Raising the Bar with Michael Ackerman

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To spend any time with Coldwell Banker Bain Broker Michael Ackerman, is to literally improve your life!

Michael is an amazing human being and an EXCELLENT real estate agent who is super generous with a GIANT heart! Not to mention strategic marketer, savvy businessman and brander!

He operates from a mindset of ‘abundance’ and shares all his experience, vision and best strategies freely to anyone who’s eager to learn!

Michael’s tagline captures his spirit beautifully: “It’s all about the connection.” His bio reads on his website

“…your connection to the home, your connection to each other and your connection with me. My business thrives on balance, positive energy and fulfilled promises.”

Michael believes, as do I, that brand is the entire experience a customer has with you.  Not just the logo and the tagline, but how they experience you at every touch point.  How you present yourself matters and Michael pays attention to every detail right down to a fresh crisp shirt!

In all of Michael’s marketing he’s looking to “evoke an emotional response” and so he invests aggressively in professional photography and video with the understanding that the buyer does the bulk of their shopping online.

Michael pays close attention for every opportunity to make his client and/or customer to feel special, high level attention to detail and seeking to delight and surprise as much as possible.

I truly believe if more of us operated with Michael’s attitude and commitment to excellence, the entire industry would be vastly improved.

“Always be gracious. Do the right thing. Have the right intention and  the money will come.” ~ Michael Ackerman <<  TWEET THIS!

I know you’ll LOVE this conversation with Michael!

 

Narrator:You’re listening to Conversations That Matter with your host, Teri Conrad.

Teri:Hi everyone, I’m Teri Conrad. Welcome to Conversations that Matter. I am super excited to introduce you, if you don’t already know, Michael Ackerman who’s a broker. They call themselves brokers down at CBBain in Seattle. I am so excited to welcome you to the program Michael because I had the great opportunity of being down in Bellingham and sitting in on a class at Coldwell-Banker-Bain Bellingham. Michael was up with Linda Aaron who I’ve actually had on the show before. He was there donating from his free time, I might add, which is so generous. He came in for two classes so their office was fortunate enough to hear from Michael on video marketing and then he did the next class the following day on listing presentations.

Michael:Correct!

Teri:Full of gold nuggets, absolutely full of – I’m Michael you’ve got to come on Conversations That Matter and share your beautiful wisdom with our audience. Welcome, welcome, welcome.

Michael:Thank you so much! It’s such an honor to be here and to be asked. I love what you’re doing. I love your company. I think what you’re doing is so important and just thinking outside of the box and making brokers and agents think outside the box, bringing a fresh voice to this industry is really, really important. I love Conversations That Matter and what you’re doing so I’m very honored to be here. Thank you! 

Teri:Thank you, the love fest could go on and on and on. We’ll wrap that up quickly and dive into some of the amazing — I think what I loved the most about your presentations was first of all, your generosity. You didn’t hold anything back. You gave everyone in that call all your best ideas. There were so many things that stood out for m — your attention to detail, your branding, your marketing, your video, your — I think what stood out most for me was your attitude towards the industry in general. I want to go down all those different tracks, but first I want to read what you have on your website that I think encapsulates you so, so well. You wrote on your website About Michael — I believe that real estate is all about connection. Your connection to the home, your connection to each other, and your connection with me. My business thrives on balance, positive energy and fulfilled promises. I love that you – I think not only – it’s not – you choose your words so carefully just like you choose everything else that you do so carefully. 

It’s how you articulate and capture who you actually are and I believe – I actually believe that what you wrote is so true. Can you tell me a little bit about why is it – what’s your tag?

Michael:It’s all about the connection.

Teri:Which you sock on the end of every one of your videos.

Michael:Correct!

Teri:I believe that you mean that. How did you get to that point?

Michael:When I first got into the industry 21 years ago, I hesitated getting in. I had a good friend who worked with Coldwell Banker Bain and he kept saying I think you’d be really good at being a real estate agent at the time, barker now and I was a little bit hesitate because I don’t react well to sales people. I don’t respond well to that pushy, they know better than I know – I know what I want and I always liked the freedom to be able to make my own decisions. When I got into the industry, I thought how am I going to carve out my niche. How am I going to be me and still be successful in an industry where I think the perception sometimes is that we’re pushy sales people and we don’t really listen? Early on in the industry, I learned very quickly that I’m not a sales person. I’m an educator. I’m a team member. I’m an advocate. I’m a friend.

I quickly realized that’s how I’m going to position myself in this industry which might be a little bit different than what some other agents or brokers do and that’s okay because that’s truly who I am. Early on I thought it is all about really connecting with people, making relationships and creating such a stunning experience for my buyers or sellers that they’re going to want other people to share in that experience. That’s how I’ve become successful in them sharing their great experiences with other people and becoming fans and telling all their friends and family members and workers or people that they work with to use me as their advocate.

Teri:Absolutely! Absolutely! I mean just the experience of spending the – we’ve the great opportunity to hang out a couple of times, but I mean every time I get to hang out with you, the truth is that you just lift the spirit of everyone around you. That experience is so profound. I think that we’re all looking to be inspired, to feel like we’re doing something good, that we’re contributing.  To me that human need that we have to be contributors and to be significant and to be recognized and loved and all those things, you do such an amazing job of making everyone around you feel special and acknowledged which I think is profound and powerful. 

Michael:Yes and that comes from a true place, that is who I am.

Teri:I think that’s precisely why it works. You can’t fake that stuff. It’s either there and it’s real or it’s not. I think that – you’ve done such a great job of articulating that in your branding and your marketing. Let’s talk a little bit about since your first class that I got to sit in on was your video marketing – I’m going to go there first for a second. Let’s talk a little bit about what is your strategy? How did you approach that? What are you doing? 

