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A Miami Copywriter Explains Why Well-Written Listings Matter

Well-written listings are a valuable marketing resource. Not only are you describing the features and story of a home, but you are also giving potential buyers a glimpse of you. That’s right – you.  A well-written listing shows that you are meticulous in your approach to success, both yours and the clients.

Luxury buyers and sellers are accustomed to having the highest quality in life. Many have attended fine educational institutions/top schools and expect someone who is articulate on the page and in person.

Pictures and videos are supposed to be worth a thousand words, but this is not altogether true. Every written word counts toward your reputation and success. You need to give attention to every facet of your business; every detail matters. Thousands of listings appear each week from every part of the country. Just browsing the MLS and other online listing resources demonstrate that care is not always taken when writing.

Photos should be inspiring and video tours and slide share presentations should be on the same level or surpassing other agents, but relying on photos and videos is lazy. Listings should be compelling. Agents must focus on all three elements to make their marketing efforts worthwhile. Storytelling highlights the best features of a home.

Space is limited in most MLS description sections and agents waste it by being repetitive. Plenty of information is already given in pre-determined checkboxes, so repeating the number of bedrooms and bathrooms is unnecessary. This valuable space should be used for compelling copy that has elements of emotion and urgency.

Outside of MLS description sections, ads need to draw the reader in and start to convert them to buyers. Saving time and energy by relying on images or videos will not make you a top agent. Pictures will capture  attention, but a well-written listing cements interest.

Give yourself the competitive advantage by using Siren to make every word of your listings count toward your success.

A Miami Copywriter Explains How to Show Off Your Writing Skills

Every agent should understand how to write a listing that sells.

Your listings should be detailed and grab the reader’s attention. The goal is to use a listing as an icebreaker. Avoid sounding like a police reporter by listing technical details and get creative instead.

Creativity is one of those talents that some are blessed with. Being a good writer, however, is a skill you can hone with practice. Start by learning what works and what doesn’t for your target market.  Experiment with words and pay attention to what gains traction. Creativity is what helps you stand out.

Which qualities sell?

Real estate is a highly competitive industry. Every listing should stand out as much as possible. If you’re competing with homes in a neighborhood that have two-car garages, emphasize that your listing has space for three. Open floor plans remain popular, as do homes that have office spaces or pools/outdoor entertaining areas. Cul-de-sac placements, unique energy saving features, and expansion potential should also be highlighted.

Are there exceptional brands?

Kitchens are the heart of the home. More often than not, guests and loved ones gather here rather than the living room or patio. Quality brands make a kitchen luxurious and show off the status of the homeowner. Detail how this beloved space is a chef’s or gourmet kitchen. Don’t go overboard listing all the brands, but a few should be emphasized. Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf ovens, and Viking stoves are always crowd pleasers. These names embody quality and are hot-ticket items. Heating systems can also be named; Buderus and Viessmann are top European boilers.

How is the neighborhood?

Location is almost everything in real estate. The house should not be the only focus, as homes go beyond their structures. Neighborhoods have personality and school districts are ranked. Give a brief tour of the neighborhood in about five words. Being in the feeder pattern of an A+ school may be the top selling point. Proximity to museums or five-star restaurants may also be the rock stars of your listing.

Feeling overwhelmed? Save time and energy with Siren. Generate listings that will be your top marketing tool.

A Miami Copywriter Explains Which Words to Avoid When Generating Real Estate Listings

Every word counts in a real estate listing and the wrong ones are strikes against you. Whether the words are overused to the point of cringe or just confusing, a potential lead may be turned off by your language. They may think that since you are not imaginative/creative with something as powerful as a listing, you won’t come up with innovative ways to market or negotiate, either. Prove them wrong by avoiding the following terms.

Welcome home

Can you feel the cringe coming on? Allow clients to form their own opinions about a property. Write about the features that make it feel like a safe place. Maybe the location is close to highly rated schools and parks. This could also be an opportunity to write about security features or smart home technology.

