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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

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

7 simple tips to boost your customer loyalty online

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Without a brick-and-mortar store, building rapport and customer loyalty can be a challenge, but you can still build customer loyalty online.

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Man and woman at kitchen table online shopping on laptop together, boosting customer loyalty.

With many businesses – both big and small – operating online, there are less opportunities for building those face-to-face relationships that exist in brick and mortar stores. According to smallbizgenius, 65% of the company’s revenue comes from existing customers.

It’s important to keep in mind the different tactics at your disposal for increasing customer loyalty. Noupe recently released a list of actionable tips for increasing this loyalty. Let’s examine these ideas and expand on the best.

  1. Keep your promises – Stay true to what you’ve agreed to, obviously contractually, but stay true to your company values as well. Even if you feel you’ve built a good loyalty where there is room to take a step back, don’t rest on your laurels and be sure to remain consistent. If you’ve provided a good experience, keep that going. The only change that should happen is in it getting better.
  2. Stay in communication – In addition to the ever-so-vital social media platforms, consider creating an email newsletter to stay in touch with your customers. Finding ways to have them keep you in mind should be at the front of your mind. By reaching out and being friendly, this will help retain their business.
  3. Be flexible with payments – No, don’t sell yourself short, but consider installment plans for pricier items or services. This will help customers feel more at ease when their wallet’s health is at stake.
  4. Reward programs – Consider allowing customers to accrue loyalty points in exchange for a freebie. The old punch card method is still an incredibly popular concept, and is a great way to keep people coming back. The cost associated with giving something away for free will be minimal in comparison to loyalty you receive in order for the customer to get to that point. Make sure that what a customer is putting in is about equal to what they’re getting out of it (i.e. don’t have a customer spend $100 in order to get $1 off their next purchase). If all of this proves successful, this can eventually be expanded by creating VIP levels.
  5. Prioritize customer service – A first impression is everything. By prioritizing customer service, you can help shape the narrative of the customer and how they view your business. This splinters off into them giving good word of mouth recommendations to friends and family. Be sure to keep positive customer service as the forefront of your mind, as giving a bad review is just as easy – or even easier – as giving a good review.
  6. Value feedback – Allow customers a space to provide their feedback, either on your website or on social media. Find out what brought them to you and gage how their experience was. Be sure to thank them for their feedback and take it into consideration. Feedback – both good and bad – can be vital in helping shape a business.
  7. Avoid laziness – Stay sharp at all times. Don’t treat all customers as nothing but currency. Include personalized touches wherever you can. This will make all of the difference.

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