Michael:As I said, I’ve been selling real estate since 1993 and my career was on a very nice trajectory until 2008 when we all remember a little something called the economic meltdown. 

Teri:That was fun!

Michael:Yeah and in Seattle, it was – it didn’t hit us nearly as hard as some areas in the country, but it did hit us. My income was affected probably – I probably made half of what I was used to making which again – and I don’t make this about money, but I’m happiest when I can do what I do, actually in front of people, dealing with people and that was happening less and less because of course buyers were hesitant to buy because they were afraid that they would be over-extending if the house they purchased would depreciate the next few years. Sellers were – a lot of them were under water or just weren’t going to make the amount of money they wanted to make so they were holding off. I thought how do I get my voice out to the public to tell them I am passionate about doing this. 

I love doing this and even in a down market, if you have a need to buy or sell, which a lot of people still do — marriages, extra kids, divorces, job transfer – I’m here to assist you. I went to an event called R. E. Bartsnap [sp] and a broker who you know very well, Ian Watts from Vancouver, British Columbia was a keynote speaker. He talked about how he had done video blogs in his car. He puts the camera on the dash, he talks for a couple of minutes about real estate and a light bulb went off above my head. I thought that is such an incredible venue to let public on the entire planet know who you are, what’s special voice you bring because we all have our special voices. We all have our special nuances. We all have our special personalities that people are going to be attracted to and I thought what an incredible way for me to be able to get my personality, my voice and my experience in this business out to the general public.

I started filming video blogs which I’ve got a couple hundred now on YouTube, just about two to three minute blogs as a service to the public talking about –

Teri:Which was key! I’m going to deliver value!

Michael:Yeah, I’m going to deliver value. I want to dispel the mysteries of real estate. I want to tell funny stories and let the public know exactly what we do as brokers because sometimes we do things behind the scenes that they’re not aware of. It’s really fun to let them know hey, this happened. To just share experiences and to let people know what had happened to me with my clients and maybe they were experiencing the same thing with their brokers. I never asked for business. I never say hey, I’m Michael and I’m great at real estate. I just talk about the specifics of real estate, structural inspections, sewer scopes, what is escrow, what is agency and encourage people to have these conversations with their agents or brokers that they may or may not have had. 

It’s a service. I feel like I’m providing a service and giving out something of value to the public and people have responded very well to that. 

Teri:Absolutely! It’s amazing! All of your videos, and I love that you were really cognizant about keeping them short and sweet and succinct. You’ve become a pro at just – the one hit wonder – you just pop those puppies out pretty quick.

Michael:I’m pretty good at doing them in one take. I write my subject matter down. I put down three or four bullet points. I write them in front of me. I look at them for a moment and then I can pretty much deliver them. As with anything, the more your practice something, the better you get. For those agents or brokers that might be watching this that have been wanting to do video blogging, but they’re a little bit afraid, don’t be afraid. Go for it! The public responds incredibly well. Can I tell you a quick story about –?

When people see you on a screen, whether it’s on their television or the movie screen or on their laptop, tablet or desktop, they tend to really believe and trust what they see. It’s like you used to believe everything you read in the newspaper which is hopefully true, but I did a blog about three years ago talking about the differences between a large condo as opposed to a small condo. If you were a condo buyer, what experience might be different if you purchased one rather than the other? Not that one is better than the other, but what the differences are that you should think about as the public. This is something that people may not even think about when they’re new to the market – that in an 18-unit building, it’s going to be a completely different experience than a 250-unit building which is a huge – it feels like a hotel sometimes. These experiences differ. 

I got a call about two weeks after I uploaded the blog from a lovely couple in New Jersey who called me up and asked me – they said we’ve been looking about with our agent. We were thinking about buying in either the Victoria or the – I can’t remember the two names, but he gave me two names of buildings. They said which do you think we should buy in? I was a little shocked. They said well – they were very sweet. I said well I appreciate the phone call. They had seen my blog. I said I appreciate the phone call. I said I don’t know those building specifically. I think you should work with your agent or your broker to figure out which is the best fit for you. I just wanted to give you some ideas to think about. Good luck and thank you so much for the phone call.

They were so gracious but they called me to ask me which building they should buy in. At that point, I thought this is – this really works. People really listen and they really trust the fact that I know what I’m talking about. That was just a funny story and I wish I had known the buildings better. I could have given them some advice but it was an incredible experience and it was a light bulb moment for me when I thought this works. This is valuable to people. 

Teri:Absolutely! This is so true. I mean there’s so many ways to connect but the video feels like a one on one. I mean even though you don’t know who your audience necessarily is, they’re sitting there watching you and they feel like you’re talking to them. There’s this affinity that’s sort of built without you even really knowing it. It’s fascinating.

Michael:Correct! It’s just like what you’re doing right now. People may be watching this and listening to this and if they’ve been watching, they have a very good sense of who Teri Conrad is. Now they’ll have a sense of who Michael Ackerman is just from us having a conversation about who we are and what we believe which is so important. It’s just a great – I can’t think of any avenue that I think has been more transformative to our industry and letting the public into who we are as people because everybody has their own intricacies of what they feel like will work for them. I know I said this in class – it’s been a really great way for me to decipher who I’m going to work with or not. The people that watch my blogs and like my personality and like who I am contact me and we always have a really good fit. The people that may watch me that may not feel like we’re a good fit don’t call me and that’s okay. I’m not meant to help everyone. 

