1 Good Reason – Social Marketing

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Oops! You Wanted a Full Answer to That Question?

June 25th, 2010 · 6 Comments

BLUF (Bottom Line Up Front) It’s a mistake to imply that you will answer a question in full and then only provide a limited answer.  In today’s web, when we discover that type of misdirection we feel cheated and abused.  The website visitor’s response to you will be to leave angry and distrustful.  You’ve lost what may be the only opportunity you’ll ever have with them.

I visited the new Coldwell Banker website today after Chris Brogan tweeted about it. I know a bit about real estate because my wife is currently a realtor and she spent a few years at Coldwell Banker.  I want to say now that I think they are a fine company and I don’t have any problem with them at all. Coldwell does a lot of things right, and like all big companies they do a few things wrong.  I don’t want to discuss their company, or policies.  I do want to discuss their website…

I like the new website, it’s beautiful, very modern in look and feel.  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube buttons are prominently placed on every page and easy to find.  All in all, I think it’s a great new design.

Here’s the problem, I have a home for sale and the first thing I did was go search for it.  It’s not listed through Coldwell Banker, but rather with my wife’s current company.  I couldn’t find it on the Coldwell Banker site.  I fiddled with search criteria, changed the settings and still couldn’t find it.  Then I realized that it wasn’t listed because the Coldwell Banker site only searches for homes that are listed with Coldwell Banker realtors.

Now at first blush that seems to be completely reasonable.  You don’t want to advertise your competitor’s on your website do you?  But in Real Estate, anyone can go to any of dozens of home search sites (Realtor.com homefinder.com zillow.com trulia.com, etc.)  and find every available home in almost any market.  And very few people are going to buy a house without doing a lot of research, it’s a big deal for most of us.

So what happens to the home buyer who is searching on the Coldwell Banker site?  Here’s my guess:

1.       Arrive at the new Coldwell Banker site.  Marvel at the beauty and simplicity.

2.       Run a quick search to find a house you might like.

3.       Find a couple of listings.

a.       If you’re just starting out, you may not realize they are a subset of the available market.

b.      If you’ve been looking for a while you will quickly realize it’s not all of the homes on the market.

4.       Run a few other searches to check and see why it’s so out of whack.

5.       Check the screen, does something there say it’s only searching Coldwell Banker’s listings?

6.       You’re now confused. You decide the search is useless.

7.       You’ll leave the site disgusted and distrustful.

A Negative Experience with the Brand.

In my opinion the visitor to the site will leave Coldwell Banker’s new website with a negative feeling about the brand.  They will feel they were misled into thinking they were searching the internet, when they only searching one company.  There are lots of different websites that do this type of thing, plumbing supplies, hand tools, arts and crafts, etc.   And they all leave us feeling like we’ve wasted our time on them.  When it’s simple for the user to jump over to Google and find another site with a more comprehensive search it’s counterproductive for your site to do anything else.

What’s the Right Way to Do It?

Do the real search for everything, but highlight your products with added appeal.  Provide more information, better descriptions, bigger pictures, etc.  Give your site visitor the info they need even if you can’t provide the sale this time.   Provide all of the information, maybe in a better format, that’s easier to read.  In real estate you can provide your own agents as contacts for all of the properties instead of the listing agent.  There are lots of ways for you to provide competitive information yet still keep the customer.  Sell them something else, an alternative product that does the same job.  In the end, if they really really want only the product you don’t supply, you’ll not change their minds.  But you can be in their minds for the next time they need something like it.

It’s much better to be a Trust Agent than a banker out in the cold by the well (sorry couldn’t help that one.)

Photo Credit: Flickr Uploaded on August 21, 2008 by TheTruthAbout…

Give me 1 Good Reason why you would spend any time on a product search that’s incomplete?

Posted via email from ckieff’s posterous

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Tags: Reasons For Net Marketing · Web Wednesday

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Tweets that mention Oops! You Wanted a Full Answer to That Question? -- Topsy.com // Jun 25, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Moran, Chris Kieff, Chris Kieff, Brad Jobling, NJ Open Coffee and others. NJ Open Coffee said: Would you plan your big new website this way? http://bit.ly/bQlqVq New blog post. [...]

  • 2 David Marine - Coldwell Banker // Jun 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    Chris-
    Thanks for taking a look at our newly redesigned coldwellbanker.com and we’re happy to hear you’re pleased with the design and functionality.

    Wanted to address the issue you brought up about us only showing our own listings. This isn’t solely by choice. As a national franchise there are restrictions to what we are able to do with listings that are part of an IDX database. Different MLS’s have different rules about how their listings can be displayed, so it’s not like we can just “plug and play” these IDX listings into our current site design and functionality.

    We do allow consumers to see all the IDX listings in the area they search by promoting an IDX link on our results page, but this takes them to a local site of one of our Coldwell Banker affiliates and abides by the MLS display rules for that area. You’ll notice that these sites don’t have a number of the features that our site offers like video, social sharing, ability to save properties using our Home File product, etc.

    In a competitive real estate marketplace, we have taken the strategy of making sure consumers have a unique and innovative experience that represents what the Coldwell Banker brand is. We realize that buyers look at a number of different sites when shopping for a home and we want our site to be a different experience than what they normally see online. Hopefully there’ll come a day when the handcuffs will be removed and we’ll be able to showcase all the listings in any given market in the way our site is designed to do.

    Man that was a lengthy comment. Sorry about that. Happy to talk with you about this further.

  • 3 Chris Kieff // Jun 26, 2010 at 9:26 am

    First, I want to compliment Coldwell Banker in having a social media strategy that includes engaging with bloggers. Too many companies today feel they can still ignore bad press and hope it goes away. I appreciated your phone call and taking the time leave a comment here on my blog.
    I now understand a little more clearly why you chose to do what you have done. I don’t agree with that decision, because I think you’re approaching the web experience from the perspective of a vendor, not from the perspective of the user. I think that’s where too many potentially good web designs go bad. However, we can agree to disagree over this point. Having made the decisions you’ve made the site you have launched is very good in it’s execution of that strategy.

  • 4 Mari-Lyn // Jun 26, 2010 at 10:03 am

    Hi Chris,
    I think it’s all important to have people give us a critic of our sites, because overall we do design them to suit ourselves and forget about our viewers or customers.

    Great points you made.
    Mari-Lyn

  • 5 Did You Just Throw Your Broker Under a Bus? | REreflections.com // Jun 26, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    [...] a tweet by Chris Kieff that the Social Media Manager at Coldwell banker had responded to his Post “Oops!You Wanted a Full Answer to That Question?”, and being the Realogy franchisee that I am (in my role as CEO of CENTURY 21 Advantage Gold), my [...]

  • 6 Bill Lublin // Jun 26, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Chris;
    Interesting post – and an even more interesting response from Mr. Marine.
    But have you thought about the response from the CB Brokerage point of view? They seem to get a certain disrespect from corporate in this.. #justsaying