Feeling insulted is normal. But don’t let it get in the way of what might be a good deal.
You’ve invested a great deal in this house. So when the time comes to put it on the market, you expect potential buyers to recognize its true value. But sometimes, you get an offer that’s so far below your asking price it feels like someone pitched a baseball straight at your stomach.
Should you simply walk away from such a number? Or does it make sense to pause and weigh your options? Here are some points to consider before you decide:
#1 Is It Really Low-Ball, or Just Lower Than You Wanted?
Some agents define a low-ball offer as 25% or more below list. In areas where there’s a shortage of available homes, that figure may drop to 20%.
“What defines low-ball varies from market to market and even submarket to submarket, but certainly from price range to price range,” says Steve McLinden of Bankrate.com.
In other words, it’s likely that an offer of $80,000 on a $100,000 home will be more quickly dismissed than a $1.6 million offer on a $2 million home, he says.
#2 Should You Immediately Reject a Low-Ball Bid?
Although your feelings may be hurt, giving in to the drama monster won’t get your house sold. “When the low-ball offer comes in it can be upsetting, but it doesn’t have to be,” says Bill Gassett of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton, Mass. “The fact that someone wants to buy your home is a good thing and you should deal with every offer — unless it’s just completely ridiculous.”
What constitutes a “ridiculous” offer? Anything significantly less than 25% below your list price should probably trigger warning bells. However, it pays to rely on your agent’s expertise to help you decide on the right response.
Countering, rather than ignoring, a low offer is often the smartest strategy. A counter to a low-ball offer “shows buyers you’re willing to work with them,” says Eric Snyder of Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton, Fla. After all, he reasons, “it’s not about where buyers start, it’s where they end up.”
And you’ll never have a chance of getting to that final number if you allow your emotions to cloud your judgment.
#3 Is Your Price Too High?
Sometimes when a seller receives one — or more — low-ball bids, it may be because the asking price for the home is out of step with the market.
Before you set a price, your agent will provide you with comps – for-sale listings of similar properties in the area — along with a pricing recommendation. Your best bet is pricing that reflects the comps. If you decide to “test” a higher price, you might have to tweak your price to invite more reasonable offers, which is just going to delay the sale.
#4 What Do You Really Need?
There may be factors involved in selling your home that are more important to you than price. Perhaps you need to sell quickly because you’re buying another home. Maybe an all-cash deal would make your life a lot easier. There are a number of potential deal sweeteners that a potential buyer could provide that may make a low offer more appealing. These include:
#5 Will You Look Too Desperate?
Don’t worry about how your willingness to entertain a low-ball offer is perceived. What matters most is the result, says McLinden.
“Some sellers get so wrapped up in righteous indignation following an ‘insulting’ offer that they tell their agent to refuse all further communication from the offender,” he says. And while that may soothe your wounded ego, it won’t help sell your house.
4 things home sellers do when pricing their homes.
Home pricing is more of a science than an art, but many homeowners price with their heartstrings instead of cold, hard data.
Smart sellers know that crunching the numbers is always the better route to an accurate home price. Here’s how they do it.
#1 They Avoid Overpricing
Homeowners often think that it’s OK to overprice at first, because — who knows? — maybe you’ll just get what you’re asking for. Although you can certainly lower an inflated price later, you’ll sacrifice a lot in the process.
Just ask Candace Talmadge. She originally listed her Lancaster, Texas, home for $129,000, but “eventually had to accept the market reality” and chop $4,000 off the price.
The home’s location proved challenging: Buyers were either turned off by the area — a lower-income neighborhood south of Dallas — or unable to afford the home.
“Sellers have to keep in mind the location,” says Talmadge. “Who are going to be the likely buyers?”
The most obvious pitfall: A house that remains on the market for months can prevent you from moving into your dream home. Already purchased that next home? You might saddle yourself with two mortgages.
“You lose a lot of time and money if you don’t price it right,” says Norma Newgent, an agent with Area Pro Realty in Tampa, Fla.
And worse: Continually lowering the price could turn off potential buyers who might start wondering just what is wrong with your home.
“Buyers are smart and educated,” says Lisa Hjorten of Marketplace Sotheby’s International Realty in Redmond, Wash. “You’re probably going to lose them.”
#2 They Don't Expect Dollar-for-Dollar Returns
It’s easy for homeowners to stumble into two common traps:
“Many homeowners think, ‘Of course my home is worth a bazillion dollars,’” says Newgent. If they put in a few thousand dollars worth of new flooring, for example, they might overestimate the upgrade’s impact on the home’s value into the tens of thousands.
Talmadge’s Texas home came with a built-in renovation trap: It was already the nicest home in the area, making it harder to sell. Major additions had inflated the square footage — and the price, according to one appraiser — without accounting for the surrounding neighborhood. That created a disconnect for buyers: Wealthier ones who might be interested in the upgraded home disliked the neighborhood, and less affluent buyers couldn’t afford the asking price.