Priced to sell

Every house is priced to sell. In a hot market, this can work favorably. Otherwise, these words come across as hostile. Have a home properly appraised and set it slightly higher than the appraised value. Most deals include at least one counteroffer that is often five to six percent below asking price. Put the odds in your favor by doing away with this term.

Has great bones 

Agents should present every house in the best light. Many buyers know a property will not be 100 percent to their liking and most are willing to invest in a few updates. To say a home has great bones may cause the buyer to perceive the property as a potential money pit. Focus instead on stellar features such as vaulted ceilings or the home’s proximity to A+ schools.

Charming 

Charming implies to many that the space is compact. Ask yourself what makes the neighborhood or property delightful. It could be a rustic setting, a tree-lined street or architectural details like molding or an intricate staircase. Harness the power of the home’s best features to show off its charm without using this cliche word.

Siren has all the right words for your listings. Let’s start today!

A Miami Copywriter Explains: Living Coral basics

When Pantone speaks, agents and designers should listen. Since 2000, the firm has designated a color to represent the year ahead. Designers usually have the hue in their runway shows and retail giants mass produce the color in their wares. Knowing what the Color of the Year is and how it works in a home sets you apart from those in the field who just chase sales. Home is an art form, something human chase for a permanent feeling of security and beauty.

 

What is the hue?

Living Coral is a mix of pink, red and orange with gold undertones. It was selected for its life-affirming properties and to call attention to the plight of our dying seas.

How should it be used?

This is up to the homeowner or stager. When using small touches, make sure the shades match, or if varying shades to create visual layers, ensure that there is a wealth of textures. If investing in a statement Living Coral sofa or another large piece, the scale must fit the room. This color can become overwhelming if care is not given to the overall visual theme of a space. Try to avoid using Living Coral in an accent wall as it comes across as noncommittal rather than artistic.

What else goes with it?

Living Coral has predominantly been seen before its coronation by Pantone as a staple in coastal or tropical themes. As such, straw accents work well. Brass is the safest bet for metallic pairings. Jungle Green is a great contrasting hue, as is a crisp white. Choose straw or jute rugs, colored glass, or beaded or faux fur accent pillows.

 

How will you be using Living Color to stage homes this year?

A Miami Copywriter Explains Why Your Real Estate Blog Matters

Most real estate agents excel at sales and human connection. Sitting down every week to write articles when there are calls to be made might not seem like the best use of your time. Not only are you establishing your expertise through the written word, you are also setting yourself up to enjoy a few benefits that may not be top of mind.

Gain Your Ideal Client’s Trust

Everyone gets the same 24 hours each day. If someone chooses to spend even a minute on your article, make it worth their while. Address pain points and answer questions from your ideal client. Create a profile character to make this easier. For example, let’s use the name Amelia Day and she is in your specific niche. She is a wedding photographer and mother to three college-age daughters. Amelia’s husband is an auto mechanic with seven shops. The Days are looking to downsize their five-bedroom home and move into the country. Ask which niche(s) Amelia would fit into and how your services address her pain points. Then generate content that speaks to her. Some agents make collages for their profile character and others simply type the name on the top of every page like a letter and delete it when editing. Speak to your ideal client through your content in any way you can. Email campaigns, landing pages, clickfunnels and social media platforms will be more powerful as a result.

Recruit Dream Candidates

You may not be thinking of building a team now, but at some point, business may expand further than you thought possible. You want to be able to reach out to qualified candidates right away and get a response. By crafting exceptional content, you are setting the tone for your business and a potential culture focused on attention to detail and understanding the market.

Make Passive Income

We would all love to make money while we sleep. Your blog can generate income through affiliate links. Real estate agents deal with so many areas of lifestyle and home that they can easily write on a wealth of topics. Your latest article on home security can include links to local companies that install alarms, or sell security cameras and fences. Local furniture stores can be a great partner to stage homes and discuss the latest trends. Living Coral chairs or wall art can fit into design articles. If your niche focuses on fixer uppers, interview a local handyman. Make sure to disclose that you will receive money from any affiliate links included in your articles.

Siren is ready to help you win your target market and invest in the future with strategic content. Email or call today to get started.

