I am often asked my opinion on what can be done to make a home “Market Ready”. Of course, there is the widely known concept of curb appeal, and most people in the real estate industry, and buyers and sellers alike, think this is what makes some one want to stop the car, get out and go see a house when spotting a for sale sign. No doubt, this is important, but that is only the beginning. In this transforming industry where traditional marketing trends often take a back seat to the Internet and social media strategies, we have to rethink the way we approach “curb appeal”. The Internet is often called the ‘information super highway’ so we need to think about curb appeal from this highway as well.
I think it is time to change the lingo around a bit. Let’s call it “Packaging”.
Packaging is a marketing and branding term that means to capture a customer’s attention and to compel the customer to pick up a product and take a closer look. Whenever I approach a new listing, I like to remind the seller that this is not about listing a home for sale. This is about stepping outside and looking at the house as a product that needs to be marketed, and the focus on packaging is key. If we package a home properly, we will generate increased interest on the Internet, which is where most of the leads are coming from.
One of the greatest companies in the world at packaging is Tiffany. When a Tiffany box is presented to a recipient, it ushers a sense of emotion that there is something really great inside. The baby blue box with the white satin ribbon packaging creates this emotion. It’s about the total experience, and it’s about delivering a product that is consistent with the packaging, but to start the process, we need to get them to open the box.
I once had a conversation about marketing with Joanne DiMarco and she said something I will never forget. “Imagine – it’s your special night out, you get all dressed up and head to your favorite steak house (that you have been saving up to go to for months). The room is elegant, and the lighting is perfect. The manager welcomes you and escorts you to the perfect candlelit table next to the roaring fireplace and you order the perfect glass of wine to start the evening. You carefully select the Prime cut that you had been looking forward to with the best steak sauce, and in goes the waiter with your order. Finally, it’s time be presented with your entrée and the waiter presents this fine meal to you on a garbage can lid.”
Something tells me that even if the steak is the best in the world, you are sending that baby back to the kitchen! It’s all about packaging and it’s all about the total experience.
So what is the point, and how does this apply to marketing your house? Over 90 percent of buyers today start their home searches online. This means that the opportunity for someone to drive by in a car and see your house for the first time is much more remote. Chances are that they have already seen it long before they made the decision to get in the car and go there. So how do we convey curb appeal to the buyer who hasn’t been here yet?
To do this, you have to prepare your home for today’s buyers. It’s not good enough to trim the bushes, add fresh paint and stain the deck. It is critical to capture the essence of this curb appeal using the best professional photographs, the best lighting and to replace the old virtual tour with real live video production. To convey the essence of the lifestyle of a home via the Internet is today’s biggest challenge. Consumers are relying so heavily on the web to evaluate real estate and make decisions on what to go see, it is critical that your marketing and packaging strategy get you more clicks than the competition.
Today’s buyers value their time, and they are less likely to spend days and days looking at everything on the market. They are educated and focused, and they will determine what to go see based on the impression of lifestyle they can conceive of by reviewing their options online.
Buyers want to generate an emotional reaction from what they see online, they are impatient at times as well, and they want to “feel what is like to be there” before they go to see it.
This is packaging, and it will make a tremendous difference in the future for moving that product!
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