“Don’t buy the nicest home on the block” is common real estate advice for this reason.
That’s not to say that renovations aren’t worth it. You want to enjoy your home while you’re in it, right? Smart renovations make your home more comfortable and functional but should typically reflect the neighborhood. A REALTOR® can help you understand what certain upgrades can recoup when you sell and which appeal to buyers.
Another culprit for many a mispriced home is online tools, like Zillow’s “Zestimate,” that prescribe an estimated market value based on local data.
The estimate is often wildly inaccurate. A Virginia-area real estate company, McEnearney & Associates, has compared actual sold prices with predicted online estimates for several hundred homes in the area for the past few years and concluded the predictions failed half of the time.
#3 They Use Comparable Sales (also Known as "Comps")
The best pricing strategy? Consult a real estate agent, who will use something called comps (also known as “comparable sales”) to determine the appropriate listing price. They’re not just looking at your neighbors; they’re seeking out near-identical homes with similar floor plans, square footage, and amenities that sold in the last few months.
Once they’ve assembled a list of similar homes (and the real prices buyers paid), they can make an accurate estimate of what you can expect to receive for your home. If a three-bedroom bungalow with granite countertops and a walk-out basement down the block sold for $359,000, expecting more from your own three-bedroom bungalow with granite countertops and a walk-out basement is a pipe dream.
After crunching the data, they’ll work with you to determine a fair price that’ll entice buyers. The number might be less than you hope and expect, but listing your home correctly — not idealistically — is a sure way to avoid the aches and pains of a long, drawn-out listing that just won’t sell.
#4 They Adjust the Price When Needed
Once your home is on the market, you’ll start accumulating another set of data that will serve as the ultimate price test: how buyers react.
Agent Hjorten says there’s an easy way to tell if you’ve priced too high: “If we have no showings, it’s way too high. Lots of showings and no offer means you’ve marketed well — but it’s overpriced once people get inside.”
Talmadge didn’t struggle with showings. She says a number of people were interested in the home, but not enough at the price. In the end, Talmadge sold her home for $125,000, with a $5,000 seller’s assist, a discount on the cost of the home applied directly to closing costs.
“It all boils down to location, location, location. In [another] neighborhood, our house might well have sold for well over $130,000,” Talmadge says.
When it comes to finding a buyer, pricing your home according to data — and the right data, at that — is crucial to making the sale.
You probably only think you’ve eliminated pet odors. Here’s how to make sure.
Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential home buyers and keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion about whether your home has a pet smell.
If your agent holds her nose, here’s how to get rid of the smell:
#1 Air Out Your House
While you’re cleaning, throw open all the windows in your home to allow fresh air to circulate and sweep out unpleasant scents.
Once your house is free of pet odors, do what you can to keep the smells from returning. Crate your dog when you’re out or keep it outdoors. Limit the cat to one floor or room, if possible. Remove or replace pet bedding.
#2 Scrub Thoroughly
Scrub bare floors and walls soiled by pets with vinegar, wood floor cleaner, or an odor-neutralizing product, which you can purchase at a pet supply store for $10 to $25.
Try a 1:9 bleach-to-water solution on surfaces it won’t damage, like cement floors or walls.
Got a stubborn pet odors covering a large area? You may have to spend several hundred dollars to hire a service that specializes in hard-to-clean stains.
#3 Wash Your Drapes and Upholstery
Pet odors seep into fabrics. Launder, steam clean, or dry clean all your fabric window coverings. Steam clean upholstered furniture.
Either buy a steam cleaner designed to remove pet hair for around $200 and do the job yourself, or pay a pro. You’ll spend about $40 for an upholstered chair, $100 for a sofa, and $7 for each dining room chair if a pro does your cleaning.
#4 Clean Your Carpets
Shampoo your carpets and rugs, or have professionals do the job for $25 to $50 per room, depending on their size and the level of filth embedded in them. The cleaner will try to sell you deodorizing treatments. You’ll know if you need to spend the extra money on those after the carpet dries and you have a friend perform a sniff test.
If deodorizing doesn’t remove the pet odor from your home, the carpets and padding will have to go. Once you tear them out, scrub the subfloor with vinegar or an odor-removing product, and install new padding and carpeting. Unless the smell is in the subfloor, in which case that goes next.
#5 Paint, Replace, or Seal Walls
When heavy-duty cleaners haven’t eradicated smells in drywall, plaster, or woodwork, add a fresh coat of paint or stain, or replace the drywall or wood altogether.
On brick and cement, apply a sealant appropriate for the surface for $25 to $100. That may smother and seal in the odor, keeping it from reemerging.
#6 Place Potpourri or Scented Candles in Strategic Locations
Put a bow on your deep clean with potpourri and scented candles. Don’t go overboard and turn off buyers sensitive to perfumes. Simply place a bowl of mild potpourri in your foyer to create a warm first impression, and add other mild scents to the kitchen and bathrooms.
