The recent Hear it Direct (HID) conference in Austin, Texas, was packed with powerful strategies based upon direct consumer feedback. Whether you want to be more effective at marketing or pricing properties, these ideas represent some of the best ways to grow your real estate business.

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series. See Part 1. Want to hear directly from consumers and walk away with fresh insights to improve your business? Hear it Direct will host a live consumer panel at Real Estate Connect San Francisco, which takes place July 16-18 at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.

The recent Hear it Direct (HID) conference in Austin, Texas, was packed with powerful strategies based upon direct consumer feedback. Whether you want to be more effective at marketing or pricing properties, these ideas represent some of the best ways to grow your real estate business.

In Austin, HID co-creator Sue Adler shared a number of the highlights from previous consumer panels that she has conducted. Here are more best practices based upon what really matters to today’s buyers and sellers.

Stop dripping and sending us useless stuff

Adler argues that the more tech-savvy agents become, the more they may be alienating their clients. The reason is that they are relying on technology to build connection rather than personal contact.

To illustrate this point, the HID panels repeatedly said how much they disliked drip email campaigns and form letters. Agents who engage in these types of campaigns are “lazy.”

Furthermore, these consumers ignore the Google and Facebook ads and go directly to the organic results.

Other consumers recommended that you dump the Just Sold cards, stop sending them calendars, and instead, be seen helping at community-based events. Today’s consumer wants personal connection, not automated, impersonal contact.

Brand does matter

Consumers expect beautiful signs, great photos, and that their listings will be placed in as many places as possible on the Web. As one seller put it, “Advertising everywhere that you syndicate your listings is like a hotel advertising it has clean sheets.”

For consumers, brand does matter, but it’s not necessarily the agent or the brokerage brand. Instead, consumers want you to create a “brand” for them. Help them obtain that local knowledge about commute times, about the various extracurricular activities for the kids after school, or who has the best fruit at the local farmers market. In other words, help them with what they cannot discover online.

They do stalk you

Consumers constantly search for reviews. In fact, most said they had visited agent review sites. Nevertheless, when it becomes time to select an agent, most would rely primarily on a recommendation from a friend. Even so, they will still Google you to see what else they can learn about you online.

As Adler summed up: “They trust reviews and check for complaints.”

To take advantage of this behavior, make sure that you have as many testimonials for your services as possible. You will achieve a higher ranking on Google if these are videos rather than just text.

Dear House Hunter

One of Adler’s best recommendations was to create a love letter from the sellers addressed to “Dear House Hunter.” In this letter, the sellers share their own story about the house, the area and the lifestyle. Again, it will be even more effective if it’s on video.

Stay top of mind

A major challenge that agents face is how to stay top of mind. Adler shared an experience she had when she was considering buying a home in Boulder, Colorado.

The agent she contacted had her create an online survey, part of which included her recreational interests. One of her interests is hiking. The agent sent Adler a hiking map. It’s this level of personalization that today’s buyers and sellers want.

As one seller said, “If we’re not top of mind for you, you’re not top of mind for us.”

A customer appreciation program that works

Adler shared Russell Rhodes’ client appreciation program. Rhodes doesn’t like calling past clients. He wants them to call him. To achieve this goal, he has acquired items that people use that they would be unlikely to purchase. These items include a moving truck, several vans, power washers, four margarita machines, a popcorn machine, tables and chairs for entertaining, plus much more. Each item prominently displays Rhodes’ contact information. This approach has been a huge hit with his clients and provides a simple way for him to stay in touch and give them something that they value.

Quick marketing hits

Adler also assembled a variety of marketing ideas. Two of the most innovative ones included:

1. Taking high-quality photos of local luxury properties during the summertime. Adler was able to attribute at least one multimillion-dollar listing to this approach. “We had the best-looking MLS photos — everyone else’s listings were covered with snow.”

2. Offer to have a local inspector do a quick walk-through of a potential listing to note any items the sellers may want to fix before putting the property on the market.

Price it right

Adler had three great strategies for pricing your listings correctly.

1. Keep a weekly sales log of both the active and sold listings
Be sure to include original list price, sales price, as well as photos. This enables you to determine if your market is shifting or staying about the same. It also lets you easily compare prices based upon any particular month. Adler discovered that her sales rate was consistent except for December and January.

2. Create your own “honeymoon chart”
Most sellers fail to realize that they will receive the most showings during the first two to three weeks that they are on the market. This is sometimes known as the “honeymoon period.” Adler recommends that you create your own honeymoon chart by tracking the showing activity on your personal listings. You can then share these with the seller to show the specific patterns in their location.

3. Let the sellers price their own property
Adler suggests that you take pictures of the comparable sales prior to your listing appointments. You then have the sellers rank-order the comps from high to low. Once they have completed that task, ask them, “Where does your home fit in?” You can then give them their value based upon their selection.

If you want to do more business both now and in the future, pay special attention to these tips. Give consumers what they want and your business will be strong for years to come!

Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.

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