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Meet Where They Are: Communicating With Consumers

Exceeding consumer’s expectations can be easier than you think.

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279804967_668397cde9An important part (it could be argued the most important part) of the consumer experience is good communications.  The bad news is that communications is one area where we are told we, as REALTORs, fall short of customer expectations.  The good news is that communication “issues” it is not difficult to correct.  Simply find out the how, when and why of your consumer’s preferred communications MO and do it.  Do it preemptively.  Don’t let them chase you down but be the one in front of them with the information they need in the manner they need it.  A commitment as simple as keeping them informed and in touch can completely change their experience.

Just a few key questions in the initial meeting will allow you to sort out most of their preferences :

  1. “What is your communications preference?” (email, phone, text, etc.)
  2. “What time of day is best for you?”
  3. “Mr. and Ms. Seller – how much do you want to know about how we market your property, market updates, showing feedback and how often?” Some sellers want to know everything you are doing and some couldn’t care less or don’t want to be bothered with “details”.
  4. “Mr. and Ms. Buyer – do you want to be sent everything so that you can sort through all of the options or do you prefer me to hand select the ones I feel meet your requirements the most?” One person could think you are being selective for selfish reasons and one could think you are spamming them, by finding out if they want some hand holding or are more DIY, you will give them exactly what they are looking for, no more, no less.
  5. “Mr. and Ms. Consumer these are the hours you can expect to hear from me and these are the hours I am not available.  You can expect to hear back from me within X hours.” This sets the parameters of when they can and cannot expect a return call, email or text.

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You can make your own list, but you get the point… Everyone’s desired communication method, timing and material is different and the more you match what you do to what they expect and want, the happier their experience will be.  One person’s spam is another person’s gold.  Those who get annoyed by texts might only want to speak one on one and vice versa.

Once you sort out their preferred communication MO, be ahead of them.  Send them the updates, listings, news before they ask. If you anticipate what they want/need and get it to them without having to be asked, they will really feel that you understand them and are looking out for them.  If they have to chase for listings, appointments, feedback, etc. they might feel that you simply don’t care or are too busy.  No one wants to feel that their REALTOR is too busy for them when they are buying or selling such an expensive asset, it’s the most important thing they normally have going on at that point in their life, let them know you appreciate and understand this.

Most of us can use some polishing in our communications skills, but thankfully, it doesn’t take much to go from appearing to ill prepared and uninterested to showing that you really care about them, their needs and their interests.

Word of caution: Try not to assume you know their preferences, everyone has their choices and they aren’t always obvious, make it a point to find out those for each of your consumers and they will think you are da bom!

Janie has been in the development, construction and real estate industries for over 20 years. She began her career in commerical construction and has slowly worked into all of the related industries and added residential properties to her resume 7 years ago. She is currently the co-owner of sister companies, Papillon Real Estate and Papillon ReDevelopment (a construction and project management firm). Janie blogs for The Coral Gables Story. In her "free" time, she is a graduate student of Atlantic History with a focus on the history of business and technology. She is a lover of geo-anything. She loves the story.

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Jay Ferguson

    February 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    That is why we have 2 ears and one month, we should listen twice as much

  2. Ken Brand

    February 3, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Boom! Fantastic advice, not every now and then or when we remember – EVERY TIME.

    Street Smarts squared:-)

  3. Brandie Young

    February 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    Awesome, Janie! So true. “Try not to assume you know their preferences” … great advice. Always ask.

  4. Bobbi Hughes

    February 5, 2010 at 11:14 am

    I find that how they communicate to you is how they want to be communicated with. If someone texts me, I text them back. I also find that the different generations want to communicate differently. Great advice! Thanks!!!

  5. Toni Labrum

    February 5, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    always…always ask…great advice…I’ve worked with people in the casino industry, you cannot second guess their schedule! Thanks for the reminder!!!

  6. Cara Pearlman

    February 6, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Janie – so true! I have been asking my clients what their preferred form of communication is for a while now. Most seem to rely on email, a few text and I normally don’t friend them on facebook until the transaction is nearing a close.

  7. Toni Labrum

    February 6, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    I say; always ask the best way to communicate with client…i’m from old school, like the phone; however most of my clients like e-mail or text…It is not as personal but the younger crowd doesn’t care, so we do whatever is best for the client! Toni Labrum Team, Temecula, CA

  8. Kevin Baker

    February 14, 2010 at 11:26 pm

    I totally agree! Ask the 3 deep questions to get to what is really important to them. Listening is the key but follow up with what you promise is also of upmost importance. If we communicate what is going to happen and keep them in the loop, the clients will feel like they are your only client.
    Keep up the great advice!

  9. Marcia Gloddy

    February 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

    This should be the very first lesson that a Broker gives to his/her new licensees!!!

  10. virtual office

    June 14, 2012 at 5:28 am

    I so agree with your post! I wish every business man or entrepreneurs could read your post. This is the right attitude you should show in your clients/customers.

