Thursday, February 21, 2013

Developing Your Unique Market Brand - Going from Bland to Memorable

Developing Your Unique Market Brand - Going from Bland to Memorable
by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP- Premier
Owner, Sensational Home Staging & Marketing Guru
Helping My Clients Achieve Success - Because That's What I Enjoy!

When it comes to marketing your business, have you developed a strategy that really sets you apart from others that provide the same service? Do you believe that it’s all about your services, your skill or your business strategies?

Answer these questions:
Do you believe that you can appeal to every target client?
Do you believe that anyone can become your client?
Do you believe clients hire you because of your services?
If you answered YES to any of those questions, I have news for you. You are wrong. Yes – wrong.
In order for you to truly develop your key marketing brand and honor yourself you need to understand that you do not appeal to every person and not everyone wants to work with you. When you embrace that fact – it’s liberating!
In life and we pick and choose our friends and partners. Why don’t we have that same discriminating attitude when it comes to our potential clients? It’s a mistake to think that we will magically be able to create this appeal in our business where everyone we meet will want to work with us. Those that believe they have universal appeal end up developing a marketing strategy that basically waters down who they truly are, and focuses on the generic, bland blob of oatmeal approach to attracting a client.
I’ve never cared for oatmeal. The mushy consistency and the bland taste were never my favorite. That’s probably why at 4 years old I fed my morning oatmeal to the stray red tabby cat outside our kitchen sliding glass door. I missed the first half of pre-school that day as my punishment but that is how I got my first pet, Victor.
Mass appeal is dead. The unique, story-telling aspect of who we are draws our perfect clients to us. And the best part is we don’t have to fabricate or engineer a story – we all have wonderful stories called our lives – to draw upon for inspiration.
It’s not about rejection it’s about embracing who you truly are and the laws of attraction will bring your perfect clients to you. It’s about creating an emotional connection through story telling about YOU and your life that makes marketing memorable.
Think about the recent Super Bowl commercials. Which ones were your favorites? Mine were the Clydesdale, the Farmers, and the Old People. They told a story, showed the heart behind the message, made me laugh or cry, and it was memorable. The ones I least liked were focused strictly on the product and did not get to my emotions.
If you want to develop your true unique marketing brand and strategy ask your self some questions and be really honest with your answers, knowing that there are no wrong answers:
• What makes me different or unique? (your background, your talents, your characteristics)
• What am I truly passionate about in my life? (family, friends, your work, a cause, etc.)
• What hobbies do I have? (your interests, your focus when not working)
• What are my core values? (your beliefs, your heart)
If you have trouble answering the questions above, get help from your close family and friends to get some concrete answers.
The things you wrote down – those need to be the focus of your marketing brand. You need to somehow incorporate those elements into your message. Don’t hide who you are under a blob of oatmeal believing that you might offend someone if you truly “put it out there.” Guess what? That person you are afraid of offending is going to figure it out anyway – and not be part of what you are building. And the person that is like you, has the same interests as you, respects what you stand for – they are going to be that much MORE attracted to you because of your willingness to “put it out there.”
So many people think, “If I can just be like (some other person you admire) then I will be successful.” And forget that they can NEVER be that person because that person is already taken!
When a business person is able to craft their marketing around their core values and passions it becomes about the emotional story telling in our marketing instead of focusing on service and how hard we work.

Face it – no one really cares how hard you work or your litany of services you offer – BORING. Yawn. That is not an interesting story. What they care about is YOU and finding a connection to you that makes sense for their life. They care about how you fit with their goals and values.
Embrace who you are – know that you are not a blob of oatmeal – you are a vibrant, interesting human being with opinions, thoughts, and passions. Use THOSE to differentiate yourself and come up with creative ways to let people know WHO you are and WHY you do what you do. When you are able to marry the two pathways of marketing and branding you and your business, you will attract the type of clients you want and success will be yours.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Staging With Your Family - How to Make it Work

Staging with Your Family - How to Make it Work
By Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP-Premier, ASP-SRS, ASP-SRS
Owner, Sensational Home Staging
Denver Region's Premier Home Staging Resource

Building a Home Staging business is not easy. It takes perseverance and hard work, dedication and long hours. Toss the added challenge of having a family – and you have the question of “How do I make this all work?” How do you roll your roles as spouse, parent and business owner together without losing it?

