Monday, August 14, 2006

Small differences are big differences.

Are you impressing your clients as much as you should be? What would it take to do so? You may be be missing some huge opportunities to make your services remarkable. Just do what nobody else is doing. Do you hand out the same "thank you" presents as every other realtor or do you give your clients something unexpected? When a house is on the market, are you doing inovative things to make the house look attractive (professionally designed flyers, professional photography, house staging), or are you doing what everyone else does?

Today, commit yourself to adding one remarkable service to your catalog.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I took notes.

Today was a great day. I got to sit down and discuss the finer points of branding with a great group of agents. The input I received fueled me and served as a reminder of how exciting the world of marketing and branding really is. I went ahead and took notes on my lesson and subsequent discussion and I thought I would post them here. If you are finding this site for the first time through the class today, Welcome! Please let me know if this blog helps.

Notes
Sorry if this doesn't read too smoothly. They are only notes.

There are three stages to branding:
1.Target. The worst target group you can have is everyone. In branding, everyone equals no one. You can not devise a message that will speak to everyone. Find a group that you can realistically target. Pick a group that you have served well in the past and that you can serve well in the future. The definition of a target market is a group of people with defining characteristics. What are the defining characteristics of your group?

2.Message. Remember those defining characteristics? What message speaks well to those people. The elderly value security and trust. 20-somethings want you to hold their hand through the transactions. How can you overcome peoples fears?

3.Expression. So you have your target and your message. Now what? You need to figure out a way to get that message across. That's where the visual branding comes in. You need to people to feel a certain way when they see your graphics. If you don't take control of this process, potential clients are getting the wrong messages when they see your marketing materials. Make sure they are getting the right ones. Hire someone to help you.


How to choose a graphic designer:
-Make sure they understand the importance of target markets and how to reach them.
-Make sure their primary focus is sales for you and not just making pretty pictures.
-Make sure they will work with you. If the designer plans on taking your money and showing up in three weeks with a logo for you, it won't work. A good designer should spend a great deal of the design process in contact with you, trying to understand your business, your market, and you. If they don't insist on a detailed meeting before the first line is drawn, run!

Resources:
"The Tipping Point" -Malcolm Gladwell
An anthropological study on consumer behavior. What makes your customers tick? Deals a lot with the product adoption curve.

"Purple Cow" -Seth Godin
A much shorter read. Deals with a lot of the same issues as "The Tipping Point" but it explains how to translate these ideas into real business growth.

Any questions?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Read this book.

If you haven't read "Purple Cow" by Seth Godin, get it now. It will change the way you look at business. This book talks about how marketing extends into everything you do as a business owner.

Monday, August 07, 2006

They're watching you.

I had a great experience with an online store just now that I want to share. I went to marketingsherpa.com (a great resource) to buy a case study. During the ordering process, I had a problem with the credit card processing (it kept returning an error code) and I gave up. This report was going to help me a great deal with a project I'm working on and I was very disappointed. Less than an hour later, I received a phone call. It was a representative from Marketing Sherpa, letting me know the error had been fixed and I was welcome to go back and finish the order. At the beginning of the ordering process they had asked for my phone number and here they where, using it to help me. That is remarkable. This resulted in both me returning to purchase their product, and my sudden urge to spread the word about the great service I just received. Are you doing online marketing for yourself? What are you doing to make the process remarkable?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Subway vs. McDonald's. (no, really)

I was driving on I-90 today and stopped at a Subway shop in Ellensburg. When ordering my sandwich, I noticed something new. I was offered mushrooms as a topping. This summed up the biggest problem this national chain faces, the reason it is not the #1 fast food chain yet: Consistency. Or the lack thereof.

Let's take a quick look backwards at the history and success of another fast-food chain, McDonald's. Consistency is the key to the international success of The Golden Arches. When was the last time you where offered mushrooms on your Big Mac or Deli Mustard on your double cheeseburger? This lack of service as some may see it, is what made the company do so well, and there is a good reason for it. If you grew to expect Grey Poupon on your cheeseburger and you went to a Mickey-D's across town only to find out that they didn't stock the condiment, you would be disappointed. There is one thing that people hate more than anything else: Unpleasant surprises. Disappointment is the best way to hurt your brand.

Now back to Subway. When I have gone into different stores of this chain, I have faced several variations:
Some offer spinach for free. Some charge extra.
Some offer double cheese on veggie sandwiches. Some don't.
Some are amply staffed (short wait times). Some are shorthanded (long wait times).
Some offer to toast your sandwich. Some make you ask.

This type of inconsistency results in unpleasant surprises on a fairly regular basis. Now, I am not saying that in business, you shouldn't offer extras (quite the opposite, actually). I am saying to make sure that you are not setting up your clients to expect one thing and get something less. Make sure that if they are surprised, it is the pleasant kind.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Some are happiest when losing money.

In this post from Seth Godin's blog, he talks about how most marketers ignore the marketplace and make decisions that they think will best please their employers. I am placing the blame in this situation on the employer. The marketer doesn't get paid unless they please their employer. Are you one of these employers? Do you encourage the people that are creating your marketing materials to do ineffective work? Working as a graphic designer I have run into this several times. I would get a job and I would know that the only way to please my employer was to produce a product that would not perform well in the marketplace. Many realtors simply don't know a lot about marketing. When they create marketing pieces, they hire someone to do the work that can create something that looks good. Something that they, personally will like. And not what will perform well. This is one of the best ways to spend money foolishly. There are two ways to get around this. 1) learn how to effectively market yourself and meticulously control the process of every marketing piece or 2) hire someone with a proven track record in actual business growth and trust them. This solves your problem, because the ultimate decision maker in both of these cases is someone that understands marketing. That is what is ultimately important.

Friday, May 26, 2006

@IDontCare.com

If you are using one of the free email services like Hotmail or Yahoo, stop now. If your email address is realtor@freemail.com, people are reading that as IDontCareAboutMyBusiness@freemail.com. If you don't know how to fix this, here is the best set-up I have found:

1)Sign up for a domain name with a trusted registrar. Even GoDaddy.com works fine. I like 1and1.com.

2)Go here and follow the instructions for signing up. This is a brand new service that lets you use Google's mail servers with your domain name. Google's mail features are by far the best around, and best of all, they're free!

3)Enjoy your new-found professionalism.