What Realtors can learn from "Black Friday"

As I stood in line at Wal Mart to get my “Door Buster Deals” early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I began to realize all the things a Realtor can learn from shopping’s Super Bowl.

Remember My Name – I am not sure when the name “Black Friday” was assigned to the unofficial first day of the holiday shopping season – I always thought it was “The Busiest Shopping Day of the Year”? You have to admit however that “Black Friday” has a cool ring to it. And that might be the first lesson – Realtors need to be descriptive in their marketing. It’s not about the 3BR, 2BA anymore. People want to hear a story. We need to be “selling” instead of just “telling.”

Build the Buzz – I am always amazed at the amount of buzz and planning that goes into both sides of this day. The retailers have the marketing blitz ready weeks in advance, staffing everyone on the payroll and hiring security to keep the crazed shoppers in line. The consumers usually have established a plan of attack – many times bringing multiple people to search out various items from different corners of the store or even multiple stores at once.

Realtors need to think of new ways to create interest in their listings. “Just Listed” doesn’t have the same urgency anymore. Why not hold an “invite only” Open House for the neighborhood prior to the first scheduled public open house? People will always want something that is “one to a customer.” Create Buyer urgency by following the “hot sheets” in your local MLS and contacting them before lunchtime.

“What are you doing on your lunch break? I think I might have found your new house!”

Utilize the Web – This one seems like a “no brainer” with the latest NAR statistics showing that 87% of consumers are using the web in the real estate searches. Can you cross promote your products or services on local company sites, national sites? Are you reaching out to potential customers through blogs and social media outlets? Remember the rules of the web – make it fresh and make it relevant but most important…make it visible.

Toss in “Extras” – Amazon.com offers free shipping. Some stores offer free wrapping or even gift cards with certain purchases. What other services could you offer your clients? Complimentary consulting? Individualized web sites for searching? Mailing labels after closing?

Sure these things aren’t much and it’s stuff you might do anyway but people always love to feel they are getting more than they paid for. Four words will help you succeed more than you know – “Under promise…Over deliver.”

Set “Limits” – If people could get the same price at 5pm that they can get at 5am, what is the point? By creating urgency, today’s marketers have figured out that today’s consumer thrives on competition. The “thrill of the hunt” or the “battle for supremacy” creates desire. Desire needs to be satisfied. What can you do to create urgency for your clients? Do you have a “call to action” in your marketing?

Fish Upstream – What do I mean by this one? It’s simple. The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people. This year will offer more stress with the faltering economy but people will fight to hang on to their traditions and gift giving opportunities. If you’re like me, waiting until the last minute to complete your shopping list can be a bit hectic and frustrating. By creating “Black Friday” retailers have helped move the decision making process up 30 days. I overheard shoppers boast that by dinnertime tonight they would be done with their shopping.

Realtors need to be looking 30 days ahead for our clients sake as well. Do your marketing efforts help identify sellers before they receive the foreclosure notice? Are we encouraging buyers to look three months before their lease expires while they still have the leisure of finding the right house instead of waiting and finding the only house?

I must admit, I am not a huge fan of getting up early to do things I could normally do during daylight hours (and not have to fight pajama-clad women) but the opportunity only comes around once a year. I would consider my “mission” a success today; products purchased, discounts received, “honey do list” for the rest of the weekend waived. Goodbye “Black Friday.” Hello “Slack Saturday.”

Wouldn’t it be neat if you could create the same kind of excitement in your business?

9 Responses to What Realtors can learn from "Black Friday"
  1. Anonymous
    November 28, 2008 | 5:54 pm


  2. Tampa Real Estate
    December 12, 2008 | 5:31 pm

    It would be neat of we could create that excitement. The problem is there is too much inventory over most of the country. Once inventory levels come down and Foreclosures and Short Sales start to go away and we return to a normal market, the excitement is diffuct to build.

  3. Anonymous
    December 28, 2008 | 2:27 pm

    I have always loved shopping… it might take on a new meaning now!

  4. Anonymous
    December 28, 2008 | 4:31 pm

    I will never think about Black Friday the same again. It will always remind me to be more creative and aggressive during the so called down time.

    Thanks again Sean.
    Terry Westerville

  5. Anonymous
    December 28, 2008 | 9:26 pm

    Sean, 3/4 of the respondents, so far, are negative , or at least, not excited and ready to “do it”! I like those odds. My listings will fly off the “shelf” with your suggestions! Go, Go, Go!
    Barbara from Canal

  6. Cheery Malone
    December 29, 2008 | 6:02 pm

    You are the master of putting things in a way that everyone will relate. I am so proud that you are a part of the Coldwell Banker team! Cheery Malone CBWS Crestview Hills KY

  7. Rick Lemmons
    November 25, 2009 | 11:53 am

    Nice analogy. After reading it I realized that we are doing 5 of the 6 "topics" –
    1) Remember my Name – We brand Rick and Robin on all our marketing material including cards, personal brochures and website. Plus our motto "When life gives you Lemmons, make Lemon-aid!"
    2) Build the Buzz – I recieve a copy of all Buyer Searches. I will review the listings and then call the buyer prospect to let them know about a house that meets their needs. At least 1/3 of the time, buyers wind up buiying a house I selected for them rather than the ones they picked out
    3) Utilize the Web – Doh! We've had the http://www.rickandrobin.com website for over 4 years
    5) Set limits – Yes the buyer's like the thrill of the hunt but I prefer the thrill of the closing! I challenge my Buyer(s) to compare homes and rank them as we go on our "safari". I will ask them if this is the "one" and if it is, then we go back to the office and write it even if its only the second or third hour we have seen. No sense in looking at other houses that could create distractions.
    6) Fish upstream – We send out a series of letters to folks who are behind on their mortgage payments. The letters are informational and emotional. Our call to action is "Call us for a confidential and discrete discussion regargding your situation". Another direct mail program is aimed at renters andit explains the tax benefits of home ownership and the tax credit.

    Guess now I need to work on giving away extras!

    PS I don't shop on Black Friday. Instead I am showing three of our listings to a buyer.

  8. Tom Sandberg
    November 25, 2009 | 5:59 pm

    As a retailer myself (you know, the famous green logo'd coffee company with the "Siren of the Sea" as our matriarch), we look at our everyday business in the same way you post your ideas Sean and we look forward to creating that uplifting experience that enriches your lives as you head out to tackle every day, not just "Black Friday". In a sea of get-it-done-yesterday, take 5 minutes out of your day (wherever you choose your java) and reflect on how lucky we are to have what we have. Thanks Riverdawg!

  9. Sean M. Carpenter
    November 27, 2009 | 9:29 pm

    Rick and Tom,

    Thanks for your comments and support. I know you both work very hard so I have no doubts that your "brand" would have been very popular early this morning on Black Friday.