#7 Control Urine Smells
If your dog uses indoor pee pads, put down a new pad each time the dog goes. Throw them away outside in a trash can with a tight lid. Remove even clean pads from view before each showing.
Replace kitty litter daily, rather than scooping used litter clumps, and sweep up around the litter box. Hide the litter box before each showing.
#8 Relocate Pets
If your dog or cat has a best friend it can stay with while you’re selling your home (and you can stand to be separated from your pet), consider sending your pet on a temporary vacation. If pets have to stay, remove them from the house for showings and put away their dishes, towels, and toys.
Even if you think they’ve already started to freeze.
New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winter is often the landlord’s job.
Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.
#1 Turn On Your Faucets
If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.
#2 Open Cabinet Doors
During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.
#3 Wrap Your Pipes
If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.
#4 Pull Out Your Hair dryer
A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.
#5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen
Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)
Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.
As email spammers become more and more creative in their approach, spam filters become more and more sophisticated in their approach. If you engage in email marketing, you’re already aware of how hard it can be to get your message past your audiences’ junk mail filters and into their in-boxes. The following tips, courtesy of ePly Online Event Registration, can help keep your emails from being flagged as spam:
Free Spam Testing Tool
There are a number of free tools online, such as http://spamscore.me/, that will take a sample email, process it, and assess its likelihood of getting caught in a junk mail folder. A 100% delivery rate for your email campaign might be pie-in-the-sky, but with a few easy steps, avoiding getting flagged as spam can be as easy as cake and ice cream!
B2B mobile marketing, including text message marketing (SMS) and multimedia message service marketing (MMS), can be effective additions to your integrated marketing mix, says Target Marketing magazine, providing you follow some simple but vital planning and delivery tips.
Versatile, Flexible, Instant
SMS marketing is an “opt-in” service, in which those interested in your company, product or offer give (by texting, of course) their permission to send short promotional messages to their mobile device.
SMS-enabled retailers, restaurants and service companies use text-message marketing to send in-store redeemable offers and discounts. Airlines and event planners use SMS texts to dispatch alerts and confirmations.
MMS Slideshow Combo
A multimedia message service (MMS) is similar, but more engaging, because MMS texts can contain a timed combination of images, messages, audio and video. They’re more work to produce but can provide a bigger lift in response rates.
According to MobileMarketer.com, nearly 98% of all text messages are read within five seconds, and 67% of business owners who use SMS marketing find it more effective than regular email.
These tips summarized from the Target Marketing post will help you use SMS/MMS to jumpstart or enhance your mobile marketing program:
Combine these tips with others we’ve recently posted and you’ll be on your way to a stronger, more successful mobile marketing program.
Spring-cleaning and decluttering go hand in hand, and with warmer weather around the corner you might be planning for the day you can tackle a massive purge. But did you know that there's a wrong way to declutter?
People often fail at organizing because they follow common myths about organizing.
Here, home organizing experts dispel some of these common myths and explain how to actually maintain a decluttered space for good.
Myth No. 1: You can start anywhere
Truth: OK, so the first step to decluttering is just starting already. And kudos to you for wanting to jump in. But if you jump in without a plan, you're setting yourself up to be overwhelmed—and, ultimately, for failure, explains Colleen Branch, a home organization expert and writer for experthometips.com.
“You need to have a solid plan in place to tackle your home,” she says.
We're not talking about a Google Slides presentation here. But before you start, you should write out a simple checklist of what you hope to accomplish.
“It’s satisfying and also allows you to have an end in sight,” Branch notes.
Your checklist doesn't have to be exhaustive; in fact, it should be fairly brief so that it's manageable. Focus on one room at a time, and create checklists for each. For instance, this is Branch's three-step kitchen decluttering list:
Totally doable, right?
Myth No 2: You should keep only things that 'spark joy'
Truth: In the era of Marie Kondo minimalism, it's easy to see why we've fallen into this mindset. But Laura Kinsella, owner of Urban OrgaNYze in New York City, recommends we shift our thinking on this point.
"Let's be clear: My diaper pail does not spark joy, but it's an essential item that is used every day in my home," she says.
Declutter with this thought in mind, she says: Is this item beautiful in my home or does it prove to be useful? If the answer is "no," then it's probably time for it to go.
Myth No. 3: Making quick decisions is the best way to declutter
Truth: If you're anything like us, the longer you ruminate on an item, the less likely you are to let it go. For this reason, decluttering experts often suggest that you make a quick decision about an item, toss it in the donation box, and move on.
But while reflex decisions certainly can help with clearing out your space quickly, they can also foster regret.
If you're not sure whether you truly want to toss something, Branch recommends this: Put it in a box, tape it shut, and write the date—one year from now—on the outside. If you haven't opened the box in a year, you know it's time to discard the item.
"There's a high chance you won't even remember what was in the box," she says.
Just make sure that everything isn't going in this box of purgatory. If it is, then it's time for some tough love with your decluttering efforts.