A Miami Copywriter Explains the Right Content for Real Estate Agents

Eighty percent of first-year agents give up after five years in the industry. Only 13 percent make it. These are some seriously scary statistics out there for first-year agents. Let’s throw them in the trash. Strategy can trump experience. Your clients and leads should think of you as their trusted local expert. The best way to do this is via content.

Niches are a must

Nothing is messier than a bowl of spaghetti thrown against a wall. You may want to appeal to everyone and see what sticks. This is a waste of your time and money. Atop MLS fees, association dues and broker fees, you do not want to start your career in credit card debt. Not everything will stick because it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around. Since you do not have a client base yet, figure out which types of people you would like to spend most of your day with. It may be tempting to say luxury buyers and sellers, but think of FSBO, vacation properties, single buyers, baby boomers, rentals or distressed properties – these are all popular niches.

Focus on dream clients

Select your niche and stick with it. They may not come in droves, but these types of buyers and sellers are popular for a reason. Figure out how to address their interests and pain points. For example, FSBO sellers may be in over their heads without the right channels to market their home, or they may be overpriced for the area. You can show them how to create demand for their property with a few tweaks and win them over. Vacation buyers may not know that they need special insurance for a waterfront home. Ask your network for help locating an insurance agent. Be the one people in your niche think of when they need answers.

Market and brand accordingly

Every marketing effort must yield results. Your niche is unique. Research their interests and cater to them. First-time home buyers are most likely nervous about making their first big investment. Position yourself as their voice of reason. Write articles for your blog or other publications discussing loan programs.

Branding must also be taken seriously and keep in mind it is not just about content. Make yourself known in the community by doing volunteer work. Animal shelters, schools and parks always need help. Be a part of the community during your first year to create a foundation of trust for years to come.

Listings matter

Real estate listings are notorious for being poorly written. Typos and clichés galore! These descriptions might be what introduces your attention to detail/quality to potential clients. Don’t sabotage the opportunity to make a great first impression by rushing through your real estate copy. Choose your words carefully. Avoid buzzwords like ‘charming’ or ‘priced to sell’ to stand out from the competition. Focus on unique features of the property and neighborhood. With the right words, you can transform a house into a buyer’s dream home.

Siren is here to support you with high-quality content and powerful listings. Let’s start discussing content strategy with a quick email or text.

 

How to Cut Your Teeth

Clients have opinions on writing, but not necessarily the ability to put them into action. That is the first thing you must learn as a writer: how to separate unhelpful criticism from productive feedback. The second is how to work with unclear instructions handed down from someone who may have studied writing, but has never been published on any platform. Flow, storytelling, and creative elements might be considerations for criticism you hear as a writer. Let’s decode them together.

Flow

Flow is how all your carefully chosen words flow together. Read your work aloud. Go to a quiet area and enunciate each word. Non-writers call this “mouth feel,” and the words you have selected may not sound the same when spoken out loud. Take a video or a voice note and listen to all the words coming together. As a writer, you may have just been happy to find useful words, but you have to make sure they are all compatible.

Which of these examples flow?

Example 1: Start a style dialog with our catalog.

Example 2: We went to the shoe store for sandals.

Example 3: We went to the shoe store; I bought sandals.

Example 4: The small locomotive car, Number 4, came clanking, stumbling down from Selston with seven full wagons.

Takeaway: Make audio recordings part of your revision process.

Storytelling

Storytelling is how your product appeals to consumers without giving a pitch. Furniture, clothes, and automobiles all have a unique story to share. Storytelling differs from selling, as one wants to share, while the latter wants to market. Consumers have a short attention span, so try to come up with a five-second story, not a pitch, about the product.

Product: a desk with electrical outlets built into the frame

Storytelling: Forget headphones; imagine completing homework or writing your novel (finally!) with white noise coming from gently crashing of waves courtesy of the Hansen desk. Built-in electrical outlets allow you to pick ideal workspaces to ignite creativity.

Selling:  The Hansen desk lets you do work from anywhere!

Takeaway: Practice creating five-second stories for products.

