Thursday, December 14, 2006

Consumer Experience in Real Estate Marketing

A recent move cross country, driving from Boston to Los Angeles. What an accomplished feeling as the car traveled down the 5 freeway and crossed into Los Angeles County for the first time. Thoughts of a fresh city, endless opportunities, and a new place to live unfortunately was blinding to the fact that the real challenges were still to come. So, off to stay with a friend, and living out of a car that is packed to the top with personal belongings. During the day, searching and searching for a place to live in a city so unfamiliar. Newspaper searches, driving to different areas, but the best results occurred from searching for listings online. After about a day, frustration set in. I mean the lack of detail and the absence of actual feel from the displays on the websites was enough to upset want to wave the white flag in surrender. There were beautifully staged photos, and those full room 360 degree tours, but unfortunately few people like to go into a room blindfolded and look in one direction, or stand in the middle of the room and spin around in place. It's much like a sales agent taking you in the room with your eyes closed, takes you to a point in the room and takes off the blindfold. You get to spin around in a circle a couple of times and then you're asked, "So what do you think?" Are you kidding? Is this how to start a decision process that will effect the next 6 months, 12 months or successive years of our lives? Let's just say that most people at this point aren't running to leave their homes and to go see it live and in person.

This process has to have a better way to enhance the consumer experience. Over 80% of customers access the internet for their prospecting in the real estate industry because of distance, time and convenience restraints. How do you give these people the best information and give them an experience that would motivate them to action? The answer is simple, and it's one that is already used, the Open House. Just think about it. You go to look at a location, and an agent takes you around. You walk through the door, and into rooms that you may eventually live in while an agent walks beside you and gives you a play by play description of what is right before your eyes. What usually happens after that is that people are so impressed by what they saw and heard that they are ready to literally move in, or that they know that it's not to place for them. So, how about giving that Open House experience to people without them leaving home? A first person, guide narrated, mood music assisted look into the property, a true Open House Video.

From a marketing perspective wouldn't it make sense to give this experience to as many people as possible? You'd be able to qualify leads based on their interest and action from this experience. This experience would be dictated by a person looking for a new home much like a good movie, leaving you with a lasting feeling that resonates long after you walk out of the theater. So, when that perfect match is found, and you walk through the door and immediately know the search is over. It's everything and more. During the tour as the sales woman described everything, there was no doubt in the mind. But in hindsight, it would have been much easier if this all of this could have been done from home.

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