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Voice Mail Marketing

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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.

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.

Choices

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?

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 Blog.com.

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26 Comments

26 Comments

  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 http://www.SanDiegoPreviews.com

    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. voicecloud.com

    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 Youmail.com 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:

    *click*

    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 http://www.nashvillehomes.org 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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Business Marketing

The rise of influencer marketing and its effect on digital marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) More businesses are planning to invest a larger part of their marketing budgets on more relatable, branded content and influencer marketing.

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Influencer speaking to camera for marketing segment.

The digital age has created more savvy consumers, and the barrage of advertising on top of the plenitude of content online can be a lot. Many consumers have learned to hide ads or they simply scroll past them to their content of choice. Most business owners know that digital marketing is a crucial part of any ad strategy, and branded content and influencer marketing continues to grow in the market, because consumers see that it’s different from traditional advertising.

Hardly anything stayed the same in 2020, and traditional advertising also has shifted. Advertiser Perceptions reported on the trend for 2021, based on a survey from late 2020.

“More than half of advertisers using paid branded content and influencers say doing so is more critical than it was a year ago. Throughout the second half of 2020, 32% increased spending on branded content and 25% spent more to back influencers. They’re now putting 20% of their digital budgets into the complementary practices, which is more than they put into any other digital channel (paid search is 14%, display 13%, paid social 12%, digital video 12%).”

The benefits of branded and influencer content are that you are speaking to the consumer where they already are, when you choose an influencer. The people who follow their accounts are more likely to trust that the influencer would only share something they like or use themselves. The best matches are when the influencer marketing fits nicely into the kind of content, the voice, and any specialties they already deal with.

The word “influencer” as well as the concept rubs some people the wrong way. Marketers see the value, though, as influencer marketing can be effective if done well, and the cost to hire them is often less than a traditional ad campaign. If I want to know about food in a city, I’ll follow the hashtags until I find a local food blogger or micro-influencer whose style I like. Then I’ll seek out those restaurants when I visit. Sure, some of the meals are comped, but the truth is that food bloggers and influencers like to share their food recommendations. I have been influenced this way more than once, and not only for food. I am not alone in this, either, which is why it’s an important part of a marketing strategy.

In influencer marketing, the content creator is then given free rein to create within their own style, voice, and persona. They need to connect with their audience in an authentic, familiar way without creating a dissonance for their followers between their public page(s) and the brand. The level of trust is fairly high with influencer marketing, and many influencers realize that promoting something crappy or something outside of their area of expertise or recognition hurts everyone involved.

The power of storytelling comes into play here, as with all good advertising. Branded content is specifically all about the story, often the story of the business’s philosophy or some lifestyle aspect that goes with the brand’s vibe–or is so off that it goes viral. Some branded campaigns join into or build off of conversations already happening in the wider world. The purpose is to have people engage with the brand, with the content, build awareness, encourage conversations, sharing, comments, all with the long term goal of fostering a positive image of the brand so that down the line, they will become consumers.

Think of 2004 Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, based on a study showing that around 2% of women saw themselves as beautiful. The widely studied, award-winning campaign featured women of all backgrounds and body types, without airbrushing and Photoshopping them into a narrow vision of “beauty.” While some people hated it, many loved it and applauded the brand for treading into traditionally uncharted waters. Among haters, fans, and people who weren’t sure what to think, the Dove Real Beauty branded content campaign generated conversations. The campaign also encouraged women to feel good about themselves and lift up other women. One could argue that the campaign you could argue that the Real Beauty campaign was a forerunner to the currently popular body positivity movement, which started gaining traction around 2012. Dove increased sales by at least $1.5 billion in the first ten years the branded content campaign ran.

The goal of branded content is to raise awareness of the brand, but the path from point A (creating the content) to point B (brand awareness, ultimately leading to better sales) is not a straight line. Brands are paying attention to grabbing attention, aka building brand awareness via more upper funnel marketing than lower funnel.

One thing that marketers are looking for now, however, is almost eliminating the funnel. With the mind-boggling increase in e-commerce since the beginning of the pandemic, clickable sales capability becomes important in any kind of marketing, including influencer and branded content. It pays to listen to customers, to find an influencer who meshes with your brand’s purpose, and to create thoughtful branded content that isn’t out of line with your core product or service.