When I started Staging 10 years ago, my 4 children (3 boys and a girl – the oldest) were 3 to 8 years old. I was also homeschooling them (did that for 5 years). No I am not nuts but love my children and that was the path we chose at that time. When it became necessary for me to once again contribute to our family income, I was determined to not go back into the corporate world where I would leave my children in child care and deliberately found a profession that not only used my creative talents, but was flexible as well. It was not easy to start a business with a 3, 4 ½, 6 ½ and 8 year old!

So I compromised and made it work. In the early years of my business, I did not go to client appointments in the day time. I had to get consultations done in the evening, and would Stage nights and weekends as needed. When I started getting more and more demands for daytime appointments, I added a team member whose kids were older so she was available in the daytime – and she handled those appointments. Stagers on my team will remember midnight completions of vacant Stagings, and zooming to a Starbucks that was about to close with warnings from us on the phone to stop cleaning their machines because we were going to make it in time! I did what it took to make it work. I was able to build a business around my family, I did sacrifice some time with them, and thankfully I have a husband who was supportive from the beginning, and would do child-duty at night when I had an appointment. And I am grateful Staging is flexible and being able to build a team of Stagers helped offload projects that I could not personally handle.

In the beginning my children could not help out much in the business because they were too young. They could help with administrative things like marketing pieces, organizing papers, and stuffing envelopes. You want to find ways to involve your children in your business so that they gain an appreciation for what you do, and eventually can grow into a business partner. You see there are ways to involve your family that are advantageous for you and them – because you can pay a family member any wage you determine for them to help you in your business. A child can earn over $5,000 tax free as your employee and the benefit is this money can then be used by them to purchase things they need such as clothes, school supplies, entertainment – things you would be paying for anyway – but now they are a legitimate tax write off for you. So I found ways to involve my family.

Our daughter (18) helps with the creative side of things in a Staging acting as an assistant on projects where I need help. She has also helped with marketing campaigns on occasion. My boys have grown up to become my labor. Our oldest son is now nearly 6 feet tall, weighs 190 pounds, and at 17 years old is proving himself to be strong, reliable, and did I mention strong? I will sometimes include some of his football buddies when I have a Staging that has bulky items to move around. These boys are polite, hard working, and happy to work for $20 and a pizza. Our two younger boys (13 ½ and almost 15) provide a labor resource for getting items from the vehicles into a house, helping to pack, load, and organize. I remember when our 2nd son proudly exclaimed, “Look Mom! I can carry this area rug all by myself!” The rug was longer than he was tall but he was carrying it and doing a great job! Our youngest son is a whiz at packing a truck, maximizing the space potential in ways that would challenge any Tetrix enthusiast!

My husband has always been available as needed – he has helped schlep inventory, he has driven vehicles, he has helped de-Stage when I was flying solo and my crew were not available. Most of all he has helped open doors for relationships because he is such as great networker and spokesperson for my company. He says the things I am too embarrassed to say because it sounds like I am bragging. He has a full-time demanding job in the high-tech industry, and yet loves the real estate industry and truly understands how I fit within the industry to help serve Realtors and sellers. I know if I did not have his support, and that of my children I would not still be Staging because it would be too challenging to have to prove my value repeatedly to my family and demonstrate that I have a legitimate business.

When I started both my Staging companies, I built from the ground up from scratch. We did not know any Realtors or have any sort of network for referrals in both the cities where we lived. That is the hardest way to build a business – cold – and yet that is how I have had to do it both times. Having the encouragement of family has been key.

Not all of my extended family “got” what I did in the beginning and therefore were not the most supportive. I believe they thought it was a hobby, fad or trend that I would move past and not a legitimate business. Staging was not that well known where they lived so my starting a Home Staging business was probably odd to them. When I started bringing in big dollars that is when my parents’ eyes opened. I have had family members sell and not contact me for help – and that’s OK. They may never totally appreciate what I have done in the past 10 years as a business owner, mentor, trainer, author, and entrepreneur, but my family and I know and that’s all that matters.

And my sisters and brothers in the trenches in the industry know because they are right there with me each day working to increase their business, to be successful, to represent our industry, and to help others achieve their goals along the way. I cannot think of a better role model for my children than a person that uses their God-given talents to develop a business that helps others. The fact that it is a great industry and lucrative is a double bonus. My Staging family that extends all over the world has become a huge avenue of support, encouragement and friendship and I would not be able to do this without them!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is the Hot Real Estate Market Going to Burn up Your Commission Dollars?

