In 2013, Jägermeister, the company responsible for the gut-rot alcohol of the same name, decided to host the be-all-end-all sexy pool party in Leon, Mexico. But despite the bikini-clad models and vats of booze, party promoters thought the event was still missing that special something.

The X factor would be — wait for it — copious amounts of “sexy mist” coming off the water! So they dumped liquid nitrogen into the pool, and it created the desired dense fog. Everyone cheered.

Minutes later, however, they soon realized that there was nothing sultry about this situation; the nitrogen displaced all the oxygen near the pool, and the participants all started to faint from asphyxiation.

In total, eight young adults were hospitalized and one ended up in a coma for nearly three weeks. True story.

Needless to say, this publicity stunt wasn’t good for business.

This may be an extreme example of a marketing fail. But real estate agents do things every day that — though not physically toxic — kill opportunities to gain potential clients. Here are five sure ways to ensure leads won’t want to do business with you.

1. Be infamous — people remember the bad and the ugly long after the good


According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a bad customer service story will reach more than twice as many ears as a good one.

A survey done by American Express in 2014 revealed that 60 percent of those surveyed said they always share their negative customer service stories, and they tell nearly three times as many people (an average of 21 people versus eight people).

So if you want to spend all your free time at the golf course, get those lips moving. Word-of-mouth marketing is a very useful and powerful free tool, but only when it’s beneficial.

Don’t be shy about your A-plus work for clients. Ask for a written referral to use in your marketing and if they will (pretty please!) tell all their friends and family about how awesome you are.

2. Make sure you’re gone in 60 seconds


To ensure your phone never rings again, be the one who vanishes after closing. Nothing screams “I’m only in it for the money” louder than the agent who’s conveniently absent when a client has a problem the next week.

After earning your client’s trust, keep it by staying in touch.

A seasonal note or quick check-up call goes a long way toward cementing your name and business in their minds.

According to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5 to 20 percent, but the likelihood of selling to an existing client is 60 to 70 percent. In other words, it’s much cheaper and easier to retain a client than to go prospecting for a new one.

It’s shocking how many clients I have acquired through the years — just because I called someone back.


3. Become ‘The Illusionist’


Buyers notice names that appear frequently on the listings they see online, in more ways than you may realize. Browsers take note of the “big players” in an area, yes — but they’re also assessing listing display quality.

A few weekends ago, I was showing houses to buyers who were disappointed, yet again, about a house that looked amazing on the internet and pretty ho-hum in person.

“This room looked so much bigger online,” they said, and even more candidly: “This kitchen didn’t look like they cooked meth in it in the pictures.”

Sure, we all want our listings to look amazing to get prospective buyers through the door, but doctoring photos beyond recognition only backfires.

Clients see cleverly angled pictures as a form of deception, and they feel justifiably lied to.

For this, they blame the listing agent, and they are taking names.

I actually had a client say, “I don’t know why I expected anything different — the last two houses we went to see that were [this agent’s] listings were equally disappointing.”

At the same time, clients also see the photos online that look like they were taken with a 1970s Polaroid that spent the past 10 years underwater.

Make sure your photos are clear, coherent and a good representation of the property.

Put them in some sort of order, so clients can get an idea of the flow of the house. If it’s an oddly shaped room and a wide angle is the only way to go, put room dimensions in the listing to be clear.

Lastly, if you don’t have the equipment or ability to take great photos yourself, hire it out to someone who can. Clients notice the names on the listings that look like they were done by the cinematographers of The Blair Witch Project, and they won’t be calling you to list their home anytime soon.

4. Attend the ‘Mad Max’ driving school for Realtors


Believe it or not, if you are marketing yourself and putting your name and brand out there, you are setting yourself up to be a low-level local celebrity.

With any celebrity comes responsibility, especially if you have your name plastered on the side of your car.

We all have bad days behind the wheel; some of us just have a lot more of them than others. If you fall into the latter category, you may want to rethink advertising yourself on your vehicle.

Few things get people’s knickers in a twist more than getting cut off in traffic, and just like I said before, negative experiences travel fast.

So if you regularly drive like a stuntman during the chase scene in The Blues Brothers, it’s best to remain anonymous while behind the wheel.

5. Eat, pray, love and then talk real estate


Public opinion, to put it mildly, is not kind to the real estate agent. Many people perceive us as wealthy, arrogant, rude, self-serving — and those are the nicer adjectives used to describe our career choice.

It’s a Catch 22 — we need to be professional and drive a decent car to attract our clients, but we are condemned by others as “showing off” if we do so and “unsuccessful” if we don’t.

We need to use our social media platforms to promote ourselves and to stay in front of our clients, but we are chastised for cramming real estate down everyone’s throat.

What are we to do?

If you walk a fine line, you can have your cake and eat it, too, by employing empathy, reality and a huge dose of humble pie.

Facebook is full of everyone showing everyone else how great their life is, with very few people showing their actual reality.

Facebook-land is like living in The Matrix; if we all lived the lives that we portray online, you would think we all lived fabulously with polite, adorable children and dogs who don’t get projectile diarrhea at 3 a.m.

One of the most-viewed posts I ever had on Facebook was a little over two years ago when my horse spooked and dumped me on a trail ride; I had to walk home.

Somewhere halfway through the three-mile walk home in 90 degree weather wearing tall boots, breeches and a helmet, I stopped grumbling and realized I wasn’t hurt, and my horse was unscathed and already home.

Although this was not how I had planned my day, I told myself to quit my complaining; it could have been a lot worse. Then I started to see the humor in my situation.

I pulled out my phone and took a selfie making a cranky face and captioned the photo “I’m bringing new meaning to the walk of shame.”

Posting pictures that prove you are a human being, not a perfect real estate machine, will enable people who don’t know you well, or at all, on social media to feel comfortable with you.

Just make sure to keep it professional. Post about other things that are important to you, like animal rescue or doing something fun or challenging, like going bungee jumping. Just be yourself, be personable and be genuine.

I’ve listed my top five agent marketing errors, and though any one of these could be the catalyst for career suicide, none should be near the potential consequences of the ill-fated Jägermeister pool party.

If your marketing style is currently more Animal House than Enchanted, now is the time to look into your personal branding. After all, if Cinderella can go from a kitchen wench to a princess, just imagine what the future can hold for you.

Maria Dampman is the owner and manager of Smiling Cat Farm and a Virginia State licensed Realtor and ABR with Century 21 Redwood in Leesburg, Virginia. Visit her on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Email Maria Dampman

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