Myth No. 4: Before you can declutter, you need organizing supplies
Truth: "Buying cute containers may help motivate us into getting organized, but it won’t create the right system," Fisher cautions.
Containers are great for storing stuff, but the point of decluttering is to have less stuff to store. So start by taking stock of the situation. Then sort and purge. And purge again.
For instance, take everything out of your clothes closet, put similar items together, and then figure out what you have way too many of. If it's shirts, break it down further: Do you have too many T-shirts? Too many black T-shirts? Too many black Nickelback T-shirts? Once you've sorted them into microcategories, review all items and determine what you don’t like, don’t need, or don’t really have room to keep.
Only then should you start to think about how to best store what you're keeping.
Myth No. 5: Decluttering is only for Type A people
Truth: Sorry to break it to you, folks, but anyone can—and should—declutter.
"Whether organizing comes naturally to you or not, no one is exempt from decluttering,"
Kinsella says. "We all need to continually assess our belongings as we evolve and change over time."
"Decluttering is designed for anyone who wishes to gain more clarity and control over their home and their life," she adds.
And don't we all want that?
Myth No. 6: You can declutter an entire house in a weekend
Truth: Raise your hand if you've ever tried to dedicate a day or weekend to decluttering.
While it's an admirable goal, it's simply not realistic. Slow and steady wins the race here.
"Unless you're the Energizer bunny, trying to tackle your entire property in one day will result in burnout, frustration, and defeat," Kinsella says.
Instead, set small milestones that you work toward throughout the week or month: Vow to focus only on the junk drawer or only on the front closet, and not to move on until one is cleared. (Some experts even recommend decluttering in 20-minute spurts to prevent burnout; others recommend working from one corner of a room to another to keep focus.)
After enough small victories, you'll see real progress throughout your house.
"Small successes always lead to greater achievements, which will leave you feeling gratified and motivated to continue," Kinsella explains.
Myth No. 7: Decluttering once or twice a year is enough
Truth: When you lose weight, you have to work at keeping the pounds off. The same is true for decluttering: Without regular maintenance, all that junk will just come pouring back into your home.
Maintenance? Gross, we know. But don't get discouraged—it doesn’t have to take up a ton of your time and, dare we say, it'll be easier than going to the gym.
Every week, make a plan to return items to their designated storage place and to dispose of things that aren’t needed.
“Just 10 minutes a week will keep you from having to spend an afternoon when things pile up,” Fisher swears.
Finally, avoid clutter from building up by not bringing it into your home in the first place. Open the mail directly over the recycling bin, Fisher recommends, and think twice before you buy something new.
A LIST OF ALL THE THINGS YOU SHOULD DO BEFORE MOVING INTO YOUR NEW HOME.
Let's face it: With all the excitement of new digs, it's easy to forget some important tasks. Plus, certain things are best done while the house is still vacant, long before your boxes and furniture are parked in the place. Put these things off, and it becomes all the harder to tackle them later.
Twitter can be tricky when it comes to tracking measurable sales results and return on investment. After all, what’s the return on a conversation?
While you’re debating how to measure ROI, your competitors are laying the groundwork by building relationship with prospects and partners on social networks.
Tweeting can sometimes feel like shouting in the wilderness — not knowing whether anyone’s listening. But when used as part of an integrated marketing plan, Twitter becomes a powerful promotional tool for generating awareness, developing leads, conducting market research, and driving traffic back to your website.
Speaking of lead generation, SocialTwist reports that Facebook’s shared links average only three clicks, while a link shared on Twitter generates nineteen clicks on average. Twitter users generate double the median monthly leads of non-Twitter users, regardless of company size.
With the right tools, it’s not difficult to track progress and see measurable results. While there are many third-party programs that can add metrics to your Twitter efforts, Twitter now offers its own vehicle for tracking effectiveness through Promoted Tweets and Accounts.
How Twitter Promotes Accounts
Finding the right people to follow on Twitter can be a challenge. Twitter’s Promoted Accounts advertising program analyzes your current followers, then searches for people with similar interests and recommends you to them in the “Who To Follow” section. You only pay when you get followed.
How Twitter Promotes Your Tweets
Promoted tweets and accounts aren’t like traditional ads. You don’t have to write anything new to get promoted. Twitter constantly monitors your engagement to put your best tweets in front of the right people at the right time.
Let Twitter Do The Work
You only pay when someone follows your account or engages with your promoted tweet. There’s no charge for simply showing up on someone’s page. You can set a budget and limit how much you want to spend per day, or how much per follower or per engagement. You can also decide where you want your content to be promoted geographically, which helps in finding local customers. Twitter’s Promoted Accounts and Tweets program works on both the web and mobile, to help you reach the right people at the right time.
You choose the locations you want to reach and set your budget. Twitter does the rest.
Criticism can be difficult to take, especially from a customer. But for any business to survive, negative comments must be addressed, and promptly, no matter how they’re received.
