“Are you my mommy?”
I just watched a spooky science fiction show where this odd, ghostly child keeps going up to different adults and asking them that, over and over. “Are you my mommy?”
And it’s creepy because the kid is creepy, and it’s creepy because of the insistence of the request, and it’s creepy because of the repetition. Yet I feel like that’s exactly what I’m doing with message boards.
Only instead of “Are you my mommy?” it’s “Are you my audience?”
I have a listing (actually, if you count the power of my firm, many listings) so now I face the marketing step of trying to figure out where my customers are. And gosh, where are they?
The Internet seems like a logical place to start. We know from the National Association of Realtors that home buyers use the Net, and we know from our own experience that the Web is full of information and fun. I personally have reaped the rewards of the medium’s power to connect people to each other – I met my husband on a dating site.
But man, are those chat boards cold.
I post on Craigslist around once a day – that I do for “free,” as it were. I feel like I have knowledge that many posters don’t have, and to me, sharing it is the equivalent of pro bono lawyering.
But that’s all I can do – any attempts at conversion are met with cold, cold snubs.
The guy moving to Long Beach who doesn’t have a broker? He loved my tip about asking the seller to produce heating bills, but disappeared when I offered a referral to the agent who sold me my house there (I’m not even promoting myself, for Pete’s sake!)
I told a Texan who asked about 3- to 4-bedroom rentals in NYC about price ranges, offered him a Web site where he could go directly to a luxury developer (and not pay me), and also explained to him what brokers did to justify our commission. I headlined my post “From an Agent.”
I got this in reply, from a new poster, under the headline “Total Crap (Broker Crapola)”:
“[Y]ou sell the aura of “ideal and perfect”. And this person wants a 3-4 bedroom in Manhattan. I don’t care who they are, the ‘perfect unit’ for 3 bedrooms in Manhattan at minimum is going to cost $8K/Mo.”
The original poster thanked this guy for warning him about my incredibly deceptive “Broker BS.” And the punch line is . . . I had given a price range of up to $9,000/mo.
The vituperation I’ve found on Web message boards is just incredible.
I have a couple of clients relocating to New York with their toddler; I don’t know anything about toddlers, so I spent a couple of days on urbanbaby.com.
This is a great site for moms to get advice from other moms about schools and breast feeding. Yet when it comes to real estate, I keep seeing one thread: “I’m a buyer and I just saw the perfect house, but I hate the agent who found it for me. Do I have to pay her?”
It would never occur to me, if I broke my wrist and the doctor was brusque, that I would withhold payment after he set it.
Now I understand that not everybody feels this way. But there’s something about an Internet post that unleashes the id: I HATE YOU HAH HAH HAH.
That said, is there a place on the Web to meet good customers? I have a very strong media background, so I just wrote a local newspaper piece with lots of helpful advice for buyers and sellers. If people are helped by it, great. If they e-mail me and I meet them, better.
But it’s unlikely that anyone will take the trouble to e-mail me and point out that I’m a scourge on the skin of humanity.
The most interesting subset of this problem is how to meet rich clients. My firm has some rentals so high-end that they will be taken only by Wall Streeters – you figure someone has to be pulling down $400,000 a year to throw down $10,000 a month in rent. There are certainly print outlets for reaching those people. Those luxury properties can be marketed to other brokers who are known for that kind of clientele. And there are personal relationships that can be worked – suddenly I’m rediscovering my Harvard classmates.
But electronically? I can’t find anything. The great real estate blogs and communities here are populated by industry people, not the millionaire consultants of my dreams. The New York media with good print demographics have electronic communities with very little traffic — or no traffic whatsoever. The publisher who creates a Web product that somehow really only lets rich people onto its message boards will make a fortune from me in advertising alone.
Unless his product is totally full of crap.