Creative elements

Creative elements are ways to make a product less assembly line. Most clients appreciate creativity as long as it isn’t “too creative”. Groupon’s copy is highly creative and does the nearly impossible job of also being funny. Once their style guide became available online, the mystery of how Groupon balances imagination and humor was solved.

Whatever can be tied to the product works if it comes across as a natural progression of thought; too much of a stretch, and it’s struck. For example, ‘Bob the Unicorn made a mad dash for Delilah’s gluten-free ice cream down a glittering rainbow,’ does not work because the association is not clear. A unicorn is not normally a match with ice cream.  Squirrels would make a better choice, only if there is some sort of nut offering on the menu. Bernice the Squirrel happily waits in line for the nutty deliciousness of Delilah’s gluten-free praline ice cream.

Takeaway: Write down the most common product associations to give your imagination practical guidelines.

 

Executive Communications 101: Hiring pitch

headhunt-311354_1280Good afternoon,
I am the advertising copywriter for El Dorado Furniture, a freelance corporate ghostwriter and a writing professor at Miami Dade College. I believe my experience makes me a good fit for the (name of job) position according to your ad. For samples of my work, please visit www.sirenpublications.com. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Kindest regards,
Maureen Castellon
Writer/Siren Publications

Above is my elevator pitch email I send when applying for freelance jobs. It does not follow my three-sentence rule for business communications because an introduction should be just a sentence longer than your regular emails to make a strong impression.

Salutation
Good afternoon is used as an opener and I add a specific name if it is known, along with a polite Mr. or Ms. as a mark of respect. Notice that the salutation is formal. Do not use ‘Hey’ or ‘You know I am the one you are looking to hire’. Informality and cuteness is abrasive in business emails.

Just the facts
No one likes a stranger who brags. When you go to a party and get cornered by a vegan or a struggling musician, the conversation is all about them. A few seconds in, you are looking for the exit because conversations must have a balance of give and take. State your qualifications as facts.

Follow the ad
Allow the recipient to make the call on whether they are impressive. If you say ‘I am the most qualified’ or ‘I am the best copywriter ever,’ you will turn off your audience. Turn the attention back to the recipient and make yourself humble by relating your qualifications to their needs. Get the name of the job into your email so there will not be a cause for confusion; corporations have multiple openings at the same time.

Give a destination link
Your portfolio needs to be online. Everything is digital nowadays and your potential employer wants everything to be easy. He or she has a full day outside of the hiring process and wants to get back to work, not hunt for your portfolio pieces. Build a website; even a basic one is better than zero digital presence.

Be polite
Nobody has a gun to their back forcing them to look at your work. The fact that someone has taken the time out of their day to review your qualifications is something to acknowledge. Thank them for their time and consideration. Every single person is busy and manners are always appreciated Also keep in mind that a hiring manager is looking for someone who will be a complement to the working environment, and manners go hand in hand.

Closing
‘Kind regards’ is the international favorite for the last line before your name. Something crass like ‘Your future employee’ or ‘The best and brightest’ will inspire an eye roll at best and a banishment to the trash bin at worst. Stop selling yourself at this point and acknowledge the recipient’s humanity. Add your name and send.

Takeaway
The email you send for a potential job opportunity should be polite and humble. Start with respectful formality and address the recipient as Ms. or Mr. State your qualifications without being a braggart and relate your expertise back to what the recipient wants. Have a working portfolio link ready for review. Be grateful and acknowledge that they made time for you. Sign off in such a way that makes the reader feel that you will be pleasant to work with on a daily basis. Take the email and make it your own, but always be polite.

Executive Communications 101: Following Up

doorbell-143467_1280A meeting or a phone call with a valued person is a cause for celebration. People, however, many not keep the event in the forefront of their mind as you would. However, not everyone will keep your business communications at the forefront of their minds. If you are awaiting a green light to begin a project, you must follow up on your lead. Do not follow up hours after you first approach your new client afterwards; instead, wait at least three days. What is important to you is not crucial for everyone. Being forward will come across as pushy, which could cost you the project. After at least three days, send a follow up communication that is polite and professional, like the one below.