Word of mouth used to spread to only a handful of people—usually the customer’s friends and family. Now, customers can broadcast their experiences to the world via social media, amplifying the reach of your company’s service, good or bad. This can also lead to additional publicity when social media messages go viral.
A strategy for handling public complaints should be part of any integrated marketing program, especially given the growing number of new media channels for customers to air their grievances. The fact is, negative reviews can be seen as valuable opportunities to convert unhappy customers into enthusiastic brand evangelists.
Here are eight principles to keep in mind in order when dealing with bad online reviews.
1. Don’t Delete or Fake
Deleting negative comments only infuriates the disgruntled, causing them to redouble their efforts and vitriol. By the same token, don’t try to write your own positive reviews. Review websites can find out when someone is writing multiple positive reviews for one business. Eventually you’ll get found out. That would be negative.
2. Respond Promptly
Your customers are living at Internet speed, always plugged in and connected. The longer it takes to respond to a negative (or potentially false) representation of your business, the more time it has to spread. Then the proverbial genie is out of the bottle.
3. Show You Care
When you get a negative comment or review, don’t ignore it. Reply respectfully and sincerely. But rather than emailing privately, use the same forum in which the negative remark was received to post your response publicly. Show other readers and prospective customers that you are listening and acting accordingly.
4. Take Serious Complaints Offline
Once you’ve responded publicly to let everyone know you’re addressing the situation, take the details offline. After apologizing, ask the customer to email you so you can resolve the matter. This helps to protect the privacy and dignity of both sides and reach a more positive outcome.
5. Monitor the Conversation
You don’t have to subscribe to every blog or forum to see what people are saying about your company online. Sign up for Google Alerts. It’s a free service that notifies you with an email alert every time your name or any other key phrase you specify is used on the Web. People pay big money for focus groups to get the kind of consumer opinion that’s now available free online.
6. Make It Right
Acknowledge the mistakes. Apologize—even if it’s not your fault. Then make it up to the customer somehow. This is the opportunity, the chance to exceed expectations with a huge potential return on investment. Do whatever it takes to turn that frown upside down.
7. Bury the Bad
If you don’t have a website, LinkedIn profile, or any social media presence, then any negative reviews have a higher likelihood of rising to the top of search results. By consistently generating your own positive online content through blog posts, press releases, videos, and social networks, it’s possible to bury the negative results further down in the listings.
8. Watch for Trends
One bad review could be a fluke or an off night for someone. Or it could be an early warning sign of an operational problem. Investigate the incident carefully. Ask open-ended questions of your customer to learn more than they may have been willing to write in a public forum.
On-premise signage is a lot like your company website FAQ or About pages: it plays a small but vital role in brand recognition and lead generation. Yet, once in place, signage can be easily forgotten. One way to freshen up your marketing efforts is to replace exterior weathered and faded signs, as well as interior ones touting an old logo or message. A well-designed sign with the right font, colors and graphics can attract the attention of more potential customers and make for a more lasting impression of your company.
Sign technology has come a long way. Whether you select a free standing sign, lettering applied to the exterior of your building or graphics on your front window, numerous options are available to match your company’s personality and budget. Some sign options, such as posters and banners, are so affordable you can change them frequently to align with your current marketing campaigns.
Signage should always be considered when developing integrated marketing campaigns for your products. If your prospects and customers are receiving an offer or being introduced to a new product through direct mail, email, or via your website using a new creative campaign, that same creative and messaging should be developed for the exterior or interior of your business. This is a great way to upsell that new product to existing customers. And, temporary magnetic signs on delivery vehicles are another way to communicate the offer.
It’s really all about visual communications—the art of using pictures, graphics, charts and signs to communicate information. Visual communication gives us perspective to help us learn, understand and retain information. So, if you want your company to be seen and heard, use signs!
Video in email — including the embedding of streaming content inside email body text — has transcended previous technical obstacles, and is now ready for marketing prime time, according to video experts at ReelSEO.com.
Our previous post covers the benefits and business case for small-business video marketing, so we won’t rehash it here. But we will summarize why ReelSEO believes now — more than ever — video email deserves closer consideration:
Video email creates the same sense of engagement and excitement as on a website or landing page, while requiring just one click to deliver a brief but highly engaging presentation of:
Remember that video email is a branded communication medium. So messaging and presentation must be appropriate and relevant to your audience. The email should also: add value to the viewing experience; help achieve campaign goals; align with brand voice and image; and follow best practices for production and deliverability.
First Sip the Soup
Before diving into video email, invest a little time in learning about different formats, so that when you and your marketing services provider or team convene, you won’t glaze over when alphabet-soup terms like HTML5, .GIF, .PNG come up.
Video email is here to stay, and it may just be the difference needed to push your marketing to a whole new level.
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
“Awesome” is one of those words that teenagers overuse and abuse. So it’s a little odd to hear it so regularly from a respected business speaker and author who has guided companies such as PepsiCo, Adobe, Red Cross and Saks Fifth Avenue. But Scott Stratten has made it his business to help other businesses be awesome.
