In any event, I believe your next line should be Gilda Radner … “never mind.”

  4. Bob Wilson

    November 21, 2008 at 9:24 pm

    You guys are all missing the boat. Here is how you sell a house online.

  5. Vicki Moore

    November 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Bob – Oh my!

    Maybe it is a man v woman thing. I don’t know. But I do know that a lot of women buy houses. And speaking for my species, I like pink fuzzy slippers, glossy shiny flyers, and cookies at tour.

    We’re selling a feeling. Yes, it’s an investment – a cold hard blob of wood. But it’s the feeling it gives people when the walk in that sells them – or not.

  6. Vicki Moore

    November 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    Oh! And love the post, Jonathan.

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Business Marketing

Simple way to send text, email appointment reminders to clients

(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.

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reminders

As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.

We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.

That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.

According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”

They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.

This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.

Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.

With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.

Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.

Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

7 Low-budget marketing ideas for small businesses [sponsored]

(MARKETING) Marketing ideas are often expensive or ultra time consuming, but let’s talk about some proven tactics that won’t break the bank.

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low budget marketing ideas

The following marketing ideas are provided to you buy Threadsy:

No matter the size of your business, marketing matters! It’s important for small and big businesses alike to attract new customers, establish brand awareness, and to create buzz around products and services. But we know that not every business owner has tons of funds to devote to their marketing strategy. The good news? There are some highly effective marketing tactics that are also budget-friendly!

Here are seven low-budget marketing strategies for small business owners and side hustlers to grow their reach:

1. Sponsor Local Events

One of the best ways to get to know potential customers? Actually meet and talk to them! When you sponsor local events, you can be on-site to help people put a face with your business’s name. Sponsoring events is also a fantastic way to offer branded merchandise that can help you get your name and your logo out there.

Besides branded materials like signs, banners, or fliers, think about offering some fun items like wine bags to give away to attendees. Goody bags also make fantastic take-home options for local events. A branded canvas tote can be repurposed as an environmentally-friendly grocery bag, lunch bag for work, or a carry-all accessory for conventions and tradeshows. Print your logo on the outside and fill your goody bags with customized items like water bottles, notebooks, pens, and towels.

2. Let Your Colors Fly

Make some cool t-shirts featuring your logo! Wear them to the sponsored events mentioned above, out in the community, or anywhere you may encounter potential customers and can strike up a conversation. You can also offer t-shirts at a discount in-store or online, and turn your loyal customers into advertisers.

Quick tip: Purchase wholesale shirts to reduce manufacturing costs.

3. Social Media

If you’re not already leveraging social media to promote your business, it’s time to start! Think your customers aren’t using social networks? While certain demographics use various platforms more than others, according to fundera, 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions. Plus, 96% of small businesses say they use social media in their marketing strategy.

So use your social media channels to level the playing field. To maximize your time and effort, determine where your audience members spend their time. Which platforms are they using? If you have a dedicated social media strategist on staff, they can perform audience research to tailor your approach to your existing and potential customers. If you’re running your own social strategy, spend some time digging into the demographics to determine which platforms make the most sense for your brand. From there, you’ll need to decide on the types of content you want to post, how to interact with your customers online, and create a social media calendar to plan your strategy.

4. Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve got your social media strategy up and running, why not host an online giveaway/sweepstakes to build some buzz, boost engagement, and attract followers? Pick a social media platform where you already engage with your customers. You’ll want to offer an item as the prize. This can be anything from a free product, a discount on an expensive product or service, or inexpensive swag like hats to help you promote your brand.

Once you’ve chosen the prize(s), decide on the terms for your giveaway. For example, an Instagram sweepstakes might look like this:

  • Create posts about the giveaway and explain the rules (multiple stories and 1 or 2 posts depending on the length of the contest)
  • These posts should specify the terms, for example:
    – In order to enter, potential winners must follow you
    – Encourage your followers to tag other people who may be interested. Each “tag” gets them another entry into the contest
    – You can also specify that contest applicants must share your post on their own profile
  • Once the contest has ended, pick a winner. Tag them in a post and story announcing what they’ve won and ask them to also share these posts to their own profile

Quick tip: You can also offer smaller or less-expensive items as consolation prizes. People love free swag and it’s an easy way to get your name out there!

5. Referral Discounts

Offering friends and family discounts on your products or services can help you establish loyalty and promote exclusivity. Offer discount codes or create a refer-a-friend program. You can also offer small incentives for customers who share about your brand on social media. Referral discounts are a great marketing strategy whether you use them in-store, online, or both.

6. Create or Update Your Blog

If you already have a website, you can put it to use to help build brand awareness and attract high-funnel customers. Blogging is a low-cost way to generate organic traffic (website visitors via Google or other search engines). If you don’t already have a blog, there are a number of free and inexpensive blog platforms you can use including Wix and WordPress.

You’ll want to write about topics that are related to your product or service and are of interest to your customers. For example, if you offer graphic design, you might want to create content about how to find an effective graphic designer online, or which projects you can do with an online platform like Canva vs. more complex projects where you should hire a professional designer.

Your website and blog are also great places to post “about us” content to offer website visitors an opportunity to learn more about you, your business, and your mission and values.

7. Update Your Google My Business Profile

Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool that allows you to share important information about your business like your address, hours of operation, and contact information. When your listing is optimized with this information, it’s displayed in Google Search and will also appear in Google Maps, which can help you attract local customers.

To get started, you need to create a GMB profile and verify your business information. This is a relatively simple but important step to ensure customers are able to find your business or service online. Make sure to keep your listing updated if you change any information like your website URL, address, or hours.

The takeaway:

When creating your marketing strategy, remember to stay true to your brand. Not every tactic will be the most effective for every business. Choose the tactics that make sense for your brand or product offering. Another way to prioritize is to consider the perceived impact and effort of each marketing strategy. Use the strategies that require the lowest effort but will potentially drive the highest return.

Once you have those in place, decide which of the other strategies make sense for your customers and your business goals. Also, make sure to keep track of all of your marketing expenditures and the sales from these tactics so you can assess which ones were successful and which ones you may need to re-evaluate or alter.

Remember, when it comes to marketing, it’s an ever-evolving system. Trust the process and try to have some fun with your marketing strategy!

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