There’s probably another choice out there that’s right for them and that’s great. It’s all positive.

Teri:I love that you said that because I’ve been saying this for years. In fact, the very first time I got on an stage in Seattle – this was going back, I don’t know, four years ago, I said the pie is not only so big. There’s enough pie for everyone and if there isn’t enough pie, then we go make a new pie. I mean you just be yourself and you attract the business and the clients that frankly you’d rather work with anyway. 

Michael:Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that. I believe there’s enough business for everyone. I come from a place of abundance. We’re all in competition with each other as brokers, but I don’t really feel like in some ways that we are because no one else is me, no one else is going to be able to bring to the table uniquely what I bring. I know that and I’m really confident about that. When you were an active agent or broker as well, no one else was Teri Conrad. I think it more agents or brokers really intrinsically believe in who they are and the value that they uniquely bring to this business, the industry would be different than it is. I think it’s great and I think being on the inside of the industry – it’s a lot different than I think sometimes the public perceives it is.

Teri:I completely agree. There’s two sides of that too. In the coaching world, we talk a lot about transformation versus information which speaks to the relationship and the trust that’s built. I know that that’s a big part, although you do have an abundance of knowledge, wisdom and experience, you’re also bringing this great Michael Ackerman experience to the equation which cannot be replicated. That cannot be taught. There is only one Michael Ackerman out there unfortunately. 

Michael:There’s lots of other good brokers and that why – you mentioned earlier, I’m so open and confident about freely sharing what I do and how I do it. I teach at Coldwell Banker Bain agents and brokers a couple years ago and then I got licensed with the state – the feedback that I’d gotten was the new brokers and the agents that I’m teaching always say you give us so much information., This is what you do because I went to so many seminars and conferences and heard speakers when I was newer in the business. So much of the time they would just give you – they would dangle the carrots. They wouldn’t give you the meat and potatoes. They would dangle the carrots and at the end, they’d say for four hundred dollars or a thousand dollars, you can get my system.

I just thought I sat here for three hours, I want to know that I can walk out the door and have useful tools that I can implement this minute. I thought if I ever have the opportunity to teach which I love doing and sharing, I’m going to give the meat and potatoes. No one else, even if I give out my listing presentation which I freely do, is to inspire the other brokers. It’s not for them to literally copy it, but even if they do, it’s still not going to have the same nuance that I have. They’re going to put their own little spin on it and their own unique personality and that’s okay. 

Teri:That’s so true! You’ll be doing it with clients that weren’t going to be your clients anyway. This is where I get – and we talked a little bit about this before and I actually had this conversation with Michael Thorn on Mobile Agent TV which is – we call them cooperative agents for a reason, not competitive agents and I don’t know, but it’s that old boys’ club and keep it tight to the chest. I think it’s the same reaction that we’re having with losing control over the data and the information. I think we’ve just – it’s been such a shift and it’s really interesting. I think when everyone takes a collective deep breath and realizes that this is how it’s going to be, it will be quite liberating.

Michael:I think it is. The industry has – I’ve seen the trajectory of the industry change since 1993. When I first started in the business, there were the real estate books that came out every two weeks. They had the little black and white photos of all the new listings. We would drive out and look at them. We held the information. The public didn’t have the information. Then when the internet craze took over and affected the real estate industry, I think for the better, I love that the public has all of the information now. They still need help to decipher it, understand it and put it into context which is what we are here – which is what we were here to do before. It’s what we’re here to do now. 

Teri:An advisory role.

Michael:Correct! I don’t think that we’ve lost – I think that we’re more valuable now than we were before. Before, the public had to trust us to give them true information. Now the public gets the information directly from any of the various internet sites, we help them frame it. Okay, you’ve seen this house on eight sites, they may say six different things about the home, what is the true value? What is this? What is that? Our position now is to say okay, the big picture? Let’s take all that information and I’ll make it make sense to you in a very easy way.

Teri:Absolutely! I couldn’t agree more and to be perfectly frank, it’s the most important part of the job. Gathering all the information, making sure you know the product, being confident like you are with your clients and making sure that you know as you’re advising them that you’re giving them solid information backed with a lot of experience and knowledge. I couldn’t agree more!

Michael:I think one of the important things that I always keep in mind is – I’ve done this thousands of times with clients, but I always keep in mind that this – whether it’s their first purchase or their fifth, I’m very cognizant of the fact that I know this and I’ve been through this a lot. They haven’t. Even if they’ve been through it before, they’ve not been through it for five or six years since they purchased their last home. To make it fresh, to explain everything fully, I tell people, I’m going to pretend that you’ve never bought a house. We’re not going to miss one miniscule iota of information that you should have. Any questions that you have, please ask and I’ll explain it eight times if I need to until you get it. I really want you to get it. 

Teri:Right! We know, we know – we’ve canvassed consumers around North America and said what is your biggest complaint? Always it’s that they don’t feel communicated with. There’s been this lack of – the agent’s working really hard behind the scenes but this is why we have such a bad reputation. We haven’t communicated to our clients what we’re doing and why that matters.

Michael:Exactly! That’s so important, yes. That’s a great point. Communication – I always tell my clients, you’re going to be so sick of hearing from me. I don’t think you can over-communicate. It’s the simplest thing. If your client, if you’re waiting for news on an appraisal and you were expecting to hear about it on Monday and you didn’t, I will call my client and I’ll just say I haven’t heard anything yet. Just so you know, I’m on it. I haven’t heard anything yet. I’ll update you tomorrow. Some agents when they don’t have anything to report, they just won’t call. I always call even if it’s to report that I don’t know anything yet. I feel like they’re waiting and as soon as they get that phone call from me, they can breathe and relax and go on with their life. I try to be that bridge of communication to really keep them ultra-informed.