The man who brought you “UnMarketing” has followed it up with The Book of Business Awesome. But it’s really two short books in one, with opposite-sided front covers, so that when you finish one side, you flip it over and read from the other side.
From Awesome to UnAwesome
Scott is best known for being one of the top 5 most influential business people on Twitter. But rather than another social media book, Awesome/UnAwesome focuses on key business concepts and how they relate to integrated marketing, branding, human resources, public relations, and customer service. The Book of Business Awesome showcases different examples of successful businesses that have benefitted from being awesome and effective. In one humorous case, it shows how the Red Cross used social media to turn a mistake into an opportunity for awesomeness.
The opposite side, The Book of Business UnAwesome, is filled with cautionary tales of business train-wrecks illustrating what not to do, or how not to do it.
Marketing Is A Verb
What comes through in nearly every example in book is the importance of hiring good people and training them to uphold your brand’s values, because marketing is more than a logo or commercial; it’s every experience a customer has with your company. Scott emphasizes that “marketing is a verb” because it’s something that everyone in the company does (or should be doing), all the time.
The Awesome Extended Vacation
During a speaking appearance in Irvine, California, Scott began his awesome talk by recounting how a friend had recently spent a family weekend at a Ritz Carlton hotel. When the family returned home, they discovered that their seven-year-old son’s precious stuffed giraffe, Joshie, had been left behind at the hotel. In a moment of weakness, the boy’s dad fibbed that Joshie was just on an “extended vacation,” then called the hotel in a panic. Fortunately, the hotel found Joshie. Not only did the hotel staff ship Joshie back home, overnight, and at no charge, but they also included snapshots of the giraffe relaxing poolside on a lounge chair, nightclubbing it with other stuffed animals, and generally enjoying his extended vacation.
So now when Scott sees the Ritz Carlton logo, it might as well be Joshie, because that’s what the hotel reminds him of. Pretty awesome, eh?
Virtual Real Estate Assistant
Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign
Sound like a familiar song? The Five Man Electrical Band may have thought there are too many signs, but the fact is, signs are a way of life. Wayfaring signs help guide us to where we want to go. Billboards inform us about products and services we may need, as well as telling us where to get off the road to eat, drink and rest! Traffic signs prevent us from getting into accidents and from getting tickets. Yes, signs are good. And they are an excellent addition to an integrated marketing campaign.
Signage is among the least expensive, most effective forms of advertising for millions of retail and independent businesses. High-quality, well-designed signs help support integrated marketing through brand recognition, lead generation, and customer acquisition. Over time, signs also remind the local community that your company is alive and well, and “open for business.”
Visual communications are all around us. Posters and banners are used often in retail environments, and more companies are trending toward wall graphics, floor graphics, and even window graphics. And signs are going mobile with the addition of QR codes to drive today’s mobile customer to a sale, coupon or other event even without going into the store.
So the next time you develop a marketing campaign, consider signage as another channel for delivering your message to a wider audience at, often, an affordable price.
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A very common estate planning mistake is to maintain joint ownership between a parent and their child. We don’t mean a joint checking account; we’re talking about when a child’s name is added to a parent’s asset, such as real estate.
Why would you do this, you ask? Parents typically add their child to their assets to help pay bills or to avoid probate. Client also do this to help elderly loved ones who need assistance managing their assets.
It is recommend against this practice, and here is why. Let us put the scenario into perspective and discuss an elderly man, Dad, and his daughter, Suzy. Let’s say that Dad adds Suzy’s name as a joint owner on his checking and savings accounts, brokerage account, and his condo.
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Having an estate plan in place is critical to ensure your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are provided for when you pass away. While the creation of a living trust can resolves a number of legal and financial questions, sometimes people do not consider their pets.
Many people overlook their pets in their estate plan because they assume they will outlive the pet, but as one reaches his or her 70's and beyond, that is less likely to happen. The assumption of outliving a pet can and often result in your furry friend ending up in an animal shelter or being taken by a family member that may not want him.
When someone dies, it can take some time to iron out details, so it’s important to have a temporary plan for your pet. When it comes to long term care, having a formalized plan will ensure the pet will be cared for in a loving home and with trusted people. In some cases, people have left money specifically for the care of their pets. If this is something you would like to consider, please contact your attorney to make sure your furry friend is loved even after your gone.
Whether or not you have a will, your estate will go through probate. Probate is a court proceeding that formally distributes the assets from an estate when a person dies. Assets will include any property, bank accounts, investment accounts, and more. During the probate process, the court will examine the validity of the will and determine who will be the executor. Probate can be a very frustrating time, and can take years. Plus, it’s very costly.
During probate proceedings the assets in an estate are frozen, meaning you cannot use them. Even though the estate is frozen, the executor is still responsible for paying debts and taxes, which can often be very difficult because of the large amount of expenses.
