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Could You Unload This Mutant Lemon?

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lemon poster

Attention all salespersons: It’s time to take a test to determine how good a salesperson you really are. Could you sell a house that’s a 10 on the Suckometer? If you get all the answers right, you will receive a can of Spam. Or not… 

1.  The house is devoid of natural light, so you: a) turn on all the lights b) pass out BIC lighters and tell everyone U2 might drop by c) install the disco ball light you won playing Bingo in 1972 and yell, ”Let’s get down!”

2.  The house lacks color, so you: a) bring in greenery from the yard to brighten the room b) give a vacation slide show on the living room wall, or c) place a green leprechaun in the corner and paint his lips hooker red

3.  There is an unsightly hole in the wall next to the couch, and thus you: a) suggest that the prospective buyer ask for credit or repair b) push the Lazy Boy (the chair, not your teenage kid) in front of the hole or c) stuff the leprechaun into the hole and tell him to stifle it.

4.  You forgot to print the ever-so-important hand out materials, so you: a) distribute your business cards b) distribute the seller’s Playboy magazines c) distribute your S.A.G. resume and headshots, which any good L.A. agent always keeps in his trunk

5.  The view is by far the only nice thing about the house, so you: a) set up the refreshment table on the patio to lead visitors outside b) put police tape over the doors of all the ugly rooms, or c) pass out binoculars and tell everyone there’s a naked couple in the pool down the hill.

6.  There is mold on the bathroom wall, so you: a) disclose it and suggest that the buyer ask for credit or abatement b) bring in the neighbor’s kids to paint a mural around it or c) explain to the prospective buyer that it is holistic Velcro wallpaper

7.  You forgot your portable CD player to assist in creating the perfect ambience, so you: a) Ask the seller permission to use the stereo b) invite visitors to your car to listen to your commercial voice tape or c) make the leprechaun sing, “Oh Danny Boy” (from his hole in the wall, of course)

8.  Knowing that scent is a powerful sales tool you: a) heat brownies in the oven during the open house b) smoke a cigar so everyone can enjoy the rich tobacco aroma or c) slap a fish on the burner and set some cheese aflame

9.  Beverages are important of course, so you: a) bring a selection of designer water, tea, coffee and  punch b) offer everyone a swig of joe from your Home Depot thermos, or c) lace the punch with vodka so everyone will stop asking about the leprechaun stuck in the wall

10. There are major foundation cracks, and thus you: a) assure the prospective buyer that a foundation specialist will be brought in to address the issue b) explain that the buyer is looking at a topographical map of California that has been cut into the floor…at no extra charge, or c) explain that everyone knows that a foundation is designed to move in the event of a quake (Hey – at least I gave the leprechaun a break on this one!)

11.  A scruffy and belligerent derelict wanders into the open house, so you:  a) politely but firmly escort him outside b) You whisper, “Not now, Uncle Mickey, I’m trying to sell this turkey” c) “You yell, “Dodgeball” and then  throw the leprechaun at him

12. The open house visitors complain that the gas appliances don’t work, so you:  a) explain that the seller probably had the gas turned off b) offer to test the pilots with the acetylene torch the seller has in the shed c) You laugh and reply, ”Well the methane gas you’ve been expelling ought to be enough to jump start Edison!”

13. A prospective buyer nervously comments on the amount of repairs detailed in the inspection report, so you: a) get him to focus on the safety issues b) tell him the inspector has a substance abuse problem and imagines things, or  c) You smack the guy in the chops and yell, “Buck up, dude – a four year old girl has more testosterone that you do!”

14.  You are allergic to the psyco cat and become nauseous, thus you: a) place an Open House Canceled sign outside and leave b) drug the cat so he’ll stop following you like a bad smell, and then lie down on the couch for a nap while visitors stroll through c) ask a prospective buyer to hold your hair back while you vomit…on the psycho cat of course.

15. A recalcitrant child gets his hand stuck in the old, rusty barbecue, so you: a) call 911 b) grease him up with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter and pry him loose with tongs c) Laugh like a Bellevue Ward B inmate and yell “Let’s fire up the Barbie!”

 Extra Credit Essay Question:  Doesn’t this agent deserve a bonus? 

The seller returns and inquires, “How did the open house go?”

“Fine, I managed to disguise the hole in the wall.”

“What hole??? And what’s that green thing stuck in my wall?”

“It’s the leprechaun I shoved into the wall to disguise the hole.”

“Are you on crank? Leprechauns are imaginary.”

“Then so is the hole. Problem solved!”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Well your house sucks.”

“OMG – Your leprechaun is moving!”