Is the Hot Real Estate Market Going to Burn up Your Commission Dollars?
by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP-Premier, SRS, REO
Owner, Sensational Home Staging

Realtors - is the HOT market going to burn up your commission dollars?

It depends.

It depends on how you approach listing and selling houses and how much education you provide to your Sellers.

Fact is, the real estate market is picking up around the country. This is good news for homeowners that have been waiting out the recovery. It’s good news for markets where inventory remains low and demand high. With this good news comes mixed feelings for those working IN the industry.

As a professional Home Stager, this means the opportunities increase because more people will be selling their houses, and the challenge is that pricing will be more competitive for services. I can deal with that because there is plenty of business to go around. But a valid concern is that Sellers and Realtors might believe the house is going to sell anyway so why bother putting any effort into the listing? Why Stage it and invest money to present a house its best to market which may include painting, decluttering, landscaping, updating, and/or furnishing a house when the statistics say that the house will most likely sell anyway?

The answer is that a Staged house will always sell for MORE than the un-staged competition (apples to apples) in any market. In a hot market, a Staged house can get multiple offers, a higher than list price offer, and can be listed at a higher starting price because it does show better than the un-Staged competition. Statistically this is anywhere from 5 percent to as much as 20 percent more for the Seller. A Seller wants ALL the money possible from the sale. $5,000 MORE could be a trip somewhere, pay off bills, or added to savings. $15,000-$30,000 more is HUGE for your client. They don’t want to leave that on the table. Bottom line: Staging helps guarantee the house will sell at the very best price compared to the un-Staged comparable house.

For Realtors, a hot market means more people will jump into real estate, believing it to be an easy money endeavor. More competition means more agents will be looking for ways to get a Sellers’ business and some will use discounted commissions as a way to attract business. How will you compete with these discount agents? Will you reduce your commissions or will you find ways to add value?

Realtors that are eager to “just get houses sold” need to think about the impact a hot market has on their bank account. The seller is not just thinking about whether or not they should invest in Staging to make their house most appealing. They are looking at the commission they are paying to the listing and buyer agents. As the market gets hotter, they naturally want to decrease the payout to the agents involved in the sale. Some even believe they do not need a Realtor and will cut you off altogether and go FSBO.

Your commission IS at risk. The good news is Staging is a tool that helps you KEEP your commission and compete with discount brokers by bringing measureable VALUE to the table. Because Staging a house has been demonstrated to bring 5-20 percent MORE for a Seller with either a better starting price, multiple offers, and higher than list offers, you help the Seller increase their net profits by more than they are asking you to reduce your commission. Paying you as a full service Realtor that does not discount and includes Staging you are bringing them a tool that helps them get MORE for their property. Your 1 to 1 ½ percent that you do not discount to compete with discount agents brings your seller up to 5-20% more so you are helping them net much more than they are asking you to give up.

Your professional Home Stager is your key to keeping your commissions, not having to work harder – just work smarter. And because your listings will look better and sell faster, you will become the “go to” agent in the neighborhood which will increase your number of houses sold each year!

More means more for everyone. For the Seller. For the Realtors. For the service professionals that partner with both to ensure the best price for the sale in the shortest time. Staging is a vital marketing tool for the house – and it will become and even more important financial tool for both the Seller and the Listing Agent.

Contrary to what the public may believe, houses do not sell themselves. Poor marketing, little or no focus on selling the house, and/or little motivation to generate activity are strategies enlisted by discount agents. They have to work 2-3 times harder than a full-service Realtor in order to earn the same income so they have less time and attention to devote to a sale. In their head whether right or wrong they are not as focused on the sale because they are not making the same as a full-time focused agent. These are the listings that have a few or no photos, no marketing flyers, no real marketing focus other than toss it on the MLS and say a prayer that is sells.

I just worked with a client that has had her house on the market for 8 months. She lives in a very desirable area. The inventory in this area is 1/3 of what it was this time last year. Her house should have sold by now. But it has not. The listing agent did NOTHING to market the house other than plop it on MLS. When she asked about making improvements to help it show better, he told her she did not have to bother. He got fired as her Realtor and the house is now listed with a pro-active listing agent that believes in best-foot-forward and Staging.

