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Real Estate Marketing

The white-boxing trend is back in real estate

(REAL ESTATE) White-boxing refers to emptying out your entire house instead of staging it like an IKEA display, and some are opting for this when selling.

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white-boxing

Staging your home for sale is a hilariously convoluted process that can involve anything from vacuuming your sofa to renting a whole house-worth of furniture to ensure that the feng shui (or whatever) matches up with the price tag. If your client is in a slightly less pretentious mood when it comes time to sell, consider white-boxing.

Far from being a racial slur, white-boxing refers to emptying out every space in a house to present clients with a blank slate. The idea is that no furniture is better than outdated or ratty furniture (your horse-hair blanket is hurting more than it’s helping, Kyle), and clients may even be able to save on some renovation costs along the way.

White-boxing also allegedly allows potential buyers to envision freely the space as they prefer it rather than emphasizing a style which may not appeal to everyone in the market.

Buyers who are interested in touching up or renovating their home may also be more attracted to a white-boxed house due to the open nature of the presentation. By that same token, though, white-boxing makes it much harder to hide blemishes and other flaws which can turn buyers away — if a home is a bit quirky, you may want to stick to a traditional form of staging or address the problems before the house goes on the market.

There are a couple of key things to note if you’re thinking about white-boxing a home.

Firstly, the home’s location and/or view should be the main selling point if you’re in a high-end market; otherwise, you may end up with a string of snooty customers wondering why there’s nowhere to sit. Similarly, you should avoid white-boxing a client’s home if it’s particularly cozy — empty rooms can appear even smaller than they actually are, so you may have to rely on the existing furniture to close the deal.

Hiring a staging professional is always ideal and is proven to increase the bottom line, but in some instances, white-boxing (you know, the way you used to sell homes) is a growing trend that has some upsides to consider.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you commit to a staging style — leaving a dining room set in the middle of an otherwise empty house is super weird, and the inverse is just as unnerving. However, if you’re looking to cut down on staging costs and your client’s home has little to hide, white-boxing may be the right choice.

Jack Lloyd has a BA in Creative Writing from Forest Grove's Pacific University; he spends his writing days using his degree to pursue semicolons, freelance writing and editing, oxford commas, and enough coffee to kill a bear. His infatuation with rain is matched only by his dry sense of humor.

Real Estate Marketing

Simple weekly emailer curates your stats across social networks

(MARKETING) If you are overwhelmed or turned off by massively granular stats, getting a simple email weekly about your social media stats could be a meaningful tool for you.

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social media metrics

You already know that building a brand (for yourself OR a brokerage) is a lot of work. There’s not only fierce competition, but there’s a lot of ground to cover.

A huge portion of that ground is being present on social media. This doesn’t just mean consistently posting content that is important and relevant to your brand, but it also means keeping tabs on who is following you and engaging with said content.

That’s why Metrics Coffee is here to help. With this new tool, it helps you keep track of your social media metrics by sending you a detailed email to your inbox every Monday morning.

So, how does it work? First, you enter your email to register (the first month is free, woot woot!) and then you attach all of your social media handles to your account.

Then, every Monday morning, you’ll receive an email from Metrics Coffee with a detailed look at your personal metrics. It’ll show the number of followers on each specific platform, and how much your follower count has gone up (or down) within the last week.

Platforms that it currently tracks are: Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, ConvertKit, and ButtonDown. If there’s a platform that isn’t included that you’d like them to track (we would suggest LinkedIn as it is overtly missing), you can request that they integrate said platforms.

“I recently become an independent developer (quit my job!) and started making courses and conducting workshops. I get most of my audience from my twitter and YouTube channel, so I’ve become more intentional about building an audience, said Metrics Coffee maker, Siddharth Kshetrapal. “[I] started tracking [the metrics] with pen and paper along with my morning coffee, but I would forget doing this all the time! Realized I need it to be a push not pull. And that’s why I built this product! It keeps a track of my social accounts and sends me an email every Monday; including my tiny newsletter.”