Teri:Me too! I love that approach! I think it’s valid. We know, when we’re the consumer that that’s how we want to be dealt with. We hate to be left waiting and holding and common sense! Let’s go into your branding because I don’t want to miss this. It’s such an important piece of what you’re doing. I want everyone to sit and take note at Michael’s very crisp shirt right now. This is a piece – you always look impeccable and it shines throughout everything that you do. Let’s start at the beginning. What was the vision? How do you incorporate that? What is the overall strategy, all of it? Let’s dig right in.

Michael:First of all, these crisp shirts do cost me quite a bit of money every month at the dry cleaners. You can always iron, I just don’t have the time to iron because I’m busy selling real estate. I just have always believed that our branding – when I was new in the business, I didn’t even think about branding. I think that’s a word that hasn’t been thrown around except for maybe the last 15 years or so – that intrinsically I wanted people to know who I am. When people start working with you, even from the very first phone call, they’re getting an impression of who you are. If you are succinct and upbeat and are excited about real estate and you show a passion for it that resonates with them especially during 2008 and 2011. I got a lot of listings because the sellers told me you were the only broker that came to our home that wasn’t trying to down trod and go well, yeah, the market’s bad and we can try. 

I said yeah, your house is going to sell. We have to position it properly. We have to present a property and price it properly for this market, but this is how we’re going to do it. You can sell any house in any market if you present that house right and price it correctly. From the very first phone call – I do love real estate and I feel really fortunate to be able to do what I love every day. It’s easy for me to be excited about it because I truly am. I think what we do is such an important service to the public. Home is such – it’s a unique thing to everyone, but there’s a line of commonality that runs through all of us. Home is where we nest and can hide, can love, can prosper and raise our families and have wonderful experiences like birthdays and bar mitzvahs and holiday celebrations. Home is such an important thing to us.

I think Coldwell Banker in the last couple of years has done such an amazing job.

Teri:We love the Tom Sellick campaign! Dave Marina’s killing it over there.

Michael:Yes! Yes! Brilliant! What home is! That’s universal and those ads – the first time I saw them was two years ago in New Orleans. I literally started crying in the audience when they showed it because it resonated. I’m getting emotional right now. It resonated so profoundly to me. I thought they hit it out of the park.

Teri:I agree!

Michael:No longer is the public interested in how many houses you sell, how much money you make, they want to know that you’re going to be able to lead them through a stunning experience and get them the home of their dreams that is going to fit them emotionally and financially. That is the goal always.

Teri:Agreed! I love that! I had the exact same reaction when that commercial came out. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I don’t think anyone’s come close to touching how perfectly that campaign matched what we are trying to do in real estate.

Michael:What we’ve always done! It sounds corny but I did get so emotional because I thought yes, that is the purpose that we strive for at every transaction in every moment with our clients. I think that it continues to be brilliant. Those other real estate companies are borrowing – it inspired them to –

Teri:It did inspire and I think that’s a good thing.

Michael;It’s great! Great! Just a bit more about branding – the way that I dress, I think about all of these things when I’m meeting clients. I always have a very clean car. I mean these are going to sound really rudimentary, but it’s the basis of my business and it works really well. I always have a clean car. I’m always on time, always on time. I dress appropriately. If I’m going for an upper end listing, a two or three million dollar listing on Washington, I will probably wear a suit with an open, crisp dry-cleaned shirt. If I’m going for a hip studio on Capitol Hill which is a little more –

Teri:Yeah, love that area!

Michael:Yeah, it’s a hip, trendy area, I’m going to wear jeans and probably a more casual shirt. I want to appeal – if you give the public a reason to relate to you, they will. I always try to think ahead. What is my perception of what this person might relate to? Music in the car – I had some Canadian clients last year and I love Michael Buble. I know that Michael Buble’s Canadian so I put him on in the car. They loved it! They said oh, did you know that Michael Buble is Canadian? I said, yeah, I did know that but I really enjoy him. I had another family that I helped for probably the last nine months. I just sold them a house a month ago. They had moved here from the Bay Area and their daughter loved Katy Perry. She just brought it up in the car one time.

The next time we went out, I played Katy Perry and the daughter loved me. The parents loved me because they were oh, you’re playing Katy Perry. I’m yeah, I remembered that your daughter liked it. These little things – if you really pay attention and listen that creates a whole other level of experience for your clients. I think that’s really – it’s a part of your brand. It’s part of who you are. 

Teri:I tell everyone this all the time – brand is the entire experience. It’s not just the logo and the tag line. Although those things matter, they’re just one little piece. It’s how they experience you at every touch point and with Michael Ackerman at every touch point, including the Katy Perry song in the car. When you’ve made a note, a mental note in your mind and you’ve probably gone home and written that down in your files, how do you track all of those – customer management is a big issue for agents. How do you do it? 

Michael:I take copious notes. When I go through a listing for the first time, the first visit that I’m there to meet the clients, learn about the house, I take copious notes about the house. I also take copious notes about the clients. I will make notes on my iPad or my tablet about little things – their pet’s names, their children’s names, where they’re moving to.  You try to make a connection and find a commonality with anyone to make the relationship more real and there should never be something that isn’t true and honest.

Teri:No, you don’t contrive it.

Michael:You just pay attention and when the opportunities arises, oh yes, that’s a connection we have. I make it evident to the person. I will write all those down and keep a running file so that a year, two or three years later when I call, I can say how’s Asher? I’m dealing with these clients right now that I’m meeting with this weekend to list their condo. They met me a year ago. They had a tenant. They decided to wait. I met them, their son’s name was Asher. I actually wrote it down so that when I talked to them a week ago when they re-contacted me – I said how’s Asher? There was silence on the phone and the wife said, I can’t believe you remember his name. I said yeah, I do remember. I didn’t tell her I wrote it down. I don’t want this person to think I’m creepy.

Teri:I don’t think she’d think that was weird anyway. The fact that you took the time.

Michael:She said it’s amazing. That’s so impressive that you remembered his name. I can’t possibly remember all the names but your database is what that’s for. It’s to really take advantage of that. When I’m out touring with people – I had a couple that moved here from California. They were just astounded that more houses didn’t have air conditioning here. I wrote down in my notes ceiling fan. I said well, you can get fans. They said oh yeah, that’s a good idea. When they eventually bought their home, for a housewarming gift, I sent them a gift certificate to Modern Fan Company with a note saying I’ll pay to have this installed. You pick the electrician, pick out the fan you want. They were blown away. Again, your brand just doesn’t just stop when you give them the keys. You continue with a closing gift. You continue with follow-up. To me, it’s a joy to be able to do that and to surprise people.

That’s what it’s all about – these little surprises that they’re not expecting. Take copious notes. If you’re out touring with people, don’t be answering your phone talking to other clients, be paying attention and clue into who you’re with. I turn my phone off when I’m with clients because I want to be able to focus on them one on one. If you really listen and focus when you’re out with people, it’ll make a huge bit of difference. They give you so much information that all you need to do is write it down so you’ll remember.

Teri:That’s true in life frankly – to be present. That’s a whole other conversation. I love that about you though truly. Let’s talk a little bit about the video marketing that you do. This is going away from this conversation a little bit, but let’s get into the details of how you present your listings and why they look so clean and so sharp.

Michael:Yes! I really love embracing technology and it looks like I know a lot about technology so I want to so any agents that I know as much as I need to know to do what I do in real estate. Other than that, I don’t know a whole lot. You were at the class – I was teaching a video class at Bellingham and I had a little bit of an issue with my laptop. It just showed the class that you don’t have to be intimidated by technology, you need to know people who know about technology to help you out. I know as much as I need to know and I do know quite a bit which I’ve learned over the years. The minute you start doing it, you learn very quickly. 

Especially in 2008 through 2011, I needed to personally and professionally come up with better ways, I think, to market properties, especially when it was in the down market. I thought what am I going to bring to the table that’s going to be different from other brokers and it’s going to be fresh and new and it’s going to excite my sellers and the buyers that see the home online? Online technology – if brokers aren’t embracing that, they’re just missing out on a huge opportunity. I decided to really –

Teri:Time out! Do you do any print at all?

Michael:I don’t. I don’t. Once in a while, Coldwell Banker Bain, our company has an ad on the back of an insert in our Seattle newspaper. Every once in a while, I have a client that’s really, really just will not take no for an answer on print, I will do an ad in there. It doesn’t get – the return on investment for the money that I spend and for what they’re expecting. People want you to come through their house by getting great exposure – that exposure piece is all online now. I really don’t do any print. I don’t advertise any print advertising in my presentation.

Teri:I agree with that. I just wanted to touch that. Go back to what you actually do do online. 

Michael:I love that you actually just said do do! 

Teri:I know! It’s thinks like that –

Michael:A little potty humor! Anyway, I decided to really have all my marketing evoke an emotional response from the buyers. Every single thing that I do with the sellers as a team, we’re going to do this together and I’ll explain that is going to evoke a positive emotional response from the buyers. As a seller, all you can do is control presentation and price. That’s it! Presentation is a biggie. If a home needs to be painted or if it needs any sort of sprucing up or updating, I highly recommend doing that. If it needs editing or de-cluttering, I like to use the word edit.

Teri:I have that in my notes. It’s not just what you do, but it’s how you do it. Just the simple things that you do with the verbiage that you choose – edit versus de-clutter. You say price adjustment versus deduction. All of those pieces are so – I mean I will encourage everyone to go check out Michael Ackerman’s site which we will share – but just how you talk about everything is so, I think you’ve thought – clearly you’ve thought about it. It’s very strategic. It’s very purposeful and intentional. It sets the tone for everything. Carry on!

Michael:Yes! Again, I really do pay attention but I’ve learned over the years and I pay attention to what I do and what I say. It’s evolved over the years. I still learn. When I do a listing presentation or a buyer intake interview, if there’s something that I say that really works, I remember that. If it resonates with the people, I remember that or I’ll use it over and over again because I want again, to create such a great experience for building a relationship with who’s sitting in front of me. Getting back to the emotional response on my listings, everything that I do really is to evoke an emotional response. The public now has so much information that is readily available to them. 

When they walk into a home, they’ve seen the pictures, they know the number of bedrooms, they know the number of bathrooms, they know the taxes, and they know the comparables. If they’re on Zillow, they know the Zestimate. They have a lot of information that they used to not have. What do we, as agents or brokers, bring to the table to complete that experience? If we just market that it’s a three bedroom, two bath house they’re yeah, great! It was built in 1920, they already know that. What do we do to heighten that experience? What I’ve done in the last few years is I’ve – as a team of my sellers, I always have them create the ten things that they will miss most about the home. It’s a list that I have them email to me. I type it up simply in a Word document. I frame it and I have it in the home next to the flyers. 

Half of the items I want about the home itself and half of them I want about the experience of living in the area that they live in. The buyers are not only buying the home, the four walls and the roof, they’re purchasing what is my life going to look like, feel like if I purchase this home, on this street, in this neighborhood, in this city. Flushing that out for the buyers is immensely valuable. Buyers have asked on numerous occasions for that list to be left in the home and to me, I thought this is value. They’re reading this. They’re paying attention and they want that left in the home so that it will be a guide for them especially moving in from out of the area on what they can do. Again, the seller is an integral part of the marketing team for marketing their own home.

They know, better than anyone else, what they’ve loved about the home. I ask them for that and they love giving that to me. I use that in all of my marketing – I’ll use three of the items they give me to start out my marketing remarks on the web site that I build for the home, on the flyers, in the MLS – any piece of advertisement that I do, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus – I use and sort out three of the things. Sip your coffee on the deck and enjoy the view of Mt. Rainier. Catch the latest blockbuster at Thornton Creek Cinemas. It invites people in and starts their imagination flowing of oh, we love the home and we get to do all of these things. I think telling a story, creating a story about the home is so important.

Teri:I don’t want to interrupt but I’m going to let you go on your way because you’re doing such a great job, but I just think that that’s the magic that you create that so many others really struggle with. We’ve been trained to list the benefits and the features and it’s so traditional and after you’ve done enough, it’s this home boasts three rooms and two baths and you just end up repeating yourself. You’re painting the picture of what it’s going to be like to actually live here and attract the right buyer. I just think it’s magic. Carry on!

Michael:Oh, thank you! There are some agents and brokers who are really hitting it out of the park with this idea. There’s an agent – I forget his name, he’s from LA. I think you talked about him or maybe you talked about him in one of your conversations, I can’t remember. Anyway, he filmed a video –

Teri:Roger Thesar?

Michael:No, it was somebody else. It’s an Asian gentleman from Los Angeles, but anyway –

Teri:[Cross-talk]

Michael:No it was somebody else, but anyway – I love Cristoff, I love Rodg – anyway, he filmed a high-end home in Los Angeles and his whole story about the home was a couple getting ready to get married. He starts showing the home. He shows the master bedroom with the wife-to-be getting dressed and having her makeup done. The husband pulls in in his cool car into the double car garage. He goes into another part of the home to get ready. I’ll get the name and number for you – I don’t know the name for you. It’s brilliant. It shows the home in the context of these two people getting ready for their wedding out in the beautiful place with the beautiful yard. Brilliant! You saw the house. It paints an emotional picture of what is going to happen. It’s a very romantic home. It was a brilliant story that he created for this home.

I try to do that as well. I have video shot, a professional photo shot of all my homes because the first impression the public has of this home is not when they walk in the front door, it’s when they’re sitting in their pajamas at ten o’clock at night looking on the internet. That’s the first impression.

Teri:Yes!

Michael:Everything that I do to bring it to the emotional impact of that home, I want to be the highest quality that I can. I don’t care if it’s a 100 thousand dollar condo or a ten million dollar home, they get the same service from me either way – professional photos. I have a videographer shoot a video of the home. I did a couple of different kinds where it’s just a video of the different rooms of the homes without me being in it. I’ve also done it with myself being in it talking about the home – depending on what the seller wants. Again I customize a special plan for each home with the seller so that they know we’re a team and that we’re working together. That creates a loyalty that is unbelievably important. Even if the transaction doesn’t go as smoothly as we all would hope, they already know and trust that I’m their team member, advocate – you almost feel like a family member after a while.

I don’t have to worry about my relationship with them. It’s already been set which is so important.

Teri:They’re invested.

Michael:Exactly! 

Teri:Personally invested.

Michael:Financially and personally, yeah!

Teri:Can we talk a little bit about that because I know that there are a lot of agents that are oh well, that’s a lot of money to invest in a listing that may or may not sell. We talked earlier – you and I spoke a little bit about that transactional attitude and how we need to eclipse that. What is your position on that?

Michael:Yes! My position on that is if you want to best market any property and have the emotional response in that property be at its highest levels so that the seller knows that they got the most money they possibly could in any market, you need to have all of your marketing materials and everything you do scream quality. Quality costs money. I could take my own photos. I’m pretty good at taking my own photos. I don’t have the software to create the photos that my photographer creates. There astoundingly crisp and clear, high definition photographs. I want that to be out there for my clients. The video, again, is another – adds another layer onto the emotional marketing. You can’t Photoshop a video. With the video, you’re going to see how the rooms are connected, the scale of the rooms, and the amount of light.

It gives you that added – another dimension, I think. It also, when you watch the video, it paints such an emotional picture and story of the home. 

Teri:I mean, these are not your typical virtual tours. 

Michael:No, these are not pictures just stuck together to music which again, if you don’t have a lot of money and you’re new, that’s better than not doing anything. I think actually having a videographer film the home is the next wave of real estate. I’ve had literally – this is true, I’ve had on several occasions, I’ve done open houses. I’ve had the public walk in and they say we saw the video of this home and it’s lovely. We wanted to come see it because we’re so enamored with it. We’re not even in the market. We may not be in the market for three years, but we needed to come see this house. These people aren’t even in the market and they’re taking the time to come to my listing. The people that are in the market are flooding to my listings because they want a piece of that special gem that they saw online that was the video and the photos. That’s the marketing at its best.

Teri:What I feel too is that as you invest in each one of your client’s listings, this is expanding your overall personal brand. To me, this is marketing you, as well as, marketing the listing.