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Business Marketing

5 ways voice is changing the SEO game

(TECH NEWS) As voice assistants take over our lives, you may worry how your SEO fares in this new, uncharted territory. Let’s discuss.

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voice and SEO

SEO is a moving target. The standards change constantly so, despite years of experience, many web designers struggle to meet all the optimization guidelines. How, then, can any business confidently approach the web design process? It starts with recognizing those evolving norms, the newest of which is voice search.

Why Voice Search Matters

For years, the dominant SEO rule has been mobile first. The introduction of voice recognition systems, like Siri and Alexa, to smartphones has dramatically changed how we interact with devices. In fact, 20% of Google searches are voice searches with that number expected to grow rapidly over the next few months. Businesses and web designers, then, need to make sure their sites are voice ready if they want to stay relevant. Though the sites may stay the same visually, they need to gain a new edge functionally.

From The Ground Up

Modifying your website to support voice search isn’t as simple as many other SEO transitions, but if you take a ground up approach to the process, you’ll be able to reshape your website around those changes. Still, you’ll need help to do this correctly. When adapting your website for voice, SEO consultant Aaron Rains recommends hiring an expert for a full site audit and analysis to maintain your page ranking. You don’t want your page to take a rankings hit because you’re trying to keep up with the trends.

Expanding Your Device Options

In addition to its advantages from a mobile perspective, making the move to voice search also means expanding your site’s horizons by making it more accessible to new devices, particularly the smart home speakers that are gaining in popularity. Users are particularly comfortable with these devices because they rely on natural speech patterns rather than half-formed search terms. Children growing up with these smart speakers in their homes seem to view them as part of the family and will be native voice search users as they grow.

Snippets For Search

Part of updating your website for speech is optimizing the content to match changing search patterns. One of the key ways to do this is through the use of featured snippets.

Featured snippets are designed to help put your website in the #0 spot – the top ranking. To do that, you’ll want to put the answers to your most popular queries in the first few sentences on your page. This is especially for purchasing and local search since people frequently use voice search to find local businesses. If you can optimize for the most important snippets early on, you’ll be way ahead on the competition and have a greater ROI.

Rebuild and Reassess

After modifying your website for voice, you may find your rankings initially drop. That’s because you need to request your site be re-indexed. Otherwise, search engines won’t be able to match queries with your new site content. Re-indexing will put all of your new information into effect and make it possible for users to search using the featured snippets. Re-indexing your site will also help you ensure that you haven’t interfered with the crawl-ability of your site.

Experts expect half of all searches to be voice-driven by 2020, but since 50% of users with voice search access already use it at least occasionally, now is the time to act. Even if many users are still wary of voice search, you can’t afford to fall behind. Those users will still be able to rely on traditional text search mechanisms, but that won’t help voice enthusiasts. If you lose those early adopters now, they might not come back when you’ve caught up with the voice search revolution.

This editorial was first published here in March of 2018.

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Business Marketing

10 podcasts that every business owner should hear

(MARKETING) If you’re a business and want to learn something, give one of (or all of) these ten podcasts a listen.

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headphones listen podcasts

So many choices, so little time

As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

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From interviews with business leaders to industry specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

Business podcasts for your listening enojoyment

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly populat show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further thna Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real world applications and cover everything from marketing to techology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

#LearnSomething

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Business Marketing

A personalized daily digital marketing checklist

(MARKETING NEWS) For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an digital marketing strategy, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit. This app can help.

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clearpath digital marketing

There is no doubt that starting your own business can be overwhelming. Along with promoting your business at events, meetings and in person, digital marketing strategies play a key role in the success of a company. For all businesses, it is not only essential to develop an online presence, but also necessary to utilize it in order to gain customers, and ultimately make a larger profit.

Simply creating a website and Facebook page for your business is not enough. However, software tools can help simplify digital marketing. ClearPath is a tool that organizes and creates tasks to optimize your online marketing. By creating to-do lists for you based on your online marketing strategy, you can focus on the areas of marketing that improve your business, all the while receiving useful tips and advice.

Using ClearPath is pretty straightforward and only requires one prerequisite. Before beginning, you must have a website.

If you are already lost, don’t panic. ClearPath can help you develop an online presence. Once your website is linked up, you get to choose the marketing channels that you would like to focus on. These include Search Engine Optimization (SEO), email, social, content, analytics, local, pay-per-click (PPC) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). Again, if you are lost, ClearPath is there to help you strategize.

After ClearPath analyzes your site, they start sending you customized tasks based they believe can improve your online marketing.

As you finish each task, you can simply check it off and it will disappear. New tasks will appear each day, and some may even repeat as they need to be updated.

Whether you are well-versed in digital marketing or not, staying updated with the newest ways to optimize your business online is a constant struggle. Tools like ClearPath give people a place to start. Although I don’t think it can supplement an active and experienced digital marketer, it is a tool that can help small businesses that cannot afford to add to their team yet. At the end of the day, it aims to save you time. And since time is money, your business will hopefully be more profitable.

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