The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Who Knew Promotional Magnets Could Be So Controversial?

As much as I wish my time as a real estate agent was only (or even primarily) spent selling houses or closing transactions, if we’re going to be friends (and if you’re not my friend, you’re my enemy, or possibly my frenemy, you’ll never know) I should be honest; I spend at least 50 percent of my real estate life selling myself. (EW! Not in a dirty way, jeez!) It’s a super lame part of the biz for most agents (although there are probably some mentally unstable people out there who truly love door-knocking 50 houses on a hot summer Sunday and getting the door slammed in his or her face 7 times out of 10), but almost totally unavoidable. Jonathon Dalton wrote a post about this fact just the other day over at the AAR blog. And as I commented on it: True. But depressing.

Yesterday I dealt with some of this ‘prospecting’ end of life as a real estate agent (yes, Dear Clients, we compare you to ore we are mining for. Or sometimes we call it ‘farming’, and in that case, you would be the produce we’re looking to produce. Either way it’s totally objectifying and not at all personal. Isn’t that warm and fuzzy?). Every year around Christmas time I send out a holiday mailer to my ‘farm’ neighborhood (corn is statuesque and a lovely golden color, so it’s a compliment really, I think of you as my ‘pretty, potentially delicious with salt and butter crops that might someday earn me a commission’ is that better?) and to my friends and family. I’ve done calendars of some sort in addition to a holiday card every year I’ve been in real estate.

This year, though, Lizzie (my collaborative real estate partner in crime) and I were discussing the calendar situation, our limited funds due to the horror show that is the economy and the possibility of doing a fridge magnet with more staying power than just a year. We had mailed out a magnet with kitchen conversions years ago and she said she thought people kept those longer (because really, who can ever remember how many pints are in a quart, if any? I certainly can’t. Is it quarts in a pint? No, it’s totally feet in a gallon, right?). Plus, Lizzie’s kind of a half-hearted hippie (when she heard how you have to actually scrape the poop off the cloth diapers into the toilet yourself and then wash them in the same washing machine you do your cloth napkins in, she decided disposable diapers weren’t THAT bad for the environment) and she found a really cute fridge magnet with ‘Tips for Living Green’.

Thus, we decided to switch over to the super cute, but non-calendar magnet format for this Christmas’s mailer. I was actually in the process of uploading my picture and inserting my cell phone number and web address for these magnets when I got the following text message from a number I didn’t recognize “Pls send a new calendar magnet. 1234 S AddressinmyfarmthatI’veomittedtoprotecttheinnocent, Chandler, AZ…tkx”.

The text message was confusing for 3.5 seconds, until I remembered the calendars we sent out last year (which are of the monthly rip off sheet variety) have a sheet between September and October, I think, that helpfully reminds the user to contact the person who gave it to them and ask for another one for next year. It would have been so exciting and awesome to get that random feedback that obviously one of the people I sent it to was not only using the calendar, but loved it enough to use a precious text message to ask me to send them another one (sshhhh… I know everyone has unlimited texting now, but I’m pretending it’s 2003 when texts were like 25 cents each to feel more important) if only we hadn’t decided a nanosecond before that to NOT send calendars this year.

So I ask you, Internets, what would you have done? Would you have politely and professionally texted back, “You ungrateful ear of corn! I was going to send you an awesome magnet that would allow you to save the environment single-handedly, but since that’s clearly not good enough for you, you get nothing! No magnet for you! You probably hate the earth and are one of those corns that goes into the high fructose syrup anyway. Good riddance.” and stuck with the Green Tips? Or would you have folded the whole plan of action like a house of cards and gone back to last year’s calendars because if that one person loves it, well then at least there’s one person! Who knows if anyone would like the hippie magnet?

Yeah, we went with option C: we are going to send out the calendars at Christmas, and the Green Tips next summer. Because we’re suckers for both positive feedback AND saving trees and stuff. Plus, the only way the hideous economy is going to get better is if we start spending lots of money, right? That’s totally what I heard when I was watching CSPAN (that’s not a sports channel, right? I totally just put it in there hoping of the TV networks I don’t pay any attention to this is the one about money and stuff and not the one about baseball or history).

And the point of all of this is: if you want a calendar magnet AND/OR a magnet with tips about not using more than 3 squares of toilet paper when you only went number one (that’s not on there, I swear), and you think you’re not already on my list (if you got one last year, you’re probably already on the list, Dad), totally hit the Contact Me button over there and send me your name and address. I’ll only send you that and not show up at 9am on Easter demanding a chocolate bunny, I swear (unless you have extras and live in North East Mesa, and then maybe).

4 Responses to Who Knew Promotional Magnets Could Be So Controversial?

  1. Hey

    Love your blogging by the way, been reading for a month and it’s always a laugh

    Doorknocking doesn’t really get 7 out of 10 doors closed.. does it?

    I’m not from where you are, not even close, but I find the script makes a huge difference.

    this one below has an 80% hit rate

    “Hi my names Elizabeth, I’m just walking around the area to give everyone one of these.. ”

    and you give them your calendar magnet

    “as you can see I’m a Realtor but I’m not going to try and get you to buy or sell today.. cos I know everyone’s just sick of that.

    All I want from today is for you to know that I am here and I have a way for you to follow what’s going on in North East Mesa (or whatever).. you see, what I do is every 6 months I send out a report detailing all the sales results from all the agents in the area.. and it’s got my contact details on it just like the magnet, so if you ever need to get in touch you can do so.. rather than me.. inconveniencing you..

    So I’ll send that to you, how do I spell your name?

    And what’s your phone number..?

    And would you prefer that by email?

    And while you have me you wouldn’t happen to have any questions about Real Estate?”

    —-

    If they are thinking of buying or selling they will normally interrupt you in the middle of the script to tell you exactly that. If not, add them to your database and start sending the letters.

    Because not many people reject you.. you may actually start to find this fun. Normally once people realise that you aren’t trying to get them to sell their house they relax and are willing to have a chat.

    Oh and one more thing, we have found that in addition to calendars, magnets with local phone numbers like the local restaurant, the local pizza joint, etc go down really well!

    best of luck

  2. Hey, um, next year, since it sounds like you already ordered, I think SEVRAR’s Realtor store has small packs of calendars (maybe like 25 or so and they are the kind you have to stick your business card to). You can still go green and keep those few random calendar requesters happy.

  3. Matthew,

    Yeah, I should really add a disclosure at the bottom of my site that says, “No cited statistics are valid in any way except that I just made them up in my own head. Unless I linked directly to the source, and then you can take the validity up with that guy.”

    And yes, your script sounds pretty legit. I absolutely agree that there are agents out there who use scripts like this and have success with them and probably don’t want to throw themselves into oncoming traffic after a day of door-knocking.

    I think my problem is mainly that I have a compulsion to tell the truth that borders on pathological. I’m afraid I’d get halfway through, pause, and say, “I totally just said these exact same words to your next door neighbor and I feel kind of awkward about it. You hate me, don’t you?” and then run away.

    On an unrelated note: You’re totally British or something, right? That’s kind of awesome.

  4. Just Kidding, you’re Australian!! I just looked at your website. Also rad. Thanks for reading, Matthew!

    Liz, that is just way too logical. :D

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