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Voice Mail Marketing

What Day Is it?

No one’s going to tell you it’s not the 4th of July anymore. After listening to you blather on about being out of town – by the time they hear the beep – they’ve forgotten all about it.

Whoa! Dude

When was the last time you listened to your voice mail? Does it sound like you took a lude and have drool coming out the side of your mouth?

Make It Good

It’s your chance to make a first impression. What do you want that impression to be?

Letting callers know you’ll be calling them within 20 minutes is a nice idea if you’re a Cirque De Soleil agent. Saying: I’ll be returning calls today between 2 and 4 pm will set someone’s hair on fire if there’s an emergency. No emergencies in real estate? Depends on who you ask.

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Want to have fun? Make sure it’s PC or you’ll be fired before you’re hired. Too long and they’ll hang up – or like my friend Larry complain until the “tape” runs out.


Voice mail as a marketing tool may work for you. Leave your URL or you can say something like this: Hi. This is Jane Smith with ABC Real Estate. I’m sorry I’ve missed your call. Please leave your name, phone number and a message. I will return your call as quickly as possible. Remember, my business is based on your referrals. So next time you’re in a conversation with someone thinking of buying or selling a home, please think of me first, mention my name and call me at the number that you just dialed. Thanks and have a great day. Just hope that Larry doesn’t call.

So ’90s

I don’t know how I’m going to update mine from the ’90s – you know, “leave your name and number” – that’s like a reminder to put your socks on before your shoes. YouMail looks cool. What about you? How do you use your voice mail, or do you?

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Written By

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate



  1. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 13, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I kind of look at voice mail in the same light as those real estate agents that still are using photos of themselves from 20 years ago instead of keeping their photos (and themselves) current. While I still have/use voice mail, its becoming less of a main tool in the arsenal. Today, I am relying more and more on texting. Most of the time, its usually questions that are short/fast to answer like: what time is something (inspection, closing, etc), or have you heard back on such-and-such (repair requests, counter offer, etc).

  2. Roberta Murphy

    July 13, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    “This is Roberta Murphy and I am unable to take your call. I am, however, a Blackberry addict who surreptitiously checks messages even while driving. Go ahead and leave a message and when you speak, please do so clearly and you will be transcribed via Voice Cloud as a text message.

    I’ll read your message and return your call as soon as I am off the road or finished with clients. In the meantime, please read my rants and market updates and join the discussion at

    Is that 2008 enough?

  3. Ken Brand

    July 13, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    I use Voice Cloud for my cell phone. It’s my greeting, put when a message is left, it’s transcribed and emailed to me. Then, instead of banging through 15 voice mail messages, listening to 69 seconds of drone, waiting for the punch line…well, I just read them in a flash and my iPhone lets me punch the hotlink phone number if I need to call back. It’s not free, but a big time time saver.

    As for Voice Mail messages – Here’s one I use, forget where I heard it, but I liked it because it’s short, it’s not an apology and it’s sorta personal = “Hi, wish I was here to greet you personally, but I’m away from the phone. Leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!

    I’m with you, those long drone on Voice Mail Greeting drive me nuts, I’m in a hurry.

    Nice topic, thanks.

  4. Jason

    July 13, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    I have been using not for the pre-recorded messages but as an archive of all my calls… missed w/voicemail and without. That way if i some how lose a number or some bit of information that I was given via a voicemail 6 months ago all I have to do is sort by the callers name and retrieve the message. Its not the best looking app but its been working flawlessly for gosh maybe a year now

  5. Matthew Rathbun

    July 13, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Roberta – That is an AWESOME 2008 message!

    Ken / Roberta – As someone who HATES being on the phone, I really like the this voicecloud thing. Guess I’ll be investigating this tomorrow!

    Thanks for coming to AG and sharing!

  6. Vicki Moore

    July 13, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    Jennifer – Hey! You’re talking about me. I hate having my picture taken and avoid it if at all possible.

