Real estate professionals always talk about giving the homes they sell more personality. Of course, that usually comes in the form of inspired staging, bold paint jobs, and creative landscaping. Rarely do they mean it so literally as to give the house its own Twitter account and let it tweet to buyers.
But truth is stranger than fiction.
Bob the House — a three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath ranch in the Chicago suburb of Mount Prospect — has been tweeting about his journey on the market since October. You’ll find Bob to be a rather inspirational house, tweeting messages of positivity and hope on a regular basis, along with fanfare for the Chicago Cubs and humorous updates about his search for the right family. (“Six showings today! You like me, you really like me!”)
Here’s the open secret: It’s not really Bob who’s doing the tweeting. It’s his “handler,” Rich Burghgraef, an account executive with sales consulting firm Randolph Sterling, Inc. Burghgraef writes in a blog post that he created Bob, whose name comes from the street the house lives on, Robert Drive, as a way to get away from typical advertising tactics. It seems Bob was a hit, with showings of the home going from one or two a weekend to six and eight after the Twitter account debuted. It may have even been responsible (or at least contributory) to the ultimate happy ending, as Bob tweeted on March 1: “My new family moved in on Friday. Thank you all for taking an interest.”
“I learned long ago [that] people will buy from people they know, like, and trust,” Burghgraef writes in his blog post. “However, when you are talking about selling a house, nobody cares about the person selling the house. What buyers care about is whether the house can be their next home.”
Burghgraef says that he used Bob to make a personal connection with buyers, not just to throw marketing messages of “buy me!” at them. Bob would tweet about the school that taught him to tweet (so there’s a good school in the neighborhood!); his friend, the stop sign (safety first!); and his stepson, the swing set (don’t you see your family here?). The home’s Twitter account gave buyers a new way to “fall in love with him even before stepping in for a showing,” Burghgraef says.
“I work with a lot of newer salespeople, and one of the common frustrations they come to me with is how they lose confidence in the product or service they sell because the competition came in at a lower price,” he writes. “If you truly understand and are passionate about the fact that you have the best solution for your client, the only true competition is apathy.”
Who was Bob’s competition? It could have been the comp down the street selling for $5,000 less, Burghgraef says. But that was still no match for Bob.
“He just needed to find a different way to make you fall in love with him,” Burghgraef says.