By Barb Schwarz, Stagedhomes.com
You’re at a fundraising event when someone stops by and asks what you do. “I am an Accredited Home Staging Professional® or REALTOR®,” you say. Unfortunately, that description will not spell out the value you bring to a transaction to the consumers and others you tell it to.
In today’s blog post, I thought I’d share with you how to make sure every message you deliver, whether delivered in person, print or online, is as effective and powerful as it should be.
No matter how you meet a consumer or fellow real estate industry professional--whether in person, through your blog, web site, or even Facebook and Twitter--it’s essential to make sure that the messages you provide instantly give a vivid picture of what you do and the positive impact of your work.
1. Have power messages to clarify what you do.
Those you come in contact with may be unfamiliar with exactly what you as a real estate professional or stager do. In fact, often consumers have various perceptions of what real estate professionals do, and often they are not correct. Equally, many consumers and real estate professionals have misconceptions about staging and what stagers do.
Make sure to include a power statement immediately. For stagers, and real estate professionals communicating the value of staging to sellers, consider mentioning the selling impact of staging as proved by the ASP® statistics we provide you with at Stagedhomes.com, such as “I help sellers sell homes faster and for more money.” You may also consider sharing “I’ll gladly share how staging helps sell homes for top dollars in any market.”
For many years I’ve developed messages that speak directly to the needs of sellers and their real estate professionals. Some of them include key staging specific messages, such as:
1. Decorating is personalizing, staging is depersonalizing. Staging is not decorating.
2. Staging is not about decorating your home; it’s about selling your house.
3. “Clutter eats equity!”
4. “We can’t sell it if we can’t see it.”
5. “The investment of staging your home is less than your first price reduction!”
6. “Start packing because with us as your REALTOR® and stager team, you’ll be moving.”
7. “If we can smell it, we can’t sell it.”
I invite you to use them--they really do work! (However, when you directly quote me in articles and other materials, please make sure to cite me as the source!)
It can often be challenging to fully describe our work in words no matter how well we create our written messages. Fortunately, the result of our work is highly visual, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure we share examples of our prior work by using lots of photos and videos.
2. “Let me tell you how I work.”
Both consumers and fellow real estate industry professionals expect you to have a process that you follow for each home selling or buying assignment, staging project, and of course, every client. Because the vast information of resources available on the Internet consumers are very well-informed and educated, and now more than ever our clients want to know upfront what we’ll do for them, and the results we expect to deliver.
Many years ago I developed a communications theme that has become a benchmark in our industry: Outline how you work. By telling consumers and agents alike “Let me tell you how I work” you immediately answer the questions they most likely ask themselves, yet may not think to ask. I promise you will increase your chances of earning their trust, and, of course, their business.
3. Convey your message online, visually.
The Internet allows us to share pictures and videos instantly and to a very large audience. If a "picture says a thousand words," videos probably convey at least a million. Consider telling your story by the use of extensive photo libraries, accompanied by a description of each project, including any challenges and the solutions you provided.
Here are some suggestions on how you can share samples of your work online:
Facebook Photo Album
Are you on Facebook? Then consider creating a photo album for each project you’re managing. Once you’ve added images to the album, you can easily share them with your contacts at Facebook. You can even share it with those in your sphere of influence who don’t have a Facebook profile--just copy and distribute the link provided underneath the photo album.
Here’s an example of how we showcased a project by Julie Tedesco, ASP, at the Stagedhomes fan page at Facebook.
Blogs offer a tremendous way to share your stories. In each blog post you can mix information about each project and show pictures and videos to visually showcase your projects. Here’s how we typically share pictures--this one is part of a series of testimonials. Here’s an example of how we embed videos into our blog articles too.
Flickr.com and Photobucket
Remember the days when we had to e-mail large image files in order to share them with our contacts? These days we can instead upload them onto photo sharing platforms, for free, and then simply share all our photos by giving out a link. You can sign up for a free account at either Flickr.com or Photobucket.com, upload pictures, and then share your images with a direct link to an individual photo or an entire photo album.
Have videos of your staging projects? Upload them to YouTube.com, after you’ve signed up for a free account, and start sharing them. If you mostly use photos but would like exposure at YouTube, consider the following:
Open the program Microsoft Moviemaker (comes with Windows XP but may require downloading from Microsoft.com if you use Vista or Windows 7. For Mac users, consider using iMovie). Add your project photos and record yourself by using a microphone as you describe each step of your staging process. You may even add background music that comes with Moviemaker for added effect. Once your video is done, upload to YouTube and start sharing.
Online Power Point Presentation
Do you have a PowerPoint presentation already created in which you showcase past projects? Now you can upload them and share them just like you can images and videos. Create an account, for free, at slideshare.net and upload your presentations. Once they’re uploaded, you’ll find direct links to them that you can share with your contacts. Here’s an example at Stagedhomes how we use slideshare – click here to view our online presentations.
The reason I suggested the many social media platforms above is that often it can be a challenge to make changes to a web site, requiring HTML knowledge and software. If you are well versed with web site editing, make sure to add as many images and videos as appropriate at your web site. If changing your web site is a task requiring the assistance of a webmaster or someone else, consider adding a brief description of your image and video resources, and create links to each from your web site.
I hope these suggestions will enable you to effectively share your past accomplishments with others and instantly show the value you bring to clients and the professionals they work with.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barb Schwarz, ASP, ASPM, AB, IAHSP, is the creator of Home Staging® and the CEO of www.Stagedhomes.com. She is the IAHSP founder and chairwoman of The Board of The International Association of Home Staging Professionals® and Foundation.