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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

Amazon attracts advertisers from Facebook after Apple privacy alterations

(MARKETING) After Apple’s privacy features unveil, Amazon adapts by taking a unique approach to targeting, disrupting revenue for the ad giant Facebook.

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Two African American women work at their desks, one viewing Amazon's advertising landing page.

As a de facto search engine of its own persuasion, Amazon has been poaching ad revenue from Google for some time. However, disrupting the revenue stream from their most recent victim – Facebook – is going to turn some heads.

According to Bloomberg, Apple’s recent privacy additions to products such as iPhones are largely responsible for the shift in ad spending. While platforms like Facebook and Instagram were originally goldmines for advertisers, these privacy features prevent tracking for targeting – a crucial aspect in any marketing campaign.

Internet privacy has been featured heavily in tech conversations for the last several years, and with Chrome phasing out third-party cookies, along with Safari and Firefox introducing roughly analogous policies, social media advertising is bound to become less useful as tracking strategies struggle to keep up with the aforementioned changes.

However, Amazon’s wide user base and separate categorization from social media companies makes it a clear alternative to the Facebook family, which is perhaps why Facebook advertisers are starting to jump ship in an effort to preserve their profits.

This is the premise behind the decision to reduce the Facebook ad spending of Vanity Planet by 22%, a home spa vendor, while facilitating a transition to Amazon. “We have inventory…and the biggest place we are growing is Amazon,” says Alex Dastmalchi, the entrepreneur who runs Vanity Planet.

That gap will only widen with Apple’s new privacy features. Bloomberg reports that when asked in June if they would consent to having their internet activity tracked, only one in four iPhone users did so; this makes it substantially harder for the ad campaigns unique to Facebook to target prospective buyers.

It also means that Amazon, having demonstrated a profound effectiveness in targeting individuals both pre- and post-purchase, stands to gain more than its fair share of sellers flocking to promote their products.

Jens Nicolaysen, co-founder of Shinesty (an eccentric underwear company), affirms the value that Amazon holds for sellers while acknowledging that it isn’t a perfect substitute for social media. While Nicolaysen laments the loss of the somewhat random introduction charm inherent on Instagram, he also believes in the power of brand loyalty, especially on a platform as high-profile as Amazon. “The bigger you are, the more you lose by not having any presence on Amazon,” he explains.

As privacy restrictions continue to ramp up in the coming months, it will be interesting to see how social media advertising evolves to keep up with this trend; it seems naive to assume that Amazon will replace Facebook’s ads entirely, tracking or no tracking.

Apple's privacy landing page showing iPhone users ability to shut off location services and a desktop image of a user's ability to control how their data is managed.

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Business Marketing

How many hours of the work week are actually efficient?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Working more for that paycheck, more hours each week, on the weekends, on holidays can actually hurt productivity. So don’t do that, stay efficient.

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Clock pointed to 5:50 on a plain white wall, well tracked during the week.

Social media is always flooded with promises to get in shape, eat healthier and… hustle?

In hustle culture, it seems as though there’s no such thing as too much work. Nights, weekends and holidays are really just more time to be pushing towards your dreams and hobbies are just side hustles waiting to be monetized. Plus, with freelancing on the rise, there really is nothing stopping someone from making the most out of their 24 hours.

Hustle culture will have you believe that a full-time job isn’t enough. Is that true?

Although it’s a bit outdated, Gallup’s 2014 report on full-time US workers gives us an alarming glimpse into the effects of the hustle. For starters, 50% of full-time workers reported working over 40 hours a week – in fact, the average weekly hours for salaried employees was up to 49 hours.

So, what’s the deal with 40 hours anyway? The 40 hour work-week actually started with labor rights activists in the 1800s pushing for an 8 hour workday. In 1817, Robert Owen, a Welsh activist, reasoned this workday provided: “eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest.”

If you do the math, that’s a whopping 66% of the day devoted to personal needs, rather than labor!

Of course, it’s only natural to be skeptical of logic from two centuries ago coloring the way we do business in the 21st century. For starters, there’s plenty of labor to be done outside of the labor you’re paid to do. Meal prep, house cleaning, child care… that’s all work that needs to be done. It’s also all work that some of your favorite influencers are paying to get done while they pursue the “hustle.” For the average human, that would all be additional work to fall in the ‘recreation’ category.

But I digress. Is 40 hours a week really enough in the modern age? After all, average hours in the United States have increased.

Well… probably not. In fact, when hours are reduced (France, for instance, limited maximum hours to 35 hours a week, instead of 40), workers are not only more likely to be healthier and happier, but more efficient and less likely to miss work!

So, instead of following through with the goal to work more this year, maybe consider slowing the hustle. It might actually be more effective in the long run!

This story was first published in January 2020.

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Business Marketing

Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.

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jack of all trades learning

When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).

We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:

Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:

  1. Online Community Manager
  2. Virtual Assistant
  3. Digital Marketing Expert
  4. SEO Specialist
  5. App Developer
  6. Web Analyst
  7. Blogger
  8. Social Media Manager
  9. UX Designer

We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.

According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.

The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”

In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:

  • Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
  • Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
  • Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
  • What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)

If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.

The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:

  1. Creativity
  2. Persuasion
  3. Collaboration
  4. Adaptability
  5. Emotional Intelligence

The top 10 hard skills are:

  1. Blockchain
  2. Cloud Computing
  3. Analytical Reasoning
  4. Artificial Intelligence
  5. UX Design
  6. Business Analysis
  7. Affiliate Marketing
  8. Sales
  9. Scientific Computing
  10. Video Production

There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.

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