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TOP 5 IN REAL ESTATE, March 2009-Jeff Stern
RE/MAX Performance Realty
Years in real estate:
Region Served: Winnipeg, MB, Canada
Average sales price in your market: $235,000
Average number of days on market: 48

How have you evolved your marketing over the years?

When I first got into the industry, technology wasn’t really there. In my market, however, I was pretty advanced. My first website was launched in June, 1994, when I started to see the Internet coming. Prior to 1994, I was doing conventional marketing, but I started migrating away from print. I also started directing people to my website. In those days, it was only about 23% of my business. Today, 83% of my business comes via the Internet. My website has changed over the years and today is very mobile-friendly. The bulk of what I do today is Internet-based. It just seemed to be the way the buyers were going. Between 1994 and 1998, I had sold over 200 homes just by way of the Internet. By 1999, the competition was getting stronger. Today the Internet is phenomenal.

Why are some of the more traditional personal promotion marketing strategies that are no longer effective today?

Today’s average consumer is tired of advertising: they don’t want to be sold-they want to be helped and they want to do their own research. The average consumer is getting approximately 300 advertising messages each day. That includes everything from billboards to television to flyers that fall out of their newspapers. The average consumer is inundated with ads, therefore, they just shut down.

What messaging resonates most with today’s consumers?

Messaging that enables them to be in control. They thrive on their own research.

What role does information play in effective marketing?

Information is everything in marketing today. Anyone that goes in with hard sales-types of information loses out today. Today’s consumers are smarter and don’t want to be sold. They want information-information that will lead them to purchase.

What are some of the most creative marketing ideas you’ve been successful with?

What I have found that works well is a home warranty program. I brought one to Manitoba and it did well because it was a good closing tool. I am also starting a “VIP Platinum Plus” program in which sellers get a stager for one hour and a discount on paint and flooring. I also have bundled into the program a container that can fit up to 2,000 pounds of items that need to come out of the house before it goes on the market. The container is delivered to their door when they list with me, and they can unclutter their house and put it all into the container. The containers have my logo and name all over them-no one else is doing this in my area. It is a very effective selling tool (where sanctioned by regulation and law). Ultimately, I have been very successful at giving sellers more than they would expect-I give them a great experience.

What do you believe some of the greatest benefits of Top 5 will be?

My biggest issue in real estate is that we are doing a lousy job educating the consumer about professionalism. Top 5 tells consumers that there are differences between agents that they need to be aware of when hiring them. In essence, that’s where I am hoping Top 5 will help. I think what they are doing is really good. It’s time someone did this.

What is your philosophy for a successful life in real estate?

I look at what other agents do and try to do exactly what 99% of them are not doing. I try to be different. I don’t know if I am right or not, but I will be different. I also try to think of what the consumer would want, and I do that. Many businesses adopt the Golden Rule. I feel this is selfish as it assumes that the consumer wants what the business wants. I have adopted The Platinum Rule: “Do Unto Others as They Want Done Unto Themselves.” The Platinum Rule is sensitive to the consumers needs, not the business’s. I simply want to give the consumer a great experience.