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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 The idea is that no furniture is better than outdated or ratty furniture (your horse-hair blanket is hurting more than it’s helping, Kyle), and clients may even be able to save on some renovation costs along the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

Why you should quit using ‘no-reply’ emails immediately

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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no-reply email face

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a real estate practitioner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Real Estate Marketing

This AI tool turns your powerpoint into a narrated presentation

(MARKETING) Narakeet is a new software presentation tool that uses AI to simplify adding narration, subtitles, and more in your presentations.

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Narakeet, an AI presentation making tool

Good narration helps give presentations that extra oomph. It takes plain text and gives it life. It turns a dry presentation slide into an enjoyable one. But when it comes to narrating something, I know I’m not the narrator most people would be looking for. I speak too softly and laugh too much. I’ve had to record and re-record myself more times than I can count. This isn’t much fun, and it eats up a lot of your time. So, if you’re like me, there might be a solution for you.

Formerly named Video Puppet, Narakeet is an online service that helps people easily make narrated videos without all the headaches. Founded by Gojko Adzic, this time-saving software tool uses artificial intelligence to create life-like narration from speaker notes in a presentation. Currently, the tool supports PowerPoint, Google Slides, Keynote, and OpenOffice files.

To create your presentation, you simply upload your PowerPoint or other presentation file to Narakeet. Presentation settings can be customized by video size, volume, music, subtitles, voice, and language. Right now, the platform supports 20 languages, but more languages will be added in the future.

From your file, the tool will create life-like narration using the “latest neural text-to-speech systems.” It will synchronize pictures with sound and resize the images and video clips to fit the format you selected.

If you opted for subtitles, they will automatically be generated for you; say goodbye to hours of transcribing! And, at least for me, I won’t have to worry about people suffering through my terrible narration.

“Narakeet takes care of all the boring and time-consuming tasks of video editing, and lets authors focus on creating good content,” Gojko said.

According to their video, anyone can “edit videos as easily as editing text.” If you made a mistake or want to tweak anything, all you have to do is change the script. By clicking the “Improve” button, you can upload the updated file. Then, Narakeet will take care of the rest.

For some, an AI-generated voice might not be your cup of tea. As a developing software, it can still sound a little too parrot-like. Or maybe your beautiful and pleasant voice needs no alteration. If you fit either of those two, there is an alternative!

The tool lets you replace the narration with your own audio. Depending on your presentation, Narakeet “will automatically speed up or slow down video clips to make sure that each scene is perfectly aligned with your voice.”

For trainers, educators, and marketers, this tool allows you to create videos without having to use traditional editing tools. For teachers, especially, this is a great tool to create virtual lessons. According to Narakeet, they “will create the video so you can publish and impress.”

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Real Estate Marketing

Top reasons people unsubscribe from emails

(MARKETING NEWS) Sometimes promotional emails can cause us to purge our inboxes due to over-inundation. New data examines specific reasons customers unsubscribe from mailing listings.

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I recently registered my work email with a company that shall not be named in an effort to receive a 20% off coupon. While I received the coupon, I also found myself receiving somewhere around 10 emails per week from this company. But after a few weeks, I had no choice but to unsubscribe from this email listing. Though it did give me the option to minimize email settings, the overwhelming amount I already received was such a turn off that I unsubscribed completely.

This has happened time and again with countless other mail listings, and I know that I’m not the only one burdened with email after email. Apparently this is such a common occurrence that eMarketer was able to conduct a survey that complied the top reasons why people tend to unsubscribe from email lists.

The major reasons were broken down into 13 categories.

The additional reasons were as follows: 21% report that the emails were not relevant to them; 19% received too many emails from a specific company; 19% complained that the emails were always trying to sell something; 17%t stated the content of the emails were boring, repetitive, and not interesting to them.

Additionally, 16% unsubscribed because they do not have the time to read the emails; 13% stated they receive the same ads and promotions in the email that they receive in print mail (through direct mail, print magazines, newspapers, etc.)

Furthermore, 11% stated that some emails can be too focused on the company’s needs and not enough on the customer’s needs; 10% felt that certain emails seemed geared towards other people’s needs and not their own. Another 10% did not like the appearance of certain emails, stating that they were too cluttered and sloppy.

An additional 10% didn’t trust the email to provide all of the information necessary to make purchasing decisions. Finally, 1% claimed “other” reasoning as the main cause.

Fully 7.0% unsubscribed from certain email listings because they said emails did not look good on their smartphones. This is important for marketers to keep in the back of their minds.

Assess your email marketing strategy to ensure you’re fitting the needs of consumers, not just your own personal preferences. Data doesn’t lie.

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