Carla Gizzi knows her business. She’s had a vintage inspired home and jewelry boutique in Red Bank, New Jersey for fifteen years. She says that business has slowed in the past few years, but with a loyal following it hasn’t disrupted her passion for buying merchandise and finding new ways to promote her shops. By using a combination of social media and cause marketing strategies Carla is bringing in new customers and growing her business.
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This is an interview with Real Estate Agent Barry Kramer of Westchester Choice Realty in Scarsdale, NY. We’d love reader feedback on what questions we should be asking in future interviews so please leave a comment, either with follow up questions for this interview or questions you’d like us to ask future subjects.
CSM: What kind of business do you own?
Answer: Residential Real Estate, homes, condos, co-op sales and rentals. We are an independent brokerage with about 10 agents.
CSM: Where is your business located?
Answer: Scarsdale, NY in Westchester County
CSM: Where do you do most of your sales?
Answer: Locally, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe, Bronxville, Hartsdale and White Plains. Our most significant market is along the Harlem Train Line. We specialize on Garth Road, Scarsdale, NY.
CSM: What is your target demographic (age, location, social-economic status)?
Answer: Since we sell a lot of co-op apartments we target first time buyers. We also target seniors that own homes and may be considering downsizing.
CSM: What is your primary marketing strategy (is it traditional, like print/TV or does is it mainly digital)
Answer: We do a lot of Internet marketing, and less print than we used to. We have our own website, and are also on most major Real Estate search engines like Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com. We also still do quite a bit of direct mail.
CSM: – if both, how does the approach to each differ? How do the results differ?
Answer: With our Internet marketing we try to get new buyers, while our direct marketing is to secure listings in the area we specialize in.
CSM: What social media do you use (Facebook, twitter, etc., etc.)
Answer: We use Facebook, and have our own Facebook page. We also started to use Twitter, but haven’t really used it very much.
CSM: How does marketing through social media impact your business (if it does not impact your business please explain why)?
Answer: Well, it seems like in Real Estate you’ve got to be in nearly everything. Places like Facebook have begun to eliminate separate places on individual pages to list homes for sale. They seem like they want mainly personal stuff, and if you’re a business they want you to have a business page. Consumers, and especially young buyers like the interaction through places like Facebook.
CSM: Please discuss the primary impact as well… is it sharing information, actual sales, building a fan base, etc.
Answer: Yes, all of the above. Consumers want information and not just selling. If you can provide information on your social media and other web tools you’ll be ahead of others. Everyone wants to be liked. I’m always weary about liking other Realtors. They’ll just take that into a listing presentation and say look, even Barry Kramer likes me. Building a base of clients is great, but you’ve got to stay in touch!
CSM: How is social media changing the sense of community around your business?
Answer: Yes it is. Every Realtor has a Blog and communicates on Facebook etc. You’ve got to be careful though not to exclude older buyers that might prefer an old fashioned phone call. It’s a mix. Real Estate has always been a people business, and media like Facebook is just one more way to communicate with buyers and sellers.
CSM: How would your marketing strategy be different if you didn’t have social media as a tool?
Answer: We never got rid of the other stuff. We’ve cut back on print media, and have not eliminated entirely. We still do direct mail. We’ve included social media into our strategy, but it’s not the only thing we do.
Answer: When we try to reach older buyers it’s not a really good strategy. Also, homes need to be seen, felt and explored. Sure we can do a virtual tour, but you just can’t smell fresh baked cookies in a beautiful kitchen on Facebook, at least not yet anyway.
CSM: What advice do you have to offer other people entering your industry as they contemplate where to put their efforts online?
Answer: Be online, but there’s more to real estate than social media, having a good website, and blogging. Eventually you’ll have to meet a buyer or seller and through ups and downs negotiate a deal. Social media may be a start, and may even be the way you keep in touch after the deal is over. Studies have shown that buyers and sellers work with people they like. Even if you’re the best social media expert if they don’t like you they won’t do business with you. Embrace social media, but don’t forget the basics.
Last week I spoke with Adam Sobel about how he uses social media for his small business. Initially, I found the Cinnamon Snail through an article in my local paper, but since then I started following him on Facebook. It was cold day when we spoke, but he had a long-lineup of loyal customers who wanted to have some great vegan food served up right out of a food truck. How’d they find him? Through his Facebook and twitter updates.
There was a lot of ooohing and ahhing as some people ate right there on the spot. I waited to get home and have the *Special* lemongrass 5 spice seitan, with arugula, red curried cashews, wasabi mayonnaise, and Szechuan chili sauce on a grilled baguette. My husband couldn’t believe what we were eating wasn’t meat. Kudos to Adam! Delicious. Delicious. Delicious!
Watch how this entrepreneur merges culinary inventiveness with sound marketing practices. He is the one to watch because he’s only been in business since February this year and converted another new customer—Me!
If you didn’t see my earlier post check it out now.
Most likely if you’re reading this blog you are on Facebook. Facebook has truly changed the way we keep in touch with one another mostly, to see whats happening in someone’s life. It has made the world a smaller place. The same applies for business. For any business it’s important to keep your fans up to date with what’s happening. This applies more so to certain business than others. For example, an auto body shop doesn’t need to update it’s customers with what is going on, but a TV network does it to keep their viewers informed. This applies to small business and non profits as well. Facebook helps you reach out to your consumers/fans and hopefully create new business opportunities. Facebook is also a positive way to engage fans and get them to interact with your brand. Status updates are a great way to ask fans questions and get them thinking about how they feel about what you do. Keeping your existing fan base up to date with information they want to know is key. e.g – a sale, specials, tips, and even relevant articles. Also, add the “like” button to website! Become friends with other businesses and most likely they will friend you back.
One thing that is a bit confusing is if you want to create a page or link it to a profile. I would recommend a page, however there are certain times that a profile will work best. Here is a great article that explains it all.
Facebook 101 Business Guide – here is a great step by step on how to create a Facebook page: http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-101-business-guide/
Facebook Pages – This page is direct from Facebook Help Center. It’s a great link for any questions you have. http://www.facebook.com/#!/help/?page=175
Here’s a link to some helpful code:
Lastly, what do you post? Here are a few articles about what you should and should not post: http://www.123etiquette.com/business-etiquette/facebook-business-etiquette-101/ and http://gigaom.com/collaboration/32-ways-to-use-facebook-for-business/
How does your Business use Facebook? We’d love to know…