Print media: Why design matters

Print media is a powerful marketing tool, and we have 40 years of success with real estate agents relying on our marketing materials to prove it.

However, a gaping hole exists between well-designed print materials and a flier thrown together on Microsoft Word. In fact, it is the difference between attracting new clients and losing out to your competition.

People expect great design. Successful brands that capture the hearts of consumers have set a very high standard for graphic design. Brands like Apple carry their sleek design theme from their products to their digital marketing, and right to the architectural design of their stores. Consumers identify with the positive experience they have with Apple products because the whole brand appears clean, polished and high-tech.

Great design is often invisible, terrible design is not.
In order to have that staying power, mailings must catch and hold attention. Terrible design will definitely catch attention, but for the wrong reasons. The reality is, great design means it's invisible, making it easier for the recipient to read and interact with your piece. Professional graphic designers use their knowledge of contrast, space, size, and other organizational skills to visually communicate your message in the most effective way. Bad design means your message is muddled, hard-to-read and will do nothing but annoy the recipient.

Prioritizing design is a sign of professionalism. In a world where corporations set such a high bar for design, entrepreneurs and independent contractors have had to learn how to prioritize aesthetics. Great design is a sign that the business cares about how it appears to its customers. It’s also a sign that the company is up-to-date and operating at a level of professionalism that affirms their customers' loyalty.

In a seller's market, what can you do for buyers?

As you know, it's been a seller's market for quite some time, which makes us wonder what's ahead in 2018. According to Inman, the trend will continue this year. Economic analysts and real estate experts predict more millennials will enter the housing market in search of their first home. And while there was an increase in building permits in 2017, those homes won't be on the market until the late summer or fall of this year.

So, how can you ease the minds of buyers when houses fly off the market, leaving you with little time to find one for them?

Begin by talking with them. When you provide valuable information about the local housing market and access to tools to help them find their dream home, you give them insights to cope with the stress of their transition. You also know there are a few strategic things that can be done to put your clients on the inside track when they do find that perfect home. Don't assume your buyers know these things.

Strongly encourage clients to be flexible and prioritize their wish list.

When there's no time to waste, some clients can't afford to be picky. Know what they need, and what they can do without. They may hold fast to having a room for each child but may decide that granite countertops are a want and not a need. It also helps if they can be flexible with their timeline. If the seller needs to stay in the home for an extra month or wants to close by the end of the week, talk to your clients about how you can help make it happen. A little bit of inconvenience (such as living in an extended stay hotel for two weeks) could be the key to buying the home of their dreams.

Make sure your clients get a pre-approval letter from a lender.

This letter will prove to sellers that your clients have been financially vetted and are a great candidate for the home they want. It will also help clients know what mortgage they can reasonably afford, which can help narrow down their search. Once you provide homes for clients to consider, they may only have one chance to see the home they love. When there's no time to waste, your clients will be glad they already have a pre-approval letter to get the ball rolling.

Recommend that an escalation clause be added to the offer.

If your clients know how much they are willing to pay over another offer, it can help ease their nerves if a bidding war takes off. Suggesting this clause demonstrates to your clients that you are there to help them make the best offer on the home they love.

Explain the value of a personal letter.

Advise clients on situations that call for a heartfelt letter to sellers. In some scenarios, these can make or break the outcome of a competitive multi-offer bidding war. Sharing why they love the home or why they want to live in the area can appeal to a seller's soft side. If the family is relocating from out of state and needs to find a place before school starts, that should be included in the letter. Ultimately, sellers will put the most value into the highest bid. But, adding a personal touch can go a long way for your clients.

You are a professional and have your own unique style, but your most valuable tool is communication. Strong communication helps your clients understand the buying process, and may help them open their wallets to enhance their offer. When you communicate in a way that builds trust with your clients, they'll confidently put their faith in you to find their dream home.

The big problem with business cards (and how to solve it)

How many times have you handed out a business card and never heard from that person again? Even when the recipients have every intention of contacting you, chances are high your card will be lost or tossed before they have the chance to reach out.

Increase the effectiveness of your business cards with these five tips:

  1. Get their contact information in return. If prospects don't have a business card, ask for their phone number or email address and write it down (or add it to your contacts) right then and there. When you walk away with their contact information in hand, you virtually guarantee yourself a chance to reconnect later. Just handing them a card puts all of the power in their hands and decreases the chances you will ever hear from them again.
  2. Tell them when you will follow up. Be clear about how and when you intend to reach out to them. This takes the pressure off them to reach out to you, and it gives you an open door to follow up without appearing too pushy. Let them know you will email them later that day with the information they requested, or tell them that you will call in a few days to set up a meeting over coffee.
  3. Give them permission to text. A lot of people prefer to communicate with text messages rather than emails or phone calls, although some may hesitate to text a number on a business card. If you're willing to text, point out your cellphone number on your card and assure them you're happy to communicate this way.
  4. Connect with something other than business. Remember, the best way to do business is to develop genuine relationships with your contacts. If your conversation leads to other topics like family or hobbies, use that as a conversation starter in your follow-up email, text or phone call.
  5. Read the situation. Not every contact you make will turn into a client. Not every contact you make will be interested in hearing from you again about your business. Don't burn these bridges by being tone deaf. Be self-aware enough to know when a person will be more irritated than happy to hear from you. You want everyone to feel comfortable referring you to family and friends. If you push too hard, people will likely steer prospects away from you rather than refer you in the future.

Handing out business cards is a great way to network. With these few tweaks, you can capitalize on this simple marketing tool, and reduce the number of leads lost simply because your card was misplaced.