Marketing Class System – Would You Like Fries With That?



Greg at Blue Roof pointed out awhile back some differences between good agents and bad. The statement I love most is:

Flexibility in marketing homes= BAD. Making sure every home has a full marketing package= GOOD.

I totally agree. I see agent ads all the time promoting “a unique marketing program designed specifically for your home.” What in the heck does this mean? Are some homes worthy of a visual tour while others are not? Maybe some of the more special homes will get print and online placement while the lesser properties just get a yard sign. It simply makes no sense, but makes a lot of cents to the agent promoting this approach. What it tells me is that the agent is value engineering at the expense of providing a full range of services to their client. I can’t imagine suggesting to anyone that their small condo deserves less exposure than the million dollar listing. Admittedly, Dream Homes magazine may not be appropriate for the one-bedroom loft, but the agents I see suggesting a tailored marketing strategy are not the agents spending money in Dream Homes. In fact, they are generally the agents not spending any money at all.

Expansive and expensive (I’m afraid) marketing does make a difference. My conclusion comes in part as the result of a “scientific” experiment I conducted this past week wherein I observed a buyer’s reaction to the property flyers at two different listings. Both homes were in the same development, with the same view, general location, condition, and price. One home had a single page property flyer while the other had a multi-page, glossy property brochure. Both homes, I’m afraid, were my listings. The buyer accepted the single-sheet flyer in a most perfunctory manner and gave it only a glance. At the second home, they responded to the full, picture-packed brochure with a “wow, this is a nice home”. They stayed longer and asked more questions. Now, I am going to take the leap that the same difference in reaction would have resulted had the information been presented in a print or on-line ad. The more exposure, and the higher the quality of the writing, photos and presentation, the more the buyer’s interest and even perceived value will be.

We have always applied our full marketing arsenal to every home for sale, be it small, large, unattractive, or the Taj Mahal. Our visual tours will always include more than 30 photos regardless of the home; even the one-bedroom condo has enough photo opportunities (neighborhood schools, parks, amenities) to fill a tour and pack a punch. We most recently have made it a policy to provide every home with a large, impressive brochure of the type typically reserved for the million-dollar babies. Does it make a difference? Maybe not, but I think so. Regardless, our clients all deserve the same level of marketing effort, and anything less smacks of not only poor representation but (dare I say) ignorance and even discrimination. The buyer for a small starter home is just as interested and excited about their purchase as the outragiously wealthy buyer. Broad, attractive marketing will be no less effective in capturing their interest and may, in fact, be more effective.

As a loosely related aside, a past client shared a good story with me yesterday. She was visiting another agent’s open house over the weekend. This particular home was priced well above $1 million. My client admitted that she was not exactly dressed to the nines at the time. The listing agent apparently dismissed her entirely, and (in her words) was rude and arrogant. She felt that the agent had the impression that she could not afford the home and was therefore not worth her time. The irony, of course (there always is one), is that my client is indeed in the market for a home in this price range. Not only did the agent’s behavior irreparably damage her reputation with this buyer, but she left the buyer with a negative impression of the very home she was hired to sell.

So, in real estate, there should be no class system. If done right, marketing costs should not be a percentage of your anticipated paycheck, but a fixed cost of doing business; the same for each and every home you undertake selling. Sure the profit margin is greater for the Whoppers, but the French Fries are an essential side dish … and they pay the bills.

(Note: Actually, I believe the french fries are the large margin items in fast food land, but that didn’t work for my methaphor.:))

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