Memorable giveaways can help make listings memorable #696

#696 in a series of true experiences in real estate

Sometimes when we hold open a house for agents and everything is looking lovely with flowers in vases and food on the table, we give out door prizes. It’s especially good when we’ve thought of a gift with a memorable message, something that makes agents remember what was special about that particular house. Usually we print small labels and stick them on the item and hope that people carry them back to their offices so other people will ask where they came from.

Once we had a listing for a house that was situated in a green setting with a creek running alongside. The house had perhaps the look of an Italian country house. We thought for a long time and then used the motto “Corri a casa per vivere lentamente” which means, we were assured, “Hurry home to live slow.” On that occasion we gave agents bold-blue boxes of Barilla pasta on which were written the house address and the “live slow” message. Some of those boxes did make it back to big offices to spread the word.

We’ve also gifted agents with Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup, a grouping of which in an open china cabinet was striking, Sharpie pens, cowboy hats, garden gloves with embroidered labels saying “Work hard, laugh often,” and linked-together red measuring cups. For a fixer we glued a label with a personals ad on Big Hunk candy bars that said in part “Ruggedly handsome ‘Big Hunk,’ 80+ years seeks experienced, lighthearted renovator to extend life.” These were laid out on a silver platter; it was a great look.

For another fixer we relabeled bottled water “Fountain of Youth Restorative Waters.” That was funny. We had agents asking us if it really worked? Some opened and drank it on the spot, others took it with them to save for future day when they’d need it more.

At a house with solar electricity, we gave agents sunglasses. They were inexpensive, ordered online, and knowing how particular people feel about their sunglasses, we weren’t sure they’d be ok. But when both my age-twenty-plus kids asked for their own pairs, we figured they were fine, and they were.

One of my favorite giveaways was cherry “shots” at a Berkeley house. Our flyer, more elaborate than most we’ve done, had a game board printed on one side, kind of like Monopoly. Around the edges were photos of nearby attractions: tennis courts, pool, produce market, BART, etc. We named the house and the game “Cheery Cherry.”

It wasn’t a real game but it was very cute and we did lay one out on the dining room table in the house along with dice and little cherry markers. At the Sunday open house a little boy and I “played” the game, just made it up. The cherry shots were for agents: real cherries, one to a shot glass, grouped on a silver tray – fabulous. Everyone got into it too; de-stemmed a cherry, tilted glass to mouth, removed the seed.

The flyer for one listing was headed “The Pleasures & Conveniences of Home” under which was a photo of a young man washing his car in the driveway of the house. Remember when people washed their cars in the driveway? Well, this house had the perfect set-up for it including a hose very nearby.

Agents who have been to our open houses thought we might be giving door prizes. They asked, “Do we get sponges?” We did think of giving sponges for car washing of course but we found something else we liked so much that we bought it instead: “Sugar ‘n Cinnamon” by C & H Sugar comes in a shapely 3 ounce container with a built-in shaker on top. It’s simply a mixture of cinnamon and sugar, just the right ratio, ready to use to make cinnamon toast.

We labeled the bottles “The Pleasures & Conveniences of Home” (cinnamon pre-mixed with sugar surely is both) and added “Make time to toast.”

Anet had a marvelous time giving cinnamon sugar to everyone she could get to during the open house. She asked when they’d last had cinnamon toast and did they toast in a toaster or do it in the broiler? (Almost everybody said “toaster” but Anet’s childhood memory is of her grandfather making cinnamon toast under the broiler.)

She heard many happy memories of moms and grandmothers who made toast after school time and Sunday morning breakfasts by dads and grandfathers, too. Some agents said they hadn’t had cinnamon toast since they were kids. Several people left to go get squishy white bread at the store.

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