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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

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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