Michael:I pay around – on the average – probably 350 dollars for the photos for my videos, depending on the size of the phone. On an average, five hundred to seven hundred for – I’m sorry – 350 for the pictures and five to seven hundred for the videos.  That’s about a thousand bucks right there which sometimes in class when I say that, I can literally hear the gasps from especially the newer brokers. I know that it’s a lot of money to spend, however, it’s not just that I spend that money on that listing and when that listing sells, I’m very happy for the seller that I was able to create an experience that attracted the right buyer to give them as much money as they wanted for the home. I also load those photos, the videos and I do create websites for every single one of my listings which is easier than it sounds. It’s a software company that I didn’t create that I just use which is wonderful. Those videos and photos are online forever.

I have all my property videos uploaded to YouTube, to my personal website, to Google Plus, Facebook Business page, my Twitter account – those are on forever. Somebody who gets on my YouTube channel watched my personal video and then clicks on some of the property videos – that is marketing me and my brand. This is what I do. This is how I prepare my listings for market. It speaks to the quality of what I bring to the industry and so the public resonates or connects to that. It resonates with them and the ones that happen to be in need will call me and say can you do a video like that of our home. I’m sure, let me come over and see your home and we can talk about all of the marketing that I do. 

It’s investing in your future in this industry so don’t think that that money is just gone. It’s building – you’re spending money on yourself and investing it in the business that you’re going to continue doing for years. That’s the most important thing.

Teri:Especially – I try to really hammer this point – especially on the front end as you’re building your business. It’s so imperative to create that experience and to show that you are invested in your own business. I think that’s huge actually.

Michael:Yes, I’ve had many sellers tell me – because a lot of brokers aren’t spending money on video which is all a personal decision. I’m not saying you have to, but that has given me such an added edge and another tool in my tool belt that sellers – when they watch the sample video I show them on my tablet, I can see their eyes light up. Literally, unless somebody else is going to – I don’t know what else another broker’s going to do, I pretty much know when I walk out of that first meeting that I’ve got them and their interest peaked. They’re wanting a video for their own home and at the end of the transaction, I upload the photos and a copy of the video onto a disc. I send it to the seller as a gift for them to be able to remember how wonderful their house was. Their house never looks better than it does right before they put it on the market hopefully.

Here you have this enchanting vision of the house they’re leaving and they love it. They love it! For buyers, they can send it to their friends and family who may not be in the area to show them what they’re buying. It’s an incredible gift that they’re able to do that. It allows their loved ones to be able to share in the experience.

Teri:Not to mention marketing for you!

Michael:Yes, correct!

Teri:I mean it’s just fabulous. Anyway, we only have so much time. I could talk to you for hours. There’s a few things I still want to touch. One of those is you shared a story in your listing presentation class about a client that you helped. You got quite emotional when you shared that story. I thought, you know, I don’t want to make you cry and I’m not Barbara Walters, but I just thought this story speaks so well to the man that you are, the human being that you are. We talked briefly after that about how I feel that if more people in our industry were like you, our industry would be a very different place. I feel that it’s important – this is the Conversation That Matters – that we go into what is it that we want our industry to be. How do we want to behave as agents?

You know the story I’m talking about. Do you want to share that?

Michael:I do, I’ll try. I get emotional, I do even thinking about. I had a client and he couldn’t sell his house. He’d had his house on the market for about a year. It was in Bainbridge Island which is an island close to Seattle. I don’t know that market real well. He’d had the home on the market for about a year. The back story is that he and his partner had bought it together. They had built it actually – they built it. It was stunning! It was this big cabin-chateau. It had a private guest cottage and another little cottage above the garage. They would rent those out. Beautiful property! It was on ten acres. It was a very unique property for a unique buyer. He had had it on the market because unfortunately he and his partner split up. His partner stopped paying the mortgage so my poor client was on the hook to pay it. It was very expensive. He was getting into a situation where he was not going to be able to pay the mortgage for much longer.

He called me. He got my name and number from another client that we both know. He said I’m at my wits end. I only have a couple more months of funds to be able to give to this home so I really need somebody who’s going to be able to sell it. I said I’m great at marketing homes. Let me go see it. It was beautiful. I did partner up with a local broker on Bainbridge Island that I know. She lives on Bainbridge Island and she works on Bainbridge Island. I’m really good at marketing. She had the relationship and the reputation on the island.

Teri:Great business decision!

Michael:It’s great for brokers not to just take all the money. Do what’s best for your client always. I partnered with her. She’s incredible. We’ve become incredibly great friends and have shared clients since then which it’s all good. It all comes back. You send out the good energy, it all comes back tenfold. I believe that and I’ve experienced that every day. Anyway so we got the home sold. We marketed and got the home sold in a month to a couple from Los Angeles. They were very excited about it. Through a series of events, when we got close to closing, he realized that there was an 11 thousand dollar shortfall – a gap between what it sold for and what he was going to have to bring to the table. He was really panicked.

We sat down at a meeting and he said we can’t close on the home. I don’t have enough money. I’m just tapped out. He goes I think I’m just going to have to let the house go and go into foreclosure which would ruin his credit and all of that. The listing agent and I – sorry—

Teri:This is what makes you so special! This is what makes you so fabulous!

Michael:We just said to him, we’re going to give you that money out of our commission which blew him away. God love the other agent too! That’s why I love her so much. Without a hesitation, we were both we’re going to do this for you. It’s not going to close if it doesn’t. We gave 11 thousand dollars which was a big chunk of what our commission was. It didn’t matter because at the core of this, that is why we’re here as a service to the public, to be able to let them move on with their lives in a positive manner. We changed the trajectory of this guy’s live – at least in the short term because he was going to lose the home, his credit would have been dirt for seven years and he was so blown away. He couldn’t believe that we just stepped up in a nanosecond and said – I looked at her and she nodded and we said we’re going to do this for you.