“OMG – Your cat isn’t.”

“You’re fired.”

“Uh, can I offer you some punch?”

 

(Dear readers, please send me  your suggestions for question # 16, as mine involved an agent and a corpse. Incidentally, the correct answer to all the questions is “d.”)

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Bob Stahl

    February 19, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    Funny! I’m not, so I’ll have to refer to a good point I read into your post – there’s a very fine line between “selling” a house (every house has its weaknesses) and violating SPDS regulations (not to mention ethics).

  2. Gwen Banta

    February 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Yes, Bob, beneath all good satire is an underlying truth, and that IS the point. No matter how challenging the circumstances, and we agents face many, there is always a way to keep a clear head and to address the situation logically, expediently and legally. That being said, did you pass the test?

  3. Matt Stigliano

    February 19, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Gwen – I wanted to pick the right answers, but after reading the (c) answers, I couldn’t help myself and colored them in with my sharpest number two pencil.

    holistic Velcro wallpaper” – One of the best phrases in your work to date. So good in fact, that I’m to google it to see if it exists.

  4. Gwen Banta

    February 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Because you failed the test by answering all the C questions, Matt, I will give you a Hail Mary question: Your obnoxious cousin Buck has an allergic reaction at your property and begins to gyrate, so you a) Call 911, b) drag his sorry ass off the property, or c) Play Muskrat Love on the stereo and tell the bystanders Buck just loves to dance. If you get this one right, you win a Captain (of Captain and Tenille) hat and 3 rolls of that holistic Velcro paper for your bathroom.

  5. Ken Montville

    February 21, 2010 at 11:51 am

    God save me! I could only get to #11 before I just couldn’t focus anymore.

  6. Fred Glick

    February 21, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Only if I could double-bubble it to foreign investors that use it as a tax shelter and a need just to have an American address (and then forwarding it to a P.O. Box) followed by a request to the local authorities to eminent domain it for use as a city dump and getting it appraised for triple because of the new highest and best use and getting a double bubble commission on the way out along with a lifetime consulting contract with th city at 100k per year to do nothing…..

  7. Bob

    February 21, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    “Could You Unload This Mutant Lemon?”
    Yes. Price it right and it will sell. Period.

  8. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    I can give you a crib sheet if you wnat to take the test again, Ken 🙂

  9. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    I think I need you to run my business, Fred. I like your style – more thinking and less work!

  10. Gwen Banta

    February 21, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Bob, you are right about pricing…but the true test is the one that requires patience when that bird won’t hunt 🙂

  11. Bob

    February 23, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    There are only three factors involved in selling any property:
    1) Price
    2) Exposure
    3) Terms

    The rest are merely objections. Real estate 101.

  12. Gwen Banta

    March 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Love it, Bob! I think you meant exposing the house, not one’s nether regions, right, Bob?

  13. Gwen Banta

    March 16, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    Hey Grant – You’re my bouncer – dump the stiff!

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Business Marketing

Tired of “link in bio”? Here is a solution for Instagram linking

(MARKETING) The days of only one link in your Instagram bio are over. Alls.Link not only lets you link more, it gives you options for marketing and analytics too.

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Woman checking Instagram on phone

If you’re like me, you’ve probably swapped out the link in your Instagram bio 100 times. Do I share my website? A link to a product? A recent publication? Well, now you don’t have to choose!

Alls.Link is a subscription-based program that allows you to, among other things, have multiple links in your bio. I’m obsessed with the Instagram add-ons that are helping business owners to expand the platform to further engage their audiences – and this is NEEDED one.

With the basic membership ($8/month), you get up to 10 customizable Biolink Pages with shortened links (and you’ll be able to choose your own backend). You also get access to Google Analytics and Facebook Pixel for your pages. With the basic membership, you will have Alls.Link advertising on your Biolink Page. Plus, you’ll be allotted a total of 10 projects, and Biolink Pages with 20 customizable domains.

With the premium membership ($15/month), you get link scheduling for product drops and article releases, SEO and UTM parameters, and you’ll have the ability to link more socials on the Biolink Page. With this membership, you’re allotted 20 projects and Biolink Pages with 60 customizable domains.

If you’re unsure about whether or not Alls.Link is worth it (or which membership is best for you), there is a free trial option in which you’ll be granted all the premium membership capabilities.

Overall – premium membership or not – I have to say, the background colors and font choices are really fun and will take your Biolink Page to the next level. Alls.Link is definitely a program to consider if your business has a substantial Insta following and you have a lot of external material you want to share with your followers.