Much like one needs their Monday morning coffee, Metrics Coffee is designed to give you a rush of adrenaline and inspiration that will help you start your work week. It’s such a simple concept that we wonder why this hasn’t been around for a decade already.

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Real Estate Marketing

What skills will help real estate marketers survive the AI takeover?

(MARKETING) Quality marketers are constantly evolving, but getting your head around artificial intelligence can be a challenge – let’s boil it down to the most relevant skills you’ll need.

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AI and marketing

When Facebook and Twitter were born, a new era of social media was ushered in, opening the gates for new areas of expertise that hadn’t existed before. At first, we all grappled to establish the culture together, but fast forward a decade and it is literally a science with thousands of supporting technology companies.

So as Artificial Intelligence (AI) takes over marketing, doesn’t that mean it will replace marketers? If you can ask your smart speaker in your office what your engagement growth increase was for your Facebook Page, and ask for recommendations of growth, how do marketing professionals survive?

Marketers will survive the same way they did as social media was introduced – the practice will evolve and new niches will be born.

There are 7 skills marketers will need to adapt in order to evolve. None of these are done overnight, but quality professionals are constantly grooming their skills, so this won’t be stressful to the successful among us. And the truth is that it won’t be in our lifetime that AI can quite process the exact same way a human brain does, even with the advent of quantum computing, so let’s focus on AI’s weaknesses and where marketers can perform where artificial intelligence cannot.

1. Use the data your new AI buddies generate.

In the 70s, the infamous Ted Bundy murders yielded the first case that utilized computing. The lead investigator had heard about computers and asked a specialist to dig through all of their data points to find similarities – a task that was taking months for the investigative team. After inputting the data, within minutes, they had narrowed their list of suspects from several hundred to only 10.

We’re not dealing with murderers here in the marketing world (…right, guys?), but the theory that algorithms can speed up our existing jobs is a golden lesson. As more AI tools are added to the marketplace to enhance your job, experiment with them! Get to know them! And continue to seek them out to empower you.

Atomic Reach studies your content and finds ways to enhance what you’re delivering. CaliberMind augments B2B sales, Stackla hunts down user-generated content that matches your brand efforts, Nudge analyzes deal risk and measures user account health, and Market Brew digs up tons of data for your SEO strategy.

See? Independently, these all sound like amazing tools, but call them “AI tools” and people lose their minds. Please.

Your job as a marketer is to do what AI cannot. Together, you can automate, do segmentation and automation, beef up your analytics, but no machine can replicate your innate interest in your customers, your compassion, and your ability to understand human emotions and predict outcomes effectively (because you have a lot more practice at being a human than the lil’ robots do).

2. Take advantage of AI’s primary weakness.

As noted, you have emotions and processes that are extremely complex and cannot be understood by artificial intelligence yet. Use those.

How? Compile all of the data that AI offers and then strategize. Duh. AI can offer recommendations, but it cannot (yet) suggest an entire brand strategy. That’s where you come in.

And more importantly, it cannot explain or defend any such strategy. One of the core problems with AI is that if you ask Alexa a question, you cannot ask how it came up with that information or why. This trust problem is the primary reason marketers are in no danger of being replaced by technology.

3. Obsess over data.

AI tools are young and evolving, so right now is the time to start obsessing over data. What I mean by that is not to use every single AI tool to compile mountains of useless data, but to start studying the data you already have.

The problem with new tools is that marketers are naturally inquisitive, so we try them out and then forget they exist if they didn’t immediately prove to be a golden egg.

Knowing your current marketing data inside and out will help you to learn alongside AI. If you aren’t intimately familiar, you won’t know if the recommendations made through AI are useful, and you could end up going down the wrong path because something shiny told you to.

Obsess over data not by knowing every single customers’ names, but be ready to identify which data sets are relevant for the results you’re seeking. A data scientist friend of mine recently pointed out that if you flip a coin five times and it happens to land on tails every time, AI would analyze that data and predict with 100% certainty that the sixth flip will be tails, but you and I have life experience and know better.

