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"Turning CyberSide Chats into Big Business!"

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Phyllis Staines Photo
10/6/06 Interview with Phyllis Staines

RE/MAX Coastal Real Estate
50 A1A North, 108
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

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The Cyberside Chat Concept

  1. Staines goes online to answer questions live from buyers and sellers while they are on her web site; her webinar strategy aims to sell homes online with less traveling-a WIN-WIN for consumers and herself.
  2. Setup requires a few hours of writing HTML code-any webmaster or programmer should be able to implement the code for agents; Staines uses the service LivePerson, but there are other service providers for online chats.
How the Webinars Work

  1. Audio is available, but Staines finds that people at work prefer text messaging; the forum allows participants to remain anonymous-people resist giving up personal information until they have built a relationship.
  2. She posts a seminar topic for the day, such as First-time Sellers, and begins with introductory information followed by Q&A with participants.
  3. The online seminar format works nearly as well as on-location homebuyer and home-seller seminars but without the overhead.
  4. In addition to audio alone, audiovisual service (using a web camera) is available from service providers such as SightSpeed; Staines, however, prefers not having to dress up for a camera.
  5. LivePerson allows tracking of participants by assigning a unique identifier to each based on email address; actual email addresses are not divulged by the system; returning participants can be recognized by the identifier.
  6. Each of Staines' 2-3-hour cyberside chats averages about 20 attendees; most are local but some come from outside Florida; late in the day on Sunday (after open-house hours) is an attractive time.
  7. is a new idea Staines is implementing; she holds a webinar every Wednesday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Marketing Exposure for the Chats

  1. Staines is known in her area through her Q&A weekly column carried online by her local newspaper; the paper also ran a story about the cyberside chats that was picked up by Florida Realtor magazine, and that article was picked up by Realtor Magazine.
  2. Word-of-mouth is important in the local real estate community, but newspapers are a possible source of free publicity; Staines' local paper uses her column because it drives traffic to the paper's online real estate listings.
  3. Staines has directed other agents interested in online chats to join the Society at to access this interview; Society members also get the advantage of receiving the Real Estate CyberTips column each month for their own business use.
More on Engaging Web Visitors

  1. For sustained exposure, Staines directs people to her chats on with an addendum to her weekly column; her web site prominently promotes the scheduled chats right where visitors log on.
  2. When online, she can offer visitors immediate help by way of a Welcome pop-up; as part of the LivePerson service, she can tell where people have gone on the site, how long they stayed and when they return.
  3. Staines benefits from the WOW factor of being online live, which raises the bar for personal service; her immediate online dialogue has resulted in loyal clients and repeat business.
  4. Staines does not require information from people before they are ready to give it, so she is more likely to win their confidence and cooperation.
The Role of Tech Tools

  1. Technology should be applied to the fullest extent to take what agents have to offer and improve it to better help clients.
  2. Tech tools such as multiple photos, virtual tours and live chats can streamline the search process by reducing the number of property visits needed to make a sale.
Building Visibility

  1. Another planned expansion of her cyberside chats is "Midnight Madness" with Staines being online live from midnight to 2:00 a.m.; tracking peak times for web visitors led her to choose a late-night time frame.
  2. Staines gives out inexpensive items bearing her name to people she encounters; she advises agents to do a variety of things that people remember.
  3. The Society's press release section has been expanded to automatically post members' press releases on their own web pages as well as in the main press section.
One Negative and Many Positives

  1. Staines has had chats interrupted by power outages; her solution is to post ASAP a message about rescheduling-an ultimate plus since the majority of chat participants are local and may have also lost power.
  2. Staines has built strong relationships with agents throughout the country who are interested in doing online chats.
  3. Even with a shifting market, rates going up and gasoline soaring, there are still effective and inexpensive ways to generate real estate business.
  4. By offering an educational service and answering questions keyboard to keyboard, you can build relationships that become personal; Staines uses technology to make clients comfortable.
Favorite Sites

  1., site of the Florida Association of Realtors, and are good sources of information.
  2. Jim Rohn's site, RealtyTimes and Inman News keep pros up to speed with the industry.
Seizing Opportunity

  1. Take the best in technology and make it work for your business and for the benefit of your clientele.
  2. Staines believes her site has been named one of the best RE sites in Florida because she keeps it fresh with updated content and new tools.
Contact Information for Phyllis Staines:

(v) 904-476-SOLD
(f) 904-223-5976

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Staines' primary web site:
Live Person:
The Real Estate CyberSpace Society:
Florida Association of Realtors:
Sources for industry news: