Tech insiders are calling virtual reality (VR) the hottest innovation of the decade, and there’s no question that it has the potential to change how we view the world, do business, and engage with each other online.
Virtual reality has serious implications for the real estate industry in particular. VR has made it possible to create 3D images of properties that potential buyers can explore through online tours or immersive VR headsets. These experiences go far beyond videos because they allow consumers to move through the property and experience it as if they were really there.
In the real estate world, traditional media is on the decline, and digital marketing tactics that were fresh five years ago have become commonplace. Could virtual reality be the tactic that amps up your marketing plan in 2017?
VR breaks through the marketing clutter.
Although VR is growing quickly, it’s still niche enough that not every firm is using it. The few firms that are using VR no doubt stand out against the thousands of real estate marketers who are still using traditional media, photos, and videos to sell properties. Virtual reality may eventually become mainstream, but getting in on the action early solidifies your place as a tech-savvy industry leader.
Photos and videos don’t cut it with consumers anymore.
With 24/7 access to any information imaginable, consumers are always hungry for more. Photos and videos don’t give viewers the in-depth information they crave, because they’re only seeing what the cameraperson wants to show them. VR allows buyers to poke around a property at their own pace, the same way they would if they were there in person. Since they’re not relying on a third party to share images, it gives them the sense that they’re getting more trustworthy information.
The technology is becoming cheaper.
Tech companies have tried to make virtual reality mainstream for years, but it’s never quite caught on for a number of reasons. Namely, there was a lack of affordable technology available to mass consumers. Now, the price of VR headsets is dropping fast and the technology is more accessible to people outside the tech industry. Startups are making 3D photography more available to real estate firms, too. The cost will only go down from here, so expect more firms to take advantage of this technology.
VR creates an emotional connection.
Photos can be beautiful and videos may incorporate sound or animation, but they can’t top the engagement that VR tours provide. They allow viewers to put themselves in the space and imagine what it would be like to live or work there. That feeling is way more powerful than looking at a few pictures. Real estate is an emotional purchase, and engaging buyers’ imaginations can mean the difference between making a sale and losing it.
You’ve probably heard of “generalists” and “specialists,” and you might have a sense of what each of those types of employees do. But what exactly are the differences between them? What roles do they excel in? And which one should you have more of at your firm?
Generalists are the people you can count on to understand and manage any problem, since they know a little bit about everything and see the higher-level connections between issues. Startups and nonprofits are often filled with generalists, because they can take on a number of roles when the budget is too tight to hire more specialized employees. Younger hires tend to be generalists, which gives them space to explore their career options and interests before becoming more specialized. And it’s particularly important for managers to be generalists, because they have the transferable skills necessary to lead people effectively in any industry.
However, being a “Jack of all trades and master of none” has its downsides. Generalists may overlook details because they’re focused on the bigger picture, and they often lack the deep knowledge that’s necessary for innovation. Plus, by definition, they are common and, therefore, easy to replace (sorry, generalists!).
Bottom line: If you need a great manager who’s capable and dependable in a number of areas, hire a generalist. These are the people you can count on to get the job done pretty well—or at least figure out who they can ask for help to get the job done well—even if it’s in an area they’re not overly familiar with.
Specialists, on the other hand, know a ton about one niche area. They’ve probably spent a lot of time in school or had specialized training. They tend to be less common because of this, but their knowledge is often essential to the organization’s success. Basically, specialists are the competitive advantage, the magic, the secret sauce—and their paygrade usually shows it. Older, more established companies usually hire more specialists because they have the need and the money to do so.
But in a way, specialists paint themselves into a corner. Take them out of their environment and they might not have the skills or experience necessary to succeed. As specialists move up, they have to be cautious about learning new things while maintaining their unique advantage. The company takes a risk in hiring a specialist too, because if they leave, it can be very difficult to find a suitable replacement.
Bottom line: Hire a specialist if you need a thought leader. These are the employees who bring something special to the firm, so take advantage of their exceptional skills and knowledge.
So which work style is the right one? Several studies have been done, but they don’t conclusively show whether employers feel more successful with more generalists or specialists. Ultimately, it’s important for every office to have the right mix of both, and for every employee to have some qualities of each. Which category do you see yourself and your coworkers fitting into?
Journalists are always looking for experts to contribute to their stories. The key to being called upon regularly is approachability and availability. Getting your name in the media isn’t rocket science, but leveraging every opportunity takes strategy and preparation. Most professionals crave media opportunities but clam up when it’s their time to shine. An attorney I’d been working with for a few months finally got the big verdict the firm was pushing for. We sent out the release and within minutes multiple reporters were calling both the law office and me. She was paralyzed. “They want to talk today? Why don’t we wait until I can have one of the partners fill in,” she asked.
This happens more often than you think. You know the old saying “be careful what you wish for”? Well, once you have a reporter on the hook, your dream has come true and you have to be ready. Most people have a fear of being looked to as an expert and saying something wrong. The people who are quoted as experts in your industry don’t have stronger qualifications than you. The perfectionist approach is engrained in most of us.
Getting past the fear of “I’m not an expert” allows you to claim your place in the spotlight as a knowledgeable professional so that your competition doesn’t claim it first. I said to this very accomplished attorney, “It’s now or never, and you are fully prepared. Let’s practice.” We developed three communication points that she wanted the media to know and went over them (repeatedly). She had the benefit of having a media coach, but if you don’t, prepare in advance and during the interview remember: S.O.S.
Keep it succinct: Soundbites are golden. Consider how you can express your message in a short and memorable way. Every interview is cut down – whether it’s in print or on TV. As a former reporter, I will tell you no matter how much time I spent with you, by the time we got to the 5 o’clock news — the story is always one minute and fifteen seconds.
To eliminate stumbling, observe what causes you to stumble and if you have an audience, observe what resonates with them. Practice with friends or family if you can. There is no trick to eliminate stumbling; you have to practice, practice and practice. Start by speaking about a single object (or topic) for 30 seconds. You’re not allowed to use “uhhhs” or “ummms,” but you CAN briefly pause between sentences.
Slow down and speak naturally- don’t let the nerves get you.
Our client’s interviews went swimmingly. She was on the radio, three television stations and in the local newspaper! If you want additional media tips or to find out what to do after the interview, check out Berbay’s recent webinar here.
There’s no question that online sales have exploded. Last year, 244 million people made an online purchase, and that number is expected to reach 270 million by 2020. But at the same time, 60 percent of people feel more comfortable engaging offline. Although it seems like we’re moving toward a digital-only world, there’s no replacement for human connection and relationship building.
While it’s less common to see a salesperson knocking on your door these days, many companies are still finding success with this strategy. Making door-to-door sales does have some unique benefits, and being successful at it requires a certain set of useful skills. Whether you’re selling a product, service or idea, every business can learn valuable lessons from traditional salespeople. Here are four tips to consider:
Know When to Move On
There comes a point when you’re just wasting time—both yours and your prospect’s. Time is valuable, and sometimes it’s more valuable than making a sale. When pursuing someone, give yourself a time limit and stick to it. And, learn to read the signs and cut the interaction off when it’s going nowhere.
Make Your Call-to-Action Quick and Easy
Tell your prospect exactly what you want them to do, and make sure they do it now, while you have their attention. Even if they can’t meet your ultimate goal right away, at least have them take a step in the right direction. Make the process as simple and transparent as possible.
Know What You’re Selling, Inside and Out
If you’re feeling doubtful or if your elevator pitch is unprepared, your prospect will pick up on it. Preparation will improve your confidence, making the sale less intimidating. Take the time to research your audience and anticipate their questions and reactions as well.
Take Rejection in Stride
Rejection will happen; there’s no getting around it. It’s your reaction to it that will make all the difference. No sales attempt is a complete waste of time, because each one gives you more experience and practice. Sometimes, a quick rejection can actually be beneficial, because it frees up more time to focus on other projects and prospects.
Talking to a prospect face-to-face may seem antiquated in the digital age. But regardless of whether you’re selling Tupperware or legal services, don’t forget how powerful relationship building can be.
What one word with only two letters and one syllable is probably the most difficult word to say? Give up? It’s “NO.” As Robin Bull points out in her article on learning how to say no, “Practical Strategies to Help You Say No,” even those of us with the strongest resolve to decline can break down. And as busy professionals, even if it’s not just that we don’t want to do something, we often just don’t have the time to do what’s being requested of us.
Bottom line: it’s not easy to learn how to say no! But that’s not to say you shouldn’t say no. Why? Because saying no:
And when we say “yes,” it encourages people to continue to ask us for favors.
The general approach to content creation has been to create the “right” message for the “right” audience and to distribute it through the “right” channels at the “right” time. Lin Pophal’s recent article, “Push Vs. Pull: The Right Path to Content Personalization,” uses Rapt Media’s recent report entitled, “The Future of Content: Personalizing the Content Experience,” to showcase why that approach is not enough. The point being made is that there hasn’t been enough attention paid to whether or not content is effectively generating a personalized and relevant experience for its audience. According to Rapt Media CEO, Erika Trautman, “Personalization has to be prioritized from the moment content is created.” And in addition, it needs to close the feedback loop indicating how the audience has engaged with the content.
The goal for your firm should be to serve up content that engages your prospects and clients in ways that allow them to create personalized experiences. With that in mind, you need to find ways to allow viewers to self-navigate your website, watch your videos, delve into your content and then interact with you, resulting in some desired outcome (fill out a form, download content, call you, etc.)
You may not know its name or who designed it, but you’ve almost certainly seen this famous Los Angeles home. Case Study House #22, or the Stahl House, named for the family that bought the lot in 1954, is an iconic piece of modernist architecture, immortalized in movies, TV shows and the photography of Julius Shulman.
The Berbay team was lucky enough to visit the Stahl House as part of our cultural camaraderie initiative for June. Although the interior has changed over the years, the architecture is unaltered and the house is still open to the public a few times a week. Some guests even get a tour with Carlotta Stahl, one of the owners.
Case Study House #22 was given its original name because it is number 22 out of a total of 27 homes that were built as part of the Case Study series, a two-decade long experiment sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine that challenged architects to design innovative residential homes.
Buck Stahl and his wife Carlotta purchased the lot for $13,000 and went on a search to find the perfect architect to execute their vision. Multiple architects turned Buck down, saying that it was impossible to build the house they wanted. But the Stahls carried on, eventually finding Pierre Koenig. Koenig collaborated with Buck and was able to bring the house to life.
The Stahl House was (and still is) incredible because it represented an entirely new way of living. Buck and Koenig rejected all architectural standards and made the “L” shaped house out of industrial materials that had never been considered useful in residential architecture before. The house required the largest piece of glass commercially available at the time to create the three glass walls.
We’re thankful to have seen such an important part of LA history. The Stahl House goes to show what people with creativity and vision can accomplish.
After finishing college, Connecticut native Amy Rossetti moved to Los Angeles and began looking for a position that would utilize her educational and internship experience in both public relations and marketing. Then she found it at Berbay. Amy celebrated her one-year anniversary with the firm on June 16.
What was Amy’s biggest surprise in joining Berbay? As someone just starting her professional career, she had thought most of her time would be spent working behind the scenes, supporting her senior teammates. She was surprised and pleased to discover that she would be working in a much more hands-on role, including interacting directly with clients and the media. Amy hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped bringing her growing PR and marketing expertise to the firm’s projects and clients. She especially enjoys working on websites for clients, and is strategically revamping Berbay’s website.
“I have learned more in one year than I could ever have imagined,” she says. “I knew the basics of public relations and marketing when I came onboard, but what I have experienced here working in a hands-on role on marketing plans, email campaigns, websites–including search engine optimization and pay-per-click–and in other areas has helped me grow so much professionally.”
The entire Berbay team has always been there to offer support when needed. “We are a team-oriented environment and no matter who has what title, everyone jumps in if you need help,” Amy says. “We are a small team, and everyone is super helpful and friendly to one another.”
Her life isn’t all work and no play. When she isn’t at the office, Amy loves to travel. She also enjoys getting outdoors with friends, whether going to the beach or exploring other areas of her adopted city.
There’s some marketing advice that you hear over and over again: create good content, measure your results, build relationships, and on and on. But what about less common techniques that you may not have thought of? Marketer Larry Bodine conducted a survey of nearly 400 marketing professionals and asked them to identify the techniques that worked best for them. Here are three lesser-known answers that may be useful for your firm.
Join trade associations
Most attorneys are involved in at least one bar association or legal group, which is a great way to network within the field. Unfortunately, these kinds of groups don’t do much in the way of recruiting clients and growing your firm. Instead, try joining a trade association related to your practice area. There’s an association for every industry and kind of professional—just pick the ones that your ideal client is most likely to attend. In addition to national associations, don’t forget about smaller groups that may apply to you, like regional groups and groups specifically for women or people of color.
If you’re not sure where to start, ask a client which associations they’re a part of and see if you can tag along to the next meeting. Once you have your footing, it’s important to be an active member, not just someone who shows up to a meeting every once in a while. Volunteer for committees, join the board, and before long, other members are likely to turn to you with their legal woes.
Include videos on your website
If you’ve spent any time on social media in the past year, you’ve probably noticed the increase in video content. That’s not a fluke: it’s expected that by next year, videos will account for 69 percent of consumer internet traffic. And that traffic isn’t just coming from young people watching funny viral videos. That same study shows that 75 percent of business executives watch work-related videos at least weekly. Video has quickly become the dominant digital medium.
So how can your firm incorporate video into your website? You can try filming interviews with attorneys, testimonials from clients, and clips from events and seminars you host. Maybe you can create video attorney biographies, or share clips of partners explaining the significance of case results and legal news. They don’t need to be flashy—even the most basic videos can add dimension to your website and be a valuable part of your marketing efforts.
Don’t recruit your target client
This piece of advice seems counterintuitive, but it’s not so much that you shouldn’t pursue your perfect client—you should just be thoughtful about timing and strategy. Before jumping into recruitment, you need to have every other element of your marketing plan under control. Sure, you can give your card to a potential client, but what happens when they go to your website and find that it’s unusable? Or they never get any sort of follow-up message?
Once you have gotten all of your marketing ducks in a row, then you’re ready to go after your target. And by this point, you won’t really need to “go after” them at all. By consistently using good marketing techniques, the people you want to hire you—neighbors, associates, and other people in your network—will naturally think of your firm when they need legal services. Recruiting new clients won’t take much more than a conversation or two.