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Business Marketing

Need design help? Ask a Designer offers free peer-review for better design

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Good design is more than just slapping some fonts and colors together. Ask a Designer promises free design advice on their new website.

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A white sign in an urban setting reading "In Design We Trust" with glowing yellow lights above.

With the necessity to create and maintain an online presence for our businesses nowadays, content creation is essential. One impact this proliferation of content has had on entrepreneurs, bloggers, and small businesses is that many non-designers have had to take a stab at design work. Sometimes this works out for the amateur designer, but often it could be better: More effective, accessible, and appealing. This is where Ask a Designer comes in.

Creating designs online can be fun, but your average Canva, Squarespace, or WordPress user, for example, has no more of a sense of design than the man on the moon. Design work encompasses so much more than just slapping some words on a stock photo and calling it a day. While there are truly incredible and helpful free or inexpensive DIY design and business tools out there, nothing beats the power of knowledge and experience.

Ask a Designer provides one more level of professional review and counsel before a business owner puts their DIY (or even paid) design work out there for the world to see—or worse, not see. As a writer, I have always valued editorial reviews, comments, and feedback on my writing. Second eyes, third eyes, and more almost always serve to improve the content. It makes business sense to get as much feedback as possible, even better to get expert feedback.

For example, an experienced web designer should have a good idea of how to incorporate and test for UX and UI purposes, thus making the user interaction more functional and pleasant. A skilled graphic designer knows what colors go together for aesthetic appeal, accessibility, and even the psychology behind why and how they do.

Take logos. Pick a color, image, and font you like, and go for it, right? I’m afraid not. There is a lot of data out there on the science and psychology of how our brains process logos. There are examples of logo “fails” out there, as well. Consider the uproar over AirBnB’s logo that many thought evoked genitalia. Or the raised eyebrows when Google changed their color scheme to one similar to Microsoft’s palate. Just search for “logo fails” online to get an idea of how a seemingly innocent logo can go horribly wrong. I haven’t linked them here, because they would need a trigger warning, as many of the worst examples can be interpreted as some sort of sexual innuendo or genitalia. Searchers, be warned.

It always makes good business sense to use professional designers when you have the option, just as it makes sense to use professional writers for copywriting and professional photographers for photography. After all, if you have the chance to get something right the first time, it saves you time and money to do so. Rebranding can be difficult and costly, although sometimes rebranding is necessary. Having a designer review your design (whether logo, WordPress, blog, or other) could possibly help you from missing the mark.

How does Ask a Designer work, and is it really free? It’s super easy—almost like designers had a hand in it! Know what I mean? First, you go to the website or app and enter your question. Next Ask a Designer will assign your question to the appropriate type of designer in their network. Within 48 hours, they’ll get back to you with feedback or an answer to your design question.

While Ask a Designer is available to anyone to use, the website suggests it is especially helpful for developers, teams, junior designers, and business and product owners. They suggest, “Think of us as peer-review in your pocket.” The team at Ask a Designer will provide feedback on specific projects such as websites, logos, and portfolios, as well as answer general questions.

Examples of questions on their website give a good idea of the scope of questions they’ll answer, and include the type of feedback they provide. Sample questions include:

  • “How do I choose colors for dark mode?”
  • “I’d love feedback on a logo for a restaurant.”
  • “I’m an industrial design student and I’d like to move into automotive design. What are some resources that can get me to where I need to be?”
  • “Please send me some feedback on [website link].”
  • “How can I use my brand fonts on my website?”
  • “I’m a full stack software engineer. Are there any resources you could suggest for me to level up my design or UX skills?”

Ask a Designer is new, and so they currently list 2 design experts, each with 20 or more years of experience in their fields. They promise to add more “desig-nerds” soon. It may sound too good to be true, but from what they state on their website, this expert design review service is free. Considering the other excellent tools out there with some free components out there for business, it is possible that this is true. Whether they will add a more in-depth paid version is yet to be seen. In any case, it’s worth trying out the app or website for your burning design questions and reviews.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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