When you have a way to help Sellers get the best price possible they should want to use it. When you know a tool like this exists you should want to share it with all your Sellers.  Whether the Seller invests up front in the Staging or the Realtor helps cover the investment as part of their listing services, the fact is both parties will end up recouping more than the Staging investment with a house that is sold at a great price.

That truly is a win-win. A hot market does not mean you should get burned. Staging before listing is a red-hot winner for everyone involved in the sale!

If you list and sell houses in the greater Denver region or live in the Denver area and want to sell your house give me a call.  I have helped over 2,500 homeowners get the most for their house and partner with Realtors to help give them the edge they want in a competitive market.  (303)717-7918 or 888-93-STAGE.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Marketing Made Simple - The Key To Success" - Book Released! Co-authored by Jennie Norris & Barb Schwarz

The latest book released by Barb Schwarz, The Creator of Home Staging, President & CEO of and Founder & Chairwoman of The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP) is co-authored with Jennie Norris, ASPM, IAHSP-Premier, ASP-SRS, ASP-REO, Owner, Sensational Home Staging, and Certified ASP Course Trainer with 

With nearly 70 years of combined marketing and business experience, this book is full of great information and ideas to help any ASP and ASPM Home Staging business owner - new or seasoned - get the exposure and market share they want.

Order your copy by going to the .  The book is on sale for $29 plus shipping and handling - regular price $39.  It's a must have for anyone serious about succeeding in the Home Staging industry.

I can say I am very excited to finally see this book in print.  It has been a labor of love for several years - one that I put away and revisited time after time - adding to the content and focus of the book.  I am honored to share the publication of this book with Barb - my mentor and someone I love.  As a business coach and business owner, I know the biggest hurdle any business professional faces is how to market their business to get the market share and success they want.  So many are afraid to market, don't know what it really means, and don't have a plan of action or marketing strategy in place. 

To me marketing is fun - but it takes work and needs to be consistent to achieve results year after years. My hope is that many will order the book and put into practical use the tips and ideas in the book - and realize that we can never rest on our laurels and must always be "out there" sharing what we do to the market place where we work.  We need to change with the times - and keep our approach fresh.  That is the only way to have sustained success.

- Jennie

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Staging Yenta - Making Matches for Buyers

The Staging Yenta
by Jennie Norris, ASP Master, IAHSP-Premier, SRS, REO
Owner, Sensational Home Staging

“Matchmaker Matchmaker, Make me a match. Find me a find. Catch me a catch. Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Look through your books, and make me a perfect match.”

Those well known lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof resonate in my head as I think about what we do in real estate and Staging. Take out the cultural-religious aspect of the word and look at it from the perspective of a role we play. . . We are Yentas. Matchmakers. We both do our jobs hoping to make a love match. And when we do our jobs right – it’s a beautiful thing!

When I went to Poland years ago with my family we traveled to many places and one tradition I learned in the countryside was how Polish families let others know if their sons or daughters were ready to be wed. The girl’s family would paint their door red, and the boy’s family would make their chimney very tall. Symbolism aside, it’s a great way to find a match because you know just by looking if the other person is going to be open to the possibility.

In real estate, isn’t that what we work to do as well? Realtors do their best to introduce their Buyers to the perfect house, looking through their “books” (the internet) to find the best match – one the Buyer will fall in love with and want to make their own. Stagers do their best to make that house the perfect match for the Buyer. Let’s face it.  A house that is not Staged is like forcing Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof to marry Lazar Wolf. When we bring the perfect match to the Buyer - when that magic happens and a Buyer says, “This is the one!” we clap our hands with joy because we know we have done our part to make the perfect match! And it’s a match that will hopefully last for years and bring that Buyer much happiness.

I am a Staging Yenta©. Are you?

If you are selling and need to make the perfect match for your house so you get the best offer in the shortest amount of time call Jennie at 303-717-7918.  She knows just want to do to bring out the best in your house.  Sensational Home Staging -

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let Buyers Fall in Love with Your Listings - and make your Sellers a Decent Proposal

We want Buyers to Fall in Love with Your Listings  and Make Your Sellers a Decent Proposal!

Home Staging is the KEY that unlocks the heart
and emotions of the Buyer!

Call me to help you make the pefect Seller- Buyer Match!

Jennie Norris, Sensational Home Staging