I was so happy to do it – not that I’m – I’m in this to make money of course. We all are doing what we do so we can support ourselves and our loved ones and our family, but truly the core work we do is to really service our clients. I feel like whatever I need to do, I’m going to do to make these experience good and to do the right thing. We did and it’s literally one of the most – I’m probably proudest of that transaction than I am of any of the ones that I’ve done because I know that I and the other agent were so important for him in being able to move on with his life in a positive fashion.  

He’s been so appreciative. He’s referred me numerous clients but that’s not even what that’s about. He couldn’t believe it. He just said you guys, this is above and beyond what I was even expecting. I’m actually helping him now – I showed him last night a lovely home with his partner. He’s going to buy a home with his partner and he can now because he’s got great credit. To me, it’s just such a – it was just such a profoundly moving experience and I love that I was able to do that for him.

Teri:You were an instrument and I love how you said it – there was an opportunity to do the right thing. I’ve said this to you before, Michael and I’m going to say it again, if more agents were like you, our industry would be a very, very different place. I feel like the more we talk on this, the more conversations that are public like this, the more we really are raising the bar. I thank you personally. I’m thanking you because I do think you’re making such an impact in this industry. It makes me proud to be a part of it.

Michael:I wanted to say I do really well in this industry. I don’t give away commissions a lot because I do stand up for my commissions, but again I don’t discount my commission but I’m willing and open to have a conversation. I tell my sellers this. I’m not going to lower my commission. I’m charging you the full commission that I charge, but if I need to step in at some point during this transaction, I’m open to that conversation to let them know that I’m not just this is all about the money for me. It’s about the experience and if you give it away at the beginning, you have nothing left to give later on. I wouldn’t have had that 11 thousand dollars to give him if I had reduced my commission at the beginning or adjusted my commission at the beginning. 

I wanted to say I make a really good living. I do really well and I firmly believe that if you do the right thing and you have a clear intention of really serving the public and having fun and solving problems and really creating a dazzling experience and creating a noteworthy relationship with this client, the money’s going to come. I don’t worry about the commissions. I don’t really worry about when my next commission check is coming. I just have faith that it’s going to be there and it is. I just concentrate on my listing presentations and getting listings, creating great experiences with my sellers and my buyers. They tell everyone and that all does come back.

Another really important thing I want to say is to all you agents or brokers out there that are watching, really do embrace online reviews. If you create these great experiences, you’re going to get – once in a while you’ll have maybe a person who is not as enamored as you thought them to be, but that’s okay. You have great reviews and not so great, but that creates a reality that are watching to say – but embrace online reviews because it’s a window for the public to be able on their own to go in and do some research about what you do and what the experiences are of the people that have worked with you. That shouts much louder than any marketing you could pay for or do yourself. 

Teri:Agreed!

Michael:I think it’s a newer caveat and I’m embracing it wholeheartedly and it works really, really well. 

Teri:It just adds to your digital footprint and makes you more discoverable. I know the benefits go on and on.  Michael, this has been such an amazing conversation. We could talk literally hours. I don’t want to keep you all day. Before I let you go though, I mean basically I already know where this is going, but I always ask all my guests at the tail end of every conversation, what do you want your legacy to be? What is the most meaningful to you in your life?

Michael:I think if I can leave any kind of legacy – my legacy as a person and my personal life and my career is the same. I just feel if we all come from a place of sincerity and clear intention and positivity – there are bumps in the road for all of us. I have been blessed to have a very lovely life, but part of that I think is luck and part of that I’ve created for myself. I think what you give out, you get back. If I can leave anything as far as my legacy, I would love for people to know that I was a true person. I was an honest person. I had a lot fun and I really just embrace and enjoy and love the experiences and the relationships that I create with the other person either in personal life or in business. I think if all brokers and agents did that, it would raise our industry to a different level. I think the public’s perception of what we do would be very different.

Being in the industry, it is really different from what I think the public perceives it that we do. If you’re a great broker and a great agent and you pay attention to all of these details, it will lift the industry up. I think also – I’m just going to go on and on – but I love sharing with other brokers and agents when I teach. I also love sharing in our office. Our office and company – Coldwell Banker Bain’s environment is if we all share and we all make each other better, we’re all going to do better. Our company’s going to do better and our industry’s going to do better. It’s this upward spiral and giving and sharing freely. If you have something you do that works really well for you, don’t be afraid to share it with new brokers or agents because they’re not going to be replicate exactly how you do it.

I think there’s an old school of thought that if it works for me, I’m going to keep it a secret and I’m not going to share it because it works for me and I’ve got mine. You need to get yours. I just don’t agree with that at all. I think if we all share and we’re confident enough in who we are and what we do, then that upward spiral will radiate out and just create a much better industry for everyone – the public and the people working in the industry. That’s where I’m coming from and if I can do that every day in my little circle that I work in Seattle, that’s as much as I can do. If that resonates to other people and they continue to start to do that, I think that that is an amazing thing. It would be an incredible thing. 

Teri:You are my hero! I’m certainly going to try and be more like you! All right, I am so grateful. What an amazing conversation. I’m going to re-listen to this a few times I’m sure. Thank you so much for joining me.

Michael:Thank you! Thank you for asking me! I really appreciate it and I love what you’re doing. Much continued success! You so deserve it! You’re amazing! Anybody who hasn’t looked up Teri, if you’re watching this you probably know who she is, but if not –

Teri:Thank you Michael! Thank you so much!

Michael:Thank you Teri! Talk to you soon! See you in a couple of weeks!

Teri:See you at Coldwell Banker!

 

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