Yes, probate is a pain. The good news is that there are ways to avoid probate – one of which is to set up a California living trust. If the size of an estate doesn’t warrant a trust, having a properly drafted will can help probate these proceedings run quicker and smoother. Proper preparation pays off immensely when dealing with estate planning. You will be happy you took the steps you did to prepare.
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Estate taxes are commonly referred to as “the death tax.” While it’s quite a morbid term, it’s something you need to be prepared for. Will your loved ones be prepared to pay the tax expenses when you pass away? Do you know the value of your estate? These are important questions when concerned about the estate tax.
The estate tax, also known as the death tax, is the tax the government imposes on the transfer of the taxable estate of a deceased person to any beneficiaries. The taxable estate is derived after certain deductions are removed from the gross estate amount (some deductions may include mortgages, estate administration expenses, etc).
When assessing the estate tax, any property or assets that are being taxed will be valued at the fair market price. This means they will be taxed for what they are valued at, not at the price you paid for it. Keep this in mind when evaluating your assets.
The federal government also allows for a base amount to be tax exempt. As of 2015, any estate valued lower than $5.43 million dollars are considered exempt from the estate tax. However, any excess amount over this limit will be taxed at the current year’s rate of 40%. The exclusion amount limit and tax rate change almost every year, so it is a good idea to keep in touch with a professional to ensure you are up to date with the current numbers and to check how the changes may affect your estate.
When dealing with taxes from the federal government, there are a lot more rules and exceptions that can hurt or help you. It is important to contact your attorney for complete information and guidance over the protection and well being of your or your loved ones estate.
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One big choice you have to make when estate planning is choosing your executor. Executors have a variety of responsibilities, so it’s important to select a person who has shown financial responsibility, stability, and honesty.
It’s best to pick someone that can avoid a conflict of interest, meaning they do not have any stake in the estate. We recommend a friend or trusted business acquaintance, but not a family member named in the will, or a business partner. Be sure the person you select understands the extent of the commitment.
Here’s a list of some of the tasks the executor performs:
The job of executor can be large, but the executor doesn’t have to do it alone. Often times an executor chooses to pay a professional to take care of most of the administration.
Ultimately, the most important advice we can give is to take the time to select someone (and a backup, if possible). Otherwise the government will choose someone for you.
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At first it seems like the easy, smart, money-saving path to take. Simply add your children to the deed of your home, bypass the probate process, and minimize costs to the children. This strategy is very common. The idea is to hold real property jointly with family members who are given what is called “rights of survivorship.”
There are major disadvantages to adding your children directly to your deed, and is not recommended. One such disadvantage is due to tax implications. As an illustration: if you purchased the home for $100,000 then at some point added a name to the deed, then passed away, your child would own the home. If that child later sells the house for $500,000, a capital gain of $400,000 would be taxed. This is not the case if the home is given to the child through proper estate planning.
If you have questions or concerns about how to best hold title to a home, consult with a legally qualified estate planning attorney before making any decisions. Your attorney can guide you through the best options given your unique financial situation.
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Probate is necessary when an individual dies without the proper estate planning documents and his/her assets exceed $150,000. The cost for probating an estate is based on the estate’s gross asset value, which generally means including all that you own, but nothing that you owe. See the chart below for an example of probate fees:
By setting up a properly drafted will and trust you can avoid probate, prevent estate taxes, and even gain tax benefits.
One way to lower estate taxes is through gifting. When assets are transferred as ‘gifts’, these gifts are not considered inheritance and therefore do not face taxes. Also, the removal of these gifts from your estate lowers your estate’s taxable value, ultimately reducing the amount of tax you may have to pay. Assets can be gifted directly to beneficiaries, into a trust, or even into closely held business entities. You should consult a professional for the best option for you.
Donating assets to charity is another way to reduce estate taxes and gain tax benefits. If you are thinking of donating to charity to reduce your estate taxes, you may want to consider a charitable remainder trust. To find out if this is right for you, contact your attorney today. As everyone’s situation is different, a professional should be consulted on which estate planning tactics suit your situation best.
Can a savvy home stager be the secret to selling your home fast—and for top dollar? Many real estate experts say yes.
Home staging entails hiring an experienced professional to bring in furniture, accessories, and art that will make your house look its best and appeal to the appropriate buyer. If you’re still living in the home, a home stager will rearrange your existing furniture to wow buyers.
“The goal of a stager is to attract the largest possible number of would-be buyers and get the home sold at the highest price, all in the shortest period of time,” says Andrew Sandholm, a real estate agent at BOND in New York City.
Of course, staging requires an investment upfront. Most stagers charge $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and then $500 to $600 per month, per room. But staged homes sell on average 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes, according to industry data.
Still, if you're going to reap those rewards, you need to find a good home stager. You can start your search by asking your real estate agent for recommendations; then meet with each. The following questions will help you determine the best home stager for the job.
