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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!

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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

How ecommerce brands can increase sales, even on tiny purchases

(MARKETING) These tips and tricks are prime ways to boost the dollar amount spent at checkout and close more deals — even on the tiny purchases!

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online sales

There are many marketing techniques aimed at acquiring new customers. Makes sense, right? More customers, more money. But how do you increase sales with your existing customer base? The Average Order Value (AOV) = Total Revenue/# of Transactions. This number is important because it indicates how much each customer is buying. Here are some ways to increase your AOV:

First, it’s crucial to appeal to human nature. People like things for free. So, by setting a minimum to receive free delivery, buyers are more likely to continue browsing and eventually buying, in order to avoid the shipping fee. While we all know that spending $50 when I only meant to spend $37 isn’t ideal, but I’d rather pay $50 for two products, than $43 for one and shipping. It feels like a better value.

Over half of customers will discontinue their transaction when they found out there are additional costs. MORE THAN HALF. Don’t surprise people the wrong way — we don’t like it.

Second, have you ever been to Costco? Ever left Costco with exactly the amount of food you needed? No, of course, you haven’t. The concept of buying in bulk appeals to our sense of value. Oranges are $1.09 per pound but buy a 10 lb. bag and get it for $8.50. Next thing you know, you’re feeding your child’s soccer team as well as the opponents. Offering a discount on package deals and large quantities at least gets your customers thinking about purchasing more.

We all rationalize the need for a good deal. My roommate used to buy two 12-packs of the giant muffins because “They were on sale.” A discount on a package might entice someone who was looking for a little more variety but was hesitant at first.

Next, recommending products is a great way for customers to lay eyes on new things. Not everyone is a browser — some people go straight to a specific section. By using information from previous purchases and browsing history, showing related, best-selling, or recommended products is an awesome way to generate more clicks and potentially increase sales.

Finally, help us lazy people by including a gift-wrapping option at checkout so that people buying remotely for others out of town can send things directly. In order to wrap, they would have to send to themselves, wrap, then send again or deliver to the receiver. The former sounds like it’s worth $6.99 to me!

In conclusion, there are always ways to boost sales with your existing, loyal, customers. If buyers are only purchasing one thing at a time, reflect on why this is. Perhaps a few sweeteners or additional opportunities could lead to long-term growth. Remember human nature and happy selling!

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Business Marketing

A more environmentally sensitive Pantone color of the year

(MARKETING) Why is Pantone’s coral color causing a ruckus? Marketing is just marketing, right? Maybe not…

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pantone unofficial color of 2020

Every year Pantone declares the Color of the Year and for 2019, the institute declared Living Coral to be the “it” shade calling it “an animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” And it totally is. Imagine bright red orange swimming in a sea of crystal blue water.

Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman even goes so far as saying it that Living Coral was what “consumers craved” and that it incites “human interaction and social connection” which might be a stretch. It is just a color after all.

However, some found this messaging to be anything but convivial and well, off-color.

Jack Railton-Woodcock and Huei Yin Wong, partners at Jack and Huei, a Melbourne-based design agency, took umbrage with this decision and for good reason.

Their native Australia has front-row seats to the dying of the Great Barrier Reef and for them, coral is anything but lively. If anything, it’s on life support.

To call attention to the tone-deaf decision, the duo preemptively christened Bleached Coral as the Color of the Year 2020.

Touche.

The duo furthered their burn, saying, “It’s the responsibility of all of us, creative or otherwise, to find creative solutions to big problems, and right now there aren’t many problems facing humanity that are bigger than climate change.”

Oof, way to pull back the curtain, guys.

As much of a buzzkill as this pair might be, they’re not wrong, and they bring up the larger question of social responsibility in marketing.

But it’s just marketing, right?

Wrong. The very root of marketing is aspirational. We see ads for luxury cars, we imagine ourselves behind the wheel and believe that maybe we can get there. We see beauty products that promise flawless ageless skin and maybe we decide to take better care of our skin. We see Living Coral and we’re blinded to the reality that the coral just might be a thing of the past.

Yes, Pantone’s Color of the Year is one of those fun end-of-year things we in marketing get excited about, but when you’re living in a world where climate change is our reality and we see it in unnatural weather patterns and the dying off of one of our greatest natural treasures, it’s time to take pause. We can do better.

These days it’s hard to please everybody. Try as we might to make everything for everyone, if we’re going to attempt to talk about a unifying the human race through color, we sure as hell shouldn’t choose a color that reminds us all that our environment is in rough shape and it’s largely humanity’s fault. Bleached Coral isn’t the color we need, but right now, it’s the color we deserve.

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Business Marketing

Genius: How a Yoga studio is using AI to help the masses

(MARKETING) Here’s an interesting case study in how yoga, a 5,000+ year industry is using modern technology.

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yoga

Yoga is everywhere. From small town strip mall studios and big city meccas with guidance from YouTube gurus to Instagram-able practice with goats. If monitoring your breaths and balancing your body is your thing, it’s not out of reach.

However, despite its ubiquity, getting into yoga can be intimidating.

Sure, you’ve picked up a mat at Target, you’ve purchased all the Lululemon pants and Outdoor Voices bras, but actually getting on the mat and moving your body can be overwhelming if you’ve never practiced before.

Well, Would-Be-Yogis, push those fears and worries out of your mind, take three deep breaths and get on the mat, because you’re about to start posing at your pace.

Introducing the YogaBot from Austin’s own Yoga Yoga. It’s a fascinating case study in how a 5,000+ year old industry is using modern technology.

Over the past 20 years, Yoga Yoga has guided thousands of yoga students from their first class all the way through advanced teacher training and now, to help improve students choose the right path for themselves, they’ve created Design Your Yoga.

With the intention of helping new and advanced students achieve their yoga goals, Design Your Yoga is an automated experience that begins on their landing page.

Once you arrive, the bot asks you if you’d like to “Design Your Yoga.” After an initial greeting, the bot begins by getting to know your skill level.

Asking a very straightforward, “Have you done yoga before?” you are then offered nine responses ranging from “Never” to “I am a yoga therapist.”

Once you answer, you are asked further questions regarding what you’d like to achieve from your practice, what styles you’re familiar with, and when and where you’d like to practice among a few others. At the end, the bot will ask for your email address to send you a customized yoga plan. Easy peasy.

Their algorithm has thousands of possible combinations promising to make each yogi’s practice results unique to them.

“For years we’ve been working on ways to better personalize our services to the needs of each individual student. Design Your Yoga is our solution to delivering an exceptional user experience with a plan a student can follow and stick with,” said Yoga Yoga CEO Rich Goldstein.

Landing page bots are nothing new, and more often than not, they’re annoying as hell. However, this one actually seems helpful, which is refreshing.

From a marketing standpoint, Yoga Yoga CMO Marc Lefton said, “As marketers in a city as creative and entrepreneurial as Austin, we wanted to make sure we use every tool we can to bring yoga students the information they need as fast as possible.”

He’s not wrong. It worked. After trying it out for ourselves, we can’t help but be a little more ready to get on the mat. First, we’re going to need to put down the tacos.

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