    Roberta – Love it. I always vote for humor and you’ve got it!

    Ken – That’s two votes for Voice Cloud. I liked YouMail – that you could create different messages for different people or categories of people which could be super time consuming. I can’t wait to leave a message for Larry that says: Hey! Quitcha bitchin!

  7. Ken Smith

    July 13, 2008 at 10:49 pm

    Going to have to look into Voice Cloud, thanks for sharing.

  8. Paula Henry

    July 13, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Roberta – You are too cool! I checked into Voice Cloud and Sprint is the only one who does not carry it. You have to call tech support and they charge you per call forwarded. Drats! I’ll check into YouMail.

  9. Frank Jewett

    July 13, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Remember, my business is based on your referrals. So next time you’re in a conversation with someone thinking of buying or selling a home, please think of me first, mention my name and call me at the number that you just dialed.

    I can’t imagine calling someone for the first time and hearing them pitch me for referrals. Of course I can’t imagine my dentist, doctor, mechanic, or accountant pitching me for referrals under any circumstances, but even if real estate requires you to continuously fish for referrals (this is, after all, a voice mail message aimed at everyone, all the time), I’d avoid giving callers a list of demands.

    Here’s the list:

    1. Remember…
    2. Think…
    3. Mention…
    4. Call…

    That’s four imperative verbs, four demands you are making on every single person who calls you.

    My response:


    Consider the tone of Buffini’s cliche catch phrase to solicit referrals.

    “Oh, by the way, I’m never too busy for your referrals.”

    Number of demands? Zero.

  10. Jim Gatos

    July 13, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    How much does Voice Cloud cost? I see a 7 day trial sign up but nothing on what their charges are?

  11. Ginger Wilcox

    July 14, 2008 at 7:22 am

    I had no idea my voicemail message was so passe. It is short and to the point, which I like. I really don’t need to hear your life story or your entire schedule when I call you. I especially don’t need to hear that you will return my call withing 24 hours. By that time, I have moved on to someone else. Roberta should win the “best message” award!

  12. Chuck G

    July 14, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Making your own personal voicemail message short and concise is one challenge. But shortening your cell phone’s canned admin message is quite another….”at the tone please leave a message. Press 1 to skip this greeting, press 2 to send a fax, press 5 to page this person….blah, blah blah….ultimately, press 86 to be transferred to my competitor.”

    Better to take the call live!

  13. Matt Wilkins

    July 14, 2008 at 9:27 am

    My VM is the following:

    “Hi you’ve reached Matt Wilkins. I’m not available to take your call at the moment please leave your name and number. For a quicker response please send a text message to this number or email me at (and I spell out my email addy). To skip this message in the future hit the # key.”

    I feel this message appeals to tech-saavy clients while not ticking out those who still feel leaving a VM is necessary for every little thing.

  14. Holly White

    July 14, 2008 at 11:27 am

    Here’s mine: “Hi this is Holly White with RE/Max Elite in Nashville Tennessee. I’m sorry I’ve missed your call but it’s important to me so please leave a message and I’ll return it as soon as possible. Also, be sure and visit us on the web at for all the latest listings. Thanks and make it a great a day.”

    Yes, it’s a little long (14 seconds), but I receive compliments on it almost daily. I think it has so much to do with the sincerity of the tone in your voice (the delivery) more than anything. A short voicemail greeting almost seems too impersonal to me.

    I’m definitely hip on the idea of receiving my voicemails via text or email though, sounds like something right up my alley.

  15. mariana

    July 14, 2008 at 11:48 am

    I HATE listening to voicemail almost as much as I hate LEAVING vms. So, I tell people to leave a message, but if they really want me to reply sooner than later, then text me. I LOVE that most people do NOT leave messages now, but instead hang up and txt me instead. I thank Dustin Luther for THAT little piece of brilliance.

  16. Vicki Moore

    July 14, 2008 at 11:51 am

    There’s a fine line between being brief and curt. Everyone knows what to do when they hear the beep, but to say: This is Vicki Moore – leave a message isn’t very pleasant.