1. What training have you received?
You certainly don’t need formal training to have a great eye for interior design, but being accredited by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) means that a practitioner is held to certain standards. To become a RESA member, stagers must pass an ethics exam, have home staging business insurance, and have at least one year of staging experience.
2. How many average days were your staged homes on the market last year?
Finding an experienced stager is important, but finding a successful one is paramount. “A stager can be great at getting contracts, but if their homes don’t sell, they’re going to be a waste of money,” says Sandholm. Try to find a stager whose homes sell within 30 days, since that's usually the point at which listing agents advise clients to make a price reduction.
3. What’s the typical price range of the homes you stage?
You want someone who specializes in staging homes that are similar to yours. For example, “If you’re selling a starter home, you wouldn’t want to hire a stager who specializes in luxury homes,” says Sandholm.
4. How do you stay on top of interior design trends?
The person you hire should be able to explain how he or she keeps up with the furnishings and decor trends that make buyers come running. Do they attend conferences? Do they actively preview new listings? Do they hobnob regularly with other stagers and decorators to learn about the latest and the greatest?
5. Can I see photos from your three most recently staged homes?
You can ask a stager to see their portfolio, but it may not be an accurate representation of their work. “They’re only going to show you their best work,” says Sandholm. But, looking at stagers’ most recently staged homes will give you a better idea of the quality of their work.
6. What are your rates?
Most stagers charge a monthly fee, but some charge a flat fee per room for the duration of the listing, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis, IN. You'll want to get quotes so that you can budget appropriately. If you’re tight on cash, consider only staging a few rooms, especially the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom—which make the greatest impression on home buyers, according to a recent National Association of Realtors survey.
Know that staging costs can vary depending on where you live. If your home is vacant, and you want the entire house staged, prices can range from as little as $975 a month (Indiana) to $5,500 a month (California), according to RESA. If the home has some furniture, you’re looking at between $700 (Iowa) and $4,800 (California) a month for a two-month staging contract.
7. How much time will it take you to stage my home?
“Usually, it only takes one to two days to stage a home, but good stagers are busy,” says Dossman. Availability may wind up being a determining factor in who you hire. If a stager says it’s going to take a week or longer, find out why. “If the person plans to stage your home with furniture that’s tied up in another listing, that’s a red flag,” says Dossman.
8. Is your business covered by insurance?
There’s a chance your home could get damaged when the stager moves furniture in and out, so make sure the business has insurance to ensure you’re protected. For due diligence, ask to see proof of coverage.
9. What can I tackle myself?
A reliable stager will be honest with you about what projects you can do yourself to save money. For example, if only one room needs a fresh coat of paint, that’s something you can take on. Once hired, a good stager will also offer tips on little things that you can purchase to make your home more inviting, such as candles and fluffy towels for the bathrooms.
10. What style would you recommend for my home?
This is a bit of a trick question, but it’s worth asking. “You want a neutral stager, since you’re trying to cast the widest net possible,” says Sandholm. In other words, you don’t want to hire someone who has an overly narrow design aesthetic.
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, Twitter and Google+, social bookmarking site Pinterest has unveiled pages exclusively for business use. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, it’s a content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their “pinboard.” According to Pinterest, the website’s goal is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”
Pinterest’s new business accounts look the same as personal pages. If your company is new to Pinterest, you can sign up for a business account:
If your business has an existing account, you can convert it from a personal account to a business:
Tips from Pinterest
Pinterest offers these tips for getting the most out of your business account:
Finnair Ads Use New “Swipeable Gallery” to Allure Tablet-toting Travelers
Google’s new swipeable tablet ad formats use special templates that make it easy for advertisers to easily deploy highly interactive videos and ad galleries across mobile (and other) platforms. Formats are aimed at helping companies better engage (and sell to) today’s skyrocketing number of tablet users, 65% of whom Google says spend at least one hour per day using the devices.
The Chongqing Connection
In its recent foray into swipeable tablet advertising, boutique Nordic airline, Finnair, sought to entice travelers with its new Chongqing, China route launch. Their challenge was promoting a virtually unknown destination, to highly particular customers, on a limited marketing budget. The upside for Finnair? Chongqing is actually a very desirable destination, and Finnair is the first to operate non-stop flights between that city and Europe.
Knowing its prospects well, Finnair’s first goal was to create a highly visual, educational and interactive user experience. It also sought to drive visitors to check fares and/or purchase tickets on the company website, and register for a special contest.
Solution & Results
Finnair chose Google’s swipeable gallery to tempt prospective passengers with a compelling range of browseable Chongqing imagery, including: modern cityscapes, ancient architecture and sculptures, sumptuous local cuisine and stunning nature photos. Results revealed that:
Finnair marketing manager, Emmi Teräs’s conclusion about advertising on tablets? “No other tool enables you to engage with targeted users with so much ‘wow’ factor…”
What You Can Take Away
Learn how to get a swipeable tablet campaign off the ground by reading Google’s complete Finnair case study.
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