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Listing Icons: Is Adopting Abandoned Buyers Stealing or Smart?

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Abandoned BuyerDoes Closing and Running = Abandonment

I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.  We both know the truth.  I don’t need to share charts, survey percentages or statistical bona fides, do I?  The truth is plentifully self-evident.

The average and ordinary majority of selling agents, DO NOT stay in touch with buyer clients after closing.  The deal is done, it’s time to run.  Fresh leads needs chasing and an uncertain future needs feeding.

At first blush, closing and running seems logical, maybe even smart.  After all, gleefully settled buyers won’t be moving for years, why waste your finite attention on a years-distant possibility.  Bills need to be paid now.  Right?

Dead Wrong!  Closing and Running is abandonment and financially unwise.

Why?  Because of this – The Three People Principle.

The buyers who chose you and now know and trust you, they know three people at work, at worship, in Katie’s Girl Scout Troop, at BUNCO, or wherever, they know three people who are going to move in the next year.  Invest attention in these fans friends people and you’ll earn referrals, accompanied by recommendations.  These are the best leads, are they not. And they’re free. Well almost free, you have to invest some emotional labor to remain relevant and remarkable and therefore, recommendable, but that’s easy.  It’s what you do.

So, staying close and relevant is smart and profitable. Agreed?

But wait, there’s even a higher level of business cultivation.  Wise ones capitalize by monetizing the mistakes of  the average and ordinary majority.  Some might consider this business-getting tactic – stealing.  I call it smart.

Listing Agents, Listen Up – Are You Adopting Abandoned Buyers

Pretty straight forward.  The average and ordinary majority of selling agents abandon their buyers after closing. When you’re the listing agent, grow your success by cultivating a relationship of relevancy and trust with the abandoned buyer of your listing. Yes, you heard right.  I believe you should adopt the abandoned buyer and become their Go-To-Girl for all things home, community, lifestyle and real estate.

The How-To varies from person to person.  I wouldn’t presume to tell you what you should do or say.  But, I will share a few directionally-correct ideas.

  1. After closing, mail a handwritten note card.  Wish them well, welcome, etc.  Of course, include two business cards.
  2. Thirteen days after closing, between 2:37pm and 7:57pm, stop by in person and see how things are going.  Follow-up your visit by mailing a handwritten note card (nice talking to you, blah, blah, etc.). Use purple ink, a hot-pink envelope and a real postage stamp.  Just kidding.  Doesn’t matter what time you stop by or the ink and envelope color. I’m not kidding about the stopping by or sending the note.
  3. While you’re visiting (in person) ask for permission to stay in touch.  I’d say something like this, “Hey, would it be ok if I touched base from time to time to see if your need anything real estate related?” or “Hey, I send monthly market report updates to my friends, I’d like to include you, would you be offended if I shared my market report with you?”
  4. If you’re granted permission, include these fine folks in your thoughtfully created Top Of Mind Awareness campaign.

Smart or Stealing

I believe it’s smart for listing agents to adopt abandoned buyers.  Some might think it’s stealing.  I don’t.  If they’re abandoned, you’re not stealing.  If they aren’t abandoned, and you ask for permission to stay in touch and the say, “No-Thank You”, then don’t.   Some will, some won’t, so what, next.

Pretty simple, but uncommon.  Are your actions uncommon?

Thanks for reading. Cheers.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Matt Stigliano

    March 15, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Ken – Someone once told me one of the “big guns” in town did this and I thought to myself, “Wait, that just makes good sense.” Although I haven’t been as focused as you suggest about it (I just learned some excellent points – thanks), I have adopted this as part of my practice. Buy my listing and you’re sure to hear from me.

    • Ken Brand

      March 15, 2010 at 9:32 am

      Amen Matt, it’s a simple add and will create new opportunities. Cheers.

  2. Ralph Bell

    March 15, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Brilliant! Will definitely make this part of my marketing plan from here on out. Like anything else in RE the worst they can say is No. Well some have said no in a worse way…but you get the point.

    • Ken Brand

      March 15, 2010 at 9:33 am

      Thanks Ralph, everyone wants to be loved. It the selling agent won’t, we should. Cheers.

  3. Michael Price

    March 15, 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Can you steal a relationship? Nope. Just like the seller is the only one that really owns any listing information, a buyer is the holder of the relationship. They will relinquish it to whomever they chose, typically it will be with the one that treats it with the most respect.

    • Ken Brand

      March 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm

      “You can’t steal a relationship”, exactly Mike. Cheers. I’m calling to set up a burger conference.

  4. Erica Ramus

    March 15, 2010 at 6:45 pm

    I’ve done it, especially with buyers who have out of town agents who don’t know our area. I am listing a house now where the seller moved in 2 years ago. Her agent is 2 hours away and since the sale I have indeed cultivated the relationship.

    • Ken Brand

      March 15, 2010 at 9:25 pm

      Good work! That’s exactly the sorta thing I’m talking about. Cheers.

  5. Missy Caulk

    March 15, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I have heard of this Ken, but never done it.

    Every January I send out all the HUD reports and a thank you letter to my clients, someone else suggested I do this for the other folks on the other side of the transaction.

    What do you think?

    • Ken Brand

      March 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm

      I think that’s smart and helpful Missy. I also think that a more fruitful relationship can be nurtured by consistent contact. And there’s nothing more memorable that a personal visit. The keys to Top Of Mind Awareness is Relevance, Remarkability and Repetition.
      🙂

  6. Nashville Grant

    March 16, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Sheer genius. It’s not stealing if no one else is in the picture. I call it my charitably adopt a buyer program.

    • Ken Brand

      March 16, 2010 at 7:27 pm

      I don’t know about genius, but I’m with you, it’s pretty dead-bang simple and obvious to me too. Thanks for your comments NG. Cheers.

  7. Elizabeth Cooper-Golden

    March 17, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    Ken, I think this is brilliant. I have really been keeping a close eye on tracking listings of one agent in particular. What I have found is that she was the original listing agent. Years later, her name is appearing again as the sellers list with her, NOT their buyers agent. It struck me then that she must have this idea in play. Genius if you ask me, and so simple to do! I am starting this practice tomorrow and will play catch up with past buyers 🙂 Great info you just shared!

    • Ken Brand

      March 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm

      Thanks Elizabeth. Turns out, it’s the little things that others don’t do, do them consistently, over time, they add up to a BIG difference. Sounds to me like you’re ON IT. Cheers.

  8. Shea Bunch

    March 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve heard these called orphaned clients. We all know that you have to find clients anywhere you can and frankly if the selling agent doesn’t care to follow up on past clients ( and probably 75% or more don’t ) there is nothing wrong with the listing agent doing so as long as the former client doesn’t object. As far as the agent goes, once the closing takes place, they are no longer clients.

  9. Ken Brand

    March 18, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I’m with you Shea. Adopt the orphans, everyone deserves love and attention. Thanks for chiming in. Cheers.

  10. Ashley Drake Gephart

    March 18, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I leave a listing book with all the info I had in it for the house while it was for sale. But I add in all the warranty stuff and manuals that the homeowners had. I then add my card. That is step one in my adopt a buyer program.

    • Ken Brand

      March 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

      Ashley, that’s brilliant. Thanks for sharing gem. I’ll be sharing that with the team at our next team meeting. Go, go, go:-)

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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