    Ginger – Another piece of technology to keep up with – drats!

    Jim – I haven’t looked at Voice Cloud at all but YouMail is the right price – free.

    Chuck – I hate that message. I’ve called to have it removed and it’s not possible!

    Matt – Your message seems like it would appeal to everyone.

    Holly – Exactly. Some messages sound like the person just woke up from a nap.

  17. Sue

    July 14, 2008 at 11:51 am

    I have to check out voice cloud. My message is siimilar to Holly’s, but I like Roberta’s idea of putting some humor and then again Matt’s idea of something to appeal to techy’s but not intimidate others. I’ll probably be redoing it now and am wondering how to fit all this in without it beng too long. The tone of your voice is extremely important. It think it helps to smile while you’re recording or just do it when you’re having a particularly good day or after a good laugh!

  18. Vicki Moore

    July 14, 2008 at 11:54 am

    Mariana – I use my call log a lot but haven’t gotten into texting much. Sometimes you have to start with the Q: Did you listen to my message or just call me back? I don’t mind messages at all. I’m just glad someone called. 🙂

  19. Vicki Moore

    July 14, 2008 at 11:56 am

    Sue – Great suggestions. You can hear the smile when you’re talking to someone. Practice and listen, I guess.

  20. Molly

    July 14, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    The only person I know using YouMail right now is my spouse the “forever geek”. He has recorded special messages for alot of different people and I can totally see the applications for a real estate business-especially pen salesmen 😉

    And Roberta’s message has made me drool. I would love to call one of the agents in my office and hear something like that. AWESOME!

  21. Elaine Reese

    July 14, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    I’m a believer in short & sweet. I tell people that they’ve been forwarded to my cell (so they know it’s with me & beeping), to leave a message and I’ll return their call ASAP. (All my office calls go to my cell 24 hrs/day.)

    IMO they’ve called to talk to ME not listen to my ad. If it’s an agent or a supplier, they’re not interested in my ad. If it’s a client, they’ve already selected me so no additional ad is needed. If it’s a potential client or buyer wanting info on one of my listings, some other form of my advertising has apparently already worked, hence they obtained my phone number. So, why would I want to make any of those people have to listen to yet another ad? What they want most is for me to answer the phone or call them back quickly. Doing that is, I think, the best advertising I can do.

  22. Dan Connolly

    July 14, 2008 at 2:18 pm

    Personally, I hate advertising messages unless they start with “to bypass this message press one”. Three important points for me, in an outgoing message 1) Identify yourself so the caller is sure they didn’t dial the wrong number. 2) Tell them to leave a message 3) Offer an alternate number, like a cell phone. 4) make sure the voice mail beeps quickly after you have finished your outgoing message.

  23. Frank Jewett

    July 14, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    Number 1 above also applies when answering your phone in person. When I return messages or numbers left in e-mail, I have no way of knowing whether I’m calling the agent, an assistant, or the front desk unless the person who answers the phone identifies herself or himself and the company. I would estimate less than fifty percent of calls to agents are answered with proper indentification.

  24. Sue

    July 14, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Not sure why, but I don’t have much of a need for texting. If people text me, I text back. I just don’t get it much and wouldn’t initiate…unless under 35..just incase they don’t use it.

    I really like Roberta’s voice mail and now I am thinking its not only funny, but its different which is always good. The voice mail I have now is pretty standard, seeming a little boring. It would be good to set yourself apart. Hey Roberta, can I just copy yours word for word?! 🙂 other than the website part, of course…

  25. Vicki Moore

    July 15, 2008 at 12:05 pm

    Molly & Sue – It sounds like it would be fun to record different messages for people – uh-oh I think I sound like a geek. I think we’re all going to copy Roberta’s message! Thanks Roberta. 🙂

    Frank – I run into that problem with calls received as well. I spoke to a woman yesterday who made me feel like I was in the middle of Abbott and Costello.

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