The day-by-day statistics are a great tool for knowing what your audience is interested in and what links are getting the most clicks. Also, the ability to incorporate Google Analytics into the mix is a big plus, especially if you’re serious about metrics.

If you have a big team (or manage multiple pages), I would suggest going premium just for the sheer quantity of domains you can customize and link, though there are various other reasons I’d also suggest to do so. Take a look and see what works for you!

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Business Marketing

Use the ‘Blemish Effect’ to skyrocket your sales

(MARKETING) The Blemish Effect dictates that small, adjacent flaws in a product can make it that much more interesting—is perfection out?

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blemish effect

Presenting a product or service in its most immaculate, polished state has been the strategy for virtually all organizations, and overselling items with known flaws is a practice as old as time. According to marketing researchers, however, this approach may not be the only way to achieve optimal results due to something known as the “Blemish Effect.”

The Blemish Effect isn’t quite the inverse of the perfectionist product pitch; rather, it builds on the theory that small problems with a product or service can actually throw into relief its good qualities. For example, a small scratch on the back of an otherwise pristine iPhone might draw one’s eye to the glossy finish, while an objectively perfect housing might not be appreciated in the same way.

The same goes for mildly bad press or a customer’s pros and cons list. If someone has absolutely no complaints or desires for whatever you’re marketing, the end result can look flat and lacking in nuance. Having the slightest bit of longing associated with an aspect (or lack thereof) of your business means that you have room to grow, which can be tantalizing for the eager consumer.

A Stanford study indicates that small doses of mildly negative information may actually strengthen a consumer’s positive impression of a product or service. Interesting.

Another beneficial aspect of the Blemish Effect is that it helps consumers focus their negativity. “Too good to be true” often means exactly that, and we’re eager to criticize where possible. If your product or service has a noticeable flaw which doesn’t harm the item’s use, your audience might settle for lamenting the minor flaw and favoring the rest of the product rather than looking for problems which don’t exist.

This concept also applies to expectation management. Absent an obvious blemish, it can be all to easy for consumers to envision your product or service on an unattainable level.

When they’re invariably disappointed that their unrealistic expectations weren’t fulfilled, your reputation might take a hit, or consumers might lose interest after the initial wave.

The takeaway is that consumers trust transparency, so in describing your offering, tossing in a negative boosts the perception that you’re being honest and transparent, so a graphic artist could note that while their skills are superior and their pricing reasonable, they take their time with intricate projects. The time expectation is a potentially negative aspect of their service, but expressing anything negative improves sales as it builds trust.

It should be noted that the Blemish Effect applies to minor impairments in cosmetic or adjacent qualities, not in the product or service itself. Delivering an item which is inherently flawed won’t make anyone happy.

In an age where less truly is more, the Blemish Effect stands to dictate a new wave of honesty in marketing.

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Business Marketing

Google Chrome will no longer allow premium extensions

(MARKETING) In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue on Chrome.

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Google Chrome open on a laptop on a organized desk.

Google has cracked down on various practices over the past couple of years, but their most recent target—the Google Chrome extensions store—has a few folks scratching their heads.
Over the span of the next few months, Google will phase out paid extensions completely, thus ending a bizarre and relatively negligible corner of internet economy.

This decision comes on the heels of a “temporary” ban on the publication of new premium extensions back in March. According to Engadget, all aspects of paid extension use—including free trials and in-app purchases—will be gone come February 2021.

To be clear, Google’s decision won’t prohibit extension developers from charging customers to use their products; instead, extension developers will be required to find alternative methods of requesting payment. We’ve seen this model work on a donation basis with extensions like AdBlock. But shifting to something similar on a comprehensive scale will be something else entirely.

Interestingly, Google’s angle appears to be in increasing user safety. The Verge reports that their initial suspension of paid extensions was put into place as a response to products that included “fraudulent transactions”, and Google’s subsequent responses since then have comprised more user-facing actions such as removing extensions published by different parties that accomplish replica tasks.

Review manipulation, use of hefty notifications as a part of an extension’s operation, and generally spammy techniques were also eyeballed by Google as problem points in their ongoing suspension leading up to the ban.

In banning extension payments through their own platform, Google addresses a compelling, if self-created, issue. The extension store was a relatively free market in a sense—something that, given the number of parameters being enforced as of now, is less true for the time being.

Similarly, one can only wonder about which avenues vendors will choose when seeking payment for their services in the future. It’s entirely possible that, after Google Chrome shuts down payments in February, the paid section of the extension market will crumble into oblivion, the side effects of which we can’t necessarily picture.

For now, it’s probably best to hold off on buying any premium extensions; after all, there’s at least a fighting chance that they’ll all be free come February—if we make it that far.

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