Good morning Mr. Donovan,
Thank you for the {meeting, project, or call}. It was great speaking with you and I just wanted to follow up to check if further information was needed. I look forward to working with you.
Kindest regards,
Maureen Castellon

Greeting
Unless the person or people you communicated with state otherwise, never use their first name. Some professionals will tell you right away to call them Dave or Bucky right away. Others will just assume you understand that they want to be addressed formally by not allowing the formalities to drop. Follow their lead – if they do not allow the formalities to drop, neither should you. Making yourself comfortable with them is tacky and a touch disrespectful.

Be specifically grateful
The person that who gave you their time did not have to do so. Acknowledge this with a simple thank you. Be specific with about the nature of the communication in case as, sadly, they may have forgotten your big moment. This is not to say that you are unimportant, but busy people can sometimes forget anything that isn’t circled in red on their calendars.

Gently remind
If the project has failed to advance and you are unsure as to why lay the blame on yourself. Get them your client off the hook by simply writing something as innocent as checking that asking them if they have everything needed. This gives them an out in case they forgot and are embarrassed to say so, and it. This will put you in a more favorable light with them because you were not pushy.

Make a connection
People want to be acknowledged. Writing ‘I look forward to working with you’ forges a connection that will grow as you work together makes a connection that may solidify. It is also a way of saying there are no hard feelings resulting from the delay. An alternative would be to say ‘I look forward to making this project a reality’. Do not say ‘I can’t wait to begin’ or something that implies a deadline. The priority is the person and not the project. Close out the email with ‘Kindest regards,’ followed by your name.

Takeaway
Be formal in your greeting unless stated otherwise by the recipient(s). Be specific about something they did for you as a professional, as it was on their time. Allow yourself to be the scapegoat by taking a light form of responsibility via not enough information on your part for the delay. For the final few lines, connect with the recipients as humans who are also hustling.

Executive Communications 101: Words to avoid

thumb-440352_1280Everyone has a word they hate or avoid. Some recoil at ‘moist’ while others detest ‘delish’. Pet peeves aside, words sent in emails cannot be taken back so choose them carefully and do not include the following words in any business communication, regardless of the context.
Sample :
Good morning Greg,
Thank you for your input [or attendance] at yesterday’s meeting. Consider the impression you are making on your colleagues with informal manners or gestures. Let’s keep our environment as professional as possible.
Sincerely,
Mr. Donovan

Hey
Business associates and clients are not your friends. They may be friendly, but they are not your ride or die friends. You can use this greeting in conversation, but when written down it is not acceptable. Hello is fine to use in a thread, but never as the opening salutation on a new email. Using ‘hey’ with the wrong recipient is akin to calling a teacher by their first name: insulting to a professional for its informal nature.

↓ Hey Mr. Donovan,
↑ Good morning Mr. Donovan,

Unprofessional
On a scale of one to ten, this word ranks at a twenty. Unprofessional is what can only be deemed as a fighting word. Using it to describe a person rather than their actions will result in an unpleasant and defensive response. People are worried about their livelihoods and this word casts judgement on their abilities.
↓You were unprofessional in the meeting today when you put your feet on the table.
↑Putting your feet on the table was not an appropriate action today at the meeting.
A situation can be unprofessional, but a person should not be called unprofessional unless you want to throw the gauntlet. There are a number of ways you can rephrase a sentence to avoid the word all together.

↓High-fiving people at meetings is unprofessional.
↑Consider the impression you are making on your colleagues with informal manners or gestures such as a high-five.

Awesome or trill
Everyone is desperate to appeal to Millennials to the point of detriment. Using their slang in business communications is not good for your professional image. Save it for personal emails. Good or great are the best adjectives to use in a business communication.

↓Your presentation was so legit trill today.
↑Great job on the presentation today.

Takeaway
Your words are you on paper. Consider your communication choices when expressing yourself to other professionals. Hey is too informal. Unprofessional is a word that will result in defensiveness, as it is quite judgmental. Save slang for your personal communications. Make the right impression with your words.