As a marketing professional, I keep a close eye on different real estate marketing efforts around my own neighborhood. When I encountered one yard sign in particular, I realized quickly that it was unreadable from the road. It sparked an interest for me to check out this agent’s tactics because every time I drove by this house in and out of my community, it caused me to think.
Over this last weekend, my husband and I visited their local open house as we were exiting our community. Finally, I was able to read the details of the sign, once I parked at a safe spot and walked onto the yard a bit. As we walked towards the house, my eye started jumping around so I could take mental notes of what I thought worked well and what I thought could be done differently… for you, my tribe.
I hope you understand that I only point out these areas for improvement so people can see what works and what doesn’t work in marketing when it comes to branding, listing marketing and doing open houses. This is the exact feedback I would give my clients – constructive criticism because I care and I want them to succeed.
Recommendation #1: Make sure your yard sign is large with large readable letters and is not too cluttered for people driving by at 30 MPH. Also, don’t ever put white lettering on a bright light background color (like yellow). One must use contrasting colors if they are to be read. Also, make sure that you focus on selling the home and not just your company. Have the sign brand you more than your company. Who knows if you’ll be staying at that company and do you want your marketing efforts to brand them or you?
Also, this agent assumed that they were doing business in their primary area code and made the area code small and unreadable. They were not in their primary area code. Someone might have presumed that it was the local area code and dialed the wrong number. It’s okay to use smaller fonts for local area codes, but if you’re out of the area, you could be missing out on potential leads.
Observation #2: Immediately, as we approached the house, there was this large vehicle that was haphazardly parked in the driveway blocking us from parking. It looked like someone was in a rush to get there and parked sideways. Since there was no one there upon entering besides her friend, it was confusing as to why the entrance was blocked. I surmised that she wanted it to appear as if there were people there and also perhaps she didn’t want people to leave oil stains in driveway? Another thought was maybe she wanted to avoid others blocking visitors that might want to park in the driveway and get blocked in. #shouldershrug
Recommendation #2: First impressions last. Don’t take up the whole driveway parking sideways because it could turn people away for a number of reasons. It felt unwelcoming and a bit inconsiderate. There wasn’t any street parking and it made attending the open house a bit less convenient than it could have been if we could have parked in the driveway. For some, that’s all it takes to not attend!
Observation #3: The agent appeared to be under dressed. Maybe I’m old school, but if you are a professional, show up as a professional. You could be dressed nice and still be casual.
Recommendation #3: Dress accordingly. Don’t represent your seller, your listing and yourself (your brand) looking like you would look if you met a friend at Starbucks for coffee on your off day. Business casual all the way!
Observation #4: We walked in and were not greeted. Once we found the agent, they were in the kitchen on the computer with a friend (unknown to us at the time) showing them stuff on a computer. She yelled that she was in the kitchen and she didn’t shake our hands, introduce herself or the house. I had to ask what the stats were for the house. The agent didn’t hand us a flyer nor ask us to sign in. All of these were lost opportunities to make a connection.
Recommendation #4: Sounds so basic, but greet your guests immediately, warmly and with a handshake. Provide them with an overview of the pertinent facts of the home and hand out a flyer. Offer the option to take them on a tour of the home to create a connection if you are interested in attracting new buyer clients. Even if someone is a looky loo or a nosey neighbor, you should treat everyone the same. You never know if they will know someone and recommend you or if they might have a life stage event in the near future that catapults them into selling their home. No matter what, you want to make an excellent and lasting impression!
Observation #5: The flyer (that we had to ask the agent for) had four (4) pictures of the house and the only details about the home were the address, price and the MLS#. The logo took up the space of two home pics and you can barely read the her contact info because she was overly enthused about putting the logo icon that was used as a backdrop to the contact info. There was no website and no email address. The ONLY way to reach this agent for more info was a phone number. The agent had three (3) items about the company on the flyer and it felt like the company was more prominent than the agent and possibly even, the home. Anyone on a home tour would immediately have to do more research on the home to get more info (What was the square footage of the home? What was the bed / bath count? Description?). By creating the flyer in this way, the agent made it harder for the buyer and if the buyer was represented, the buyer’s agent.
I feel like I could go on and on about the flyer. But the last item I will share is that the photos were substandard for marketing purposes. The carpet and walls looked dirty even though they weren’t. Is that the impression you want people to walk away with? Many buyers looking at open houses have homes to sell. Your open house demonstrates your listing marketing and representation. Everything you do at an open house, including the flyer, shows off your skills or your lack thereof.
Recommendation #5: Take the time to build a proper flyer with all the pertinent facts and awesome photos. See an example above of a well designed and informative flyer. TIP: If you design the flyer with a white background, not only will it save you on ink expense, it also won’t have those pesky white borders that can tend to make a flyer look low budget. Use high quality white paper with a high quality print setting for your best flyer!
Observation #6: I had to look up the agent website in order to find their site and the listing. I finally found their website (which wasn’t easy) and the listing for the house wasn’t on her site as a featured listing.
Recommendation #6: If you are to represent your seller and the home correctly, make sure it is front and center on your website and easy for people to find and contact you. Make sure there is a strong call to action for both buyers and sellers on the page that has your listing!
Observation #7: There were no open house signs at any corners or high traffic areas and the sign for this agent was small on the corner and huddled together with a bunch of other like signs that were also unreadable.
Recommendation #7: Make sure that you have open house signs at important entry and traffic points. Another agent showing a house in our area had up to 6 open house A Boards and lots of traffic at their open house! They also had a beautiful flyer.
(Last small note: I attended two open houses in the same weekend. One other thing I noticed besides the sign, and the flyer, the warm greeting at open house listed above is that they didn’t turn on most of the lights in the house nor did they have the fireplace on. The second, better open house had all the lights on and both fireplaces lit. As Walt Disney attributed to his success, “small details matter.”)
You might be thinking, “Lisa, maybe this agent is new to real estate?” During our conversation with the agent, we found out this agent had been in real estate for 12 years! I was amazed that this person made it in the business this long.
This person was from out of the area (different state phone number!) and didn’t seem like a lot of effort was done. It didn’t appear that they cared about the listing nor that they wanted to build relationships with potential buyers that came by. That came across loud and clear in the agent’s marketing and how they represented the home during their open house. The impression I left with was that the agent was hurried, didn’t take attention to detail and wasn’t professional. How might that impression translate into how they perform on a deal, negotiation or seeing the transaction through to the end smoothly?
If I was a buyer, I wouldn’t work with this agent. If I was a seller, I wouldn’t hire this agent. Listings are the prime opportunity to gain more business through buyer and sellers seeing the way you come to market — for yourself and for your clients. Make sure you always put your best foot forward, every time. Having high standards and being consistent will be one of the hallmarks for your success in 2017!
I’d love to know what you think! What are your DO’s or DON’Ts for your open houses?