Staying on top of your data, even when you’re utilizing artificial intelligence tools will keep you the most valuable asset, not the robots. #winning

4. Don’t run away from math (no wait, come back!)

One of the appeals of marketing is that math is hard and you don’t need it in a creative field. But if you want to stay ahead of the robots, you’ll have to focus on your math skills.

You don’t have to go back to school for data science, but if you can’t read the basic reports that these endless AI tools can create, you’re already behind. At least spend a few hours this month on some “Intro to Data Science” courses on Udemy or Coursera.

5. Content is God.

We’ve all said for years that content is king and that feeding the search engines was a top way to reach consumers. You’ve already refined your skills in creating appealing content, and you already know that it costs less than many traditional lead generating efforts and spending on content is way up.

Content can be blogging, video, audio, or social media posts. Artificial intelligence will step in to skyrocket those efforts, if only you accept that content was once king, but is now God. What is changing is how customized content can be. For example, some companies are using AI tools to create dozens of different Facebook ads for different demographics, which would have taken weeks of human effort to do in the past.

Because content is what feeds all of these new smart devices, feeding your brand content effectively and utilizing AI tools to augment your efforts will keep you more relevant than ever.

6. Get ahead of privacy problems

Consumers now understand what website cookies are, and know when they’ve opted in (or opted out) of an email newsletter, but to this point, humans have made the decisions of how these data choices are made. Our teams have continually edited Terms of Service (ToS), all done not just with liability in mind, but to offer consumers the protections that they want and have come to expect.

But AI today doesn’t have morals, and consumer comfort is not a factor unless humans program that into said AI devices. But it still isn’t a creature of ethics like humans are. Ethical challenges going forward will be something to stay ahead of as you tap into the AI world. Making sure that you know the ToS of any tool you’re using to mine data is critical so that you don’t put the company in a bad position by violating basic human trust.

The takeaway

You’re smart, so you already knew that the robots aren’t taking your job, rather augmenting it, but adding AI into your marketing mix to stay ahead comes with risk and a learning curve. But seeing artificial intelligence for what it really is – a tool – will keep your focus on the big picture and save your job.

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Real Estate Marketing

Warning: User-generated content hikes your business insurance rate

(MARKETING) User-generated content is a phenomenal marketing tool when used properly, but it can impact your business insurance rates and potentially E&O rates…

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user-generated content

The use of “influencers” on social media and the sharing of user-generated content (UGC) isn’t a new thing in social media marketing. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to generate excitement and curiosity about your brand.

The best reviews are always those from real users, and the best advertising is the one you didn’t have to create: those are social media marketing golden rules.

The implementation of user-generated content however, is rife with some potential troubles, especially when added to your own website.

A lot of businesses can operate under the idea that the average social media user is okay with the sharing of their content. While some of them will be, you run the risk of crossing an invisible line with someone who then generates negative press about you and/or your company. And of course, there is always the possibility of litigation.

Some insurance companies aren’t taking UGC into account, even today, while others will certainly ask whether you’re using it (and will charge you accordingly). This could impact your business insurance rate and potentially your Errors & Omissions rate.

It’s in your best interest to be above board on user-generated content and it always begins with the first step – asking for permission. How you ask for permission depends on the medium, but be sure to get a DM, email, tweet, or something that clearly shows the content creator giving you the right to use that image (and document that permission in a way that you can locate it in the far future). This prevents you from getting into a whole lot of trouble, and allows you to use user generated content most effectively.

Pro tip: If you’re going to be working with the same brand ambassador or influencer, make sure any contracts or agreements you have include a waiver that allows you to repurpose content they create that impacts your brand.

This is an easy thing to do, and it will help protect the integrity of your brand and your online presence – make sure it’s part of your social media strategy.

But it should be noted that there are merits to only using content that you create yourself – it’s more secure, more controlled, and it typically decrease the cost of your business insurance as it’s less risky. Because a lot of brands don’t ask for permission, UGC takes on some risk and skyrockets insurance rates.

The decision to use UGC should be a smart one, and if you do decide to use it, just follow the golden rules: ask nicely and keep a paper trail.

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